In the week that we say #ThanksToYou to National Lottery players, we are also concluding the delivery of our five-year Jane Austen Bicentenary Collecting Project, a project which was funded with a £191,600 grant awarded under the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Collecting Cultures scheme.
This project has been truly transformational for Jane Austen’s House and here are just some of its highlights:
We have secured seven treasure items for the collection with a combined value of £150,000, all of which have been on public display since being purchased.
We have learnt more about what our visitors most value about their visit and we have redecorated three rooms in the house with hand-blocked wallpapers recreating the Austen family’s original choices of decoration.
During the project we have worked on collections-related activities with 15 museums, galleries and heritage organisations, locally and internationally. In 2017, the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death, we celebrated our unique collection in the form of our ‘41 Objects’ exhibition and hosted a record 55,000 visitors. We lent 17 objects to three other venues, visited by 110,000 people.
We have given 27 talks about our collection. Our project-funded 'Creating Successful Interiors' conference at the Charleston Trust attracted people from 32 companies and organisations across the heritage sector.
With more staff, trainees and volunteers able to work on collections, we have seen a step-change in the quality and output of our collections work both on site and online, including more reliable documentation and procedures. We have also significantly extended our subject knowledge, collecting expertise and professional networks.
We have trained 36 volunteers, adding to their skills and their career development. Our three project staff have all moved on to exciting jobs in heritage and we conclude the project having created the permanent post of Collections & Interpretation Manager.
The project has brought £100,000 added value to the organisation. While we spent just over £100,000 of our Lottery grant on acquisitions and around £90,000 on collections training, public programmes and staffing, much else was given to us from other sources. For example the £47,000 given by individuals and trusts towards the letters by Cassandra Austen and Jane Austen that we secured in 2015 and 2019.
Thanks once again to National Lottery Heritage Fund for their generous support. We couldn't have done it without you.