Transforming The D-Day Museum

2017-2018: Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the D-Day Museum’s interior will be completely refurbished as part of our Transforming the D-Day Museum project. The museum will be open as usual through to 12 March 2017 inclusive, after which the refurbishment will commence. We plan that the museum will reopen in Spring 2018.

Transforming The D-Day Museum

The D-Day Museum has been awarded £4million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable Portsmouth City Council, with the support of the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust, to create an international museum to tell the story of D-Day in the 21st Century. The grant of £4,044,500 comprises the majority of our £4.9 million transformation project - though we still need to find a further £170,000 of match-funding to make the project a reality. Improved galleries will tell the story D-Day - from the planning and build up to the day itself - using objects, interactive material and the perspectives of people who were alive at the time. The museum's activity and events programme will be transformed by the funding, which includes money for events to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in 2019.

Above: museum staff and local Normandy veterans celebrate the news with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and Councillor Linda Symes.

Councillor Linda Symes, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport said: "We're delighted to get the news we've been anticipating.  We're in the final straight of our fundraising journey to make the transformation of the museum and our aspirations for the project a reality. The £4.9 million transformation project will maximise the impact of the collection and ensure that this important chapter in history is retold in a way which inspires and meets the expectations of today's museum audiences.  The D-Day Museum will reopen as the International Museum of D-Day, Portsmouth ahead of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019 and tell the story of D-Day in a way which is pertinent to local residents, families, young people and international visitors alike."

Jane Mee, Project Director, D-Day Museum Transformation project, Portsmouth City Council: "The new International Museum of D-Day will be a fantastic addition to the world-class visitor offer in Portsmouth.  Transforming the D-Day Museum will establish the museum as the national centre that the scale and significance of the D-Day story deserves - with exhibitions that truly engage and excite audiences now and into the future - and to inspire interest in and a greater understanding of what happened and why D-Day is still relevant today. Using the words and perspectives of the people who took part on both sides - military and also the French civilians - and the museum's iconic and evocative collections, the D-Day Museum will bring the story to life for this and future generations.  We will create an inspiring, 'must-see' environment, where everyone feels welcome - from school children to academics, families to military history enthusiasts.  We will work with schools and youth organisations to ensure our learning programmes inspire young people."

D-Day veteran Eddie Wallace, who was chairman of the Southern (Portsmouth) Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association 1987-2014, said: "As Normandy veterans, we are delighted to hear that the D-Day Museum is receiving this funding. We see the D-Day Museum as a memorial and the national focus for remembering D-Day. It is vital to keep the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy alive, and to remember our comrades who did not come home but are still buried in Normandy."

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said: “Involving 156,000 men from the British and Allied forces, the D-Day landings were the largest seaborne invasion the world has ever seen and a momentous event in European history. As we head towards the 75th anniversary, this National Lottery investment will help to refresh and revamp Britain’s only museum dedicated to the landings, helping to bring this story to life for a new generation.”

The museum will be open through to March 2017 after which the refurbishment will commence. We plan that the museum will reopen in Spring 2018, in good time for D-Day 75 commemorations in June 2019.   

Support our project with Heroes' Tide Choral Tributes Album

Heroes’ Tide is a brand new album, created to raise funds for the transformation of the D-Day Museum. The album features thirteen choirs from across Portsmouth and the region, including the Portsmouth Choral Union, Portsmouth Massed Choirs and several school choirs, interpreting a range of moving pieces, such as "You’ll Never Walk Alone" and "We’ll Meet Again". The album also includes "Heroes' Tide" by Royal Marine Musician James Dunlop, a reflective and atmospheric piece composed especially for this album as a tribute to our D-Day veterans. Find out more here about how you can support us by purchasing the recording!

Click here to register your interest in Heroes' Tide - D-Day 75 Choral Tributes Album.

Our veterans say: Keep our stories alive!

Click here to find out more about how you can help, or for further information on why this project is needed, what it entails and how you can help to bring it about.

Please click the links immediately below this to go to a specific section, or scroll down to read the whole text.

Summary

Why does the D-Day Museum need re-development?

Transforming the Museum itself: capital development

A Centre for Learning

Establishing the Museum as the national D-Day ‘hub’

What support has the Heritage Lottery Fund offered?

What is the project timetable?

What will the project cost?

How much has been raised so far?

What happens if the target is not achieved?

How can I help?

 

Summary

In 1984, ahead of the event's 40th anniversary, Portsmouth City Council took a bold and far-sighted decision to create a museum devoted to D-Day, the Allied landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944, the greatest military operation in Western European history, and the vital step that led to Allied victory in World War II.  D-Day had been prepared for and launched from the South Coast of England, with Portsmouth itself at the very heart of the operation.

Now, 30 years later, and with the 75th anniversary on the horizon, the Council is planning a project on an equally bold and ground-breaking scale.

First, there will be a complete transformation of the exhibitions at the D-Day Museum, with a radical new layout and use of the most up-to-date display methods.  These will fully convey the scale and drama of the event and the human side of the story, seizing the last opportunity to capture the first hand experiences of the men and women who took part.  A full programme of activities and events, both at the Museum and off-site, will complement the new displays.

Second, just as Portsmouth was the hub of the operation, so the project will forge new links with museums and community groups across the country, creating a D-Day Heritage network to promote understanding of the impact of D-Day that can still be found today.  Museum staff will work with smaller institutions to help them uncover and present their D-Day heritage.

Third, the aspirational nature of the event will also inspire a new programme of activities at the Museum which will help to raise educational standards and combat social exclusion across the City, and, we hope, more widely.

The cost of the project is £4.88 million.  The work to the Museum is due for completion by Spring 2018, with the activity programme running through into late 2019.

Artist's impression of new displays about D-Day

Above: An artist's impression of the eary plans for the new displays about D-Day itself, produced by our exhibition designers Studio MB. Aspects of this design may change in the finished redeveloped museum.

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Why does the D-Day Museum need re-development?

What does D-Day mean in the 21st Century?
As the next major landmark anniversary looms closer, namely the 75th in 2019, now is a very good time to consider what D-Day means in the 21st Century and how the Museum can present the story in a way that is meaningful for modern audiences, while still providing a fitting memorial for those who took part.

Opportunity to inspire and provoke
The projects that the Museum ran in 2013-2014 which have brought young people and veterans together have demonstrated the tremendous potential of the D-Day story to engage and inspire and to stimulate debate about the nature and morality of war itself.

Limited investment over the past 30 years
It has become clear too just how little the Museum has developed since its founding 30 years ago.  Physically, its layout is confusing.  Its exhibitions are old-fashioned and one-dimensional, and, strictly speaking, do not properly tell the story.  The current arrangement under which the Dulverton Wing acts as both a café and a learning/activity space satisfies neither requirement.  The presentation of the Overlord Embroidery fails to allow visitors to properly appreciate this wonderful work of art.

A window of opportunity
The window of opportunity is limited in the sense that the D-Day generation – those who took part – are finally passing on.  There is increasingly little time to catch their first-hand memories and to give them the chance to contribute to the presentation of their story.  The Museum must fulfill its role as custodian of their spirit, and, as they would want more than any others, as a forum for considering the universal realities of war itself.

For all these reasons, now is the time to act.

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Transforming the Museum itself: capital development

The complete transformation of the Museum is the heart of the project. 
The inflexible structure of the building and outdated nature of the current displays mean that simply ‘tinkering’ at the edges will achieve very little improvement to the visitor experience.  Full-scale re-development is the only way forward if we are to deliver an experience commensurate with the scale and importance of the story it tells, grounded in the human experience of those who took part.

Dramatic new exhibitions and visitor circulation
Internal spaces will be opened up and the café will be repositioned.  This will create more exhibition space, and, by allowing the height of the existing building to be used more effectively, enable dramatic new displays to be created.  For example, the large vehicles, integral to the success of the operation, will become centrepieces of the displays, rather than shunted into corners as at present. Visitor circulation will be completely altered.  This will facilitate a more coherent telling of the story, allowing changes of pace and mood, creating tension and excitement and therefore a memorable visit.

Telling it how it was
Throughout, the interpretation will be rooted in the personal experience of those who took part – and this is why it is so important to deliver this project now while the veterans – men and women, combatants and non-combatants, British, Allied and German - can still tell their personal stories.

The legacy of D-Day: revealing the Overlord Embroidery
The presentation of the Overlord Embroidery will be greatly improved.  Visitors will come to it at the end of their visit, when they are better able to appreciate it as a work of art.  Structural alterations will allow the Embroidery to be seen as a whole, creating a true ‘wow factor’.  It will form the centrepiece of a new section on the legacy of D-Day.

A museum for everyone
The Museum will work closely with audience groups, including veterans, schoolchildren, teachers, families and community groups, to ensure that the exhibitions can be enjoyed by the widest possible audience.

Creating a dedicated learning/activity space
A new space will be created for the café, enabling the Dulverton Wing to be used solely as an activity/learning space.  This is especially important in the light of the additional activities that are also planned as part of the project and which are described below.

 

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A Centre for Learning

Alongside the provision of improved physical facilities, the project will significantly enhance the Museum’s delivery of formal and informal learning activities.  These will further develop its role as a resource for the local community.

  • up-dating and expanding our learning programme for primary and secondary schools
  • building on our social engagement pilot programme for young people in the City
  • developing learning activities for all ages
  • increased opportunities for volunteering

The Museum will also become a national champion for D-Day learning, promoting the dissemination of the latest research into all aspects of the subject through partnerships with universities, including Portsmouth, and other similar institutions, eg the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and an annual conference.

An ‘audit’ of D-Day collections nationwide will increase our knowledge of the historic artefacts and archives relating to this campaign that will be used in redeveloping the D-Day Museum's displays. This knowledge will in the future also be shared with other museums.

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Establishing the Museum as the national D-Day ‘hub’

Although focussed on the south coast, D-Day involved the whole country.  Through this project, the Museum will become the hub of a national D-Day network by:

  • linking formally and informally with museums across the country, ranging from the ‘nationals’ such as the National Museum of the Royal Navy (to which the Museum is now affiliated) and the RAF Museum to smaller regimental museums and other notable D-Day sites such as the New Forest
  • offering its expertise in community and youth projects to smaller museums and community groups who wish to reveal and interpret their D-Day heritage
  • further developing the Museum website into a comprehensive online resource that will help individuals and communities uncover their D-Day heritage and promote D-Day events and activities across the country, particularly in the run-up to the 75th anniversary in 2019.  Specific new online resources include:
    • a pack containing key facts and figures and images about D-Day and the Normandy Landings
    • a community toolkit to enable groups across the UK to uncover and share their own D-Day heritage
    • an online ‘remembrance resource’ for families wishing to commemorate an ancestor who served in Normandy.  This could be linked to a display in the Museum
    • the UK D-Day interactive Map​
  • Art Projects: Internationally-renowned textile artist Alice Kettle will lead on two major art projects.  The first, inspired by the Overlord Embroidery, will explore in textile the themes of liberation and reconciliation, involving institutions such as the Manchester School of Art and the University of Portsmouth and creating work to be shown at a number of venues nationally.  The second will be a modern spin on the theme of ‘Make Do and Mend’, looking at how we reuse and reinvent materials to have new purpose and a contemporary aesthetic.

We have also already begun strengthening international links, for example with museums in Normandy, and with the US National WW2 Museum.

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What support has the Heritage Lottery Fund offered?

In June 2014, the Museum was awarded an initial development grant of £224,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), enabling us to undertake detailed preparations and design work during 2015. In January 2016 the HLF announced that they would support the project with a grant of £4,044,500 to enable us to carry out our plans.

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What is the project timetable?

The outline timetable is as follows (dates may change as the project progresses)

June 2014: HLF Round 1 decision announced

Project Design Phase
June 2014 – September 2015: Development Phase
January 2016: HLF Round 2 Bid Decision - grant awarded!

Project Delivery Phase
January 2016 to August 2016: Detailed design work, tendering and preparation
March 2017: Museum closes for internal refurbishment  
Spring 2018: Museum and new displays reopen

2018 – 2019: Further project activities, including D-Day 75 commemorations in June 2019

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What will the project cost?

The estimated total cost of the project is just under £5 million.  

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How much has been raised so far?

In addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants referred to above, Portsmouth City Council have committed £378,000 to the capital costs of the project and will meet the expected increase in maintenance and management costs of £150,000 over the first five years.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has allocated £600,000 from Libor funds to the D-Day Museum. This will be used for additional work to support the project, such as landscaping the area around the D-Day Museum.

The organisers of the Victorious Festival, which took place on Southsea Common on 24th-25th August 2014, have donated £50,000 from the festival proceeds to the Museum Development Project.

The Dulverton Trust has pledged a grant of £50,000 to the project, subject to us gaining the remaining HLF funding. The Trust was founded by Lord Dulverton of Batsford, who commissioned the Overlord Embroidery which is on display at the D-Day Museum.

What happens if the target is not achieved?

Portsmouth City Council reserves the right to alter the published project in the light of changing circumstances.  All monies donated will be applied to the development of the D-Day Museum.

How can I help?

A charitable trust – the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust (Reg Charity No 1156976) – has been set up with the aim of raising funds to support the development of the D-Day Museum and other D-Day related sites and activities. For full details of how you can help, please click here.