Tullie House museum in Carlisle to be “Roman Gateway”

My two clearest memories from Tullie House are of wax tablets you could try writing on, and a replica of a stone ‘genius loci’ which they sold there and which decorated my classroom for years – just so that I could tell pupils “There’s a genius in this classroom.”

From the News and Star

£500,000 Roman plan for Carlisle museum

By Julian Whittle

Last updated 11:52, Monday, 15 December 2008

THE Millennium Gallery at Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum is to be reinvented as a “Roman Gateway”.

Officials are promising a “spectacular gallery” and exhibition telling the story of Roman Carlisle.

The £570,000 scheme aims to attract visitors from abroad and establish Carlisle as the base to explore the western end of Hadrian’s Wall.

If Carlisle City Council’s ruling executive approves the plans on Thursday, the new gallery should open in 2011.

A report to councillors says: “The must-see gallery will make full use of the best interpretive techniques and interactive technology to recreate virtual walk-through constructions of life in Roman Carlisle and along the wall, engaging visitors and creating an immersive experience.”

The plan is to incorporate the city council’s large collection of Roman artefacts.

Some are already on show at Tullie House but others are stored at Shaddon Mill because there is no room to display them.

The exhibition will cover the full 400 years of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Themes include the multi-cultural nature of the Roman forces and the nature of everyday life for the Romans and native Britons.

It will be designed to appeal to children, adults, even expert historians and overseas visitors with little or no English.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency is providing the money for the revamp as part of its “raising the game” programme to improve museums.

The changes are in line with thinking outlined by the Carlisle Renaissance board and its chairman Bryan Gray, who also chairs the regional development agency.

Mr Gray believes Carlisle can do more to exploit its historic and cultural assets such as Tullie House, the castle and cathedral.

The Millennium Gallery was built under Castle Way as part of the controversial Millennium Gateway scheme.

It provides a link between Tullie House and the castle but the original plans, which would have flooded it with natural light from glass pyramids outside Tullie House, were dropped in response to vocal public opposition.

The gallery currently houses a collection of mineral specimens, archaeological exhibits, and displays of fine and decorative art. The council says these will be re-housed elsewhere in Tullie House.

City council leader Mike Mitchelson said: “This is great news for Tullie House and the local visitor economy as a whole. It provides an exciting opportunity to develop the museum and put our Roman heritage on show for all to see.

“It is also a major step forward for the development of Carlisle’s historic quarter.”

JWhittle@cngroup.co.uk

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