Museums to receive funding

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The Museums of Oxford University are to be given a government grant of £7.874 million as part of the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council’s (MLA) “Renaissance in the Regions” scheme.
The University Museum Group, made up of The Ashmolean, The University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of the History of Scienceand the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens, is part of the South Eastern Hub of the MLA that will receive the funding.
The University’s museums are keen to spend the additional government funding on its educational programmes in order to widen their range of visitors. Last year the museums saw 80,000 children visit with school groups.
Estelle Morris, Minister for Arts, said, “Audiences have risen, and the number of school children visiting museums is up by 30 per cent, many of them from schools in England’s most deprived wards, thanks to such funding. The MLA have also provided support for the Pitt Rivers’ two-year ‘What’s Upstairs?’ project set for completion in 2006.”
Dr Stephen Johnston, Assistant Keeper of the Museum of the History of Science, said, “We are obviously delighted that the money is there,” but added that it was too early to say how the grant will be spent. “Government funding of regional museums is something we are very supportive of,” said Johnson. “The Ashmolean is a welcome receiver of such funding, last year receiving £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the largest single amount granted in 2004.”
A spokesperson for the University said that the museums had been “chosen as flagships museums to lead the way, as well as providing leadership in museum modernisation and sharing the best practice for the museums and galleries community in that region.”
Professor Nicholas Mayhew, Deputy Director of the Ashmolean Museum said, “Although most of Oxford’s museum funding comes through other channels, the ‘Renaissance in the Regions’ scheme should bring almost three times as much central government support to museums in the South East in 2007-8 compared with 2005-6.”
“The extra government cash should enable Oxford University’s museums to continue with their popular education programmes and do more and more for the widest possible range of visitors,” Mayhew added.
MLA Chair Mark Wood said, “England has some of the finest regional museums in the world, and with additional funding they have shown they can further increase their appeal to a broad sector of the population.”ARCHIVE: oth week TT 2005

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