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The story so far


The identity of the Black Country is based on the former richness of its coal measures, of its iron working and the impact that these and related industries had on the landscape and the people that lived in it.

It is a powerful story - distinctive because of the scale, drama, intensity and multiplicity of the industrial might that was unleashed. Arguably this is the place where the impact of the Industrial Revolution was greatest.

/media/forging_ahead/library/black-country-area-map---grey-custom.jpgToday, the Black Country is described as the Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton, recognised as a distinctive region by the Ordnance Survey in 2009 and home to 1.2million people. Whilst modern day high-technology has replaced heavy industry, manufacturing still remains a vital and central part of the Black Country economy and community.

Our Museum

With extraordinary Designated collections, the Museum is a unique, 26-acre real-life setting for telling stories. Open-air museums like ours don't create galleries and exhibition halls with cases and labels; they build landscapes, workshops, alleyways, backyards and streets, where things happen.

Visitors are welcomed and immersed in an environment where they can see, smell, hear, touch and taste history; living interpretation and working demonstrations enable people of all ages and backgrounds to truly understand how the Black Country played a central and formative role in the creation of the connected, industrialised world we recognise today.

We are one of the UK’s five big open-air museums having welcomed over 9.5 million visitors since opening in 1978. We are proud to be a cultural enterprise with an annual turnover of £6.2m and making annual surpluses which are reinvested into caring for the Designated collection. Accolades such as winner of ‘Large Business of the Year’ and ‘Charity of the Year’ at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Awards (2015) and the Trading & Enterprise category at the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence (2016) recognise our entrepreneurial spirit and desire to grow and diversify income in order to become truly self-reliant.

Following our 40th Anniversary in 2018, this endorsement of our BCLM: Forging Ahead project by the Heritage Lottery Fund, means that we are now able to complete the Museum's story and enable a greater number and a wider variety of people to understand the true significance of the Black Country. 

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this support from Heritage Lottery Fund and would very much like to thank National Lottery players for making such support possible. We are excited to get started on this project, which has been three years in the making and kick-starts the Museum’s masterplan for the next 40 years.

BCLM: Forging Ahead will not only allow us to complete our story, but also to create a truly world-class heritage attraction at the heart of the Black Country – something we can all be proud of. It will enable us to welcome in the region of 500,000 visitors per year, expand significantly, and most importantly improve our visitors’ experience. It will also create circa 450 jobs within our local area, so this is a really positive step for the communities we serve.”

Lowell Williams, Chair of the Museum

Thank you to our supporters


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