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History Makers – Cromwell Uncovered
AIM Biffa Award History Makers
The Cromwell Museum – Cromwell Uncovered
Grant received: £85,530
What is your project about?
The project was to refurbish our small museum’s main gallery space to tell the story of the controversial 17th century soldier and statesman Oliver Cromwell ‘Warts and All’, engaging more and a wider range of visitors whilst showcasing our internationally important collection more effectively.
What has the AIM Biffa Award funding been used for?
The funding was used to completely strip and redisplay the interior of the museum’s 70m square display space, whilst being more sensitive to the interior of our 800 year old building. The existing displays, which were installed in 1989, were removed, the interior decorated and the wooden flooring restored. New LED lighting was installed to provide better, more energy efficient light; new cases were provided to increase display space, provide better security and environmental conditions and highlight objects more. New graphics, interpretation, interactives and audio visual displays tell Cromwell’s story more effectively in a much more engaging way.
How has receiving AIM Biffa Award funding positively impacted your organisation?
The funding from AIM Biffa enable us to get our refurbishment project off the ground, acting as a catalyst which enabled additional grants so that we could achieve all of our core objectives. We have been able to display more of our collection more effectively, tell a better story and so far have had nothing but positive feedback from our visitors. Looking forward, it had given us a track record and more confidence to do more projects going on, and has improved our security so that we are able to qualify for Government Indemnity Scheme cover for national loans.
How has the AIM Biffa Award funding added value to what your organisation does?
The project gave an opportunity for more volunteers to work with collections; it enabled us to gain funding to have some paintings conserved; it also enabled us to create better links with the academic community, who helped with research, and engage with schools as we consulted with them on displays.
Three top tips for other AIM members on how best to manage AIM BIffa Award History Maker projects:
- The History Makers scheme gives funds which can be utilised to then help lever other grants in to help widen the scope and scale of your project. It’s a great opportunity for seed funding to attract other grants too.
- Use it as an opportunity to try new ideas, think differently about your collections, your stories and the way that you tell them.
- Make sure you get a really good designer to work with you. Were very lucky to find an amazing design company who made a real partnership throughout the project. We couldn’t have done it without them, and a good relationship with them is key.
Please share any lessons learnt from managing your AIM Biffa Award funding?
A lesson learnt from the project was to take plenty of photographs throughout your project, essential for reporting for the grant, but also for you on what you’ve achieved and engaging people on social media. Good communication with everyone involved is also a key part of the project to make sure problems (there will inevitably be some) are dealt with less stressfully.
“This project has been a major piece of work for a small museum like ourselves, but has been hugely enjoyable, rewarding and transformative experience for us. It has brought the Cromwell Museum into the 21st century to more effectively bring the story of Oliver Cromwell and the 17th century to life for our visitors. We’re hugely grateful to the ‘History Makers’ scheme for enabling that to happen”
Stuart Orme, Curator, The Cromwell Museum.