Alnwick’s award-winning museum has been awarded initial support for a £285,500 National Lottery grant, which will help it go Out of Town.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has also awarded Bailiffgate Museum a development grant of £26,300 to prepare for an application for the full funding.
If successful, it will enable the museum to work with eight communities in the Upper Coquetdale and Cheviot Fringe, and enable existing projects in villages like Swarland and Longframlington to continue.
The project will include a travelling exhibition which grows as it moves around the area and new artefacts and stories are collected.
Museum volunteer, Jane Mann, said: “This is why we are calling our project the Out of Town Museum.
“We want to record how rural lives have changed and been influenced by transport, routes and railways.
“How did people get around, get to work, school or have a social life in the time before most people had a motor car?
“These areas are among the most remote in the UK, still have their own dialect and have lots of unrecorded stories waiting to be told.
“The travelling exhibition, containing objects, costumes and audio visual resources, visiting village fairs and community centres, will help people to walk in others’ shoes while guided walks will sustain the theme of walking in others’ footsteps.”
Bailiffgate is run almost entirely by volunteers and a steering group has been set up to work on securing a successful outcome next year.
Jane added: “We are very excited at this great opportunity and while we know there is a lot of hard work ahead, we know it will be worth it.
“We have a beautiful, successful local museum here in Alnwick, with a growing collection, but there is so much more heritage we can explore and collect out to the west of Alnwick.
“We already have contacts who would be keen to work with us and we will be contacting more over the year ahead.”
Bailiifgate previously benefitted from a major lottery grant in 2012.
Jane said: ”We may be planning to take the museum out of town, but we will make sure everything we learn and everything that is collected, whether oral memories, photographs or artefacts, will be added to the museum’s archive for future generations to enjoy.”
Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “This project offers a fantastic opportunity to not only take the museum’s collections on the road, but to capture untold stories and hidden heritage of communities surrounding Alnwick. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this exciting new chapter is a step closer and we look forward to seeing the plans develop.”