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Major funding boost announced for two Richmond Museums
Tuesday - August 9, 2016
Two of Richmond’s key visitor attractions are to receive over £100,000 as part of a national funding initiative from Arts Council England to help ensure their sustainability in years to come.

The Green Howards Museum and The Georgian Theatre Royal are both beneficiaries in the second round of the Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund, which has seen £12.2million donated to 94 museums and organisations across the country.

As part of the initiative, The Georgian Theatre Royal has received £38,630 to fund a museum resilience manager post to support ‘The Georgian Theatre Experience’, which opened its doors to the public last month. The Green Howards Museum will use its grant of £65,304 to develop the way it manages its extensive collection of uniforms; some of them incredibly rare, such as a complete soldier’s uniform worn during the Crimean War.

“Receiving this funding enables us to launch a really exciting project over the next two years, with the collection at its core,” said Green Howards Museum Director, Lynda Powell, who oversaw a £1.7million building redevelopment project in 2014, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  “We are always looking for ways to grow, and open up our collection to museum visitors as well as individuals with specific interests.  We have more than 2000 uniforms.  It is impossible to display them all, but they form an incredibly important part of our archive.  This grant will allow us to create an improved uniform storage and display system, as well as paying for specialist training for staff, and the creation of a new Collections Assistant post within the museum team.”

The Arts Council England funding will also allow The Green Howards Museum to create an online catalogue of key pieces from the collection.  Uniforms will be specially mounted then photographed through a 360 degree rotation.  It means that even if these precious items are not on display in the museum itself, they are still accessible to anyone who wants to find out more about them.
    
“The quality of our uniform collection is well known within military and specialist circles.  There’s less awareness in other sectors – but no reason for that to continue to be the case,” added Lynda Powell.  “Using this funding to improve the way we store, display and work with the uniforms in our care allows us more opportunities to bring them to a much wider audience in the future.”

Just last month The Georgian Theatre Royal – which occupies a very important place in theatre history as Britain's oldest working theatre in its original form – launched its new heritage attraction ‘The Georgian Theatre Experience’. This includes a redeveloped exhibition area and a state-of-the-art education and learning centre funded jointly by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a legacy from Paul Iles (a former associate director of the Theatre) to a total of £500,000.

The Theatre is keen to promote The Georgian Theatre Experience – which includes a full guided tour of the auditorium, dressing rooms and stage as well as entry to the exhibition area – to as wide an audience as possible and significantly increase visitor numbers. The grant from Arts Council England will support the care of the collection and make the museum more resilient.

Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding, which is a tremendous vote of confidence from Arts Council England for our new heritage attraction.

“Even before the redevelopment work, the Georgian Theatre tours and museum were consistently ranked at the top of the ‘things to do in Richmond’ on Trip Advisor and all our feedback shows that people love to visit the Theatre and find out more about its fascinating history. We now want to attract even greater numbers and ensure that visitors continue to have an enjoyable, memorable and informative experience of this wonderful living theatre museum,” she added. 

Photo 1: Director, Lynda Powell in The Green Howards Museum’s costume store with a rare militia uniform from the 18th century.
Photo 2: Guided tours of the auditorium and a new exhibition area are part of the new Georgian Theatre Experience.
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