Birmingham Museums Trust has received funding to improve accessibility

Future of DCMS Wolfson fund yet to be secured

Geraldine Kendall, 05.03.2015
Fund awarded £3m in grants to museums in England last week
The future of the DCMS Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund is yet to be confirmed after the final £3m worth of grants in its 2014/16 funding round were handed out last week.

The programme, which is jointly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the philanthropic Wolfson Foundation, supports museums and galleries in England to improve the quality of their displays, exhibition spaces, collections interpretation and disabled access.

“We have not yet agreed funding going forward,” said Lin Richardson, the foundation’s head of grants and policy. “We’ve spent out all the funds that were committed in this round but we’ve not yet had discussions with government about funding in future.”

Richardson said that the fund was a joint partnership and would come to an end if it lost funding from either partner. “Obviously we hope it will continue,” she added.

Wolfson's trustees are due to discuss the foundation's contribution to the fund at a meeting in the summer. The DCMS budget will be set in the spending review following the general election in May.

A decision on the future of the fund will be announced at the end of the year.

Last week’s grants were awarded to 25 museums and galleries across England. Among the successful recipients was the National Motor Museum in Hampshire, which won funding of just under £100,000 to install a new gallery on motoring technology and innovation.

In the north-east, Tullie House Museum was awarded £50,000 to create Vikings Revealed, a display of finds from a Viking cemetery at Cumwhitton, near Carlisle. The display will tell the story of the 10-year archaeological investigation of the site, and give visitors an insight into the forensic processes used to identify graves.

Royal Museums Greenwich in London is also set to benefit after being awarded £140,000 to build a suite of permanent galleries in the Flamsteed apartments, where the Astronomers Royal once lived and worked, enabling objects relating to the astronomers and their families to go on display.

One of the largest grants went to National Museums Liverpool, which received £300,000 towards the redevelopment of the World Museum Liverpool’s Ancient Egypt gallery.

Other significant awards went to Luton Culture, which won almost £220,000 for a redevelopment project at Wardown Park Museum, and Birmingham Museums Trust, which received a grant of just over £260,000 to improve visitor accessibility at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Birmingham Museums Trust will use the funding to install more user-friendly displays and signage, and to upgrade physical access. The grant will also allow the museum to improve its provision for children and families, including the installation of a children’s museum in one of its galleries.

“This grant will help us to make significant improvements to the visitor experience in the museum and art gallery,” said the trust’s director Ellen McAdam. “I am particularly excited by new plans to create a children’s museum in one of our galleries. We hope to catch our visitors young and keep them for life.”

The DCMS Wolfson fund was established in 2000 and has distributed more than £40m to institutions in England to date.

Institutions awarded grants in last week's round of funding


The article originally said that Birmingham Museums Trust's grant would be used across all of its venues. This has been corrected.