On Monday November 26, ss Great Britain Trust staff and volunteers will be celebrating the second anniversary of the opening of the world class archive, library and education centre – The Brunel Institute.
The £6 million Brunel Institute is sited alongside the historic ship and museum attraction Brunel’s ss Great Britain, in Bristol. It was officially opened by the eminent scientist and BBC presenter Professor Lord Winston on November 29 2010.
Staff and volunteers have welcomed more than 6,500 visitors through its doors in 2012 totalling approximately 9,000 visitors since opening in 2010.
Highlights from the last two years include a visit from the Trust’s Patron HRH The Duke of York and the success of the ‘Archive in Five’ and ‘Conservation in Action’ initiatives. Regularly showcasing rare treasures from the collection, these sessions give an exclusive behind the scenes insight into the way the curatorial team look after the objects in the collection, while demonstrating handling, cleaning and preservation of the fragile and unique artefacts.
The ss Great Britain Trust’s Director of Conservation and Education Rhian Tritton commented: “It has been a successful two years – The Brunel Institute has become a focal point for exciting education projects as well as a centre for maritime history and research on Isambard Kingdom Brunel .”
The Brunel Institute marks a major achievement for the ss Great Britain Trust, a registered charity and independent museum. It follows the completion of an £11.3 million conservation and restoration programme and the museum attraction’s re-launch in 2005 as the multi award-winning ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’.
The Brunel Institute’s key features are the:
- The National Brunel Archive – a collaboration between the Trust and the University of Bristol – which houses rare engineering drawings, plans, and diaries of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Marc Brunel and Henry Brunel;
- The David MacGregor Library, with its specialist maritime collection;
- The Foyle Reading Room a quiet space above the library.
- The Kirby Laing Suite – a unique and versatile area used for conservation projects and events;
- The Conservation Suite, where books, documents, and ship’s plans are painstakingly cleaned and catalogued.
- The Brunel Institute holds approximately 67,000 items, including 4,500 maritime, engineering and ship-building books; more than 7,000 ship plans; 250 ship models; 35,000 maritime photographs; passenger and crew diaries and letters; more than 150 films; and Lloyd’s Register volumes dating back to the 1700s.