A view of the canal arm and anchor forge at the Black Country Living Museum

BT Archives and Black Country museum win Designated status

Geraldine Kendall, 21.02.2012
First time ACE has handed out the prestigious accolade
BT Archives and the Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) have been awarded Designated status by the Arts Council England (ACE), formally identifying their collections as a vital part of national cultural heritage.

It is the first time ACE has been responsible for awarding Designation since it took on responsibility for museums, libraries and archives last October. The accolade recognises pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in non-national museums in England.

BT Archives gained Designated status for its documentation of the leading role the UK and BT has played in communications technology since the industry’s inception.

The BCLM was recognised for its documentation of industrial and social history in the Black Country. The open air museum features original mine shafts, limekilns and a canal arm.

BCLM director Andrew Lovett said: “This is an enormous step forward for the museum, not only recognising the strength of our entire collection, but an endorsement of how we are developing our own style of engaging people creatively in history.”

England now holds 140 Designated collections in 112 different organisations. Institutions with Designated status are expected to deliver the fullest possible public access to their collections and take a wider leadership role in the sector.

Designation also became one of the eligibility criteria for a place on ACE's Renaissance major grant portfolio, which announced its successful partners last month.

Museums Association director Mark Taylor said: "The decision by ACE to insist on a Designated collection as part of every major grant application has given Designation a real boost. Expect an increase in applications."

ACE will hold its next Designation panel meeting in July.