Museums celebrate first fruits of funding boost

Representatives from Poole Museum joined arts enthusiasts and dignitaries recently to celebrate a major funding boost for four key museums - and the success of their first major joint exhibitions.

The Wessex Museums partnership – comprising Poole, Salisbury, Dorset County and Wiltshire Museums – was recognised as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) by Arts Council England in April 2018.

The partnership has since put on two exhibitions showcasing the work of two leading 20th century British artists: Augustus John: Drawn from Life (Poole Museum) and Henry Lamb: Out of the Shadows (The Salisbury Museum). Together they have been seen by over 87,000 visitors. The exhibitions closed on 30 September, and will now swop venues to reopen in May 2019.

At the event at Salisbury Museum, Clare Conybeare, Chairperson of Wessex Museums, said: “The event was an opportunity for us to demonstrate how the four museums plan to work together to reach out to new audiences, as well as share skills and expertise, and ensure the best care and conservation of our collections. Thanks to the funding, we’ve already been able to host two successful exhibitions and we have exciting plans for future projects.”

Michael Spender, Museum and Arts Manager, Poole Museum, added: “It’s fantastic to see how successful these first shared exhibitions have been. Having the world-class Augustus John exhibition in Poole was a major triumph for the town, and we look forward to following this next year with a display of the works of John’s friend and protégé, Henry Lamb. It’s exciting to be involved in a partnership that aims to bring great art and culture to everyone.”

As a National Portfolio Organisation, the Wessex Museums Partnership will receive almost £1.3m over four years. The museums have been working together since 2014, and this funding is enabling them to extend their range of innovative partnership projects. 

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