£94k lottery grant to help secure future of Wisbech Museum

Wisbech and Fenland Museum. Wisbech, exterior shots and sign

Managers of the Wisbech Museum have moved a step closer to securing the museum’s long-term future after they were awarded a vital Lottery grant.

The town centre attraction has been given £94,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Resilience Heritage Programme, to help address longer-term funding concerns.

And officials say they are encouraged by the goodwill shown towards the museum during an open day held to coincide with the grant award.

Museum director Martin Lawrence said: “It has been wonderful to see so much support for the future of the museum and how it is valued as a significant cultural asset for Wisbech and the Cambridgeshire Fens.

“It clearly has a role to deliver what is needed for its local community while attracting international and national interest to the area.”

The future of the museum, which first opened in 1847 and is one of the earliest Victorian museums in the country, has been in question after Fenland District Council agreed plans to phase out its funding altogether after 2020.

Last December, the authority’s ruling cabinet backed proposals to provide a one-off £70,000 grant to the museum for three years, with no more cash to follow it.

Since then, museum officials have been developing a Resistance project in an effort to secure its future.

They have developed a year-long programme of events to link up with both local, regional and national organisations, as well as local residents, schools and businesses to help raise additional funds.

The museum has already secured support from groups including the University of Cambridge, Museums in Cambridgeshire, Wisbech Town Council, Fenland Tourism Group and the Arts Council.

And a team of heritage consultants is currently working on a series of options for the museum’s future, which are set to be presented to its board shortly.

Project manager Ari Volanakis said: “We are working hard to promote the museum across the county, engage with a wider community, become more sustainable financially, seek out partnership opportunities and realise the full potential of the museum as an engaging hub for the community, a key destination in the east of England and of recognised status nationally.

“The project will benefit everyone in our community supporting this important museum.

“It can only succeed with the input, support and involvement of the people who know, care, use and influence the museum.”

The museum is also recruiting more volunteers to help support the campaign, as well as events and promotional activities.

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering or fundraising for the museum should phone 01945 587813 or email resilienceproject@wisbechmuseum.org.uk for further details.

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