Charles Dickens Museum to reopen with National Lottery funding

The museum is situated at what was once his London home.

The Charles Dickens Museum will reopen after months of closure after securing National Lottery funding.

Number 48 Doughty Street will be up and running with an exhibition featuring the only known remaining items of the writer’s clothing.

The museum is at the London residence where Dickens wrote classics Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.

It closed during the pandemic and now says it is only able to reopen after receiving £185,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Usually popular with tourists, it has called on Londoners and UK visitors to visit the author’s home.

A black-and-white image to have been colourised, showing a 47-year-old Dickens with tanned skin and an ostentatious waistcoat
A black-and-white image to have been colourised, showing a 47-year-old Dickens with tanned skin and an ostentatious waistcoat (Charles Dickens Museum/Oliver Clyde)

Dickens’ black silk grosgrain waistcoat, made in 1860, will go on display for the first time in more than 100 years, having been in a private collection.

A dark woollen Court Suit worn by Dickens when meeting Edward, Prince of Wales at St James’s Palace in 1870, the  only other known piece of Dickens’s clothing in existence, will also go on show in the exhibition Technicolour Dickens.

Visitors will also be able to see colourised images of Dickens, following research on the famous novelist’s fashion choices, and the skin tone and the complexion of his living descendants.

Dickens now appears with tanned skin in the photographs.

Museum director Cindy Sughrue said: “We are extremely pleased to be opening the Museum once again.

“The past few months have presented us all with many challenges and we still have some hard work ahead of us to secure the future of the museum.

“Ordinarily, around half of our visitors come from abroad, but with few international visitors expected this summer, we are hoping that people from across the UK will choose this moment to come here.

“Dickens was a man of the people, a man of the world, and primarily a man of London – a city that he campaigned for, supported and immortalised.

“We hope that Londoners will support the legacy of one of its most famous sons by visiting his home and ensuring that it is preserved for generations to come.”

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said heritage has a role “in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing”, which will be “even even more important as we emerge from this current crisis”.

She added: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as the Charles Dickens Museum during this uncertain time.”

Technicolour Dickens: The Living Image Of Charles Dickens runs from July 25 2020 to April 25 2021. Tickets can be booked in advance at www.dickensmuseum.com, which is open three days a week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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