The centrepiece of Being Brunel will be a new museum and visitor experience that will become the national centre of expertise in the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel when it opens in early 2018.
The new museum – an addition to the existing ss Great Britain – is expected to provide a huge boost to tourism in Bristol, where it already brings in around £9million of economic benefit into the city each year, and supports some 180 jobs.
Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the ss Great Britain Trust, said: “We are delighted with the news of funding and the national recognition for this important project. It is a fantastic boost for cultural tourism in the South West, with the new museum anticipated to drive an additional £1million plus each year into Bristol’s economy, following its opening in early 2018. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project.”
The ss Great Britain Trust cares for an extensive collection of artefacts including some of Brunel’s personal possessions and documents that will be put on display to the public for the first time. The national collection (combining over 14,000 items from the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the ss Great Britain Trust Collection) has been awarded Designated Status by Arts Council England. Being Brunel will secure the Brunel Collections for the nation, providing even greater visitor experiences at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, and inspiring future generations of engineers, inventors and innovators.
Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain and VisitEngland, said: “Britain’s heritage is a major draw for international visitors, with Brunel’s ss Great Britain already an iconic attraction. The addition of a new national museum celebrating one of the country’s greatest ever engineers will continue to put Bristol on the map globally, be a real boost for British tourism and, by driving more visitors to the region, a boost for the local economy.”
The £7.26million Being Brunel project has also received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as individuals, trusts, and businesses which have become members of The Being Brunel Corporate Club.