Detail from Nathan Carter, Full Colour Spectrum Sonar on the Wire to Faroes Small Craft Outbound, 2009; Collage, pencil, and ink on paper; 101.9 x 132 cm; Collection of mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Presented by the Art Fund under Art Fund International

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund awards £413,000

Patrick Steel, 12.07.2011
Seven organisations from a total of 85 applications receive collections funding
Seven organisations have been successful in the first round of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. The successful museums and heritage organisations were informed this week by the Museums Association, which administers the fund.

James Beighton, the curator of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), which was awarded £68,912 towards a project that will see the museum recruit a registrar and conservator to test a business model for corporate loans and a conservation service for use by artists and other museums in the region, said: “This is fabulous news, and allows us to test out a new business model that will aim to make these positions self-sustaining."

The funding would allow mima to test the financial viability of loaning its collections more widely, for a fee, to other museums and to non-museum venues, he said.

Non-museum venues might be town halls, school universities, or even shopping centres, provided the right security was in place and the right environment could be achieved for the objects, he added, and the loans could also open the door for other museums to do the same.

“We hope that this will become a case study that can be used by other museums to justify appointments to these positions in the future,” he said.

Sally Colvin, the MA’s collections coordinator, said: “I was blown away by the standard of applications we received and it was very difficult to choose the projects that have been awarded grants.

“The entire selection committee commended the quality of project ideas and we hope that museums will continue to come to us with such strong ideas in future rounds. I’m also really pleased with the range of organisations and activities with collections that we’ve been able to fund.”

The projects

Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading


For ‘A Sense of Place’ a project to use collections information to build a series of innovative interpretive tools for use in the galleries and online.

The aim is to turn the traditional museum catalogue into a more flexible and interactive resourse.

Pitt Rivers Museum


‘Reel to Real’ is a project to digitise the Museum’s 20th sound collection which ranges from British children’s songs to the sound of earth bows being used in the rainforests of central Africa.

The project will work in partnership with the British Library and Oxford e-research centre and will find new uses for the collection to enhance visitor experience of galleries and museum events.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima)


A project to put their fine and applied art collection online in order to facilitate loans.

The project would recruit a registrar and conservator who would seek to create a business model for corporate loans and a conservation service that could be used by museums and artists in the region.

Paxton House


For ‘Threads of Power’ a project which will conserve, research and develop the use of a unique 18th century costume collection.
Museum of the Manchester Regiment


A project to research the ‘Man behind the medal’. The stories will be brought to the public through new displays and a series of events.

Creswell Heritage Trust


Creswell Crags is an Ice Age site that has been the focus of excavation work since the 1870s with the result that many of the objects excavated are spread across 40 different museum departments worldwide.

This projects seeks to create a searchable web portal for the Creswell Crags collection and archive.

Social History Curators Group


To create a new and improved version of firstBASE, a web- based resource for all staff working with social history collections.

To apply

The second application deadline for the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund will be Monday 31 October 2011. Organisations can apply for sums of between £20,000 and £100,000.

For more information, and to apply, please click here