Together for Museums

Join with us to help museums through this crisis and emerge stronger

Your donation will help museums rise and adapt to a new future

Museums and galleries are vital spaces for us all. Whether we want to see something beautiful, explore the world around us or simply spend time with those we love, they bring us together and enrich our lives.

But the Covid-19 crisis has had a catastrophic impact on UK museums as we know them.

Join with us to help museums through this crisis, emerge stronger, and connect people with art in new and creative ways.

The closure of museums and galleries due to the Covid-19 crisis has been a blow to their means of existence: to ticket sales, exhibitions, shops and cafés, and much more.

Many are charities, or receive no public funding, or rely on the support of volunteers. Against the spiralling costs of keeping collections and buildings safe through closure, and now the financial implications of reopening safely, museums are facing real danger: to the care of their collections and their workforce, and, for some, to their continued survival.

With the help of our supporters and members, for over 100 years Art Fund has enabled UK museums to save and share works of art for everyone to enjoy. Now our support is needed to help them counter this new threat.


We’ve been speaking to museums, galleries and heritage collections around the UK to understand the impact of the crisis on their work and institutions. Over half of respondents to our survey told us that they are fearful for the future of their organisation without urgent support.

Museums are eager to reconnect with their visitors and local communities. But safety measures such as queuing systems, improved ventilation and limits around visitor capacity come at huge financial cost – and this is alongside the financial challenge of bringing staff back from furlough.

The impact of this nationwide is likely to damage the cultural landscape of the UK for years to come.

What we can do

We cannot solve this crisis alone, but together we can make a real difference.

Museums are reaching out for help to adapt to new ways of working – from focusing on provisions for schools and young people, to running local community outreach projects.

Alongside vitally needed government aid, Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine programme can help museums and galleries to adapt and thrive, and be ready to welcome everyone back safely when we need them most.

How our Respond and Reimagine grants are helping museums across the UK

With the help of our members and supporters, we have already been able to commit £2 million in new support to help museums and galleries respond to immediate challenges connected to the Covid-19 crisis.

But with your help we could go even further.

Our goal is to help museums to:

Rise

Social distancing measures in action

We want to provide immediate funding for where it is most needed. Donations large and small will make a big difference to museums and help them respond to the crisis and get back on their feet to resume their great work.

Adapt

Visitors wearing face masks at the Garden Museum

We want to help museums adapt, reopen and welcome visitors back safely over the summer and autumn. Our funding will help them to develop safe ways in which we can all interact with their collections, and empower the museum workforce with training opportunities to equip them with skills for the future.

Thrive

Visitors at Manchester Art Gallery

Museums and galleries must be able to continue to inform, challenge and delight people everywhere. We want to help the museums we work with maintain and develop their engagement with audiences, and continue to share collections in innovative new ways, both online and when they reopen.

As museums undertake the enormous task of reopening their doors, our goal is to provide a range of grants that will help them meet one of their greatest challenges.

We cannot do it without you.

Museums are using our new Respond and Reimagine grants to adapt to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, and explore new ways of working that will help to secure their future.

Pop-up galleries in shopping centres; a digital quilt commemorating people’s experiences of the pandemic; a state-of-the-art stylus allowing safe engagement with interactive displays: the projects that we’ve already been able to fund with your help demonstrate the scale of museums’ creativity and imagination.

Among the 18 museums and galleries who received a grant in our first round of funding is the National Civil War Centre in Newark. Like many museums, they are thinking carefully about how to ensure children still benefit from the valuable learning opportunities museums offer. With a grant of £40,000 they will now be able to take their learning programme outdoors, into classrooms, and to home schools: objects will travel in loan boxes, artefacts will be 3D printed, and sessions tailored to the national curriculum will be livestreamed.

Similarly, the Novium Museum in Chichester will create virtual field trips bringing museum learning into the classroom, and Wycombe Museum will host a pop-up in the town’s main shopping centre, showcasing objects from the collection alongside their recent Windrush project and activities for families.

Castle Hill House which houses Wycombe Museum, is a Grade II listed building.

The grants are also vital to support online access and the digitisation of collections. While lockdown showed there is a huge appetite for engaging with museums digitally, many museums simply don’t have the resources to facilitate this.

With a grant of £23,000, Jaywick Martello Tower, which serves one of the most deprived areas in the UK, will be able to train volunteers to use equipment and software to aid moving the programme online. Aerospace Bristol will transform their unique archive material into a digital storytelling experience, and the National Videogame Museum will introduce a new online gallery dedicated to the visual arts in videogames, complete with online access to the collection, workshops from games artists and opportunities to make your own videogame art.

It’s also important that museums are able to engage their communities in recording experiences of the pandemic. Side Gallery and Cinema in Newcastle will collect photography documenting the time we are living through, and Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth will create Human Threads, an exhibition and digital project to memorialise local experiences of Covid-19 through a digital quilt.

Human Threads, an exhibition and digital project to engage the communities of Ceredigion in recording their experiences of Covid-19, supported by Art Fund

These are brilliant stories, but there are so many more to tell. We had 114 applications to the first round of our Respond and Reimagine grants, and we were only able to fund 16% of them.

At the same time, for many museums and galleries these kinds of projects are a pipe dream: many need funds simply to be able to reopen, or to operate under restrictions that severely impact their income.

With your support, we can help museums to survive, adapt and thrive again. You can explore all the projects funded so far with our map, and if you haven’t already donated, please join us.

Back to top