Collecting Cultures - HLF Announces Grants For Acquisitions

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 05 June 2008
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Sketch of a man in a cap smoking at a bar with a whippet at his feet

Norman Cornish, Man at Bar with Dog. © Norman Cornish, courtesy of University Gallery, Northumbria University

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had some hard decisions to make over the last year after it received 95 applications from museums and galleries for a share in a certain pot of money. The 'Collecting Cultures' pot held £3 million; the applicants asked for £13m.

What were they falling over themselves for? Grants for strategic acquisitions to enhance their collections in a specific field, funds of up to £200,000 that would be allocated over several years. The idea is that, making use of the fund, museums can enhance their collections in a focussed way, rather than looking for HLF support when an interesting painting or object popped up in the auction room.

The HLF chose 22 winners for the Collecting Cultures grants announced on Thursday June 5 2008 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Their projects range from developing collections of Inuit art to trainers and boots from the shoe capital, Northampton, and wallpaper from 1800 to the 1970s.

Sculpture of an Inuit woman with a baby on her back

Carving, Woman Hunter, soapstone. Artist: Akeeaktashuk (1898-1954). Inukjuaq (Port Harrison), Quebec, Canada, circa 1950. © Scott Polar Research Institute

"Collecting Cultures is a groundbreaking scheme for the Heritage Lottery Fund – it's the first time we've given applicants the opportunity to seek out and purchase what they need to develop and build their collections strategically." said Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the HLF.

"This idea evolved following a great many discussions with representatives from a wide range of UK museums and galleries. We have really listened and responded to their needs and the results demonstrate our commitment to helping institutions foster the culture of collections."

The applications (either from individual institutions or consortia with similar interests) had to include plans for collecting in a certain field, but did not need to identify specific items in advance. They also had to show how they planned to develop curatorial skills, increase public involvement and enjoyment of their collections.

"The 22 successful projects are extraordinarily diverse – a real treasure trove of collections from very large national museums to smaller more specialised galleries. There really is something for everyone here, from the classic to the modern," commented Liz Forgan.

Photo of an experimental design chair

Guy Martin, Tula chair in ash, representative of his interests in sustainable design and manufacture. © Crafts Study Centre/David Westwood

Successful projects in full, by region:

East of England

- Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge - Arctic Visions: Inuit Art and Material Culture (£200,000)
- Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery - Collecting Cultures: Sharing Norfolk’s Past (£199,500)

East Midlands

- Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Derby Museum and Art Gallery and Belper North Mill - Enlightenment! Derbyshire Setting the Pace in the Eighteenth Century (£200,000)
- Northampton Museums and Art Gallery and Kettering Manor House Museum – Collecting Cultures - Trainers, Sneakers, Pumps and Daps (£130,000)


- V&A - Staying Power – The story of Black British Identity 1950 – 1990s (£157,500)
- Valence House Museum – The Industries of Barking and Dagenham (£60,000)
- Garden Museum - To develop an art and design collection (£99,400)

North East

- Tyne and Wear Museums – Collecting Design (£145,000)

Northern Ireland

- Fermanagh County Museum, Inniskillings Museum and Derry Heritage and Museum Service – Connection and Division (£100,000)
- National Museums Northern Ireland (Ulster Folk and Transport Museum) – Titanic Built in Belfast (£174,500)

North West

- - Cultural Reflections: Strategic Acquisition for the Whitworth Art Gallery Wallpaper Collection (£196,500)
- Gallery Oldham, The Harris Museum and Art Gallery - The Potters Art in the 20th Century (£82,000)
- /Macclesfield Museums Trust - Changes and Exploration in Silk (£74,500)


- Groam House Museum - Developing the George Bain Collection, Rosemarkie (£99,000)
- Tain and District Museum – Tain Silver – the Collection (£98,400) - – Enriching our Musical Heritage (£80,000)

South East

- Crafts Study Centre, Farnham – Developing a national collection of Modern Crafts (£185,000)
- Museum of English Rural Life, Reading – collecting rural cultures (£95,000)

South West

- Dorset County Museums Advisory Service: Dorset County Museum, Portland Museum, Sidmouth Museum, Lyme Regis Museum, Wareham Museum, Swanage Museum, Langton Maltravers Museum, Allhallows Museum, Fairlynch Museum, Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter – Jurassic Life Initiative (£200,000)


- Chepstow Museum, Monmouth Museum – The Wye Tour (£200,000)

West Midlands

- The Herbert, Coventry, and Wolverhampton Art Gallery – Peace and Reconciliation Project (£199,500)

Yorkshire and Humberside

- National Coal Mining Museum for England – Seeing the Whole Picture (£60,000)

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