Plans unveiled for 'world-class' Dorset County Museum

Plans for Dorset County Museum Image copyright Carmody Groarke / Dorset County Museum
Image caption The plans include new galleries, a library and a cafe

Plans have been unveiled for a £13m scheme to turn Dorset County Museum into a "world-class contemporary museum and exhibition space".

Proposals to extend the 19th century building in Dorchester include new galleries, a learning centre, library, cafe and shop.

The aim of the project is to put more of the museum's artefacts on display.

Visitors are being asked to comment on the plans, which can be viewed in the museum's entrance hall.

Founded in 1846, the museum holds the archive of novelist Thomas Hardy and numerous Jurassic Coast fossils.

Image caption The Grade I listed building was built to house the museum's artefacts

The collections were key to helping the museum gain more than £10m of lottery funding for the project. The museum must raise the remaining £3.3m.

Owned by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, the museum is one of the oldest privately-owned attractions of its kind.

The Grade I listed Gothic-style building in High Street West was built to house the museum's collection, which has now grown to four million artefacts.

The extension would allow the society's full collection, some of which is in storage, to be brought together for the first time.

It would also provide facilities for other museums in the county to safely store artefacts.

Museum director Jon Murden said: "The Museum is for and about the whole of Dorset, so we need people from across the county to come and see what we're doing and tell us what they think."

The plans will remain on display until 19 August. A planning application is due to be submitted in the autumn.

Image caption A pliosaur discovered in Weymouth Bay can be seen at the museum

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