by Jo Clarke, Marketing and Communications Officer

2019 has been a year unlike any other for The Box, as we draw closer to our opening in 2020. We’ve still got plenty of work ahead, but the things we’ve accomplished have really helped lay the foundations for next year. As we prepare to take a short break over the festive period, here are our top ten highlights from the last twelve months.

1. Funding: 2019 has brought more funding success thanks to a £380,506 grant from Arts Council England’s Capital: Small Grants fund and the amazing generosity of Norman Hine, a regular visitor to the former Museum and Art Gallery, who bequeathed his entire estate to us when he sadly passed away.

2. Graduates: the first cohort from our MA Archival Practice graduated this year. We’ve had an active role in this unique course which is run by the University of Plymouth and it was a proud moment for everyone involved.

3. On Tour: we wound up our offsite programme in the summer so we could concentrate on our preparations for opening; but not before we’d delivered hundreds of events, engaged with thousands of people and loaned objects from our collections to a range of regional, national and international venues. You can read about it in our ‘Staggering Stats’ post and hear more from our Events Officer in this short video.

4. Award-winning projects: we were thrilled when the ‘Maker Memories’ project we’ve been supporting for the last couple of years won two Community Archive and Heritage Group awards – a real testament to how hard everyone on the project has worked and the importance of community archives.

5. Community Sparks: the Mayflower 400 Community Sparks family has continued to grow throughout the year and 43 different projects have now received bursaries. This brilliant initiative is enabling communities across the city to engage with the Mayflower 400 anniversary, and there’s one more funding round to go!

6. Elizabethan House: our project to restore and reinterpret this historic property has made great progress in 2019. Construction work began in late summer while consultation and research have continued. In case you missed them, why not check out our vlogs tracking the project.

7. Acquisitions: thanks to Arts Council England, Art Fund and Outset, we acquired work by four contemporary artists as part of the national fig-futures project – a wonderful permanent legacy from a temporary exhibition.

8. Behind the scenes: analysing, conserving, measuring, preparing, documenting, photographing, wrapping, packing, moving, writing, researching, proof reading, prototyping, planning, assessing, testing, consulting, training……….so much work has taken place behind the scenes this year across our different buildings and teams. There’s still plenty of hard work to come but everyone should be really proud of what they’ve achieved this year.

9. Figureheads: the arrival of 14 monumental Royal Naval ship’s figureheads to The Box marked the end of a hugely ambitious conservation project and was a major milestone for us this autumn. Here’s a previously unseen clip of some of the work that our conservation specialists carried out on the huge Defiance figurehead.


Here’s another new clip showing some time lapse footage of the work on Defiance.


10. Construction: the construction element of our project is nearly complete and our site is almost unrecognisable compared to how it looked 12 months ago. We’ve been sharing regular updates and it’s been fascinating to see things taking shape and changing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Here’s what our main building looked like in December 2018……….

The Box - 19 December 2018

……….and here’s what it looks like now!

In early 2020 our focus will be on what’s happening inside our buildings as our collections are brought on to site, loan items arrive and we fit out our galleries, exhibitions and other spaces. In the meantime, thank you for all your support throughout 2019 and best wishes from everyone at The Box for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.