Bowes Museum celebrates first step in lottery cash bid

ONE of the region’s major museums has cleared the first hurdle in a bid for £454,000 of lottery funding to invest in training.

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham

ONE of the region’s major museums has cleared the first hurdle in a bid for £454,000 of lottery funding to invest in training.

The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, County Durham, plans to initiate a series of 12-month internships aimed at producing a new generation of conservators.

Yesterday staff were celebrating the award of an initial £9,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable the museum to prepare a bid for the full six-figure sum.

The money, from the HLF’s Skills for the Future fund, would enable the Bowes to develop its own project, Conservation in Action.

Bowes’ head of finance, Richard Welsby, said the plan was to give 12 months on-the-job training to 15 young conservators over a period of five years.

He said three would be taken on each year, one specialising in paintings and the others in textiles.

“They would be people already with a degree of expertise in conservation and they will come to us and get a full year in a museum environment, which is a valuable thing for them,” he said.

“They will get a bursary and get to work with our collections.

“But because of the experience they already have they will also be able to do things for us.

“Conserving and maintaining costumes is quite a big job, which is why two of each year’s intake will specialise in textiles.”

As well as working within the museum, the interns would be able to work in other cultural venues, enabling the Bowes to strengthen its regional partnerships.

The Bowes Museum, founded in the 18th Century by John and Josephine Bowes, has an extensive and valuable textiles collection. It also mounts regular temporary exhibitions dedicated to fashion and textiles.

The work of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and milliner Stephen Jones have been big attractions in the past while Savile Row tailoring and the Laura Ashley fashion label are to feature in new exhibitions in the autumn.

John Old, conservation manager at the Bowes, said the project would help the museum move to the next stage in its development, enabling more extensive use of the collections and developing recent progress made in conservation.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the HLF, said: “Nurturing skills of all types continues to be a hugely important part of the HLF’s portfolio of work.

“Skills for the Future is one of our most successful and over-subscribed programmes with fierce competition to secure funding.”

She said 39 projects had been supported so far, creating 876 work placements across the UK.

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