Cambridge Collections Awarded Arts Council England Funding

Visitors in the Fitzwilliam Museum


Culture in Cambridge receives a boost with a £913,641 Arts Council England (ACE) award to the University’s museums and collections.


It is heartening to see this continued recognition of the important role the collections play within our local communities

Kamal Munir

ACE has awarded renewed National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status to the consortium of seven museums (£617,534) and to Kettle’s Yard, the University’s contemporary art gallery (£296,107).

The University cares for the country’s highest concentration of internationally important collections outside London, with more than five million works of art, artefacts and specimens.

Together, they form an international tourist attraction and the largest cultural provider in the East of England, one of the country’s most rapidly growing regions.

The University museums work closely together with the University’s Botanic Garden, Library and other collections, and Cambridge’s independent museums and cultural organisations, providing vital sector support across Cambridgeshire and the region.

“University collections have a unique power to bring people together from across the world to explore today’s big questions, looking at the past and present to help determine our future,” said Kamal Munir, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for University Community & Engagement.

“This is a difficult funding landscape and we know that ACE were faced with hard decisions during an investment round that received more applications than ever before. In that context, we’re especially pleased to have received further investment in the University collections.

“While this grant represents a reduction of 40% from current funding levels, it is heartening to see this continued recognition of the important role the collections play within our local communities,” Munir said.

Driven by research and shaped by communities, the work of the museums is grounded in the University’s commitment to contribute to society through education, learning and research at the highest levels of excellence, and encompasses collaboration with world-renowned contemporary artists, game-changing research-led exhibitions and wide-ranging inclusion and learning programmes, promoting wellbeing, creativity and connectivity.

“While there is no doubt that this significant reduction to our current level of Arts Council England funding represents a major challenge, we’re grateful for the support announced today, especially given the difficult times that many people are facing,” said Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, lead partner of the museums NPO.

“As we look ahead to our future, we remain committed to continuing to engage the widest possible audience, both in the enormously unequal region of Cambridgeshire and beyond, and look forward to working with ACE and other partners and funders to deliver our ambitious programmes.”

The museums are undertaking a long-term investigation into the legacies of empire and enslavement, and are currently sharing findings and inviting challenge and conversation with audiences and communities through a major public programme, Power and Memory. An upcoming collaborative programme will also inspire action to mitigate the climate crisis through engaging audiences with innovative environmental research.

Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard said: “We are proud to continue to be an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation. This core funding supports our work making outstanding exhibitions, conserving and animating the house and collection, engaging with diverse community groups and providing a learning programme – so contributing powerfully to the Let’s Create strategy.”

Jo McPhee, Head of Partnerships, added: “Cambridge is frequently ranked as the most unequal city in the country. Our communities and the sector are facing increasingly challenging times. Despite a reduction in our funding, we will continue to work with delivery partners, including the City and County Councils, and cultural sector colleagues to support our communities and create a flourishing cultural offer that’s open and accessible to everyone.”

The University of Cambridge Museums are

  • Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Museum of Classical Archaeology
  • Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Kettle’s Yard
  • Polar Museum
  • Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
  • Whipple Museum of the History of Science
  • Museum of Zoology

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