From the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall, small museums across the UK are being called upon to apply for the Royal Society’s Places of Science grant. The scheme, opening on 10 January 2022, provides up to £3,500 to UK museums to fund projects that engage and inspire communities with local science stories.
The pandemic caused the museums and heritage sector to face extraordinary challenges – and this award aims to play a part in the sector’s recovery, while also supporting the increased interest in science across society.
The Places of Science initiative encourages museums to think creatively about the science in their collections and their local area, and to present science in new, creative ways that will be valued by local communities.
Professor Jonathan Ashmore FMedSci FRS, Chair of the Places of Science panel, and Professor of Biophysics said: "There is a rich and diverse scientific landscape in the UK and this scheme celebrates the local museums that uncover and tell the stories of some of the most wonderful ideas in science and the people and places behind them. I would like to encourage museums to apply for this grant and use it to explore the inspiring science stories embedded in their collections and their communities."
Lynsey Andersen, former Learning and Access Officer at the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, and Places of Science panel member said: "Being part of the Places of Science scheme was a fantastic opportunity for the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. We were able to explore and share some of our fascinating science stories in ways we hadn't done before which engaged new audiences with our work. The support from the Royal Society was invaluable in building staff confidence in science engagement and raising the profile of our small museum."
Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association, and Places of Science panel member said: "It’s been a tough year for museums – the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on visitor numbers and funding. Despite this, museums have worked extremely hard to keep connected to their communities and provided opportunities for people to come to terms with some of the momentous changes that have impacted us all.
"The pandemic has made us all think about the role that science and scientists play in our lives and this award is a fantastic opportunity for museums to celebrate innovation and present science in new and interesting ways."
Applications for the 2022 scheme open on 10 January and close on 16 February 2022. Museums can register expressions of interest in the scheme on the Royal Society website now – royalsociety.org/places-of-science.
To be eligible, museums must have full or provisional museums accreditation, and fewer than 65,000 visitors, or a turnover of less than £200,000 a year.
Two previous rounds of the scheme have supported events and exhibitions at 27 museums across the country, reaching over 40,000 people.
In 2018 the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum, Lochmaddy gave local children the opportunity to explore the marram grass dunes of Scotland, and budding entomology enthusiasts helped to identify a previously unclassified collection of over 1,000 insect specimens at the Littlehampton Museum, Littlehampton.