Bucks County Museum has unveiled an ambitious £6m expansion plan.
The museum is bidding for £5m in lottery funding, to be supplemented by 1million of local fundraising and grants to pay for the massive facelift at the Church Street, Aylesbury site.
If successful, the display area will be doubled while the café, shop and community spaces will also be made significantly larger.
Richard De Peyer, director of the Bucks County Museum Trust, said: “The museum is extremely popular but it is a bit limited at present because of insufficient space.
“We can only currently show less than one per cent of our collection, and the lack of room means the museum is not best suited to the schools’ curriculum.
“We are really excited by the project which includes lots of community activities and fantastic volunteer projects to accompany development.
“If we are successful, it would be a huge boost for Buckinghamshire’s heritage and for local people who are keen to learn about their past and countryside.
“The museum would have a great deal more space to display collections and we would be able to simplify the layout.”
He added: “The expansion would allow us to create displays that would tell the chronological story of Bucks in a really interesting way.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed!”
In a time of reduced funding from the taxpayer, the ability of the museum to generate money from sources such as its cafe and shop has become vital.
Mr de Peyer said the expanded cafe would enable them to provide ‘better catering’ including hot food, which ‘is more profitable than snacks’.
He added: “We need to get more visitors in and encourage them to spend more money.”
Meanwhile, the museum said its 150-year-old collections are shortly being ‘enriched by two top secret high-profile national collections which are under wraps until paperwork is finalised’.
They will be unveiled in the winter and next summer and the museum’s expansion would enable it to keep them on display for decades to come.
Mr de Peyer said the collections would attract people from outside the county and had ‘global references’.