DCMS/Wolfson museum fund awards £4m to 35 museums across England

Main Image: Derby Silk Mill's Museum of Making has been awarded £90,000 to enhance its temporary exhibition space

The 35 museums and galleries across the country will receive grants of up to £300,000 as part of the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, which supports national and regional museums across England to improve the quality of displays, enhance exhibition spaces and public access, and increase awareness of their collections

The Wolfson Foundation won the Special Recognition Award at last year’s Museums + Heritage Awards (deadline for this year’s entries is 1 February)

The successful museums and galleries are part of the 13th round of funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.

Jointly funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and philanthropic charity, the Wolfson Foundation, the fund has so far given £48m to help 382 projects at 114 museum groups and galleries since it was started in 2001.

Our longstanding partnership with DCMS [is] an excellent example of how we as a charity can work together fruitfully with government

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation

Among the successful museums receiving funding was the Horniman Museum and Gardens where Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis and Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation announced the news yesterday.

The Horniman will receive a grant of £90,000 to redevelop its Music Gallery to support the ‘Music in the Making’ project. Musicians from a range of genres including classical, grime and R&B will be commissioned to create and perform works inspired by the Horniman’s collection, transforming the way in which audiences interact with the museum.

“Our museums and galleries are among the best in the world and we are rightly proud of these institutions,” said Michael Ellis. “The DCMS/Wolfson Fund demonstrates how the government and philanthropic organisations can work together to boost our museum sector. We want people up and down the country to enjoy culture and heritage wherever they are. The 35 grants awarded today will make important contributions towards improving the visitor experience; ensuring our wonderful collections are open to as many people as possible.”

Geffrye Museum has been awarded £90,000 towards its major capital project Unlocking the Geffrye and specifically its Collections Study Room and Reading Lounge

The fund aims to provide capital funding to deliver projects in the following key areas:

Material improvements to the display and interpretation of collections, in both permanent galleries and exhibition spaces

Improvements to access and/or interpretation for visitors with disabilities

Physical improvements to public spaces to enhance visitor experience

Improvements to environmental controls, collections storage and conservation facilities to enhance the care of collections

“Our longstanding partnership with DCMS [is] an excellent example of how we as a charity can work together fruitfully with government, said Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation. “One of the great treasures of this country is the sheer quality and range of our heritage collections – stored and displayed in wonderful museums and galleries. This funding will help to provide even better visitor experiences and greater awareness of these fascinating collections. A particular joy of this funding round has been the impressive mix of the projects supported: from a dress collection at Carlisle’s Tullie House to temporary exhibition space in Falmouth’s National Maritime Museum.”

Other successful museums include three museums in Manchester who are set to receive a joint total of more than £240,000 to support projects at the Manchester Museum, the People’s History Museum and Chetham’s Library. Manchester Museum will receive £190,000 for their project ‘hello future’, which will create inclusive and imaginative exhibitions on zoology, earth sciences and archaeology.

Tullie House in Carlisle has received a grant of £252,000 for their project ‘Dressed to Impress’. The Museum looks after an outstanding collection of fine art, natural science and archeology and this project will significantly improve access for visitors to an exhibition looking at changing fashion styles dating from 1720 onwards. The DCMS/Wolfson funding will allow the museum to conserve and display 40 outfits for the first time.

The Museum of East Anglian Life looks after 17 historic buildings and their successful project, Heritage Farm, will receive £250,000. The project is the first part of a 10-year plan to become the national museum of food and will help to address issues such as childhood obesity, conservation conscious farming and increase the number of visitors to Suffolk.

The Black Country Living Museum’s Forging Ahead project aims to save landmark community and commercial buildings from demolition and rebuild them at the open air museum. It has been awarded £90,000 towards its Cast-Iron Houses