The Oxford University Museums partnership has been successful in its application to continue its relationship with Arts Council England (ACE) as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). Oxford University Museums have been an ACE Major Partner Museum since ACE took over funding for regional museums in 2012, and is pleased to continue to work with ACE as part of its redesigned national portfolio, which now includes museums and libraries as well as arts and cultural organisations.
Together the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum will receive over £5.2m in funding over the next four years (2018-2022).
ACE funding underpins the museums’ work with the public and wider sector by providing capacity to go above and beyond their core offer. This significant award marks ACE’s confidence in Oxford University Museums as centres of excellence for scholarship and public engagement. Last year the museums welcomed more than 2 million visitors through their doors, and provided formal learning sessions to over 120,000 school and HE students, engaged 40,000 children and young people and 65,000 adults in special onsite activities, and 5,000 young people and 15,000 adults in outreach activities.
The funding will support the museums to work with community groups, connecting them with the museums’ internationally acclaimed collections and ensuring that the museums reflect diverse voices and stories. For example the Museum of the History of Science has been engaging with local young people from the Muslim community to provide additional social and historical context to the Islamic scientific instruments on display; and the Pitt Rivers Museum recently led ‘Out in Oxford’, a cross-collections project with the local LGBTQ+ community in order to tell LGBTQ+ stories through key objects across the University’s collections.
Lucy Shaw, Head of the Oxford University Museums Partnership said, "This significant funding is a vote of confidence in our museums. It is an acknowledgement of the work we have been doing to share our collections with diverse audiences from students and researchers to children, young people and community groups. They inspire passion for art, science, and history, and they ignite inspiration and learning. They are spaces for debate and exploring difficult questions, but they are also places of great enjoyment and fun. Most importantly our museums are open to everyone. Funding from ACE will enable us to keep doing what we do best, and will challenge us to innovate even more."
ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley has said that the portfolio of organisations funded for the period from 2018-2022 are “representative of and relevant to” contemporary society. Collectively 831 arts and cultural organisations will receive £409m each year, or £1.6bn over the whole period.