During the past 6 months, we’ve been working with architect Amanda Le Page (of Le Page Architects) to explore how The Keep might be developed in future to enable us to create a great visitor attraction and earn the income we need to sustain the museum.
We know that if we are to attract enough visitors to make the museum financially viable and enable us to stay in our historic premises, as well as offering a superb museum, we need to bring the historic Keep building itself back to life. When visitors walk in through the gates we want them to feel that they’re stepping back in time to when the barracks were operational. We want to recreate the sights, sounds and even the smells of the old barracks; the old guard room with a uniformed soldier on duty, the quartermaster’s stores, and the atmospheric beamed attic bunk room with its old stove. We want a visit to the Keep to enable visitors to understand how young recruits to the DCLI must have felt as they passed through the gates to an unknown future. The museum galleries will be refreshed to tell many soldiers’ stories and appealing to people of all ages with different levels of interest in the military, as well as faithfully presenting the history of the DCLI and LI.
In order to create a great experience for our visitors, alongside the historic building and museum, we will need to offer high quality facilities including a lift, a cafe, a bigger shop and decent toilets. And alongside the visitor attraction, we will also need to earn significant income from the building itself, so we’re exploring a range of ideas including event hire, small business use and residential accommodation. All of these are now starting to come together in the form of a masterplan for the building and we hope that during 2018, a plan to make it all happen will start to take shape. There’ll be an update in the next newsletter when we’ll tell you more about our progress and how you can help us with our plans to ‘Keep Us at The Keep’.