Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex is set to re-open St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery on 28 September. The museum in Limington in the New Forest has recently undergone much-needed refurbishment work after being granted £1.78 million by the Heritage Lottery Trust.
Work began last September and has transformed the museum from a cramped space which was likened to a doctor’s surgery in an online review, into a bigger, more enticing heritage attraction. The new-look museum includes larger galleries, archives, museum displays as well as a shop and café.
The museum has been open to the public again since the end of July, but The Earl of Wessex, well-known for his support of the arts, will preside over the official re-opening ceremony in September. The Earl will unveil a new plaque after taking a tour of the museum and gallery spaces during his visit.
Director Mark Tomlinson is delighted that Prince Edward will be attending and says that it will be the next good thing for the museum. The visit is the cherry on top of a great year for the museum. This year has also seen the arrival of an exhibition by the internationally renowned sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood. The Birds of the New Forest exhibition has been curated by Dashwood’s close friend, TV presenter Chris Packham. Another exhibition, a hoard of Roman coins is currently on display in the museum after a successful campaign launched by historian and TV personality Dan Snow to raise the £30,000 needed to secure the collection.
The Prince’s visit will be his fourth official engagement in Hampshire in the past few years. He has attended a number of events in the area including his recent trip to the Winchester Discovery Centre, where he opened the Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition. With The Duke of Edinburgh retiring from royal engagements, we are sure to see even more public appearances by the other members of the royal family including The Earl and his wife The Countess of Wessex.