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History of the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum

The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum was established in 1986 as the Museum of Empire & Commonwealth Trust. Following a period of planning and fund-raising, the Trust in 1989 acquired a 99-year lease on the Grade I listed Brunel station building at Bristol Temple Meads as a home for the Museum.

Restoration work began on the building in 1993. Over £4.5 million has been spent upon these works. At the same time as the restoration, the Trust began to assemble the objects, archives, photographs and other evidence such as oral history which would enable a stimulating and informative museum to be founded.

The Museum opened fully to the public on September 26, 2002. It was officially opened by the Museum’s Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, on October 25, 2002. lt is now open every day 10.00am to 5.00pm, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

It is the first major museum in the United Kingdom to cover the 500-year history and contemporary relevance of Britain’s colonial past and modern day Commonwealth.