THE DORSET County Museum has been sharing its exciting vision for the future with the Dorchester community.

A series of consultation events have seen the museum outline its development plans and give residents, businesses, societies and groups a chance to have their input on the way forward.

The Dorset County Museum is currently working up plans for a major £13.3million development that will see the building expanded and give the public greater access to its vast collection of artefacts.

Museum director Dr Jon Murden told a consultation meeting that at the moment just 1.5 per cent of more than four million artefacts currently held by the museum were on public display.

He said the expansion would also give his team the chance to work more with other museums and act as a hub, as well as offering space to store some of their collections.

Dr Murden said: “It will create extra capacity for us to collect in the future, but it’s a capacity that we can also share with other museums.”

The proposed Collections Discovery Centre will also include a lecture theatre and learning space with all the modern facilities that schools require.

Dr Murden said his vision was for a museum that ‘told the story of the county of Dorset’ with a clear flow through the building.

There was also discussion at the consultation meeting about ‘blockbuster exhibitions’ and Dr Murden said the expansion would boost tourism in the town, particularly with the local vision for a ‘heritage quarter’ in the area of High West Street.

He said: “We feel it will support the tourist offer and celebrate the heritage offer in Dorchester.”

Dr Murden said that he was under no illusions that it would be a challenging project and at the moment the museum was looking at costs of £13.3million.

He said an application is due to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November and that could provide up to £10m.

However, that still left another £3.3m to find and so far the museum had received great support from local authorities, entrepreneurs and the community and would also be able to sell buildings it no longer requires to raise some funds.

Dr Murden said there was a long way to go but if everything goes to plan then the expanded museum could open in Easter 2019.

• THE museum’s development appeal has already raised around £38,000 through pledges from the local community.

Fundraising team leader David Taylor said he was keen to hear from anyone who was willing to support the project and get involved with the ‘exciting’ future for the museum.

He said: “This is an exciting project for the future and for the history and heritage quarter of Dorchester.

“We are moving forward into the 21st century with a brand new concept.”

For more information about supporting the appeal contact David at the museum on 01305 756827 or email