£3 Million To Be Invested In New Museum Research Projects

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 13 August 2008
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an illuminated mansuscript featuring a king on a throne

The British Library, the Courtauld Institute of Art and the University of London will collaberate on a project exploring the illuminated manuscripts of the Kings and Queens of England. Royal 20 B. VI , f.2. King Richard II enthroned, receiving the book from the author Philippe de M Mézières. 1395-1396. Courtesy British Library

Galleries, museums, libraries and archives have been recognised as the natural intermediaries between academic research and the public with a £3 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The grant will be divided between 13 research projects.

The AHRC reported that the standard of the applications for a share of the grant was so high that additional funding was found to support more projects than was originally intended.

The funding is intended to allow universities to work with museums, libraries, galleries and archives enabling both sets of institutions to better interpret, communicate and present their collections to a wider public.

In order to achieve this aim, many of the research projects will also involve collaboration with local authorities, NHS hospitals and art institutes.

One such project is called Taking Heritage into Hospitals. Recognising that arts programmes can have a positive effect on patient wellbeing, researchers from the hospitals of University College London, Islington Local Authority, the British Museum, the University of Oxford and Reading Museums Service will take museum collections into hospitals with the aim of analysing benefits to patients.

Newport's medieval ship will be rebuilt digitally while the original is being conserved. © Council for British Archaeology

In Cornwall a project called Connecting Cornwall will see the University of Exeter and Porthcurno Telegraph Museum exploring and interpreting the county’s part in the early days of telecommunications.

“These research projects are all wonderful examples of the academic world working closely with museum colleagues to ensure that collections are seen and understood by more people than ever before,” said Professor Philip Esler, Chief Executive of the AHRC.

A photograph of the inside of an old telecommunications room

The vintage workshop at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is still used by volunteers to maintain the working equipment. Now it will also host researchers from the University of Exeter. Courtesy Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

While some of the outcomes will result in academic papers, the grants will also be put towards more innovative offerings. These include enabling public online access to finds and collections such as in the University of Wales work with Lampeter and Newport City Council.

They intend to digitally rebuild the medieval merchant dubbed The Newport Ship, which was discovered on the banks of the River Usk in 2002, while the original ship, the most substantial such vessel ever found in Britain, is conserved.

Other projects across the UK will result in podcasts and a series of major regional and national exhibitions.

The grant is being divided up with individual project funding ranging from £150,000 to nearly £300,000 going to the 13 projects.

Other museums benefitting from the funding include: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Birmingham Libraries and Archives, The National Railway Museum, The National Library of Scotland and Tyne and Wear Museums.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: