DCMS blog

DCMS Wolfson: Bolton Museum ‘First Impressions’

Julie Spencer


Head of Service, Bolton Library and Museum Services


Bolton’s collection of ancient Egyptian material is significant and arguably one of the most important in a British local authority museum and totals around 12,000 objects from over 65 sites in Egypt.

Bolton Museum and Library

We are at an exciting and crucial point in our service’s development as we are about to embark on a capital project, funded in the main by the local authority, that will secure our Museum building for future visitors and transform our Egyptology gallery.

‘First Impressions’ will support this wider capital project by creating a welcoming and engaging space, from the outside in, for visitors to have their first encounter with Bolton’s fine collections and the equally significant architecture of the building they are housed in.


Redevelopment of this area will act as a catalyst for a rich visit, giving every visitor the opportunity to start a physical and experiential journey through our collections. It will have a significant impact on our visitors and how they understand and engage with the stories that Bolton’s collections tell.

Key work will include making the Museum more accessible by installing a new lift and making the entrance area more enticing. We will create an entrance exhibition space on our magnificent staircases that will become a gallery of faces, each telling their own story about Bolton, the Museum and its collections.


Bolton Museum is part of the history of Bolton and there has been a museum in the town for over 120 years providing a popular place to enjoy for residents and visitors alike. The first professional curators of our Museum were father and son – William and Thomas Midgely. As a direct result of these early pioneers Bolton Council holds in trust a collection of over 400,000 museum objects. The collections include Egyptology, natural history, archaeology, art, local history and one of Britain’s oldest public aquariums. These are now located, together with Bolton Central Library, in Le Mans Crescent part of the town’s civic centre.


The Midgelys will feature heavily in the area to be developed with our DCMS Wolfson grant.  We will also use digital technology to shine the light on our collections staff who will become ‘talking heads’ engaging with visitors about upcoming exhibitions or key objects to look out for on a visit.

Our main audience is families and our exhibitions are created with this in mind; however we also attract lots of attention from visitors further afield as well as from researchers and academics. Through the skill of the staff team producing quality work, the museum has become central to cultural development and regeneration in Bolton.

We are delighted and very grateful to have been awarded this DCMS Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund Grant. It will truly transform how our visitors engage with us. Thank you.

Check out this map to see all museum’s that received funding.

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