Factory II. 1994, Willie Doherty. Photograph 122 cm x 183 cm. © Courtesy of the Artist.  National Museums Northern Ireland (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection, gifted 2011)

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund backs seven projects

Gary Noakes, 02.12.2014
£517,000 has been awarded in latest funding round
More than £500,000 has been awarded to seven projects in the latest round of grants for the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.

The Fund, managed by the Museums Association (MA), gives grants ranging from £20,000 to £100,000. Decisions are made by a committee of representatives from the MA, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and others from the museum sector.

Sally Colvin, the MA's collections coordinator, said: "There was remarkably strong competition for grants in this round that I think is shown in the quality of the seven funded projects: every project will work with an outstanding collection to have a significant impact on audiences and on the museum sector."

The successful applicants include a joint project between National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) and Derry City Council Museums & Visitor Service, which received £92,073 to share the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection with audiences in Derry.

The project follows Derry’s status last year as City of Culture. Funding will enable an arts engagement officer to be employed for two years.

“We are absolutely delighted,” said Kim Mawhinney, the NMNI’s head of art. “It’s a critical project that will bring a wonderful collection to the people of Derry and beyond.”

A similar size grant was made to National Museums Liverpool and Royal Pavilion, Museums & Libraries in Brighton & Hove. The joint award will fund Pride and Prejudice, a project to research and reinterpret collections from a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender perspective.

Bruce Castle Museum in north London will use a £90,000 grant to digitise and catalogue its collection of lantern slides and early photographs. Deborah Hedgecock, the museum’s curator, said the project would involve interns and local youth organisations with the aim of helping them understand the relevance of the collection to modern photography.

Bentley Priory Museum, which tells the story of Headquarters Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, will use its £37,000 grant to increase access for visitors that are hearing-impaired, deaf, partially-sighted or blind. The project will involve digitisation of the collection, an audio description tour, online audio descriptions and object handling sessions.

The project was inspired by aircrew who were physically scarred during the conflict. Museum director Eleanor Pulfer said the grant would “substantially increase access and meaningful engagement” to the collection.

Other awards include £94,468 for Cadbury Research Library to support Spreading the Word. This will research, document and run activities to share the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts.

The Museum of London received £90,000 for a major rationalisation of its social and working history collection using "creative methods of disposal", while National Mining Museum Scotland won £21,550 to preserve the site's boilers and boiler house and explore options for their future use.

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