Leeds medical museum seeks the perfect tonic for its future



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The Thackray Medical Museum is asking the people of Leeds to help give its ambitious development plans a financial shot-in-the-arm.

The Burmantofts-based museum needs to raise £1.5m so it can access a further £1.5m in the form of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

It would then use the combined £3m for major improvements to its building and facilities as well as the staging of a series of brand new exhibitions.

Museum chiefs are applying for support from a wide range of trusts and foundations but they are also seeking donations large and small from individuals who want to do their bit for the Healthy Future project.

Chief executive Joanne Bartholomew said today: “Our facilities were up to date in 1997 when the museum opened but they are now due for additional investment and development.”

She added: “As a museum of medicine and health, we aim to be accessible to all members of the community and it is vital that we provide the facilities to make that possible.

“That means everything from the point of arriving at the museum through to high quality toilet facilities which are fully accessible for people with disabilities.”

The Thackray site is a Grade II listed building on Beckett Street near St James’s Hospital that originally opened in 1861 as the Leeds Union Workhouse.

Its successful reinvention as a museum in the 1990s was supported by an HLF grant of £3m.

Today around 70,000 people visit its array of galleries each year to see items such as George V’s medicine chest and a silver hearing aid thought to have belonged to Queen Victoria.

Ms Bartholomew said: “Our building houses not only our visitors and staff but also our historic collections.

“It is vital that we make some major repairs to the building fabric to secure the future preservation of the collections.”

The museum has already been awarded £154,000 by the HLF to help it work up its Healthy Future development plans.

Speaking when that funding was confirmed last year, Fiona Spiers, the HLF’s head for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “The museum has proved to be a hit with visitors since it was established in 1997 with support from HLF.

“We look forward to receiving its detailed plans for the next stage in its development.”