The displays, designed by Event Communications, feature an archaeology collection containing over 2,000,000 items spanning 300,000 years, and with a wealth of important artefacts from the Iron Age, Roman, Saxon, Viking and Mediaeval periods. Star items now on show include two Iron Age log boats found along the banks of the River Witham, and a 9m² Roman mosaic unearthed on the site during construction work for the Museum – the largest discovered in Lincolnshire for over a century.
The two buildings, old and new, sit side by side in the centre of the city close to Steep Hill, and enjoy spectacular views of Lincoln Cathedral. The Collection was the result of years of planning and community lobbying following closure of the former City and County Museum in 1993. Construction work on the present site commenced in 2003 and it was formally opened in October 2005 by HRH the Duke of Gloucester. It attracted over 40,000 visitors in its first three months of operation.
The Gallery’s permanent displays - its collections include a wide range of Fine and Decorative Art, including paintings by De Wint, Turner, Piper and Lowry as well as contemporary artists - are complemented by a regular programme of temporary exhibitions. Currently showing is The Charms of Lincolnshire (February-May 2006), an exhibition curated by 2004 Turner Prize Winner, Grayson Perry, inspired by objects from the County collections which feature alongside his own work.
The £12.5 million project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£5.5m), European Regional Development Fund (£3.3m), East Midlands Development Agency (£1.5m), Lincoln City Council and Lincolnshire County Council (£2m) and private fundraising (£0.2m).
Since The Collection opened I have taken our five year old son to visit on three occasions. We love it. There is enough interactive distraction to keep him independently busy and enough more detailed information to occupy adults. It is pitched at the perfect level. The building itself is a joy to be in, with the added interest of being constructed from local stone. My congratulations go to the architects and planners who had the vision to replace an ugly multi-storey car park with such a valuable addition to the community. I also applaud the fact that admission is free and therefore available for all to enjoy. Well done to all concerned.
Ben Murray, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire – 25 April
A great place for the people in Lincolnshire and the surrounding counties to spend time looking at our history under one roof in a great layout. We have all enjoyed finding our house on the satellite view and comparing our faces to our ancestors. It's a great place to pop in for lunch and just focus on one exhibit, and as it is free we can do this many times.
Kathryn Houghton, Newark, Nottinghamshire – 26 April
This was amazing. As a visitor to Lincoln over several years I have always felt that it undersells itself, particularly given its rich heritage. At last - an absolutely stunning building (world class architecture), fascinating contents, really knowledgeable and helpful staff, and an incredible audi-visual display. This could be the catalyst that Lincoln so badly needs - and winning the Prize would guarantee it.
James Marshall, Cambridge – 1 May
I have just returned from another visit to The Collection. On previous visits we have enjoyed all aspects of our new museum. The building is a delight, the artefacts well chosen, informative and imaginatively displayed. The A.V. presentation is unusually imaginative and a good introduction for young people. Add to this the other facilities, the staff, the shop and restaurant and you have what is surely one of the country's top heritage experiences. The exhibition 'Charms of Lincolnshire' was quite stunning. From the moment I walked into the room I realised I was in for a unique experience. Grayson Perry had put together an amazing pot-pourri of objects many of which had resonances for me personally. I hope to see more of this imaginative and groundbreaking type of exhibition in the future. There is culture north of Watford!
Philip Tetlow, Louth Lincolnshire – 7 May