£4 million DCMS/Wolfson funding drive boosts dozens of museums and galleries

By Culture24 Staff | 05 September 2009
A picture of the top deck of a ship

HMS Belfast (above) has been given a £150,000 grant by the DCMS

A Bronze Age gallery at Wiltshire Heritage Museum showing off Britain's "first Crown Jewels", the world-class fine arts collection at the Bowes Museum in County Durham and the historic command centre of HMS Belfast will receive major cash injections in a £4 million funding sweep announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The Museums and Galleries Improvement Scheme will spruce up displays and facilities at 34 museums across the country in a series of grants supplied by the Department and charitable trust The Wolfson Foundation.

"These grants help provide the extras that normal funding sometimes cannot reach, going towards good quality museum projects which will enhance displays and interpretation as well as showing good value for money," said Culture Minister Barbara Follett, applauding the Foundation's "generosity" in "matching the Government's investment pound-for-pound."

"We are fortunate to have so many excellent museums and galleries with fascinating collections and dedicated staff, providing a really great visitor experience."

A picture of a gallery with chairs and dim lighting from chandeliers

The Bowes Museum is currently undergoing a £12 million revamp. © Continuum

The Bowes Museum has won £300,000 to transform three main Picture Galleries containing one of the largest collections of Spanish painting in Britain, adding new environmental controls, panels and lighting to works by artists including El Greco and Goya, as well as fellow European masters such as Turner and Boucher.

"Paintings are displayed throughout the building, but the Museum has a suite of three galleries on the second floor which represent one of the largest spaces dedicated to the display of pictures in England," said Director Adrian Jenkins.

"This generous award will help us to show our collections to their best advantage."

a large gold diamond shaped plague with engraved detail

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum will unveil "Crown Jewels" with £150,000 from the DCMS. © David Bukach and Birmingham University

In Devizes, the Wiltshire Heritage Museum will use £150,000 to create a new prehistoric gallery showcasing material excavated from Stonehenge, starring a Bronze Age burial found at nearby Bush Barrow which was described by The Daily Mail as "Britain's first Crown Jewels" belonging to "the King of Stonehenge".

"This substantial grant is a major step forward towards our goal of putting the gold objects on permanent display and creating new galleries to display our important prehistoric collections," said Museum Chairman Bill Perry, hailing the first success in a fundraising campaign launched last May.

"This is fantastic news for the Museum, our visitors and for Devizes," added David Dawson, a Director of the Museum.

"We are now working closely with English Heritage and Salisbury Museum on the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre, and our new displays will encourage thousands of people to discover Devizes."

a square gold belt hook

A belt hook from Bush Barrow is among the artefacts the Wiltshire Heritage Museum wants to put on permanent display. © David Bukach and Birmingham University

The command and control centre aboard HMS Belfast, one of the Imperial War Museum's five branches, will also be reinterpreted thanks to £150,000.

"The quality of applications received was extremely high," reflected Paul Ramsbottom, Executive Secretary of the Wolfson Foundation.

"The projects funded will help to improve the enjoyment of this country's diverse and wonderful heritage collections."

Visit the Fund Round report online for a full list of recipients.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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