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Natural History archive secures Heritage Lottery Fund investment

14th October 2014

The Natural History Society of Northumbria has received a confirmed grant of £137,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a 3-year project aimed at improving the long-term management, preservation and access to their internationally important collection. Stored at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle, our collection includes 16,000 artworks, photographs, artefacts, letters and diaries, as well as original artwork by Thomas Bewick.

Wood engraving by Northumbrian-born artist and naturalist, Thomas Bewick

We will be employing a part-time archivist and recruiting volunteers to help with the project, which also aims to engage schools and groups of young people in the archive and its fascinating stories.

June Holmes, who has helped care for our collection on a voluntary basis for nearly 20 years, said: “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given this grant, which will enable us to properly care for the collection and make it available to the public for them to enjoy and research.

“There is lots of captivating history in the archive and we can’t wait to share it through this project.”

Our archive is used by researchers, academics, authors, artists, students and by people worldwide and includes material from other famous naturalists including John Hancock who was behind the building of the Hancock Museum and Abel Chapman who helped save the Spanish Ibex from extinction.

The collection also includes letters from Jean-Francois Champollion which shed light on the work of the man celebrated as the founding father of Egyptology.

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “The Natural History Society of Northumbria is one of the oldest natural history societies in the country and its collections dating back to the 18th century are bursting with stories and pictures which can connect people to their natural heritage – both locally and further afield.

“We’re delighted to support the society to secure the future of its archive and inspire the natural scientists of the future.”