Museums recognised by major Arts Council grant

Oxford University and Oxfordshire County Council museums have been awarded a Renaissance 'Major Grant' from Arts Council for England (ACE), it has been announced today.

The museums' bid is one of only two successful bids in the South East of England, and one of 16 nationwide. The funding will go towards ‘Oxford ASPIRE’, a programme of joint projects between the Ashmolean Museum, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, and The Oxfordshire County Council Museums Service. The museums have previously received Renaissance funding and the latest award will support improved public access to both the collections and the knowledge of museum staff.

Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Services and University Collections at Oxford University, said: ‘Generous benefactors have helped us renew many of the galleries and facilities in Oxford University’s museums. ACE’s major grant will help ensure that the galleries and expertise of curatorial staff are even better used by schools, and local, national and international visitors and colleagues.’

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: 'It is superb that the Oxfordshire Museums Service has received this significant amount of funding which will help improve the service and make Oxfordshire's Museums national leaders in their field. The improvements will not only encourage more people to use the service, but will also develop digital initiatives to engage new audiences, giving more people access to the fascinating collections and exhibitions on offer for research and learning.'

Sally Abbott, Regional Director for Arts Council England, said: 'The organisations who are to receive major grants funding will play an important role in leading the wider museums sector to achieve excellence. They will ensure a strong mandate for museums in the region to continue to hold internationally significant collections, deliver outstanding programmes and develop innovative partnerships.'

The funding will last from April 2012 to March 2015 under the Renaissance Major Grants scheme. Full details of funding have yet to be announced.