PLANS have been unveiled for a new-look museum in Wrexham.
A £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has set the ball rolling toward a major refurbishment.
Bosses will then bid for another grant from a £3m pot to fund building work in 2007.
The ambitious project will completely transform the 18th Century Militia Barracks on Regent Street, making the museum a centre for history and culture in North-East Wales.
The development of the museum will ensure a first-class heritage, learning and archives centre for the community.
Museum staff are currently working closely with the Friends of the Museum, residents, schools, local businesses and partners to ensure the facility meets the needs of the people of Wrexham.
Council leader Neil Rogers said: 'The refurbishment is a wonderful opportunity to develop a major museum facility appropriate to a town of Wrexham's status. It will be a resource and an attraction of regional importance.'
At present the council has allocated resources towards the development of a Stage 1 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will be submitted later this year with further funding allocated to the full-scale redevelopment if the bid is successful.
Cllr Rogers added: 'We have been successful in acquiring this £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. If there is £3m available from within the Lottery, I want a piece of that cake to be spent in Wrexham.
'But if Wrexham can only secure a portion of the money, there will be a contingency plan in place and the council will discuss other ways to fund the project.'
The development will bring extra facilities and exhibitions to Wrexham and expand the learning and archive centre for the community and schools.
It will also enable more of the museum's own collections to be shown and will provide a permanent home for the Welsh Football Collection.
The recent success of the John Charles exhibition, which attracted record audiences, has spurred council chiefs to promote the museum's potential.
Cllr Rogers added: 'This will have benefits for young people in Wrexham as far as education is concerned. It is not just for people my age, it is about making the place welcoming to children and to encourage our schools to come and visit the building.'
Alan Watkin, chief leisure, libraries and culture officer, said the museum could also house the Royal Welch Fusilier's collection, including letters and diaries written by Wrexham soldiers during the First World War.