High hopes for Derry museum expansion

Artist's impression of what the expanded museum would look like
Image caption Artist's impression of what the expanded museum would look like

Thousands of people walk through the doors of the Museum of Free Derry every year, and the museum hopes to attract even more in the future.

Plans have been revealed for an expansion and revamp of the building: now they just have to find the money.

The proposals to more than double the size of the museum would free up the current building for exhibition space.

"We would get the space we really need, which is a classroom space," said museum manager Adrian Kelly.

"We do so much with school groups and one of the biggest parts of their visit is when they go for a question and answer session."

The education outreach officer, John Kelly, said while the museum attracted a wide cross-section of visitors, its main purpose was education.

"We've had famous film stars in here like Will Ferrell," he said.

"We've had cross-community groups, we've had loyalist ex-prisoner groups, we've had ex-soldiers. We even had an ex-para in here one day.

"It's all about telling the story and telling the truth."

It is also hoped that added floorspace would allow them to bring the museum's archive out of storage and put it in an area where it can be properly looked after and accessed.

Funding for the development of the project up to the planning application stage has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund

"It's a very tight financial climate," said Mr Kelly.

"But in terms of what the build is going to do for the area, for the museum and for the entire community, it's actually a cheap capital project.

"We're looking at about £1.5m. It's going to take some work to raise it, but I'm confident we'll be able to do it."

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