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  • New innovations on the way at Leicester’s museums

New innovations on the way at Leicester’s museums

A new gallery that tells the stories of Leicester’s communities, exciting opportunities to interact with dinosaurs, and an augmented reality reconstruction of the medieval friary where King Richard III was buried are just some of the developments that visitors to Leicester’s museums can look forward to.

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At Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, a £350k gallery dedicated to the stories of Leicester’s people is due to open this spring. Created on the ground floor in space formerly used as offices, the new Leicester Stories gallery will be based on themes selected by Leicester people and will feature key milestones in the city’s history, brought to life by individual stories, photography, film and poetry.

Due to be unveiled next month is a fresh new look for the popular dinosaur gallery. Last updated in 2011, the gallery will be given a boost with five new interactive displays and an augmented reality experience that will put flesh on the bones of the fossils on show, including the Rutland Dinosaur – the museum’s 168-million-year-old cetiosaurus (pictured). A mobile app will also allow visitors to interact with the dinosaurs – and even ‘take’ a dinosaur home with them.

Longer-term ideas for Leicester’s flagship museum – which are yet to be costed – include relocating the café and shop to a new site at the front of the building, so it can be enjoyed even when the museum is closed, and commissioning a new gallery with a climate change focus on the first floor.

The city's King Richard III Visitor Centre is also in line for investment, with a new immersive experience forming part of the story told at the award-winning attraction.  

Later this year, visitors will be able to enjoy a view of the long-gone medieval Greyfriars friary – where the king was hastily buried in 1485 – thanks to augmented reality technology.

With the visitor centre’s Greyfriars site now designated as a scheduled monument by Historic England, the city council hopes to incorporate the medieval friary’s story into a completely redesigned visitor experience, subject to funding being available, over the coming years. This will reflect new research and understanding gained over the past seven years to help inform the proposed changes.

At Jewry Wall, work to transform the site of Leicester’s biggest Roman ruins into a world-class visitor attraction has been delayed by the collapse of a key contractor, but the building programme will soon be back on track. A revised timescale for the revamped Jewry Wall museum – which will use immersive digital technology to bring the ruins and items from the city’s Roman collection to life – is currently being drawn up.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Tourism is a vital part of the city’s economy, bringing in millions of pounds every year, and Leicester’s museums are undoubtedly amongst our most popular visitor attractions.

“It’s therefore important that we continue to find ways to invest in our museums, keeping them relevant, informative, entertaining and accessible for all of our visitors – especially the hundreds of thousands of people who live in Leicester and support our museums throughout the year.

“These proposals will help ensure that there’s always something new to discover at our museums, and provide new ways for people to access and enjoy the extraordinary items in our collections.”

An update on the short-term plans and long-term ambitions for Leicester’s museums will be presented to members of the city council’s Heritage, Culture, Leisure and Tourism Scrutiny Commission on Thursday (20 January).

Innovations in Leicester’s museums are made possible thanks to regular funding from Arts Council England (ACE). A £407k National Portfolio Organisation grant has been secured from ACE for 2022-23.

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