The Wordsworth Trust’s ambitious Reimagining Wordsworth project will see two distinct elements come together: firstly the transformation of Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, a literary heritage destination that will be sensitively enhanced to offer a more integrated and stimulating visitor experience, from the museum to the visitor facilities. And secondly the reinterpretation of the manuscripts and collection housed on site, leading to a fresh understanding of Wordsworth’s importance and his cultural legacy.
“The project is an opportunity to experience William and Dorothy’s words in their freshness, as if we were alive in their time with their context and concerns,” said Jeff Cowton, Curator and Head of Learning at The Wordsworth Trust. “The project will allow more people to vividly feel their words and their meanings, broadening the appeal of the poet and his work.”
Made possible by a £4.75m HLF grant, the aim of the project is to turn the museum into a destination that will attract more visitors and benefit the local economy as well as improve the interpretation ready for the poet’s 250th birthday in 2020.
Purcell will lead on the redevelopment of the site, enhancing the visitor experience and uniting Wordsworth’s beloved landscape with the new facilities. They bring considerable expertise in the conservation of sensitive buildings and monuments, finding creative ways to guide redevelopment of a site and context, and with an emphasis on sustainability and legacy.
“Our challenge is to make the site work for today’s visitors, using sensitive conservation and contemporary design to ensure that we maintain the special quality of the place. Delivering these new facilities will help to inspire a new generation of visitors to engage with Wordsworth’s revolutionary words and themes,” said Robert Chambers, Partner at architects Purcell. “Surrounded by the magnificent landscape which inspired Wordsworth, there is great opportunity to draw together the rich experiences of this internationally significant site, enhance the experience for visitors and engage new audiences.”
Nissen Richards Studio will develop an exciting narrative around William Wordsworth, creating a dynamic and inclusive conversation for new and existing audiences. They will bring to the project recent experience on major exhibitions including the Colour and Vision exhibition at the Natural History Museum and as the lead consultant for You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970, which opened in September 2016 at the V&A.
Over the next 12 months will see them working closely with the Trust to create a clear and exciting narrative around William Wordsworth, identifying the key themes and stories associated with the site and the surrounding landscape. It will also be a period of development and consultation that will incorporate feedback from the Trust’s existing and target audiences, as well as stakeholders and partners.
This ambitious project aims to bring Wordsworth’s poetry and legacy alive for new and existing audiences, creating a dynamic and inclusive conversation around the poet’s contemporary relevance in the UK and beyond.
The Trust will draw on the significant expertise of their existing team, Trustees and stakeholders, along with a team of consultants, to pioneer multi-sensory and multimedia approaches to the interpretation, reinvigorating the Wordsworth Trust’s site for a 21st Century audience.
The Wordsworth Trust is also conducting a fundraising campaign to raise the final £1 million needed to make the project a reality.