Dynamic Collections

Dynamic Collections

Children in a museum
Children enjoying an exhibition at Seven Stories, Newcastle upon Tyne
Our new campaign supports collecting organisations across the UK to become more inclusive and resilient, with a focus on engagement, re-interpretation and collections management.

Collections help to bring to life the many stories of people and communities across the UK.

At the Heritage Fund, we want to support museums, libraries, archives and other organisations to make the most of their collections. 

Our Dynamic Collections campaign will support collecting organisations by bringing together project funding through our open programmes, digital resources and knowledge sharing.

It is designed to address long-term challenges in the sector, many of which have been made worse by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will also help organisations build on innovative ideas and trends developed over the past few years, particularly in digital engagement.

The campaign also acts on the demand for collections to evolve to meet the changing needs of the communities around them, and to reflect more people's history and experiences. 

Inclusive, resilient, evolving

A dynamic collection: 

  • is used by, and meaningful to, a wider range of people
  • enables different perspectives to be heard and a variety of stories to be told 
  • is actively managed and reviewed 

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Want to run a Dynamic Collections project?

What we are looking for

As the sector continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, we are keen to support projects that plan for longer-term change and benefits for visitors, audiences and organisations.

We want to support projects that:

  • make collections relevant to a wider range of people  
  • actively involve the public in collections management, use and development   
  • take a creative, strategic and sustainable approach to collections   

We have three funding priorities for collections – engagement, re-interpretation and better collections management.  

Engagement 

We want to fund projects that transform the way people engage with collections, and make the long-term changes needed to build a diverse audience.   

We will fund projects that:

  • focus on audiences to understand how best to connect people with collections – whether through digital activities, bringing collections to people and/or encouraging on-site visits 
  • collaborate with audiences to create content and activities, and involve people in decision making around collections
  • build capacity in organisations to strengthen engagement now and in the future, for example by supporting leaders, staff and volunteers to gain skills and confidence

Re-interpretation  

We want to fund projects that will help people whose experiences have previously been excluded to feel represented and heard. We want to fund projects that reflect the richness and complexity of UK heritage through collections.

We will fund projects that:

  • bring new perspectives and contexts to collections on display and/or in storage
  • create new interpretation or refresh tired displays to reflect more people's stories and experiences
  • explore the history and role of the organisation with audiences and how collections have been built and explained over time

Collections management 

We want to fund projects that will bring new solutions to long-term issues in collections care and use, and lead to more efficient collections management and development.

For example, we will fund:

  • collections reviews leading to strategic development and/or rationalisation
  • new partnerships and/or management arrangements between organisations to share infrastructure, expertise or other resources
  • loans programmes to enable greater public access to collections
  • projects using digital technology to better manage collections and stores 

Projects involving disposal must abide with either the Museums Association (MA) Disposal Toolkit or the Archives & Records Association’s Code of Ethics

We can fund some digitisation and cataloguing work as part of a wider project, where it supports engagement and re-interpretation.

Outcomes

Dynamic Collections projects must achieve our inclusion outcome: a wider range of people will be involved in heritage

Dynamic Collections projects will also be expected to achieve our resilience outcome: the funded organisation will be more resilient.   

Your project might also achieve our other outcomes too.

Who can apply

Dynamic Collections is primarily aimed at collecting organisations, including:

  • museums (accredited and non-accredited)
  • archives
  • historic libraries
  • community and other organisations that hold collections, or are working in partnership to develop a collection-based project

How to apply

Dynamic Collections funding will be delivered through our National Lottery Grants for Heritage.

We expect applicants to apply for a grant below £250,000.

In some cases, we could fund larger strategic projects that support multiple organisations or build partnerships to develop shared infrastructure and resources.

If you are interested in a larger project, please submit an Expression of Interest or talk to us at an early stage.

How to apply:

It is essential that you give your project a name beginning with #DYC. This is so we can track Dynamic Collections applications, and is not for external or marketing purposes.

When to apply

There are no specific deadlines – you can apply as part of the campaign until Friday 31 March 2023

Our support for collections

Dynamic Collections is acting on sector needs highlighted by The Mendoza Review, and other independent museums reviews across England and Wales.

It follows two rounds of our Collecting Cultures programme, which saw us invest over £8million from 2008–2019. 

Dynamic Collections also builds on our extensive experience supporting the sector – that's an investment of over £2.2billion to more than 5,600 museum, library, archive and collection-based projects since 1994.

Working together

Throughout the campaign we will work with partners across the UK. This includes Arts Council England (ACE) and Museums Galleries Scotland, with further partnerships to be announced soon in Northern Ireland and Wales.

We’ve collaborated closely with ACE to develop Dynamic Collections alongside their own time-limited priority Unlocking Collections.

ACE's Unlocking Collections campaign is aimed at projects which help museums across England to engage new audiences by building understanding of the objects they care for. It focuses on three strands of collections work: re-interpretation, collections review and digital skills.

Outfits on display
Queer Looks exhibition at Brighton Museum. Credit: Tessa Hallmann

Projects

Wear it Out: the heritage of LGBTQ+ dress in Sussex, 1917-2017

This cultural heritage project explored how some people from LGBTQ+ communities have historically used clothing to express identity. It focused on Sussex in the time period 1917-2017.

A curator in front of display of African costume
Curator Edith Ojo in front of Aso-oke, a Celebration of Style display case. Credit: James Pike, Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Publications

Making real changes in collections development

Understanding the impact of our Collecting Cultures programme, and a look ahead to our new campaign, Dynamic Collections.
Gallery wall full of paintings of owls at Seven Stories museum
Gallery wall at Seven Stories, inspired by David Almond's work

Projects

The National Centre for Children's Books: Seven Stories

A grant from Collecting Cultures helped the National Centre for Children's Books to improve its resilience and literary reputation, and to make long-term strategic changes in collections planning.

A comic Creator giving a talk in front of a crowd at The Cartoon Museum
Comic Creator Jamie Smart giving a talk at The Cartoon Museum. Credit: The Cartoon Museum

Projects

Comic Creators

The Comic Creators Project helped the London-based charity to diversify its audience by expanding its collections and events programme.

Young woman in a gallery

Projects

Creative Wiltshire and Swindon

A partnership of heritage organisations used a Collecting Cultures grant to collect the work of local people.

A community archaeology project display
Community archaeology project display co-created by communities working with Tenby and Narberth Museums

Projects

Saving Treasures, Telling Stories

This project, supported by our Collecting Cultures fund, brought together museums across Wales with local treasure-hunters, improving long-term relationships and collections.

People in science fiction costumes

Projects

Exploring Childhoods

This project allowed the museum to be more adventurous, deepen relationships with community partners and seek out new audiences for more contemporary collections.

A line of people smiling
The collecting panel for Fashioning Africa

Projects

Fashioning Africa at Brighton Royal Pavilion & Museums

Meaningful relationships were built with local communities and diverse experts in this Collecting Cultures project, which saw new ways of working trialled and access widened.