SWINDON Museum & Art Gallery has received an £80,100 lottery grant for a project to ‘rediscover’ the town’s diverse art and heritage collection hidden away in storage.

The Bath Road gallery has won the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project entitled ‘Hidden Potential – understanding, centralising, caring for and sharing Swindon’s stored collections’, which will seek to catalogue and photograph every item in Swindon Council’s stores.

It comes just weeks after a similar grant from the Arts Council for £95,000 was awarded under their Renaissance Strategic support fund to aid the council’s bid to relocate the museum and art gallery.

Councillor Garry Perkins, the council’s cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture, said: “As Swindon moves towards a new museum and art gallery in the town centre, we now have an opportunity to rediscover our stored collections.”

Many of them are in long-term storage, and the council’s aim is to share them with the town’s residents, starting in May 2014 and lasting for two years.”

There will be temporary exhibitions and a series of fun and engaging community activities, while people can stay up-to-date with the project through social media, where the team will share their weird and wonderful discoveries, successes and future plans.

The project will be led by a new museum collections project manager and a new team of volunteers with support from the Volunteer Centre and SEQOL. The partnership will allow the museum and art gallery to broaden its volunteer team and work with adults with additional needs.

Coun Perkins said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Swindon Museum & Art Gallery has a collection of over 100,000 objects including everything from a Victorian fire engine to Roman pottery, modern art and stuffed animals.

“Working with volunteers and local people the team will use these objects to unlock the stories of Swindon and hopefully shape the displays in the new museum and art gallery.

“The team will ensure objects in our collection are properly documented and cared for, and will identify a long-term central store for Swindon’s collections with better access, security and conditions.”

Commenting on the grant award, HLF’s Head of South West, Nerys Watts, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Swindon Museum & Art Gallery to carry out this important project. By documenting and opening up these significant and diverse stored collections, the project will enable a much wider audience to appreciate, understand and become actively engaged with the rich variety of their heritage.”