An ambitious project examining thousands of unusual marine animals has earned Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (above) an inaugural victory at the Museums Association's Effective Collections scheme.
The Devon institution will dredge up rare examples from ships to delve deeper into the coastal history of the region with the £10,000 award, provided under the new scheme aiming to encourage museums to share out specific parts of their collections.
"Many of the specimens have come from research ships and surveys and can tell us a huge amount about the marine habitats of Plymouth and other areas," said Acting Keeper of Natural History Jan Freedman, who is responsible for more than 150,000 artefacts in his field.
"The Effective Collections scheme puts emphasis on the sharing of museum objects through long-term loan agreements, and some of our spirit preserved specimens could definitely be relevant to other museums. The award should really help us achieve this."
Freedman will decide which collection to put forward and lead various public-facing educational projects, working with the nearby University of Plymouth and the National Marine Aquarium.
Brighton's iconic Royal Pavilion and Museums, the Museum of British Road Transport in Coventry and the Dorset County Museums Advisory Service were also among the winners, completed by Saffron Walden Museum and Colchester and Ipswich Museum. Each will be provided with a further £10,000.
Collections Co-ordinator Sally Cross said the Association had been "really pleased" with the standard of applications.
"It is particularly good to see so many partnerships, as this means many smaller museums are involved who otherwise would not have had a chance to participate," she observed.
"The special project is really innovative, and we are very much looking forward to working on it."
The deadline for the next round of funding applications is March 5 2010, when further projects will be awarded. Visit Effective Collections online for details.