“MPMs are exemplar museums on a national scale. ACE is supporting the most important museum services and collections, but these museums also have a strong, proactive leadership role. The leadership they provide means that there is a much wider benefit than simply to those funded,” says Ornstein.

Although total funding for MPMs is up £1.1m to £22.6m per year in 2015/2016, this will be spread between an increased number of recipients, resulting in a reduction in funding for many. Today’s announcement shows a broadened portfolio, providing a greater geographical spread. This spread is important. “Wherever people are in England, they can have access to this sort of high quality museum provision as close to their doorstep as they can,” says Ornstein.

With a growing audience, but a reduction in funding from local authorities, encouraging museums to share best practice and develop partnerships is key. Amongst the new MPM’s announced today, are several consortia; the For Cornwall Partnership is made up of six leading museums. Its aim is to deliver outcomes for all museums in this large, remote and rural region, demonstrating that excellence can thrive in museums in rural areas.

Derby and Nottingham Museums have formed a new partnership and been rewarded with MPM status, as has the Black Country Living Museum and Coventry Museums. The idea, says ACE, is that these partnerships will bring strong and creative programming as well as innovative leadership to the Midlands. “Working collaboratively is a different model. There are so many benefits of these working partnerships,” says Ornstein, “from commercial to links with education networks.”

“Our emphasis in this funding round is very much on resilience”, says Ornstein, “Whilst some museums are already independent, some have high levels of funding. Museums need to be developing new income streams.”

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, has become not only an MPM, but has also received Bridge funding. This funding is given to organisations which connect children and young people with art and culture.

The Open Fund exists for the broader museum sector – although many museums form part of the MPM’s receiving funding today, there are some 2,000 museums across the country and Open funding exists for them. “We are, says Ornstein, committed to supporting museum development.”

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