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6th February 2014
Today, Birmingham Museums it delighted to announce that it has been awarded £95,000 from HLF and £60,000 from DCMS Wolfson, securing the go-ahead for a new gallery within Thinktank, dedicated to the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, and its legacy to the city of Birmingham.
Dr Ellen Mc Adam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust comments; “The Spitfire is a key symbol of Birmingham’s great history of manufacturing. I hope this new gallery will introduce more visitors to the plane that played such an important part in defending Britain in World War II. One of my uncles flew a Spitfire in 602 City of Glasgow Squadron, so I have a personal interest in them. Curators will use objects from our own collection as well as loans to tell stories about the people who made and flew these great aircraft. ”
Both a Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX and a Hawker Hurricane Mark IV are currently on display at Thinktank, (suspended from the ceiling) and both of these aircraft have a special connection to the region. Spitfires were manufactured in the Castle Bromwich ward of the City from 1940 - 1945 and parts for the Hurricane were made in the city.
Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “The Spitfire has powerful links with the greater Birmingham area and this new gallery will provide the opportunity to recall and explain its historic impact on the Second World War and on local industry. It will also create an engaging means of discussing the science of powered flight.”
The £60,000 grant from DCMS Wolfson is part of a highly competitive national spending round, for which 40 institutions won grants. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, on behalf of DCMS Wolfson said: “The range of projects being funded is testament to the great variety of wonderful collections and attractions at our museums and galleries across the country. These grants will help improve visitor experiences, benefiting local communities and helping to encourage growth, whilst also inspiring audiences with new knowledge, and I’m delighted that with the ongoing generosity of the Wolfson Foundation we have been able to help fund so many projects.”
This funding from HLF and DCMS Wolfson will allow for expansion of the area currently dedicated to these aircraft. Through displays of personal objects, specially created hands-on exhibits, and stories from people involved in the industry from 1940 to present day, visitors can explore the history of the aviation industry in the West Midlands and discover the science of flying. By using the Spitfire as case study, and contrasting with the Hurricane and modern aircraft, the exhibition encourages visitors of all ages to find out how technology has changed over time and how aeronautical designers and pilots have always sought to push boundaries and innovate. Fundraising will continue to raise the remaining 20% of the total project cost.
Birmingham Museums needs the help of the public to ensure that the Spitfire gallery is a resounding success.
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