A NEW multi-million pound museum is set to be built at Kimmeridge to house a collection of Jurassic Coast fossils.

A £2.7million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been given to the Kimmeridge Trust to develop the museum to showcase the life's work of local collector Steve Etches.

The new centre is planned to open in 2016 and will tell the story of life and death under the seas off Kimmeridge over 150 million years ago.

The Etches Collection contains over 2,000 late Jurassic Kimmeridgian specimens, collected by Steve Etches over the last 30 years.

The new museum building will contain state of the art displays of Steve’s collection and it will also house his workshop where visitors will be able to see him at work conserving and preparing new specimens.

The Kimmeridge Trust is the body responsible for the development and construction of the museum, conserving and enhancing the collection and the operation of the museum.

John Woodward, project director, said: “This project will conserve and enhance this collection for the nation and provide new state of the art community facilities for the local community of Kimmeridge.”

Nerys Watts, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The Etches Collection is truly extraordinary and gives us a comprehensive history of fossil collecting on Dorset's Jurassic Coast.

“We’re delighted to be supporting these plans which will give the collection a state-of-the-art home as well as putting in place an exciting and varied range of activities and volunteer training designed to get more people involved and open up this collection for everyone to enjoy.”

As well as providing a new museum and educational facilities, the building will also provide the village with a much needed replacement for their village hall.

All of Steve’s collection will be available online for academic use as part of the museum’s extensive educational programme.

Prof Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology, University of Cambridge, said: “There is no limit to my admiration of Steve Etches. His collection is a gem for the country and he is a national treasure.”