Purbeck dinosaurs and tanks receive mammoth cash boost

Two museums in Purbeck have been awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds to improve displays, protect collections and make exhibitions more accessible to visitors.

A fund of £4 million has been shared out between 33 museums and galleries across England by the UK Government department for digital, culture, media and sport and the Wolfson Foundation, with The Etches Collection in Kimmeridge receiving £219,500 and The Tank Museum in Bovington getting £100,000.

The Tank Museum

The Tank Museum will improve its heating and ventilation system

Improve public accessibility

The cash boost aims to help museums and galleries make their collections as accessible to the public as possible, whether that be through building accessible ramps and facilities, improving collection storage to protect them for the future or getting more of their collections out on display.

Both The Tank Museum and The Etches Collection, along with all other similar venues were closed for most of 2020 due to Covid restrictions, suffering a huge loss in income.

The Etches Collection
The Etches Collection

The main gallery of Jurassic marine life was created in 2016

Finest single collection of marine life fossils

The Etches Collection houses the finest single collection of marine life fossils from the late Jurassic age, mostly discovered in Kimmeridge Bay and along the Dorset coastline by Kimmeridge resident Steve Etches.

Opened in 2016, the museum showcases sea monsters, prehistoric predators and the marine flora and fauna of 152 to 157 million years ago when the Jurassic Coast of Dorset was a shallow, tropical sea.

The grant of £219,500 will go towards a refit of its gallery.

Outside the Etches Collection in Kimmeridge

The museum has a main gallery and a large function room that doubles as Kimmeridge’s village hall

“Preserving our collection for future generations”

Museum founder and head of collections Steve Etches said:

“We are absolutely delighted with the news. As a designated and accredited museum, it is vital that we continue the important work of preserving our collection for future generations.

“The gallery refit will also enable us to prepare and conserve, as well as develop and expand the collection as a visitor attraction, research facility and educational centre.”

Steve Etches at the Etches Collection in Kimmeridge
The Etches Collection

Steve Etches with one of his fossils

New heating and ventilation system for The Tank Museum

The Tank Museum in Bovington has been awarded £100,000 which it will spend on a new and more sustainable heating and ventilation system for its storage of approximately 15,000 objects related to armoured warfare including weapons, uniforms, flags, memorabilia, personal equipment and fine art.

Highlights of the collection include original pastels by Eric Kennington, and the colours of the Royal Tank Regiment flown from General Elles’s tank at the first major tank action, the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.

The Tank Museum artefacts
The Tank Museum

Somne of the exhibits that need to be preserved

“More energy efficient”

A spokesperson for The Tank Museum said:

“The money will be used to upgrade the environmental controls in the supporting collection stores.

“They will be changed from active, power hungry, heating and ventilation to a passive system which will be more energy efficient and provide more stable conditions for the collection itself.”

The Tank Museum project is expected to be completed by summer 2023.

The Tank Museum artefacts
The Tank Museum

An exhibit from the Battle of Cambrai

The full list of all the grants awarded

South West

  • Tate St Ives: £54,300 for Barbara Hepworth Museum Accessibility Ramp
  • The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum: £202,500 for Making Connections
  • Torquay Museum: £250,000 for Journey through the Ice Age – re-engaging communities with our Designated Quaternary collection
  • The Etches Collection – Museum of Jurassic Marine Life: £219,500 for protecting and preserving our internationally important fossil collection
  • The Tank Museum: £100,000 for the transition to passive storage
  • National Maritime Museum Cornwall: £237,000 for revitalising the museum’s boat hall

East Midlands

  • Pickford’s House: £71,700 for The Reimagined Home: Changing views of Home, Work and Family for an Inclusive, Digital Age

East of England

  • Food Museum: £89,600 for Bridge to the Future


  • Grant Museum of Zoology: £100,000 for Species under threat
  • Royal College of Music Museum: £33,000 for Bringing early instruments to life through 3D modelling
  • Jewish Museum London: £80,000 for Build of new collections storerooms: Under-represented heritage
  • Museum of the Home: £200,000 for Homes Through Time Redux
  • London Transport Museum: £80,000 for LTM Lab
  • The Wallace Collection: £50,000 for the creation of a new display space and relocation of the cloakroom
  • Natural History Museum (South Kensington): £100,000 for Mammals Galleries Project (Mammals Hall)

North East

  • Oriental Museum: £104,500 for New Voices: Redisplaying and Reinterpreting the Malcolm MacDonald Gallery of Chinese Art and Archaeology
  • The Bowes Museum: £254,900 for Inspiring Communities – Collections, Curiosity and Conversations

North West

  • People’s History Museum: £214,300 for Nothing About Us Without Us – Creating Access for Everyone at People’s History Museum
  • Manchester Art Gallery: £150,000 for transforming storage and access for Manchester’s Civic Collection
  • The Whitworth: £80,000 for The Whitworth Welcome
  • Abbot Hall Art Gallery: £40,500 for Testing Ground

South East

  • Discover Bucks Museum: £60,000 for Creating Collections Capacity
  • Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust: £100,000 for No.1 Smithery – Forging the future of display, conservation, and interpretation of maritime collections.
  • Mary Rose Museum: £74,900 for safeguarding and storing the Mary Rose Collection and Archive
  • Museum of English Rural Life: £54,300 for Developing Display: Improving Exhibition Spaces at St Andrew’s Hall
  • Museum of Natural History: £125,000 for Life, as we know it – Redisplaying Oxford University Museum of Natural History
  • National Motor Museum: £200,000 for Motoring into the Future – Phase 1
  • Hampton Court Palace: £201,400 for Re-opening of the Wolsey Rooms and re-interpretation of an iconic Tudor Art collection

West Midlands

  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: £150,000 for enabling the redisplay of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s (BMAG) Ancient Civilizations Galleries

Yorkshire and The Humber

  • Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre: £37,500 for Barnsley’s Chamber of Treasures
  • National Science and Media Museum: £100,000 for Sound & Vision
  • Kelham Island Museum: £45,000 for More to See
  • Temple Newsam: £140,100 for What the Butler Saw: revealing treasures, improving access and creating capacity at Temple Newsam House

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