Heritage Lottery Fund awards £1.1m for Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner, NW London
Full press release follows:
A cartoonist whose name became a byword for absurdly complicated machinery designed to achieve simple objectives will have a dedicated museum built in his honour in Pinner, London Borough of Harrow. William Heath Robinson was also an accomplished illustrator and painter, but only a very small proportion of his work is currently on show at West House, in Pinner Memorial Park, and there is little on display elsewhere.
That is now about to change, thanks to a grant of £1.13 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The money will support The West House and Heath Robinson Museum Trust’s project to build an extension to West House. This will enable an extensive collection of Heath Robinson’s work, currently stored at Harrow Museum, to be exhibited, much of it for the first time.
Martin Verden, Chairman of The West House and Heath Robinson Museum Trust, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has rewarded the Trustees’ 15 years of hard work to turn West House into an asset for the nation. There is a real public hunger to see Heath Robinson’s work and learn more about his life. When you see his pictures he makes you chuckle – they are fun, and people come away feeling happy.”
William Heath Robinson is an artist of international standing, and his work, whether in his well-known humorous drawings or his illustrations for Kipling, Shakespeare or his own children’s stories, is integral to the fabric of British cultural heritage. Heath Robinson’s son-in-law gave the collection of more than 500 original artworks – including cartoons, book illustrations and watercolours – in the hope that it would go on permanent public display. The museum will be a major attraction for Pinner, the north-west London suburb where he lived for many years.
The project is a joint venture between The William Heath Robinson Trust, which owns the collection, and the people of Pinner who have restored West House, a once-derelict Georgian building, to develop the new museum. The Trust hopes that as well as being a focus for local people, the museum will receive visitors from all over the world. Pinner is easily accessible from central London, and just 25 minutes from Baker Street on the Metropolitan Line.
There will be two galleries: one for the permanent exhibition and the other for a changing series of exhibitions – four per year – showing particular aspects of the collection or works by related artists. The Activity Room will allow visitors of all ages to make their own creations and study aspects of the collection; there will also be an archive and a museum shop.
Volunteering will be key to the new museum’s success. Training programmes will be organised so that volunteers can acquire skills covering cataloguing, researching, and handling the collection as well as encouraging community engagement and evaluating visitor feedback.
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “Although his name has become synonymous with mechanical complexity or a ‘make do and mend’ mentality, many people today are unaware of the wry and affectionate humour of Heath Robinson’s cartoons. This project will introduce him, and the breadth of his talent, to new audiences while conserving a large collection of his work.”
However Verden cautioned: ”We still need to raise £200,000 to build the Museum. People from all over the world have been very generous in supporting our Kickstarter campaign and appeal, and we hope that more donors will give the project the best possible Christmas present, so that we can reach our target and open at the end of 2015.“ Donations can be made at https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/heathrobinsonmuseum