Bath Preservation Trust announces “future-proofing” as its new theme

Bath Preservation Trust has announced a new theme for the organisation and its museums: Future-proofing. This theme, which will run to the end of 2024, will underpin all exhibition and events planning at BPT’s four museums, plus the advocacy and campaign activities of the organisation.

Bath Preservation Trust campaigns for and promotes the conservation, sustainable enhancement and celebration of the unique historic built environment and amenity, green setting and global contributions of the City of Bath. At the heart of the charity’s vision and objectives is the goal of future-proofing heritage, architecture and culture in and beyond the World Heritage Site of Bath. At a time when people are feeling the impact of the Climate Emergency, and there is a general heightened awareness of conservation as a whole, BPT is striving to increase the scale and pace of change in Bath by advocating for positive and sustainable development of the city and its environs.

Through its advocacy and campaigning BPT champions sustainability, and design excellence. This includes approaches to the adaptive reuse of buildings, decarbonisation, city greening, and protecting and enhancing heritage and landscape in order to secure the value of Bath’s cityscape as a World Heritage Site and a long-term sustainable future for the people who live there. Projects, talks and activities in 2024 – such as a new Local Plan shaping the future development of the city, the Views & Vistas Project, training for energy efficiency retrofit, the Great Big Green Week in June, and monthly talks about the built and natural environment – will address these pressing and shared goals.

Alex Sherman, CEO of Bath Preservation Trust says: “Future-proofing the built environment, the objects and artefacts in BPT’s care and the environment in which they sit underpins much of what BPT seeks to achieve across the organisation and its museums. This theme has been very influential in the programme of activities in previous years and remains a priority going forward. ‘Future-proofing’ spans from conserving buildings, museums and collections, to sharing innovative green and sustainable skills, championing forward-thinking and appropriate sustainable architecture and planning worthy of the World Heritage City of Bath. We encourage Bath citizens to take an active responsibility for the future welfare of the city via membership, volunteering and support of BPT – or simply by sharing our message with others.”

BPT has also channelled significant investment into the conservation and reinterpretation of its museums over the past three years.

The major capital project “Our Tower” at Beckford’s Tower and Museum is nearing completion with a projected reopening date of 29th June 2024. The “Our Tower” project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other generous supporters, centres around the repair of a building at risk, making it functional, future proof, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The Museum of Bath Architecture reopened on the 30th March 2024 after a 4-year closure and will undergo essential maintenance in the coming years, funded by a recently announced Arts Council England MEND (Museum Estate and Development) Fund grant of £320,746. This investment will help the museum to recover post-pandemic costs, enabling urgent maintenance repairs to the museum’s Countess of Huntington’s Chapel and manse, and ensuring the long-term structural integrity of the building and therefore safeguarding the treasured collections within it. The funding will also enable retrofitting, improving thermal performance and essential repairs to this listed building. As part of the reopening, consultation is taking place asking the public to contribute ideas towards the museum’s future. This will ensure the collection remains relevant, and the building is sustainable for current and future users.

The Herschel Museum of Astronomy recently launched a consultation exhibition. The general public are invited to contribute views and ideas on the museum’s future use and the multifaceted stories to be told of the three siblings that influenced the course of science, astronomy and photography.

Finally, No.1 Royal Crescent’s public programme will investigate what “future proof” means within collections management, museums and heritage, and looks at best practice example through a series of expert talks.

Patrizia Ribul, Director of Museums at Bath Preservation Trust says: “Future-proofing is always front-of-mind in our sector, but this year it is proving to be an especial focus for us, with two of our museums reopening and a third beginning a consultation process about its future. Alongside these exciting re-openings and consultations, we are launching a public programme of activities that will look into what “futureproofing” entails, and why it can be necessary in a range of different contexts, featuring talks by industry-leading professionals and interactive activities and events. Our aim with this programme is to provide a thought-provoking window onto the future of our cities, museums and heritage, and to encourage everyone to consider the ways in which they future-proof their own environments.”