The Tank Museum at Bovington has been thrown a major lifeline, receiving a total of £780,000 as part of the UK Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
The museum is one of several Dorset sites to receive thousands in government grants to help it survive through the coronavirus pandemic.
These grants, which come from the Department of Culture Media and Sport via Arts Council England, will support numerous cultural institutions across the UK.
The money is set to help find new income streams and protect jobs at the museum for the coming months and beyond.
Tank Museum “enormously grateful” for support
Director of the Tank Museum, Richard Smith said:
“We are enormously grateful for this urgently needed funding. This award is an investment in our future and acknowledges the hard work we have already put in to navigating the crisis.
“We initially met the challenge of COVID-19 by rapidly developing our online retail business, but this cannot cover the losses we will have sustained during the pandemic – which has seen our visitor revenue fall by almost £3m.
“We also worked hard to ensure we could reopen as soon as we were permitted but have been burdened by the increased costs of operating a visitor attraction to ‘COVID secure’ standards.
“Our sense of identity and connection to the past is always important, especially in difficult times. This grant will enable us to make sure that a visit to The Tank Museum is both safe and engaging – and we can now also work to develop our online engagement and revenue raising activities which have proved so important over the last six months.”
Other recipients across Dorset include the Weymouth Pavilion which received £573,413. It said:
“This grant has given Weymouth Pavilion a new lease of life. We love our community and are so thankful for the support we have received during these uncertain times.”
Also Dorchester Arts received £52,710, while Dorset County Museum got £213,121.
How COVID has affected the Tank Museum
As with similar venues across the UK, The Tank Museum was forced to close earlier this year due to the pandemic.
It reopened its doors on 4th July 2020, albeit with a cap of 500 visitors.
While the TankFest for 2020 was cancelled, the event is set to return in summer 2020 for all tank enthusiasts to enjoy.
Through the remainder of this year, the museum’s staff are gearing up to complete a suspended World War Two exhibition in time for 2021.
The museum will also be offering displays and activities for all the family during the October half term, including the chance for kids to drive around in mini-landrovers.
Richard Smith said:
“As one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country to receive financial aid.
“I cannot overstate how different our future would have looked without it. Our industry depends on important knowledge-based jobs that could otherwise have been lost in what is a relatively deprived rural area.
“As a result, I know our supporters and followers around the world will share our gratitude and delight at this announcement.
“This essential support will fuel The Tank Museum’s fight back against the pandemic and allow us to emerge stronger than ever.”
Tanks in Dorset
The Tank Museum is a part of Dorset’s long history with tanks and armoured military vehicles. It houses more than three hundred of these machines, some dating all the way back to the First World War.
The whole area is rich with history, as Studland Beach was the site of tank testing in the lead up to Operation Overlord.
The beach also witnessed a terrible tragedy shortly before D-Day.
While undergoing a training exercise with Valentine Tanks, six crew members were killed when several of the vehicles sank to the sea bed under hostile weather conditions.
Bovington remains a base for the Royal Armoured Corps to this day.