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Visitors Shape the National Army Museum's £23.25m Redevelopment

Last updated: 16 January 2014

A bright open atrium, stunning new galleries, a dedicated learning suite, an upgraded research centre and new café and shop facilities are all part of the £23.25m plans to transform the National Army Museum. These plans have been developed in collaboration with local communities, the Museum's visitors, staff and consultants.

The redeveloped National Army Museum will provide an outstanding visitor experience with accessible and engaging exhibitions and activities which will inspire, inform and delight our local, national and digital museum audiences.

Janice Murray, Director General of the National Army Museum

Artist's impression of the view from the atrium to entranceArtist's impression of the view from the atrium to entrance

Throughout 2012-13 thousands of people, from toddlers to teachers, across the UK have taken part in consultation workshops, panels and surveys to share their ideas and opinions about what they want from a refreshed Museum. Their generous input has helped shape and strengthen the Museum's 'Building for the Future' redevelopment project. This enabled us to submit in December 2013 an exciting and compelling proposal for our Round Two £11.5m Heritage Lottery Fund bid and planning application.

The Museum's £23.25m 'Building for the Future' development project is the culmination of five years of strategic planning and effort. This period has seen the Museum's visitor figures increase by 30 per cent, our outreach, online and learning activities expand across the UK, the creation of cutting-edge collection storage facilities, and a dynamic events programme that has appealed to the zeitgeist with War Horse and currently Unseen Enemy - an exhibition that explores the often controversial topic of IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

Central to the redevelopment has been the need to respond to the public's call to create a Museum which provides a more modern, welcoming and social environment for families and to create displays and programmes that foster dialogue and debate about an Army which has been part of British society for over 400 years but which can often be misunderstood and polarise public opinion. As one local resident commented: 'Not only will the improved the museum bring more people to the area, but most importantly tell the Army story as it needs to be told.'

This project will help highlight the contributions of soldiers from Chelsea to Calcutta who served with the British Army, the Indian Army until 1947 and Commonwealth armies, all of which are represented by the National Army Museum. The new galleries will showcase a range of soldiers' stories to celebrate and better reflect the multicultural nature of the British Army and the diverse population of London and the UK itself.

As well as solving the pressures created by the growing number of people engaging with the Museum, the redevelopment will see a shift in focus with greater attention on the life and work of a soldier and the relationship between the Army and society. This will be delivered across five new permanent galleries:

  • Soldier takes visitors on a journey through the 'lifecycle' of a soldier, drawing on extensive testimony and stories to bring to life the experiences of soldiers then and now.
  • Battle examines how battles are fought and showcases major innovations that have driven changes on the battlefield
  • Society explores the complex, changing and sometimes difficult relationship between society and the Army and invites visitors to question what shapes their views
  • Army dissects the institution - its history, structure and even its uniforms - with a healthy dose of (clean) Army humour to reveal something of its personality
  • Discovery aims to reveal often unknown aspects of the Army, such as its multicultural nature, as well as offering opportunities for the public to help curate the Collection by providing personal testimonies about objects as well as giving visitors the tools to undertake their own family history research.

In spring 2014, the Museum will discover if its planning permission and application for the £11.5m HLF grant have been successful. To find out more about 'Building for the Future' and how you can get involved, please visit:


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Notes to editors

National Army Museum

The National Army Museum explores the impact of the British Army on the story of Britain, Europe and the world; how Britain's past has helped to shape our present and our future and how the actions of a few can affect the futures of many.

The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter to tell the story of the Land Forces of the Crown wherever they were raised. Opened by the Queen in 1960, it moved to its current site in Chelsea in 1971.

Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK.

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