The National Horseracing Museum opens to the public

Mather & Co has completed one of its most prestigious projects to date with today’s opening of the National Horseracing Museum which makes up one third of the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art at Palace House Newmarket. The new National Heritage Centre is situated in the Grade II listed Palace of Charles II and adjacent Rothschild Yard stables.

Newmarket is widely recognised as the international home of horseracing, and this new world class attraction brings together the National Horseracing Museum and the British Sporting Art Trust and the Retraining of Racehorses Charity on one site to share the global history of the sport and to bring a nationally significant collection to life.

“It’s been a complex project due to the historic setting and the listed status of some of the site buildings so we have taken a coordinated approach with the conservation architects and English Heritage to deliver an outstanding visitor attraction that’s sympathetic to its heritage,” explains Chris Mather, CEO, Mather & Co.

“In the early days of the project we helped secure Heritage Lottery Funding of £4.25 million – a process we are au-fait with thanks to the nature of our work with many heritage sites in the UK. The total fund has provided the museum with an attraction that houses over 8,000 objects including paintings, paper manuscripts, racing kit, equipment and natural history  – all of which have been set in beautiful object displays for visitors to enjoy.”

Exhibition areas

Palace House, originally built for Charles II has been transformed into the Fred Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art, a new national art gallery and permanent home to the British Sporting Art Trust, whilst the Rothschild Yard has been converted into a series of interactive hands-on galleries and an area where visitors can view live horses in the flagship yard for Retraining of Racehorses Charity.

The main museum building, situated in the old Trainer’s House houses the permanent collection of the National Horseracing Museum.  The new and improved Museum presents 12 galleries that showcase the internationally significant collection that has grown up over the last 30 years. The collection, which comprises objects, paintings, trophies and silks is interpreted using the latest interactive and audio-visual technologies that will show everybody, no matter what their knowledge in horse racing, a fascinating and at times intriguing journey through the history of the sport.

Central to the new gallery spaces is the architecturally significant spine wall – the original external wall from the Trainer’s House – where Mather & Co has created a multi-dimensional object and graphic display called Mileposts that sits in front of it. The exhibit, which is a chronological history of horse racing’s jumps and flats, interprets and showcases the wall itself.

Museum Building (The original Trainer’s House)

  • Under Starters’ Orders – Telling the history of horseracing and featuring some of the earliest collections associated with racing in the UK
  • Maktoum Gallery of the Thoroughbred – Exploring the science behind a racehorse with an immersive display to look at the anatomy of a thoroughbred.
  • Sport of Kings – showing the royal racing stories from James I to Her Majesty The Queen
  • Heroes & Legends – Celebrating the greats of the sport including trainers, jockeys, owners and horses
  • Sporting Glory – Showcasing trophies and footage of the winning races
  • Temporary Exhibition – Selling Champions – Tattersalls at 250 (4th October – 8th January)

The Rothschild Yard (built by Leopold de Rothschild in 1903) is restored as a flagship home to the Retraining of Racehorses charity allowing the museum to show live horses as part of the visitor experience. The Kings Yard includes displays that explore veterinary, racing silks, naming a racehorse and the life of a jockey. The popular racehorse simulator is also housed in one of the stable boxes.

Funding has come from Forest Heath (£1.3m), Suffolk County Council (£1m), the Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.25m), Wellcome Trust and private individuals and trusts.

Image by GWP Architecture – http://gwp-arch.com/