£4 million grants announced for English museums under DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund

28 August 2009

Grants totalling £4 million to help improve displays and facilities at 34 museums up and down the country were announced today by Culture Minister Barbara Follett.

The grants, jointly funded by the Culture Department and the Wolfson Foundation, include:

  • £300,000 for the Bowes Museum in County Durham to refurbish three galleries containing one of the largest collections of Spanish painting in Britain,
  • £150,000 for HMS Belfast, one of the Imperial War Museum’s five branches, to allow it to reinterpret the ship’s historic command and control centre; and
  • £150,000 for the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes to create a new Bronze Age Gallery to house material excavated from the heart of the Stonehenge World Heritage site.

Barbara Follett said:

“We are fortunate to have so many excellent museums and galleries in this country, with fascinating collections and dedicated staff, providing a really great visitor experience for the public. These grants help provide the extras that normal funding sometimes cannot reach, going towards good quality museum projects that will enhance displays and interpretation as well as showing good value for money.

“I applaud the Wolfson Foundation’s generosity in once again matching the Government’s investment pound for pound in this important work.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Executive Secretary of the Wolfson Foundation, said:

"The Trustees of the Wolfson Foundation are pleased to be working in partnership with DCMS in support of museums and galleries. The quality of applications received was extremely high, and the projects funded will help to improve the enjoyment of this country's diverse and wonderful heritage collections."

Notes to Editors

  1. A full list of the 34 grant recipients is available on the following pdf document: DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund Round 8 PDF (54kb).

  2. This is the eighth annual round of a joint fund which DCMS runs in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation. There is an annual total of £4 million, to which DCMS and the Foundation contribute £2 million each. The fund aims to provide capital funding for museums and galleries across England to deliver projects in one or a number of the following key areas:

    • Renovation and improvement of the display of exhibits in permanent galleries and exhibition spaces;
    • Improvements to public spaces and access to the collection;
    • Physical improvements to access and facilities for disabled visitors;
    • Physical improvements to collection interpretation;
    • Improvements to environmental controls in public access spaces and galleries.

  3. There are four categories of institution which are eligible to apply for grants from the DCMS/Wolfson Fund. These are: museums and galleries directly sponsored by DCMS; designated university-based collections; museums with designated collections and museums with non-designated collections in Regional Hubs.

  4. With the agreement of the Wolfson Foundation, the DCMS have decided to a pause in new awards next year (2010-11).  This will allow both parties to assess what the Fund has achieved in the last eight years and use this as a basis for looking at how it could add value in future years.

  5. The Wolfson Foundation is a charitable foundation set up in 1955. Grants are made for the advancement of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities. As a general policy, funding is provided to back excellence, to act as a catalyst and to provide for promising future projects which may currently be underfunded. Last year the Foundation distributed some £40 million. For more information visit the Wolfson Foundation website.

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