A MULTI-million pound project has started at the National Coal Mining Museum, near Grange Moor.
The project will turn the Hope Pit part of the museum into a centre for school projects on the coal mining industry, focusing on science, geography and design and technology.
The project should be finished by next Easter.
Officials hope it will revolutionise and double what the museum has to offer.
Both Hope Pit and the museum's main Caphouse site are of national importance because they contain unique early 19th century buildings.
A restored pit train connects the two collieries, transporting visitors between sites.
People will be able to learn about Hope Pit's EU-funded water treatment scheme, which uses environmentally friendly settling ponds and reed beds to filter the water pumped from underground before it is discharged into the local watercourse.
Among buildings to be renovated are the fan house, the winding engine house, the compressor house and the colliery workshop.