Pounds 137m Dowry for Museums Renaissance

By David Lister and Stephen Goodwin | The Independent (London, England), February 21, 1997 | Go to article overview
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Pounds 137m Dowry for Museums Renaissance


David Lister and Stephen Goodwin, The Independent (London, England)


The National Lottery yesterday handed out a bonanza of pounds 137m to 23 major museums and galleries ranging from the Tate Gallery in London to a new National Museum of Football in Preston.

It left the institutions celebrating a moment as historic as the time in 1753 when a previous lottery funded the building of the British Museum.

The grants, which were being hailed as heralding a renaissance for museums, were carefully and strategically allocated by the Heritage Lottery Fund under Lord Rothschild, sensitive to past criticism that the lottery had favoured high art and the capital at the expense of popular culture and the regions. Lord Rothschild insisted on acknowledging the widest possible definition of museum culture. With an almost postmodernist approach, he saw that the money flowed to good causes as diverse as displaying more of the history of British art, fathoming the origins of the decorations on canal longboats, and saving millions of feet of priceless film and television material from decomposition. The Tate Gallery in London, receiving pounds 18.7m was able to confirm expansion of its Millbank site and pledge to bring 250 pictures out of storage and on to display - Gainsboroughs, Hogarths, Hockneys et al. It will also have an additional entrance with a grand staircase linking the old and new galleries. Further along the cultural spectrum a pounds 5.7m grant was approved in principle for a National Museum of Football. It will be located at Preston North End's Deepdale stadium - the oldest ground in the Football League, founded in 1888. The National Waterways Museum at Gloucester received a pounds 1.4m grant to help improve galleries, education, research and visitor service. Thirty rare items of "roses and castles" ware will go on display for the first time. A narrowboat, decorated with brightly coloured roses and fantasy castles is the classic image of the canals of England. But the origins of the boatmen's art remain uncertain, and the award will help fund research. Three museums in Manchester will share pounds 35m with pounds 15m going towards a project to extend Manchester Art Gallery. The increased space will enable a dramatic increase from 5 to 50 per cent of the amount of the collection that can be shown. Manchester Museum received pounds 12m and the city's Museum of Science and Industry received pounds 8.

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