Since opening on 3rd November 2016 the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art has achieved the following:
- 33,000 visitors through the doors
- 21 family events
- 2,422 educational visits
- International visitors from over 28 countries from New Zealand to Columbia!
- 11 horses have been retrained and rehomed from the flagship yard for Retraining of Racehorses Charity (including Ray Ward, Steppe Daughter and Star Luck)
- 8 works of art by George Stubbs (including ‘Fighting Stallions’ and ‘Lord Torrington's Steward and Gamekeeper with Their Dogs at Southill Bedfordshire’in the Packard Galleries – the new home to the British Sporting Art Trust.
- 42 staff employed
- 872 Newmarket Monopoly sold
- 51,500 coffees made in The Tack Room Restaurant
Suffolk’s newest, award-winning attraction is celebrating its first birthday with a string of glowing references from industry partners. This video highlights the 350 year journey that’s lead us to where we are today:
The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art was formally opened by its Patron, Her Majesty the Queen on 3rd November 2016. Its creation was made possible by a £4.99m National Lottery grant and further support from the Racing Industry as well as many private trusts, foundations and individuals from the world of horseracing and beyond. Forest Heath District Council and Suffolk County Council also invested in the project, designed to celebrate Newmarket’s unique Royal and racing history with a visitor attraction that would boost High Street spending.
As well as showcasing the largest collection of historic memorabilia the sport has to offer in the UK, the Centre in Newmarket has also hosted a number of special art and photographic exhibitions including ‘Selling Champions: Tattersalls at 250’; ‘Gods of Sport: 50 Years of Sporting Photography by Chris Smith’; ‘Boxiana: Heroes of the Ring’ the current exhibitions are: ‘Painting Winners: Sir Alfred Munnings’ and ‘On Your Bike: The Art of Cycling’
In its first 12 months it has tripled the attendance figures of the town’s original museum, been shortlisted for the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 alongside Tate Modern and recently won the 2017 Suffolk Museum of the Year Award. It was awarded Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status in July which is not only a testament to the quality of the work and objects within the site and its ambition, but also to the hard work of the staff and volunteers. The future looks bright for the National Heritage Centre with robust plans in place to continue to increase visitor numbers, including an exciting programme of events for 2018.
The racing industry, local councils along with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council for the cultural sector have all voiced their support.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: “The National Heritage Centre for our sport launched at the end of last year after a fantastic effort to transform some of the most important historic buildings linked to origins of horseracing. It has created a cutting edge, award-winning museum which brilliantly showcases our sport and its history. We support the museum team in their efforts to continue to develop the popularity of this attraction."
Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club, said: “The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art is a wonderful place to visit, and it’s an important venture both for Newmarket and British Racing as a whole. I wish the team all the best in the future and the Jockey Club is right behind them.”
Maggie Carver, Chairman of the Racecourse Association, said: "The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art has quickly developed into an incredibly important asset for the racing community and we are very lucky to be able to make use of it. We are hugely supportive of the ambition the project has shown and the exciting future plans have the backing of all racecourses."
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art has undergone an impressive transformation and is already a cultural attraction of which the East of England can be proud.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) East of England, said: “Thanks to nearly £5m raised by National Lottery players we’ve been delighted to support The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art and all of the incredible team and volunteers behind its successful opening last year. The museum offers a fantastic insight to an exciting part of our heritage and we look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries.”
Cllr Andy Drummond, Forest Heath District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, added: “Forest Heath wants to pay tribute to the whole museum team and is confident that, based on progress to date, it will go on to become the major regional visitor attraction that we all envisaged. Why wouldn’t it? I personally think it is a fantastic celebration not just of Newmarket’s racing heritage but of sport in general – and the Queen agreed when she opened the Centre last November.
“Most new ventures go through a challenging first year. But I see the last 12 months very much like a horse’s first race. Great promise has been shown and lessons learned. Now it will push on to become a champion and Forest Heath will be backing it every step of the way”
Cllr Richard Smith of Suffolk County Council said: “Palace House is contributing to the growth of Newmarket and surrounding area. It is also having a positive impact on the lives of the people who visit and participate in its learning and engagement programme. We continue to work together with Palace House with confidence it can move forward as a robust and stable organisation.”