A MUSEUM is celebrating after bringing its facilities into the 21st century by unveiling its new £1.5m extension.

Lyme Regis Museum will open its purpose built Mary Anning Wing to the public this Monday (17) following an officially opening on Tuesday (11).

Current exhibitions have been given a facelift with a newly painted rooms - where museum director David Tucker fell off a ladder during the refurbishments. The new Mary Anning Wing offers panoramic views of the Jurassic Coast where Mary Anning made her name as a renowned fossil hunter. The space will be used for schoolchildren and community groups.

Mr Tucker said: "It's like being on the bridge of a destroyer - it must be the best view of the beach in Lyme Regis.

"The town council has very generously provided us with a video microscope which pupils can see what they are looking at on the big screen.

"We have absolutely transformed the museum. It's set up so schools can use it as well.We want this space to be used for everything."

The building has been covered in zinc to protect the extension fro the wild weather. Mr Tucker said that in a storm, waves have crashed into the museum and the new design has gained the support of tourists visiting the town.

He added: "Lyme has got such an exceptional history that an institution like ours is essential.

"Lyme punches well above its weight. Paleontologists and other museums know who we are and we now offer a facility that is fitting to that.

"With the toilets and the lift, it has brought us really from the 19th century straight into the 21st century. This now does everything that the museum should do.

We have ambitious plans for the future but the Mary Anning Wing will allow us to do so much more for so many people."

The museum was officially opened with the help of author and museum patron Tracey Chevalier and Anna Lovich, who made the very first donation to the project when she handed over her £10 pocket money to the fundraising campaign. Ms Chevailer's voice features on an interactive audio part of the new-look museum alongside Sir David Attenborough, Game of Thrones and Star Wars actor Oliver Ford Davies and Marine Theatre director Clemmie Reynolds.

To celebrate the reopening of the museum, local residents will be offered a day of free entry to enjoy the exhibitions.

Mr Tucker said: "There are lots of celebration events going on over the next couple of weeks including a free open day on July 22 for local DT7 residents - just quote your DT7 postcode to gain free entry.

"There's also a new exhibition, A Volunteer's View, by Vivienne Graham, a locally based artist and museum volunteer. Vivienne's work has a wonderful quirky humour and is well worth a look."