Unpacking begins as opening date is announced for The Novium
Museum staff, professional conservators, and specialist contractors are currently transferring and installing collections from the old museum in Little London into Chichester District's new museum, The Novium, so it can open its doors to the public on Sunday 8 July.
This week saw the installation of the very first object into the new galleries - the large Chilgrove Mosaic. This mosaic dates back to the fourth century and was discovered at Chilgrove Roman Villa. Due to its size, weight and construction this was no easy task, especially as one section alone weighs 500kg and there are four sections in total!
The mosaic has been sited opposite the remains of Chichester's Roman bath house, which has been uncovered for the public to see for the first time and which dominate the ground floor. Since the baths were first excavated in the 1970s they have lain preserved under a car park, until the museum could be purposely built over the top.
Local residents can win the chance to preview the museum on 'Golden Saturday', the day before it opens to the general public. Forty golden tickets will be up for grabs, with each one providing up to four people entry on the day.
People will have the chance to win tickets through:
Full details will be announced on the council's website www.chichester.gov.uk nearer the time.
Councillor Myles Cullen, Chichester District Council's Cabinet Member for Economy, Property, and Tourism, says: "We are delighted to be able to announce the opening date of The Novium. The public will be able to see some of the Chichester District's extraordinary heritage in a wonderful setting. The new museum is magnificent and we are excited to welcome people through the doors.
"It is sure to become one of the jewels in Chichester District's crown. We know that not only will the museum attract local people but also visitors from far and wide. It will give a major boost to the local economy.
"The area is rich in culture and heritage with our new museum, the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, Bignor Roman Villa and Fishbourne Roman Palace. It is internationally recognised for its attractions, including Chichester Festival Theatre, Pallant House Gallery and Chichester Cathedral, to name just a few. We hope that The Novium will help to enhance this reputation even further."
The Novium will contain about 150,000 artefacts, both on display and in its store. Along with the bath house remains and Chilgrove Mosaic, the museum contains many other fascinating exhibits. These include the Jupiter Stone, a portion of Roman sculpture base dated anywhere between the late first and early third century AD. Galleries will look at continuity and change across places in the district and influences from different people, as well as to wider technological and social developments. Many of the items have never been on display to the public before. The building is very modern and spacious and the second floor reveals breath-taking views of Chichester Cathedral.
Tracey Clark, The Novium Manager, says the challenge has been choosing the objects to be displayed in the galleries. She says: "Chichester has got a big story to tell and to achieve this we've decided to display a large number of objects that have never seen the light of day before alongside some that may be recognised from the old museum. Together these tell the story of the District and the people that have lived here and influenced its development.
"The museum offers something for everyone and brings together the district's rich history under one roof. It also signposts the many wonderful historic sites we have in our district."
The Novium building was designed by the award winning Keith Williams Architects, whose projects include the Wexford Opera House in Ireland and the Unicorn Theatre in London.
The museum will also contain a shop with a wide range of local and unique gifts, souvenirs and books and the city's Tourist Information Centre.
Date: 02 May 2012