£3m MLA Funding Boosts Regional Museums

By Graham Spicer | 04 April 2006
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photo of an old double decker tram

A project will see local people curate an exhibition from the science and industry collection at Birmingham's Thinktank museum. © Thinktank Trust

Some of England’s most important regional museum collections are to be given a boost thanks to grants totalling £3m from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

A total of 34 projects will receive the funding, which is provided through the Designation Challenge Fund, and will help to make collections as accessible to as many people as possible.

“MLA’s vision for the future of England’s museums is of places where everyone can be inspired to learn and to enjoy these fantastic collections,” said Chris Batt, MLA Chief Executive.

photo of the interior of a museum containing two large totem poles

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University will put its collection of Nunavet artefacts, photographs and documents online. Courtesy MAA

“Our role is to encourage museums to exploit fully the possibilities for these collections, exploring innovative ways to reach audiences whether in the local community or beyond,” he explained.

All of the chosen museums hold designated collections, which means they have been recognised as being of outstanding national and international importance. A project at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will see local communities develop a self-curated exhibition from the science and industry collection at Thinktank, Birmingham’s Science Museum.

Another scheme will see the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge put its resource of photographs, documents and objects from arctic people in eastern Canada online. The museum will also gather input from the Nunavet community there.

photo of a boy wearing a roman helmet

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter will work with local schools and universities to maintain access to its world cultures collections. Courtesy Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

Other recipients of the funding include Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust, London’s Sir John Soane’s Museum and The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery in Exeter.

The projects build on the recommendations of the Museums Association’s (MA) Collections For The Future report. Mark Taylor, Director of the MA, welcomed the funding:

“These awards will shed new light on some of England’s most important museum collections, enabling many more people to enjoy them through new displays and exhibitions, on the web and through outreach events,” he said.

“These awards are a vital step forward in helping museums to realise the potential of their collections more fully.”