Dr Jenner’s House museum fights for survival

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 31.10.2018
Trustees appeal for donations to avoid closure
The trustees of Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Gardens in Gloucestershire have launched an international campaign, Together for Jenner, to save the venue from closure.

The museum is run by an independent charity, the Jenner Trust, and receives no regular public funding. It is struggling to fill a £20,000 budget deficit and will be forced to close next March if it is unable to raise the necessary funds.

The museum operates on the site where Edward Jenner pioneered the discovery of the smallpox vaccine in the 1790s, and explores the story of vaccination and the eradication of smallpox. It runs education programmes and engages with contemporary scientific research, as well as maintaining an extensive archive on the history of disease eradication.

The chair of the trust, Timothy Wallington, said: “Dr Jenner’s House is a much-loved museum and tells a story which is incredibly significant today. We want to show how science can change the world for the better. We believe that our museum has a crucial relevance and purpose in a modern world where vaccination rates are falling, however we are also in severe financial difficulty and at risk of closure unless we can secure £20,000 in unrestricted funding before March 2019.”

The museum held an open day and press photocall earlier this month asking visitors to show their support for the campaign. The campaign has so far raised more than £12,500 towards its £20,000 target.

The museum's manager Owen Gower said: “We have been really encouraged by the initial response to our Together for Jenner campaign, and particularly the turnout for our photocall, where over 230 people from Berkeley and further afield came together as a public demonstration of how important the museum is to them.

"This is a site of world importance, the beginning of something that has saved countless lives and continues to save millions of lives every year, and we’ve had significant international support for our campaign. We already knew that our small team of staff and volunteers love this place, but now we can show that other people do too.”

Several other museums are currently under threat of closure. The Wisbech and Fenland Museum is appealing to local businesses, groups and charities to join its Founders Scheme before the end of the year after council funding cuts left it facing a £25,000-a-year deficit.

And the John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich is facing an uncertain future due to plans to demolish its current site to make way for a housing development.

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