Gilbert White & The Oates Collections have been successful in being awarded £47,500 from National Lottery Heritage Fund to support thanks to the Heritage Emergency Fund.
Gilbert White & The Oates Collections is a rural independent museum celebrating the lives of explorers of the natural world, principally Gilbert White, the pioneering 18th Century naturalist who lived and wrote in the house and grounds where the museum is based, in Selborne, Hampshire.
The museum should have been celebrating Gilbert White’s tercentenary in 2020 with an action packed programme of events both on site, and around the country with over 40 partner organisations taking part in the celebration, culminating in a large event on White’s 300th birthday in July, where the museum expected to welcome hundreds of visitors to their small site. The museum was looking forward to raising its profile through media opportunities and partnerships to ensure its future for future generations through the anniversary program. All cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic, when it’s doors closed and plans came to abrupt stop.
Instead of a busy year attending the Chelsea Flower Show with a Gilbert White garden and partnering with Natural History Museum in London, the museum had to consider it’s very survival. The museum receives no public funding and without its visitors or events the museum was unlikely to survive the year. Almost all staff were furloughed, and the future of the museum seemed potentially very uncertain.
Thankfully due to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Gilbert White’s home is no longer in immediate danger, the £47,500 grant will go towards the support of staff salaries, including senior management, marketing, collections and the garden team over the next challenging few months until the museum is once again trading. This will ensure that operations can continue, that the collection held within the accredited museum can be cared for, along with Gilbert White’s famous 25 acre garden; it will also mean that recovery from the crisis will be possible, with staff on hand to implement preparations for reopening once it safe to do so.
The grant will also cover overheads that the museum cannot pay without any income, as well payment for urgent works on the grade II listed garden. The grant will also go into replenishing marketing costs so that the museum can continue to promote itself as well as Gilbert White in this important year. In the hope of rekindling the anniversary celebrations later in the year and into 2021.