YORK.- The Yorkshire Museum
home to some of Britains greatest treasures will reopen its doors on Sunday after a major two million pound refurbishment that has totally transformed its interior.
The citys Roman heritage is the central theme for the new look museum, with major exhibitions also highlighting its strong medieval and natural history collections.
Objects on show include the most complete Anglo Saxon helmet ever found in Britain, the exquisite Middleham Jewel, the most significant Viking Hoard to be found in 150 years and one of Britains biggest Ichthyosaurs. Some of these treasures will have returned from the British Museum where they have been on display, the first time they have ever dedicated a gallery to a regional museum.
In turn objects belonging to the British Museum from the classical will be on display in the Yorkshire Museum for the opening on August 1 (Yorkshire Day).
Andrew Morrison, head curator at the Yorkshire Museum, said: This refurbishment will once again transform the Yorkshire Museum into one of the countrys greatest museums. It is a beautiful building that is home to some of the most significant archaeological finds and scientific collections in Europe.
This project was vital to restore the galleries to their former glory. In doing so we believe we have created a museum that shows off its proud heritage while at the same time being a place that will inspire and delight the 21st Century visitor.
Dan Snow, from the BBCs The One Show said: An amazing museum full of real treasures. If you want to find out about York's stunning history- look no further."
The project, which saw the museum close in November 2009, has seen many of the relatively modern interior walls removed to create a much more open and welcoming space. The visitor will first enter the main hall, to be greeted by the Museums statue of the Roman God of War, Mars. It is the finest example of Romano British sculpture ever found. The hall will also contain a huge map of the Roman Empire and significant loans from the British Museums collections from the classical world.
The rest of the museum is split into the following sections:
Roman York Meet the people of the Empire. The power of the Roman Empire will be explored through the museums internationally significant collection of Roman artefacts and, thanks to fascinating new research, the true picture of life in Roman York will be brought to life with examples of the people that lives there, such as the Ivory Bangle Lady from North Africa.
Medieval York: The Power and the Glory. From a bustling Anglian city and royal Viking capital to the second city of the kingdom wielding immense ecclesiastical power, York was a microcosm of the vibrant medieval world. The colour, music, romance and spirituality of the medieval period will come to life in this exhibition, among the unique ruins of St Marys Abbey. The gallery will also feature some of the museums greatest treasures, such as the Middleham Jewel, the York Helmet and the Vale of York Viking Hoard.
Extinct: A way of life. Discover why so many species have disappeared through time - and what took their place - in this family friendly exhibition that takes you on a rollercoaster ride through ever changing landscape of earth's natural history. Enter a world of wonderful wild beasts, towering two metre birds and enormous sea monsters as you ponder what caused the five great extinctions and wonder if we are in the sixth. Literally walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs and enter the aquarium style gallery that is home to the huge, magnificent creatures that lived here when Yorkshire was under the sea.
As well as the three exhibitions there will also be two other new areas:
The History of York. A new immersive audio-visual experience will take visitors on a swift journey through the history of this great city in the 300 seat Tempest Anderson Hall. The film, which covers the most historically important events in Yorks past, is the ideal place to start any trip to the city.
The Learning Level. This area provides visitors with the chance to delve deeper into the past through hands-on activities, displays, workshops and meeting the experts. On special days people can also access the Museums impressive Victorian library.
To carry out the major refurbishment York Museums Trust have secured £200,000 from the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation, £315,000 from Renaissance in the Regions, £300,000 from the Monument Trust, £200,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, £75,000 from the Foyle Foundation and other donations from the University of York, Feoffees of St Michaels Spurriergate, Museums, Libraries and Archives PRISM Fund, the William Reed Trust, the Yorkshire Philosophical Foundation and the York Museums Trust Development Group.
The City of York Council will grant the Trust a further £850,000 as match funding.