National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art: Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 finalist
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National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art: Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 finalist

August 25, 2019

It’s the culmination of ten years, at least,
of really careful planning. What is so important about it
is that we’ve managed to restore and convert this extraordinarily important heritage site. It’s a cultural hub for the town. It’s also, I think, very much about
the economic regeneration of Newmarket.This is where racing
all started over 350 years ago.
King Charles created
this stable and the palace next door.
For so many years,
this place was not being used
and with the help of a lot of people,
now it’s come alive again.
What people want to meet are the equine
heroes of the sport, and that’s the horses.We do “meet and greets”
with the ex-racehorses.
The public can come roundand they can get up close and personal.It brings the whole exhibitionand the whole idea of a museum to life.Opening up that hidden world of racing
is a lot of what we’re trying to do here. What we’re trying to show is
this extraordinary other bit of the iceberg, which is all the people involved
in the sport, the team that go together
to create the racing experience, and then the life of the racehorses
beyond racing. People find so much more here than they
might expect from just a horseracing museum.We’re really lucky —a large collection from the 17th centuryright up into contemporary times.We’ve got a lot of public loans
and a lot of private loans
and a huge number
of individual artefacts as well.
We’ve got the boxing memorabilia.These guys are doing 77 rounds
of bare-knuckle fighting!
We’re in the Maktoum Gallery
of the Thoroughbred, which is the core science gallery
for the new museum. That’s what makes us so different
from the old museum. What this gallery looks at
is the science that sits behind the sport, whether it’s the DNA of genetics of selective
breeding, comparative anatomy.I think it’s very important for my sport
to put the sport out there
for people that don’t know too much
about our sport, so I like it a lot.
We’re in one of the temporary
exhibition galleries we built as part of the redevelopment. This has been vital in terms of increasing
the breadth and scope of our audiences. In this case,
it’s Chris Smith: Gods of Sport, a fantastic contemporary photography
exhibition spanning a 50-year career. In terms of visitors, it is that, “Wow!” All the time, the feedback is
they never expected to find so much here.

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