Mansfield Museum has been awarded a total of £76,700 from Arts Council England to fund a permanent exhibition to display its internationally significant and rare bird, butterfly and moth collection.
Mansfield District Council is already a National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England, a status it successfully secured in November 2022, which sees more than £1.7m spent over three years to deliver creative and cultural activity in the community.
The authority applied to the government-funded body’s Unlocking Collections Fund to re-interpret the museum’s Joseph Whitaker bird collection. The offer is conditional and subject to formal acceptance by the authority’s Portfolio Holder due to take place on 30 June.
The ‘Take Flight’ project will see the grant promote a deeper understanding of the natural world by improving the storage, display and interpretation in an exhibition on display. The collection hosts 3,000 rare bird species in many shapes and sizes worldwide, with rare and, in some cases, on the brink-of-extinction specimens.
Councillor Stuart Richardson, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth, said: “This funded project will open up creativity for more people and help communities in Mansfield better understand our natural history collection and be creatively inspired by the natural world.
“Without this project taking off, the collection currently sits in storage and is at a real risk of deterioration. With the funding, we plan to open a new exhibition and run a series of workshops in the community so that this beautiful and intriguing collection may be more inclusive, relevant, useful and engaging to residents and visitors to Mansfield.
“Through this project, we want to help people from all over Mansfield embrace their potential and adopt creative careers, specifically in conservation and collections.
“Investment in this collection and improved interpretation will also attract tourism, and this impressive collection will give pride to local visitors, which is helping to put Mansfield on the map as a place to live, work and visit.”
It is hoped the Take Flight exhibition will create new ways of reaching the public, schools and communities so that conservation and museum careers will be seen by hundreds more as an interesting and exciting job roles in their home town.
It is anticipated work on the collection will begin in September this year, with an official opening planned for the New Year in 2024.