Museum moves closer to 8.7m lottery grant

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The Independent Online

A Welsh museum has an extra reason to celebrate on St David's Day after clearing the first hurdle in its bid for an £8.7 million lottery grant.

St Fagans open-air museum on the outskirts of Cardiff applied for the cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Today it was announced the museum has been awarded a "first round pass", which means it has up to two years to submit full plans to compete for a firm award.

Set up in 1948, St Fagans is billed as Wales's top heritage attraction, pulling in 600,000 visitors each year.

Part of the National Museum of Wales, it stands in the grounds of a late 16th-century manor house donated by the Earl of Plymouth.

The museum celebrates traditional crafts and during the last 50 years more than 40 original buildings from varying historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, including a row of houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a Workmen's Institute.

Plans for redeveloping the site include modernising galleries and creating a "green pavilion" where people can watch archaeologists at work.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of HLF, said: "It's fitting to announce HLF's initial support for St Fagans - a place which has contributed so much to the understanding of Welsh identity - on St David's Day."

Two other attractions were awarded first round passes today - the Grade I-listed Piece Hall in Halifax, which has initial support for a £7 million bid, and the treasury galleries at the Science Museum, London, which are asking for £6.34 million in funding.

Dame Jenny said: "We were also impressed with exciting plans for the Piece Hall and the Science Museum.

"These three major projects highlight the special role heritage can play in bringing people together and recognise the importance of creating wonderful places for learning and recreation."