The Jim Clark Motorsport Museum celebrates the remarkable life and career of Scotland’s first Formula One world champion – one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. During his career Jim Clark was seen as the driver to beat and admired internationally for his skill, attitude and success.
Our objective is to run a high quality and sustainable museum that is a must for all fans of Jim Clark and motorsport but also attracts new audiences who will learn, be inspired and enjoy a great visitor experience no matter their age, ability or interest. We want the museum to bring new and repeat visits to the area and support tourist related business in the Borders as well as work closely with the local community and our partners to deliver our aims.
The museum is located on the edge of the Duns Conservation Area which contains 118 listed buildings. The Conservation Area Statement stipulates that, “Any new development must therefore aim to contribute to the existing character of the Conservation Area”. It was in this context that the design was developed by the architects. The £1.6million project opened its doors to the public on 9th July 2019.
A double-height link, clad externally in black zinc, is recessed from the villa’s front elevation, respecting its conservation status, and forms the new public entrance. Internally, the building has been completely remodelled with the ground floor expanded by undertaking some substantial and daring structural interventions. The central vertical circulation to the original building has been removed completely in favour of free-flowing exhibition space and the rear corner of the three-storey villa has been cut out at ground floor level leaving the entire building cantilevering over the circular reception desk. Historic Environment Scotland were consulted early in the design process and were incredibly supportive of this interventionist design approach and choice of materials.
The new construction has been designed to be very thermally efficient, and includes PV panels on the extension roof. The reuse and repurposing of an existing building, rather than a new-build solution has significantly reduced the environmental impact and footprint of the project.
The displays have had a five-fold increase in space with improved security and environmental conditions for the collections. The museum inspires, excites and informs visitors using interpretation designed to engage a wide variety of audiences. New technology is employed to improve access and enjoyment, with the core collection enhanced using a variety of media, including film footage, images, memories and recollections. New loans have been secured, including cars that Clark drove, which provide a star attraction.
The new museum has been designed to be fully accessible for visitors and also offers educational support with an on-going programme of events. This magnificent building is a shining example of collaborative working that has brought a new lease of life to a traditional, Listed building in a contemporary manner and that demonstrates how good architecture can be at the heart of economic and cultural development, especially in a rural area.
Supporting StatementThe Jim Clark story is powerful, emotional and inspirational. We have developed a facility which, in its first year of operation, has demonstrated that it is able to engage with a wide audience base, satisfying the core audience of Jim Clark fans and also new audiences who are inspired by the story.
Our project is based around the refurbishment and extension of the original museum, opened in 1969, that displayed a stunning collection of Jim Clark's trophies, donated by his parents after he died. It had always been a draw for fans, but as time has passed visits were on the decline. The building was at risk, displays outdated and the museum limited by size. The partnership has drawn on skills and support from the Clark family, fans, the motorsport industry, the local community, the local authority and the museum staff to deliver a new, improved museum which has a wide appeal and will secure the building, contents and legacy of Clark for the future.
The physical changes to the museum have increased the scope of how we interpret his story and how this engages with new audiences. We now have space and technology to retell this using a wide variety of ways to appeal to a much more diverse range of audiences. We have engaged a fantastic team of staff and volunteers drawn from the community who add value to the visitor experience with their knowledge and enthusiasm. This input is reflected in the visitor feedback we are receiving directly and on social media.
Our first visitor season has been very successful, with almost 13000 visitors, outstripping expectations in terms of income, impact, response and recognition. We have also been able to attract a much wider audience type – drawing from all age groups, abilities and interests. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – evidenced through customer surveys and online feedback. There is growing evidence that our museum is contributing positively to the local economy with the increased number of tourists.
The old museum had little in the way of support from the local community; the project has worked hard to address this, from clear and honest consultation which is reflected in what we have developed to offering opportunities to engage through volunteering, events and activities and providing an annual pay-once-and-revisit-for-free ticket. In 2019 our volunteer programme generated more than 80 days in volunteer time for the project, a huge amount in this rural community. Individuals, groups and businesses are all helping and there is great pride in the new museum and its story. We have many lovely examples to share - from our neighbours, the Berwickshire Housing Association, providing refreshments to queuing visitors on the first days of opening to the dedicated volunteer team who worked above and beyond with staff to prepare the exhibits for display. Strong endorsement of the museum's impact on the community was received in a letter sent by the community council at the end of the season in 2019.