A major addition to museum attraction Brunel’s SS Great Britain in Bristol, Being Brunel opened in March 2018 and has attracted excellent reviews from visitors and influencers alike.
The British Guild of Travel Writers Tourism Awards, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, showcases outstanding tourism projects in three categories: UK and Ireland, European, and the wider world.
Commenting on all the award winners, Alastair McKenzie, chair of the British Guild of Travel Writers, says:
“This has been an evening of celebration, recognising excellence among our own Guild members, and showcasing some innovative and remarkable tourism projects across the world. I would like to add my congratulations to all the winners, and to all those who were highly commended or received a Merit Award. I’m amazed just how often I walk into a visitor attraction in the UK, in continental Europe, or further afield, and spot a BGTW Tourism Awards certificate in pride of place at the entrance. The impact of these awards shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Chief executive of the SS Great Britain Trust, Dr Matthew Tanner, says:
“This award is a real credit to all the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to make Being Brunel a truly fascinating and immersive experience. By preserving Brunel’s legacy in this way, the museum aims to show not only what the man made, but what made the man and what we can learn from his legacy to inspire engineers and innovators of the future. We are very grateful to the Guild for its enthusiasm for the project and to the Guild members for voting for us.”
Being Brunel is made up of six galleries housing hundreds of Brunel’s personal artefacts brought together to create the most significant insight into Brunel’s character and his influence on the world. The overall design is set to evoke the atmosphere of the Great Exhibition of 1851 – which was a celebration of Victorian wonder and invention, and featured Brunel on its design committee.
The £7.2m project on Bristol’s harbourside is located just a few metres from the SS Great Britain, the ship that revolutionised maritime engineering and world travel. The new museum adjoins the historic Great Western Steamship Company’s Dock Office, a Grade II* listed building where Brunel once worked, which has also been restored as part of the project.
The museum uses interactive storytelling techniques to help visitors appreciate the great engineer in new ways. Exhibits include the opportunity to board a shaking 1830s broad-gauge railway carriage where ‘passengers’ will be able to compare their drawing skills to Brunel’s while travelling. Visitors can also step ‘into Brunel’s mind’ for a multi-sensory cinema experience where they can observe extraordinary moments from his life as if they were seeing it through his eyes.
Objects on display are drawn from the Designated National Brunel Collection at the SS Great Britain which brings together more than 14,000 objects from the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the SS Great Britain Trust Collection.
Being Brunel was made possible thanks to significant support from a range of charitable trusts, foundations, individuals and companies including National Lottery Players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity, The Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, AIM Biffa Award and members of the Being Brunel Corporate Club.
The BGTW gala event, celebrating its 20th anniversary, was sponsored by the Balearic Islands Tourist Board (comprising Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera).