Museum of Cambridge handed a lifeline by Heritage Lottery Fund

PUBLISHED: 00:18 08 March 2018 | UPDATED: 00:18 08 March 2018

Sarah Ingram outside the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Sarah Ingram outside the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Castle Street attraction secures £85,200 to help it become volunteer-based organisation

Working on a new recipe for success at the Museum of Cambridge with an HLF grant are Richard Peoples, volunteer co-ordinator and new trustee, and chairman of trustees Sarah Ingram. Picture: Keith HeppellWorking on a new recipe for success at the Museum of Cambridge with an HLF grant are Richard Peoples, volunteer co-ordinator and new trustee, and chairman of trustees Sarah Ingram. Picture: Keith Heppell

It is home to more than 20,000 objects that tell the story of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire’s history and heritage over 300 years.

But there were grave concerns for the future of the Museum of Cambridge when it announced before Christmas that it faced significant financial challenges.

Now, the Castle Street attraction has secured an award of £85,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for its project called Securing Our Future.

The funding, from National Lottery players, will enable the social history museum to begin its planned transition towards becoming a volunteer-based organisation, which the trustees believe will be more sustainable.

Sarah Ingram with Richard Peoples and Gemma Biggs at the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith HeppellSarah Ingram with Richard Peoples and Gemma Biggs at the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

The museum closed before Christmas for a deep-clean and reopened with new hours on February 10.

Sarah Ingram, chair of trustees, said: “We are delighted to have received this generous support thanks to National Lottery players.

“Since we revealed the difficulties the museum was facing just before Christmas, we’ve been inundated with offers of help from people who don’t want to see the museum close.

“Everyone has done a fantastic job in making the museum ready for its reopening, so it’s wonderful that we now have the resources to build on this goodwill and forge ahead with our transformation plans.”

Volnteers and trustees preparing for the deep clean at the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith HeppellVolnteers and trustees preparing for the deep clean at the Museum of Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

The latest accounts, for the year to March 31, 2017, show the museum had a net deficit on unrestricted funds of £73,315. It faced increased costs, as staff numbers rose, and falling income.

But the new funding, from HLF’s Resilient Heritage programme, will cover the costs associated with the appointment of a transitional project officer and the expansion, training and development of the volunteer workforce, including the board of trustees.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF East of England, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, we’re pleased to support this project which will enable the Museum of Cambridge to establish a firm footing for its transformation plans, expand its volunteer base and ensure work towards a bright future for the county’s heritage.”

The Museum of Cambridge was known as The Cambridge and County Folk Museum for more than 70 years.

Housed in a grade II-listed 17th-century timber-framed former coaching inn, the museum is also involved in two key projects preserving local heritage, Capturing Cambridge, funded by Cambridge City Council, and Tracing Traditions, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and delivered by the Museums Association, which collect and record people’s memories and stories of development and change, and explore more recent heritage and tradition-making.

Visit museumofcambridge.org.uk.

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