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Major National Funding for Russell-Cotes Reinterpretation

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The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum has received £115,500 for its Reinterpretation and Reconnecting Project, from the DCMS / Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement fund.  This vital programme of improvement will conserve and redisplay three rooms in the historic house, showcasing the best of the museum’s Japanese and world cultures  collections.  Expertise from national museums and  input from volunteers from throughout our multicultural area will help create an appropriately unique response for this extraordinary museum.

This funding will enable curators to completely refresh three significant rooms in the Historic House– the Mikado’s Room, which contains pieces from the amazing Japanese collection, considered one of the best in the UK, and the Red and Yellow Rooms, which will display some highlights of the world ethnographic collections and boast some of the best views in Bournemouth.

Paul Ramsbottom, CEO of the Wolfson Foundation, says:-

“One of the great treasures of this country is the sheer quality and range of our heritage collections – stored and displayed in wonderful museums and galleries. This funding will help to provide even better visitor experiences and greater awareness of these fascinating collections.”

In addition to working with specialist curators and conservators on this project, the Russell-Cotes will also be recruiting community volunteers, to get involved in developing the displays and combining their experience and stories with those of the collections.

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, adds:-

“We want people up and down the country to enjoy culture and heritage wherever they are. The 35 grants awarded today will make important contributions towards improving the visitor experience; ensuring our wonderful collections are open to as many people as possible.”

The museum’s collections are extremely diverse, including paintings, sculpture, natural history, ethnography, ceramics, theatrical history and more. They also come from all over the world, as founders Annie and Merton Russell-Cotes travelled to 40 countries as conventional tourism began and, like many Victorians, brought back hundreds of souvenirs. The collections give a fascinating insight into what the places we visit and items we bring back say about us, and will resonate with communities of different ethnicities, whose history is reflected in the objects collected by Victorian British travellers, and the world and attitudes they embodied.

Sarah Newman, Museum Director, said “We are so excited to have received the funding enabling us to undertake some vital reinterpretation and redisplay work. This project will completely renew the museum’s now tired and dated, 20-year-old interpretation to make it relevant and inspiring to today’s audiences.  It will spotlight the best of our extraordinary collections and make the Russell-Cotes an even more compelling place to visit.”

The Russell-Cotes will remain open throughout the scheduled work, with closures of some rooms from December 2019. There will be a programme of exhibitions running throughout the work, see the Russell-Cotes website for full details.



The DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund

This is the thirteenth round of a joint fund which DCMS runs in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation. The fund aims to provide capital funding for museums and galleries across England to deliver projects in one or a number of the following key areas:

  • Material improvements to the display and interpretation of collections, in both permanent galleries and exhibition spaces
  • Improvements to access and/or interpretation for visitors with disabilities
  • Physical improvements to public spaces to enhance visitor experience
  • Improvements to environmental controls, collections storage and conservation facilities to enhance the care of collections

About the Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation (www.wolfson.org.uk) is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities, including awarding the Wolfson History Prize, the UK’s foremost history prize.  Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.



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