Council urged to support Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Stonehenge The museum holds objects from Stonehenge and Avebury

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A museum has urged Wiltshire Council to donate thousands of pounds of extra funding to help it run new exhibitions.

The trustees of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes want the authority to increase its grant by £60,000 a year from next year.

Museum director David Dawson said it was trying to raise money for new exhibitions with the aim of attracting thousands of visitors.

"But we have three to five years before that really will come off," he said.

The museum, which holds objects from Stonehenge and Avebury, has said it hosts the best Bronze Age archaeology collection in Britain.

'Museum on a shoestring'

Mr Dawson said: "We have a long-term plan which is that we're working very closely with English Heritage who are of course doing the new visitor centre at Stonehenge.

"We're trying to raise the money to do a big capital development for brand new exhibitions that will bring thousands of visitors into Devizes. That will make us sustainable.

"But we have three to five years before that really will come off. We are in real trouble of trying to bridge that gap.

"The amount of public funding we get is £35,500 from Wiltshire Council and £3,000 from Devizes Town Council.

"That means we get roughly just over £1 per head per visitor in public subsidy, whereas somewhere like the British Museum is getting over £10 per head.

"We are running a first-class museum on a shoestring."

The museum extended its appeal for funds to its members and other people and organisations.

No-one from Wiltshire Council has yet been available to comment.

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