Richard Pailthorpe, Director of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton, has announced that he will be focusing on delivering the Museum’s £5.5million new Gateway Project for the most of the next 18 months as its Project Director.

This means that, from late January, the Museum will be recruiting a new Director to take over the day-to-day running of the business and to take the Museum forward after the Gateway Project is completed.

“All the advice we have received is that running a project like this is a full-time job for a Director,” he said. “Given that I am planning to retire after the project is completed and that I have been so involved in its development to date, it makes sense for me to take the lead in this final construction stage. I want to see a finished project that the Museum can be proud of for years to come. It is for me an exciting finale to my career.”

The Gateway Project comprises a new ticketing facility and shop, a restaurant and learning/community space, and introductory exhibition with enhanced interpretation and display of artefacts and better indoor facilities for wet days, as well as improved interpretation and way-finding on the Museum site, a redesigned car parking with more spaces, plus safer and easier access to the Museum.

Two of the Museum’s 50 historic buildings, collectively designated by the government for outstanding importance – the medieval house from Sole Street and the wagon shed from Pallingham Quay, which form the current catering facility – will be dismantled, moved to new sites within the Museum and interpreted for visitors. This work will provide opportunities for trainees and volunteers to be directly involved with conservation work, sharing and developing invaluable heritage skills.

Chairman of the Museum, Paul Rigg, said: “We are fortunate to have Richard at the helm for this final stage of the project. These projects are a major challenge and he has a detailed understanding of what we are trying to achieve with the Gateway Project and cares deeply about getting it right. Finding a replacement for Richard as Museum Director will not be easy.”

The Heritage Lottery fund has contributed £4m to the project and to date the museum has secured funding and pledges totalling £1.05m from grant-making trusts and supporters.

The new facilities will be opened to the public in spring 2017 and more information about the museum’s Gateway Project can be found here.

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