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New history centre for Mount Oswald Manor

Design consultancy Mather & Co has been appointed to design the exhibition and interpretation for a new history centre at Mount Oswald Manor, a Grade 2 listed c.1800 house in Durham. 

The wider project is being delivered by Durham County Council and will transform access to and preservation of County Durham’s recorded heritage, bringing five services and collections together for the first time in a single location in Durham City.

The history centre, which will be operated by the council, will include modern search rooms, innovative digital facilities, allocated learning space, exhibition and interpretation spaces and café. There will be a focus on the stories of working people and everyday families, supported by the archival collections housed at the centre. New methods of storytelling will be complementary and in partnership with the existing heritage offer.

“The History Centre will preserve and showcase the heritage and ingenuity of the working people and families of County Durham from first settlements to technical advances and future planning. It will introduce and connect local audiences to their collective heritage archive and become a collections hub for the future,” said Paul Lee, design director at Mather & Co.

The History Centre aims to allow visitors to reconnect with their heritage, taking an active part in discovering and making history. People will be able to discover and explore the county’s history, of nationally and internationally significant collections through activities, exhibitions and events.

The project has secured grants from The Wolfson Foundation and The National Lottery Heritage Fund to enhance the exhibition space and appoint a dedicated interpretation and exhibitions officer.

The development of the history centre comes as County Durham has been longlisted for the UK City of Culture 2025.

The History Centre is expected to open to the public in 2023.

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