A MUSEUM will reopen its doors following £1.5 million building works in time for the summer holidays.

Lyme Regis Museum has undergone improvements, along with building its Mary Anning Wing extension, and will reopen to the public on Monday, July 17.

The new-look museum will now offer an interactive fossil gallery and Fine Foundation Learning Centre, as well as a larger shop and improved visitor facilities including a lift. The new extension has been built with glass and zinc, robust materials ideally suited to the museum’s exposed position on Lyme’s seafront. The original museum building has been repainted and refreshed throughout.

Museum director David Tucker said: “The Mary Annning Wing will enable our museum to do much more to make Lyme’s fascinating history accessible to very many more people, as well as ensuring that we are better able to protect the town’s exceptional heritage for future generations.

"It will enable the museum to host more events, improve the offer to the town’s many tourists as well as work with larger museums and universities to encourage the study of Lyme’s unique geology. Lyme Regis is the birthplace of the science of palaeontology, and our museum is built on the site of the home of the world’s first, and greatest fossil hunter, Mary Anning.”

The Mary Anning Wing has been funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Wolfson Foundation, The Fine Foundation, the Monument Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council, the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum.

Mr Tucker added: “We are very grateful to all our funders for their help.

"The range of support we have received has been amazing. Our sister-charity, the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum, raised £68,000, the National Lottery contributed £798,000 and we received many smaller but equally valuable gifts, including £10.00 from a fifteen year old who donated her pocket money after visiting us”.

The Mary Anning Wing has been designed by Robert Battersby of Bristol firm Architecton Architects, constructed by Devon company Skinner Construction and project managed by Currie and Brown. The new geology gallery has been designed by specialists Smith and Jones.

Chairman of the museum trustees, Stephen Locke, said: “The Mary Anning wing is the most important transformation of the museum since it was built more than a century ago.

"It will give the museum a vigorous future - educating, inspiring and entertaining our many visitors. None of this would be possible without the enduring commitment and enthusiasm of our many volunteers and supporters, not least my fellow trustees and Lyme Regis Town Council. I thank all those who have helped us on behalf of the thousands of diverse people who will enjoy Lyme Regis Museum in the years to come.”