Why did Brooklands Museum enter the Museums + Heritage Awards?
We decided to enter the Museums + Heritage Award for the Permanent Exhibition category in 2018 because we had completed one of the most significant and ambitious redevelopments in the Museum’s history – the Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed exhibition. It enabled us to present our aviation manufacturing heritage in a unique and innovative way resulting in a truly enhanced visitor experience.
Can you briefly explain why the museum’s new permanent exhibition is unique and innovative?
Inside a WWII hangar the visitor steps into a live aircraft factory setting and is able to design, test and build components using the same techniques workers and technicians did when the site was active over an 80 year period. Giant sections and components as well as completed aircraft are displayed over two floors amongst artefacts, costumes and archive film. You can sit in cockpits, walk through a Wellington Bomber and chat to our knowledgeable Volunteers.
What effect has the new exhibition and redevelopment of Brooklands had on the fortunes of the museum?
We’ve seen increased dwell-time and footfall to the Museum since the exhibition opened. It has brought positive feedback from visitors and on-line reviews and it has attracted many professionals from the sector who’ve wanted to see our innovative approach for themselves. It has certainly raised the Museum’s profile locally and nationally.
Where does your award sit – is it on view to the public?
The Award and Certificate are on display in the Aircraft Factory
In what ways has the positive feedback from the M+H Awards and elsewhere spurred the team on for future initiatives?
Winning the M+H Award was a tremendous morale booster for the entire staff, volunteer force and membership. It has made us even more ambitious for our next projects as there are still many more stories to tell at Brooklands. It has also enabled us to reach a new level in inspiring young people to think about careers in STEM subjects, especially engineering and our engineering taster days for secondary school pupils have become more popular than ever.
What advice would you give to museums and heritage visitor attractions planning to enter the 2019 Museums + Heritage Awards?
Think about what makes your project really different from those of other museums and heritage organisations and make sure this comes across really strongly in your application. Make it clear how your project is supporting your whole organisation’s purpose or vision as well as showing the evidence of what it has achieved for visitors.
Museums + Heritage Awards 2019 Categories
* NEW* Partnership of the Year Award – Supported by Arts Council England