Press release

Government matches philanthropy funding for £8 million investment in museums and galleries

Museums and galleries across England will be able to bid for a slice of £8 million funding to improve displays, increase access and enhance public spaces.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Museums and galleries across England will be able to bid for a slice of £8 million joint philanthropic and Government funding to improve displays, increase access and enhance public spaces, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced today.

The DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, financed equally by the Government and the Wolfson Foundation, has a long history of providing capital funding to museums and galleries in England. 

It has supported a wide variety of projects that include renovations and displays at museums and galleries of all sizes across England, in both urban and rural locations.

Ed Vaizey said:

“The DCMS/Wolfson Fund is an excellent example of what can be achieved when public funds are matched with private philanthropy and I am extremely pleased that we have been able to secure its future. 

“The DCMS/Wolfson Fund has had a huge impact on the museums sector and is a much-valued source of funding.  It is often the major, one-off philanthropic donations that make the headlines, but the myriad of grants and improvements that the fund supports are just as vital to museums and galleries and the Wolfson Foundation is equally deserving of our gratitude.”

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said:

“We are pleased to be working alongside government to fund the refurbishment of the country’s museum and galleries.  The funding has already supported a fabulous array of projects ranging from Egyptian mummies to scent bottles.  We hope that the renewal of this programme will further improve the experience of visitors.”

The Fund was originally set up in 1990 and ran for f5 years, distributing £19 million to more than 200 projects across England.  Awards from the fund have often acted as a catalyst for further funding, which has been particularly useful for smaller museums.

Its current incarnation began in 2001 and has awarded £28 million to 217 projects over an 8 year period with the last allocation in August 2009.

With the funding announced today, the DCMS/Wolfson Fund will hold two bidding rounds in the 2011-15 spending review period, each awarding £4 million. Bids will be invited for the first round of funding in April 2011.

Previous awards have included: a new local history gallery for Birmingham Museum and Art gallery; refurbishment of the Bovington Tank Museum; and improved access to a collection including eighty-eight stuffed domestic dogs at the  Natural History Museum at Tring.

Notes to Editors

  1. The DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund (‘the Fund’) provides capital funding for museums and galleries across England to deliver projects in one or more of the following key areas: * Renovation and improvement of the display of exhibits in permanent galleries and exhibition spaces; * Improvements to public spaces and access to the collection; * Physical improvements to access and facilities for disabled visitors; * Physical improvements to collection interpretation; * Improvements to environmental controls in public access spaces and galleries.

  2. Further information is available on the DCMS website.

  3. DCMS and the Wolfson Foundation will be publishing a joint publication in the spring to mark the last eight years of the Fund’s activity.

  4. The Wolfson Foundation is a charitable foundation set up in 1955. Grants are made for the advancement of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities. As a general policy, funding is provided to back excellence, to act as a catalyst and to provide for promising future projects which may currently be underfunded. The Foundation allocates over £30 million each year.

  5. A short film about this announcement can be found at the DCMS YouTube channel.

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Published 18 February 2011