A £13m (US$16.8m, €15.1m) project to create a museum that celebrates Blackpool's role in the development of British popular culture is moving forward, following the award of a £4m (US$5.2m, €4.7m) grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Blackpool Museum Project in Lancashire is due to open in 2021 and expects to attract 300,000 visitors per year. The immersive experience will feature the first permanent displays in a UK museum on circus, magic, variety and ballroom dance.
Memorabilia, film, music and live performance will give visitors the chance to look behind the scenes at what made Blackpool more than just a seaside resort. Specialist museum interpreters and comedy script writers are being engaged to ensure the museum offers a "fresh approach that reflects the lively spirit of Blackpool", the museum said.
The museum has been a long time in the planning, said Councillor Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council: "It has been six years since I first sat down with council officers and discussed the concept of a museum celebrating Blackpool's rich heritage and its unique place in the nation's heart.
"We did not want to just create a display of Blackpool's history, we aspired to do something completely unique that you would only experience here. Thanks to the effort and expertise of our volunteers and supporters and the commitment of hard-working council officers, we finally have an amazing concept that is financially viable."
Located in the Sands Building on Blackpool Promenade, the museum will take up 2,500sq m (8,200sq ft) of space, with 1,200sq m (3,930sq ft) of immersive exhibition space. It will operate in partnership with national museums such as the V&A in London as well as private owners, to display collections related to popular entertainment.
Alongside its function as a showcase for Blackpool and the UK's entertainment heritage, the museum said it will also deliver wide-ranging educational and community engagement activities, including a museum learning programme that will reach 7,500 school pupils annually, and a skills development programme including apprenticeships, work placements and training opportunities.
The museum will provide 40 full time jobs and generate £6.5m (US$8.4m, €7.6m) of annual gross value added to the local economy. Buttress Architects and Casson Mann (interpretative designers) are listed as part of its consultant team.