Paisley wins Heritage Lottery Fund backing for historic museum revamp

The new-look Paisley Museum is due to be unveiled in 2022.
The new-look Paisley Museum is due to be unveiled in 2022.
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A £42 million bid to transform Scotland's first municipal museum into a new "world-class" visitor attraction is set to go ahead after the Paisley project received crucial backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Renfrewshire Council has secured a £4.9 million pledge for a scheme to create modern extension to the existing Victoria-era museum which will also be completely overhauled over the next few years.

The transformation is aimed at attracting nearly four times as many visitors to the site, with 42 permanent new jobs envisaged.

The backing of the HLF is a major boost to Paisley hopes of claiming the UK City of Culture crown for 2021, although the new-look museum will not be ready until the following year. The bid team will submit the final documents later this week.

Council chiefs were forced to scale back a previous £56.7 million vision for the museum project after the HLF rejected a bid to secure up to £15 million worth of backing.

The council has since committed £24.1 million to the proposed overhaul of the museum. It is now expected to close next summer to allow the first phase of work to begin.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is a wonderful piece of news from HLF and couldn’t have come at a better time, with our bid to be UK City of Culture being lodged this week.

“The museum plans are central to our wider vision to transform the town’s future by harnessing the power of Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

“We know the town centre has its challenges but the way people shop has changed forever – so we have to create new life and new footfall by finding new ways to bring people into the town.

“Paisley can do that by making the most of the unique selling point that is our heritage and textile story – and the museum revamp, along with the museum store due to open this year and the new library will drive new footfall to our high street.

“The town has some amazing items in its collection – but the current building needs revamped in order to get them out on display and to fully tell the story of how this town was once at the centre of a global industry."

Dame Seona Reid, chair of the Scotland committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: " know how much this project means to Paisley and its people. It’s vital to the great strides that are being made in revitalising the town, using its history and industrial heritage as the building blocks.

“I'm delighted that we're able to give our initial support to a project which will transform the museum and give Paisley’s internationally-important textiles and other collections the prominence they deserve.”