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Aerospace Bristol – with its prized last Concorde to fly – receives museum accreditation

British Airways Concorde at Aerospace Bristol museum

It’s ten years since plans for a museum were launched at Filton Airfield in Bristol and five years since Aerospace Bristol opened its doors to the public and now it has been awarded Arts Council England accreditation: the UK industry standard for museums and galleries.

The museum celebrates the global achievements of the Bristol aerospace industry – which includes Concorde the world’s first supersonic passenger airline – and the people who made it possible.

Concordes’ maiden flights

All Concordes made their maiden flights from Filton’s runway from 1976 to 2003 and the airfield was also the location of the UK assembly line for Concorde and where its airframe and engines were largely developed.

The project is run by Bristol Aero Collection Trust, which said accreditation was a major boost following an extremely challenging period that has seen the museum and charity seek urgent support to continue operating through the Covid-19 pandemic – including successful applications to all three rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund, receiving a total of £1.1m.

Professional industry standards

Accredited status means that Aerospace Bristol is operated to professional industry standards and shows that the museum takes proper care of its collection and experiences – which includes being able to step inside the last Concorde ever to fly and its 8,000 objects and archive records – to make them accessible and safeguard our aerospace heritage for the future.

“Achieving Arts Council accredited status is an important step forward for Aerospace Bristol,” Lloyd Burnell, Executive Director, Aerospace Bristol said.

“As the national benchmark of a well-run museum, this award is testament to the professionalism and high standards that our staff and volunteers work hard to maintain. Accreditation demonstrates that our collection is in safe hands, opens up exciting funding and partnership opportunities, and will give confidence to donors and supporters who wish to join us in preserving our aerospace heritage and inspiring future generations.”

Aerospace Bristol is able to tell and showcase the history of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, one of the most important British aviation companies, dating back to 1910 and aviation history in general from 1903 to the present, including space travel.

Conservation in Action Workshop

Last year the museum opened a Conservation in Action Workshop where volunteers now work to conserve and restore objects that are significant to Bristol’s aerospace heritage.

“Accreditation is a fantastic achievement which provides an important framework to support ongoing development and future planning, especially during these challenging times,” David Gelsthorpe, interim Chair of the UK Accreditation Committee, said. “I am extremely pleased to welcome Aerospace Bristol to the scheme, which will help to increase access to the collection and protect it for generations to come.”

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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