Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre opens 18 December
|Aerial view of Stonehenge showing how it is expected to look by summer 2014,|
once the A344 has been covered by grass [Credit: English Heritage]
Visitors will be welcomed at a new visitor building, located 2.1km (1.5 miles) to the west of Stonehenge. For the first time ever at the site, they will be able to learn more about this complex monument in a stunning, museum-quality permanent exhibition curated by English Heritage experts. A 360-degree virtual, immersive experience will let visitors 'stand in the stones' before they enter a gallery presenting the facts and theories surrounding the monument through various displays and nearly 300 prehistoric artefacts.
Over 300 prehistoric artefacts on display
The archaeological finds on display are on loan from the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, the Wiltshire Museum, and the Duckworth Collection, University of Cambridge. All were found inside the World Heritage Site and many are on public display for the first time.
steel columns support the gently undulating canopy, under which sit two
house the exhibition, education, cafe, and retail space [Credit: English Heritage]
Heightened sense of anticipation
Visitors will have a heightened sense of anticipation when they arrive at the visitor building as Stonehenge is not immediately visible; it will only emerge slowly on the horizon during the 10-minute shuttle ride to the monument.
|Artist’s impression of the permanent exhibition which features, among other things, precious objects on loan from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum [Credit: English Heritage]|
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: "This world famous monument, perpetually described as a mystery, finally has a place in which to tell its story. The exhibition, will change the way people experience and think about Stonehenge forever - beyond the cliches and towards a meaningful inquiry into an extraordinary human achievement in the distant past. The exhibition will put at its centre the individuals associated with its creation and use, and I am very proud with what we have to unveil to the world in December."
The new visitor building, designed by leading practice Denton Corker Marshall, is reaching the final stages of construction and interior fit-out has started.
Phases two and three in 2014
From Easter 2014, visitors can look forward to the opening of a group of reconstructed Neolithic houses. The Neolithic houses are the highlight of the outdoor gallery and will be built from January 2014 onwards by volunteers, based on houses where the builders of Stonehenge may have lived, complete with furniture and fittings.
|Flint arrowhead, from a grave near Stonehenge on loan from|
Wiltshire Museum, Devizes [Credit: English Heritage]
The £27-million Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Programme is the largest capital project ever undertaken by English Heritage. It is financed almost entirely by Heritage Lottery Fund money (£10m), English Heritage commercial income and philanthropic donations including significant gifts from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Linbury Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.
From 18 December 2013, entrance to Stonehenge will be managed through timed tickets and advance booking is strongly recommended. Online booking opens on 2 December at www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge.
Source: WiredGov [September 30, 2013]