Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a new #10 million museum devoted to Wedgwood pottery in North Staffordshire.
The museum, which is run by an independent trust, is to be built in parkland close to the Wedgwood factory in Barlaston, near Stoke-on-Trent. It will house a priceless collection of pottery, manuscripts, pattern books and paintings dating back to the 18th century when it opens in 2007.
The project has been secured with the aid of a #6 million grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and #1 million from Advantage West Midlands, which will be delivered through its North Stafford-shire Regeneration Zone.
It is expected to provide the West Midlands with a major new attraction drawing 100,000 visitors a year, including tourists from Japan, North America and Europe, students and schoolchildren from across the UK, and researchers keen to explore the museum's extensive archives.
Local architects Hulme Upright Manning were selected following an international design competition, and building work will start in the New Year. The interior has been styled by London interior designers Ivor Heal, who have designed major installations for the Royal Academy including the recent China: The Three Emperors and Turks exhibitions.
The building will incorporate a second-storey reference library and archive containing 75,000 manuscripts from Wedgwood's lifetime and 680 pattern books.
George Stonier, chairman of the Wedgwood Museum Trust,
said the new museum would show between 60 and 70 per cent of the 8,500 items of pottery in the collection, compared with only 30-40 per cent in the former museum.
He said: "It has taken us five years to raise the money because we wanted to do it properly. There isn't a dedicated Wedgwood museum in the UK, and nothing like the collection we have.
"It will be the only museum that combines both a whole raft of correspondence between Josiah Wedgwood and his contemporaries in the 1770s and 1780s, so we get a social history of Wedgwood and his time, and all the innovative products. It will have a very, very wide appeal."
Josiah Wedgwood was closely associated with the Lunar Society, the pioneering group of scientists and industrialists based in Birmingham and the West Midlands, and the collections include much of his correspondence with its members. The connection was further strengthened when his daughter married the son of the Lunar Society's founder, Erasmus Darwin.
Anne Jenkins, Heritage Lottery Fund Regional Manager for the West Midlands, said: "The HLF is proud to be playing such a magnificent role in the creation of the new Wedgwood Museum.
"Wedgwood pottery is a byword for excellence and the museum's plans for new and innovative facilities will reflect this. Once completed, it will not only draw in people from local communities but will also help regenerate the area and boost its economy."
John Edwards, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, said: "This will be a magnificent facility which will enhance the worldwide reputation of North Staffordshire as a visitor destination."
Key donors to the museum appeal also included the Staffordshire Environment Trust (#100,000), the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (#350,000), the Heinz O'Reilly Goulandris Trust (#60,000), the US-based Garfield Weston Trust (#50,000) and substantial donations from the Wedg-wood family and Wedgwood collectors societies across the globe.
Josiah Wedgwood and Sons have donated a 99-year lease for the site and are carrying out enabling works at their own expense - a contribution valued at #1 million. ..SUPL: