100-year-old Bournemouth museum receives £1 million to preserve artefacts for centuries to come

  • ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee went behind the scenes at the museum to find out more about its history

A 100-year-old museum, full of artefacts from across the globe, has received a £1 million grant to restore and preserve the building, and its collections, for centuries to come.

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth, Dorset, needs the money for essential repairs.

The money, from the Arts Council, will help to pay for a new air purification system which is needed to protect the valuable works of art.

Sarah Newman, Manager, said: "It's really important for us because in order to preserve the collections long-term, we need to ensure the environmental conditions of the museum. 

"If we don't then the heating and the cooling will damage the fabric of the building and the collections in them."

The museum's curators want to preserve the collections for years to come. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The house was built in 1901 by Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes and stands in the grounds of the Royal Bath Hotel.  

The couple owned the hotel which for decades was their source of wealth.

In 1921, soon after their death, the house and its collection was gifted to the people of Bournemouth. 

The house was built in 1901 by Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes. Credit: Archive

Sarah said: "When the museum opened in 1922 it was free apart from Thursdays when you could pay to come, you didn't have to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi.

"So we are having days throughout the year when you can come for sixpence, like you would have been able to in 1922.

"There's also a lot of late night activities and events, where people can come and use this wonderful space and appreciate the beauty of it for their own wellbeing.

"So it's a brilliant way to celebrate and look to the future and the next 100 years."

The museum features many artefacts from Japan. Credit: ITV News Meridian

During their tour of Japan in 1885, the couple sent home 100 packing cases of objects, adding to an already fine collection of items from around the world, still being enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year.

Cllr Lawrence Williams, BCP Council, said: "This is a real gem, probably one of the best collections of Victoriana and being such a young museum and young town, compared to other towns in Dorset, I think we do a fine job. 

"Particularly the Japanese collection which I believe is the largest unplundered collection in the world."

The Museum and Art Gallery is a charity and is administered by the local council.