The lighthouse and the sea at Orford Ness

HLF’s strategic collecting programme back by popular demand 


Today, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is announcing an investment of £5m which aims to make a real difference in helping the UK’s museums, libraries and archives develop their collections. 

This initiative – Collecting Cultures – builds on the achievements of the original Collecting Cultures programme which ran six years ago following extensive consultation with a wide range of museums, libraries and archives. Grants of between £50,000 and £500,000 will be available for developing collections over time through targeted purchases with an emphasis on enhancing knowledge, skills and public engagement.

Fiona Talbott, HLF Head of Museums, Libraries and Archives, said: "Collecting Cultures has been part of an on-going dialogue and commitment about how the Heritage Lottery Fund can best help museums, libraries and archives to secure acquisitions and build-up curatorial knowledge for the future. We’re delighted to have had such a positive response to this area of our funding and to be offering further opportunities to foster a true culture of collecting.

"HLF’s Collecting Cultures was a ground-breaking scheme when it was launched in 2007. It enabled applicants for the first time to purchase what they needed to develop collections strategically. Initially designed for museums, Collecting Cultures is back and has been extended to include archives and libraries."

The programme has three aims: to develop collections through acquisitions; to encourage e-culture of collecting through research and increased curatorial skills; and to create greater public engagement with collections. It has a requirement to spend at least 50% of the grant on purchases. One innovative feature is that applicants will have a sum of money in advance so that they can collect as and when the opportunity arises. They will not need permission to buy individual items and so will be able to be move faster on potential purchases.

Collecting Culture applications must be received by 2 May 2014 for decisions in September 2014. An online application pack is available at the Collecting Cultures programme page.

Success stories from the first Collecting Cultures programme include:

  • The Jurassic Coast Museums Partnership in Dorset purchased a number of fossils, including a Jurassic Turtle - “one of the most important fossils in the world” - from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
  • The National Museums Northern Ireland added to their current collections on HMS Titanic and the White Star Line. This enabled them to tell the personal stories of survivors in connection to last year’s centenary
  • The Museum of English Rural Life in Reading acquired over four hundred objects reflecting post-war rural England including: Glastonbury Festival programmes; Corgi toys; Arts & Crafts furniture; and a Series 1 Land Rover
  • London’s Garden History Museum collected nearly 80 works of art illustrating aspects of gardens and gardening. Items included pictures by the photographer Martin Parr, prints by Anthony Gross and Harold Gilman’s Portrait of a Black Gardener

Further information

HLF press office: Katie Owen on 020 7591 6036, mobile: 07973 613 820.

Dovedale open air gallery 
Dovedale in the Peak District was turned into an open-air picture gallery, with facsimiles showcasing art of the dale acquired through the Enlightenment! project

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