You are here

New Brunel museum confirmed; major funding award

Being Brunel illustration

ss Great Britain Trust awarded £4.78m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Major new museum to open on Bristol’s harbourside early 2018

Being Brunel: the national Brunel project will celebrate Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the world’s greatest engineers and designers, and inspire future generations

£7.26m project now 90% funded

Senior project staff and curators available for interview

Video and audio segments available, suitable for broadcast

Photos and artist impressions available for download (see below)


The ss Great Britain Trust has today been awarded £4.78m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Being Brunel: the national Brunel project. The new museum, set to open in Bristol early 2018, will celebrate and explore Brunel, one of the world’s greatest engineers and designers.

The attraction will feature galleries and interactive experiences set in reconstructed buildings that reflect the original Victorian waterfront panorama. Brunel’s Drawing Office, a Grade II listed building, will be restored to become part of the new museum.

Located within Bristol’s top-rated visitor attraction, Brunel’s ss Great Britain, and next to the ship itself, the addition of Being Brunel will provide a huge boost to tourism, contributing an extra £1m to the city’s economy annually.

The ss Great Britain Trust holds an extensive collection of artefacts including some of Brunel’s personal possessions and documents that will be displayed for the first time. The national collection (of over 14,000 items from the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the ss Great Britain Trust Collection) has been awarded Designated Status by Arts Council England. Being Brunel will secure the Brunel Collections for the nation, providing even greater visitor experiences at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, and inspiring future generations of engineers, inventors and innovators.

With the HLF funding, the £7.26m project is now 90% funded. The ss Great Britain Trust needs to raise an additional £670,000 to complete the project, which will attract more than 200,000 visitors annually when it launches.

Matthew Tanner MBE, Chief Executive of the ss Great Britain Trust commented: “Brunel was a visionary hero and has become a national treasure. I am delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given its support to Being Brunel: the national project which will create a dedicated place where Brunel’s inventive genius and the personality behind the icon can be explored.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Brunel’s name is synonymous with groundbreaking feats of engineering and his influence today is inescapable. With this support from National Lottery players, the new museum will, for the first time, allow people to get up close to the places and objects that tell Brunel’s story. We’ve seen a surge of interest in this remarkable figure in recent years and this project will capitalise on his genius to inspire the next generation.”

Being Brunel is planned to open in Easter 2017 and Brunel’s ss Great Britain will remain open for the duration of the build.

More information about Being Brunel: the national Brunel project is available at



For more information, images, video, and to set up interviews, please contact:

Dom Rowe, Communications Officer, tel. 0117 926 0680 ext 219; email

Paul Chibeba, Head of Marketing, tel. 0117 926 0680 ext 309; email


Images for download



Editor’s notes

About Brunel’s ss Great Britain:

  1. Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most experimental steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steamship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s ss Great Britain is Bristol’s no.1 visitor attraction (as voted by the public on Trip Advisor) and home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.
  2. Please note, for brand continuity, the attraction is ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’, the ship herself  is the ‘ss Great Britain’, the charity which manages and maintains the ship is the ‘ss Great Britain Trust’ and the trading branch of the charity is ‘ss Great Britain Trading Ltd.’. The ‘ss’ is always written in lower case or small caps; or in a smaller font size when only capitalisation is available.
  3. Brunel’s ss Great Britain has won over 30 major awards covering heritage, tourism, conservation, access, education, venue hire and customer service; including:

- 3* in Michelin Guide to Great Britain, 2012
- Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, 2010
- England’s Large Visitor Attraction, 2007
- UK Museum of the Year 2006


About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery