Biggar Museum Trust is responsible for a large collection of artefacts, documents and photographs amassed over some 40 years under the leadership of the late Brian Lambie. The collection was housed in two principal buildings and two former church stores, but none were fully accessible or fit for purpose, and were becoming increasingly difficult to manage and maintain. In 2010 an opportunity arose to acquire a former filling station and garage workshop built around a former smiddy, with house above, on the High Street, within the Conservation Area. A consultant team led by Simpson & Brown was selected to prepare a feasibility study, and a local appeal was strongly supported, raising £450,000 within six months to acquire the site and begin the process of producing a high quality design. Further fundraising including a two stage grant from the Clyde Wind Farm Fund, and funding from the LEADER programme, Museums Galleries Scotland, private Trusts, a second local appeal, a legacy, and the sales of redundant buildings has produced a total of £2.5 million. Contractors were appointed after a tendering process and construction started on site in April 2014, followed by fitting out from February 2015. The new Museum opened to visitors on time and within budget on 28 July 2015, and was formally opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 16 October. The Museum consists of a parking area on the forecourt, a shop/ reception area, archive room and office within the original stone buildings facing the forecourt, with two restored flats let to tenants, above. There is also a Special Exhibition Room with enhanced security and environment to enable items of national significance to be displayed on loan in temporary exhibitions, as well as general community use. The main Exhibition Gallery is within a new building with a high level of insulation and a state-of-the-art computer controlled heating and environmental system . It contains carefully selected and presented displays of artefacts illustrating the geology, history and people of the local area, together with a streetscape of recreated shops stocked with items from the town itself. The displays have proved to be of interest to all ages, and an education programme supports this. There are two large storage areas for the reserve collection above the main exhibition area, and further basic stores in the rear courtyard. The central accessible location and facilities have enabled the museum to act as a community resource with a programme of events which was not possible in the former locations. The new Museum has one full time and one part time staff, and otherwise is supported entirely by volunteers, including a Patrons Club and a Friends Group. Admission to residents from the large local postcode area ML12 is free. It is open six days a week from April to October, and at weekends from November to March, although group and educational visits can be arranged outwith normal opening times. It has attracted over 4,000 visitors since opening.
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