UK museums to benefit as Art Fund announces details of schemes worth 1 million to boost collections
LONDON.- As part of its commitment to boost funding to museums and galleries by over 50% by 2014, the Art Fundannounces that six museums and galleries (including one partnership) have secured a share of £600,000 funding from RENEW – the scheme that will enable museums and galleries to build new collections of fine, decorative or applied art. £500,000 from the funding pot has been allocated so far with a further £100,000 still to be announced. The initiative is funded thanks to a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation as part of its 50th birthday celebrations.
RENEW aims to build future centres of excellence by supporting fresh areas of collecting. 41 galleries applied for a share of the funding and the following five projects across six museums and galleries have been successful in their bids to build new collections:
*Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology awarded £100,000 towards building a collection of modern prints and works on paper from Australia, Canada and South Africa
*University of Durham Oriental Museum awarded £50,000 towards the creation of Made in Japan, a collection of contemporary Japanese art
*Glasgow Museums awarded £100,000 towards developing a collection of South Asian art
*Wolverhampton Art Gallery in partnership with the Imperial War Museum, London awarded £150,000 towards building a collection about conflict in Israel, Palestine and its implications in the wider Middle East
*York Art Gallery awarded £100,000 towards the creation of a collection of contemporary fine art which focuses on flesh and artists’ responses to the human body.
National Gallery Curatorial Traineeships
The announcement comes alongside news of funding for two schemes to help museums, galleries and individuals to develop their curatorial skills. The first is the National Gallery’s new curatorial traineeships which will allow regional museums to nurture the next generation of curators. Manchester Art Gallery and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums have been successful in their application to partner with the National Gallery in London to benefit from the curatorial training. The scheme begins this month and lasts for 22 months during which time the National Gallery will provide mentoring and support for two trainees to work with the collections – both at the National Gallery and at Manchester and the North East – with a focus on European paintings pre-1900.
Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants
The second initiative is the Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grants scheme aimed at helping curators maintain and develop their specialist knowledge and expertise. The Art Fund will award grants totalling £50,000 every year for 5 years, giving curators greater opportunities to travel and pursue research in their specialist areas so that they can better support the development of their museums’ collections. This new funding stream has been established thanks to the generous support of philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, who recently donated £15 million to keep the 13 paintings, Jacob and his sons, by Francisco de Zurbarán at Auckland Castle after they were due to be auctioned by Church Commissioners. It has been developed in consultation with Anthony Mould, art expert and dealer, who will chair the scheme’s grant-making panel at the Art Fund.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund said: “As part of our commitment to do more, we are delighted to be making these announcements today, helping to make a difference to the quality and understanding of art in public collections throughout the country. Through RENEW, we look forward to helping these museums provide a permanent home for some really visionary new collections. Combined with the new two schemes to help galleries make the very best of their in-house curatorial skills, this is a significant step forward and we’re delighted to be working with the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Jonathan Ruffer to make it happen.”
Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, said: “The RENEW project will provide vital support to museums and galleries to expand access to public art collections. We are delighted to be involved with the project and help these museums to pioneer fresh and innovative approaches to their collections and preserve them for future generations.”
Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery said: “We know that curatorial expertise in regional museums has been greatly reduced in recent years. We have joined forces with the Art Fund to do something to halt this decline and ensure that discerning and judicious collecting for regional collections and a deep understanding of what those collections already include continues in the future. We are looking forward to working with Manchester Art Gallery and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums on this important project.”
Jonathan Ruffer said: “Britain’s heritage helps define who we are, and puts our national life into historical context. But it can only play this powerful role when there are advocates who can tell the story. If our curators, and those who come fresh to research, are no longer in place, all of us are the poorer.”
These new initiatives have been made possible thanks to the commitment announced in April by the Art Fund to increase its programme of funding for museums and galleries by over 50% by 2014 – up from £4.5million to £7million. Part of the plans to boost its support are being met by the introduction of the National Art Pass which gives free entry to over 200 museums, galleries and historic houses across the country as well as 50% off major exhibitions. All proceeds go towards the Art Fund’s funding to museums and galleries throughout the UK.