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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 18:55 GMT
Museums share 2m windfall
Oxford's Ashmolean Museum
Oxford's Ashmolean Museum will get 150,000
A windfall of 2m will be shared between 10 museums across England to help improve the way their collections are displayed.

Attractions in Liverpool, London, Bradford, Oxford and Newcastle will get funds to refurbish and convert their galleries.

Among the winners is the Victoria and Albert Museum, which will use 300,000 to return the Painting Galleries to their intended use of displaying 18th- and 19th-Century paintings.

Tate Britain gallery in London
The Tate Britain has 350,000 for improvements
The 10 awards are the first to be made from a new five-year Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.

Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone said: "Top quality collections need top quality displays to bring them alive for museum visitors.

"It is no surprise that those museums which take trouble over presenting their collections in an eye-catching and imaginative way are rewarded with increased visitor numbers."

Philanthropist Lord Wolfson and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have jointly provided the money.

The biggest winners are the Tate Britain and Sir John Soane's Museum, both in London, which get 350,000 each.


Top quality collections need top quality displays to bring them alive

Tessa Blackstone
Arts minister
The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford will use its 260,000 to create a special photography gallery.

Its permanent photographic collection will include images from the Royal Photographic Society's archive.

And in Liverpool, 200,000 will go towards a major new exhibition suite at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Newcastle's Hancock Museum, which specialises in natural history, will create a fossil zone where specimens can be handled and will be accessible to wheelchairs with a 65,000 award.

Historic

In Oxford, 100,000 will allow the Pitt Rivers Museum of anthropology and archaeology to re-open a closed section of the museum's upper gallery.

It will display musical instruments from though the ages.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History will get 165,000, while the Ashmolean Museum, also in Oxford, has been awarded 150,000.

London's Geffrye Museum, dedicated to English domestic interiors, rounds off the grants with 60,000 for a new permanent display in one of its historic almshouses.

Lord Wolfson, former Great Universal Stores and Next chairman, has supported museums since he first suggested a joint-funding plan to the government in 1990.

The Wolfson Foundation was set up by Lord Wolfson's father, Sir Issac Wolfson, to help health, education and arts programmes, in 1955.

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