Ipswich Museum given £461k for Victorian refurbishment
An £8m project to restore a Victorian museum to how it looked when it opened in 1881 has moved a step closer.
The plans for Ipswich Museum involve stripping the interior back to its original design to create more space for new displays and facilities.
It already features a life-size model of a woolly mammoth named Wool.i.am - after Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has given Ipswich Borough Council £461,000 to help it apply for a full £4.3m grant.
Councillor Carole Jones said she was "hopeful" this will be successful so work on the Grade II-listed building could begin in 2020.
She said: "We already have internationally important collections and this would allow us to show them off better and provide a bigger range of things to see.
"It's about creating a 'wow factor' and making people feel proud of their museum and town.
"I'm hoping it'll help to bring more people into the town and also allow more school visits to inspire young people."
The museum, in High Street, contains collections covering both human and natural history.
As well as a life-size woolly mammoth model, it also boasts a stuffed rhino called Rosie, which had its horn stolen by burglars in 2011.
A replica horn made of glass fibre was fitted the following year.
The building was constructed by Ipswich Corporation as a purpose-made facility to house the collection from the earlier private museum, which was founded in 1847.
The development plan hoped to "take the Museum back to its roots, celebrating the Victorians' innovation and imagination".
As well as conservation work and new displays, it would also see existing galleries refurbished, extra educational spaces and a new cafe.
The remaining £3m for the project would come from the council. It is not yet known when the new-look museum would be complete.