Good news from the Heritage Lottery Fund?
July 16 2012
Regular readers will know that AHN has often ranted about the Heritage Lottery Fund's unwillingness to fund acquisitions. In an age of austerity, museums and galleries find it increasingly hard to raise funds to add to their collections - and the one body that was awash with cash, the HLF, had traditionally shunned large-scale support for buying objects.
However, there have been recent signs that things are changing, such as the HLF's generous support to the Ashmolean's Manet campaign. And now there seems to be more encouraging news, for the HLF's new strategic framework seems to recognise that their acquisitions policy needed to change. The report states clearly that many other people had called for a change in the HLF's approach to 'portable heritage':
On acquisitions of portable heritage, over 50% favoured a change of policy in HLF’s approach to urgent acquisitions, and there was support from museums, libraries and archives for the principle of HLF funding strategic collecting. [p.38]
Let's hope that the HLF heeds those calls. The HLF has already dropped its requirement [p.28] that acquisitions could only be funded if the museum in question ran a series of educational programmes alongside the object. (In practice this was not only onerous expensive, but of limited value - Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks is not really an appropriate way to engage single mothers in Manchester). And it seems that a new approach to funding urgent acquisitions is paying off, which the acquisition at auction of a historic Welsh manuscript The Book of Hywel Dda, to which the HLF contributed £467,000 of the £541,250 total. It goes some way to making up for the shambles of the Macclesfield Psalter.