Architect ZMMA is working on the building for the project, which has now been pledged a £890,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It is being run by charity the William Heath Robinson Trust, which works to preserve and manage Robinson’s work.
Adam Stanning, Bright White director, says, ‘We met with Geoffrey [Beare, trustee of the Heath Robinson Trust] and we share a sensibility and a love for great illustration. He has a real passion for it, and that’s quite infectious.’
West House in Pinner, which currently houses the William Heath Robinson Gallery and museum shop, has been earmarked as the site for the museum.
The new building will provide a permanent home for the collection, as well as gallery spaces, an education suite, research facilities, a café shop and an office.
The new permanent exhibition gallery will show original artwork, books, photographs, film and digital media to tell the story of Heath Robinson’s career. There will also be a temporary exhibition programme.
Stanning says that the concept will be loosely based on Heath Robinson’s book My Line of Life, and a narrative thread will run though the galleries as a ‘conveyor belt of information.’
The display will run in three tiers – one showing original work, one with reproductions and the narrative, showing information about the artist’s work.
Stanning says, ‘The trust owns a large amount of original Heath Robinson work which can easily be displayed, but a lot of his work was created for reproduction to go in magazines or adverts, so that takes the pressure off a bit – though we have to make a very clear distinction about what’s original and what’s been reproduced.
‘We’ll present the original works in a particular way, framed in a region on the walls, then some of the works will be reproduced as a digital wallpaper.’
The William Heath Robinson Trust says, ‘Our vision is that, in addition to being a cultural centre and war memorial, West House will become the national and international centre for the understanding and appreciation of the life and work of William Heath Robinson and a unique centre for the wider study of illustration as an art form.’
The trust adds that it will increase digital access to the collections.
The project was awarded a £1 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant in March last year. The trust is looking to raise a further £500,000 to complete the project.
The pledged £890,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant will be given subject to the trust raiding £430,000 of partnership funding. The trust will launch a crowd-funding campaign this October with the aim of raising a further £38,400 to fit out the permanent exhibition gallery in the museum.
It is hoped the museum will open in 2015, when it will form part of a Harrow Heritage trail that will include the new Heath Robinson Museum, Headstone Manor, Bentley Priory and Harrow School.