Government reveals coronavirus funding to preserve national heritage sites

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Natural History Museum and British Library are among the national heritage organisations which will benefit from the Government’s latest round of coronavirus funding.

A total of £60 million will go to 20 organisations across England to help finish projects that stalled due to Covid-19 and ensure institutions can welcome back visitors this summer.

The Imperial War Museums, Tate, National Portrait Gallery and Royal Parks will also receive funding, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.

New V and A Dundee museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum will receive funding (Ian Rutherford/PA)

The tranche of money comes in addition to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund of nearly £2 billion.

A grant of £9.8 million will go to the British Museum for essential maintenance work, with £2.7 million earmarked for fabric and the gallery roofs.

London’s Natural History Museum will receive £4.6 million to restore the original Waterhouse Wing, home to the Human Biology Galleries.

The V&A will get more than £1 million to preserve the terracotta facade of its Grade I listed garden courtyard building, while £800,000 will help the Walker Art Gallery, part of National Museums Liverpool, preserve the sandstone cornice that adorns its entrance.

A sum of £2.2 million will help the Royal Parks maintain footpaths, protect parkland and create new nature habitats in Hyde Park, Brompton Cemetery and other green spaces.

Imperial War Museum stock
The Imperial War Museum in London will receive a part of the funds (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Funding also goes to bodies such as the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and Science Museum Group sites in Manchester and York to help decarbonisation projects – including measures such as installing LED lighting systems and insulating roofs.

According to the DCMS, the £60 million Public Bodies Infrastructure Fund aims to “enhance public access to national heritage and collections, and maintain much-loved historic buildings nationwide”.

Funding was awarded via a competitive process which took into account the impact of the pandemic on commercial revenue streams and other factors, the department said.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We’ve given £60 million to safeguard the priceless collections and heritage at many of our beloved cultural institutions so they can be enjoyed by future generations.

“This builds on our £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund, ensuring that we continue to protect our heritage and culture throughout this pandemic and are able to open up our historic institutions for everyone to enjoy this summer.”

2020/2021 Premier League Season Package
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden revealed the latest round of funding (Yui Mok/PA)

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said: “Over the coming years significant investment in the BM estate is required to maintain appropriate conditions for the collection, improve public access, and ensure long-term sustainability.

“We are very grateful indeed for the additional support we have received from the Government. It enables us, at a difficult time, to progress essential work on our building fabric and infrastructure, to keep the museum safe and allow us to welcome visitors back.”

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “The Infrastructure Fund has provided critical support to the V&A, enabling us to repair some of the most vulnerable parts of our Grade I listed building.

“Not all of these projects are glamorous, but they are essential and the funding we have received means we can continue to provide public access to some of the most beautiful and best-loved parts of our estate – including the terracotta garden facade.”

Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “We are very grateful for this support which will be vital in sustaining our estate and collections for future generations and support our drive to become net zero.

“In particular, it will enable us to reveal and celebrate more of our architectural heritage by renewing the Western Waterhouse galleries roofs which cover galleries in the oldest part of our Grade 1 listed world-famous Waterhouse building – as well as making our building more energy efficient and reducing our impact on the environment.”