Norwich castle to show national medieval exhibits

Norwich's historic castle keep is to be used to house major displays of national significance as part of an exciting new project with the British Museum.

As one of the wealthiest and most densely populated areas of medieval England, East Anglia produced countless artistic and historical treasures, many of which are preserved at Norwich and the British Museum.

And now museum bosses want to bring these outstanding collections together through major new displays in Norwich Castle which will help recreate an unparalleled insight into life, work and faith in East Anglia in the medieval period.

Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England is a collaboration between the Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service and the British Museum which hopes to give a better understanding of medieval life in the region by bringing outstanding displays to the iconic Norman venue.

The project will be launched at the British Museum on February 16 with representatives from Norwich Castle showing new design visions and ideas for major partnership displays which depict medieval life in the region.

Display schemes being worked upon combine glittering object-rich displays with thoroughly researched replica furnishings and hangings.

Emma Taylor, Norwich Museums development officer, said: 'We want to make Norwich Castle one of the most talked-about heritage attractions in the country – this partnership is the first step in a very exciting new chapter in the Castle's history.'

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A taster display featuring three star loans from the British Museum will open in Norwich Castle keep in March. Visitors to the museum will also have the chance to look at the initial designs for the transformation of the keep and will get a chance to comment on the proposals. Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, said: 'We're very pleased to be providing support to enable the development of this exciting new partnership between the British Museum and Norfolk Museums Service, which has responsibility for outstanding collections designated under the MLA's national scheme. We hope our investment will enable these institutions and their highly-significant collections to benefit from a wealth of shared expertise and curatorial knowledge to the advantage of their increasing public audiences.'

Students from Hethersett High School are also getting involved in the project and have contributed their own ideas on the layout and design of the new-look keep at Norwich Castle.

Members of the public are being encouraged to have their say, and public consultation will continue during 2011.

Fundraising for the major re-display of Norwich Castle Keep will begin in earnest in 2011, with the aim of completing the project by 2015.

Initial work on the project has been funded by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council's Designation Development Fund, and by the European Regional Development Fund.

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Have you got a story about an exciting heritage project in Norwich? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email