Tullie House Museum secures funding for project aimed at revealing 500 million years of Earth Stories

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery’s ‘Cumbria's Past, Our Future’ project is a new initiative that will unlock the potential of an internationally significant and unique geology collection. The project will focus on enhancing documentation and digitisation of the Museum collection as well as developing research projects, digital engagement, school sessions, volunteer projects, and developing relevant networks.

Funding from Arts Council England’s Designation Development Fund has been awarded to enable the Museum to deliver a two-year project which will uncover stories from Cumbria’s ancient history through the exceptional geology and palaeontology collection held at the Museum. The Arts Council funding is only available to Designated collections; Tullie House’s Natural Science collection was awarded Designated status in late 2018. The Designation Scheme identifies and celebrates outstanding nationally and internationally significant collections, which deepen our understanding of the world and what it means to be human. Since 1997 the Designation Scheme has identified the best collections held in museums, libraries and archives across England.

The project will reveal the effects of climate change in Cumbria over the past 500,000,000 years through the study of over 10,000 objects. This will be achieved by appointing dedicated staff and developing a series of conferences, talks and resources for schools across the county and establishing a support framework for researchers and collaborators.

Currently there is only a small representation of the geology collection on show at the Museum. However, as the museum embarks on Project Tullie, an ambitious masterplan to reinvent and reimagine the site, the project will provide a perfect opportunity to explore this fascinating collection in more depth, ensuring that Cumbria’s ancient history is embedded into the museum’s future.

Andrew Mackay, Director Tullie House commented: “It is a significant achievement for Tullie House and the people of Cumbria. The funding not only recognizes the great significance of the Natural Science collection, but the work that the Museum and its partners undertake in caring for and developing an essential resource in understanding the exceptional nature of this amazing county.”

Alison, Clark, Director, North, Arts Council England, said: “Congratulations to Tullie House on their successful application to our Designation Development fund. Tullie House’s Natural Science collection received Designated status last year so it is fantastic to see that this funding will help to further the great engagement work the Museum has been doing with its collection.


“It’s also exciting to see that Tullie House is embracing digital technologies as part of their plans, to ensure that their collections are more accessible for the public. I look forward to seeing the progression of the project and how this investment will help to support both public and academic engagement with these collections.”


Between 2019-22 Arts Council are investing £2.1 million of National Lottery funding to support projects that ensure the long-term sustainability of Designated museum and library collections.


The Designation Scheme recognises, celebrates and champions significant collections of national and international importance. The fund recognises the importance of excellent collections and provides funding for projects that ensure their long-term sustainability, maximise their public value and encourage the sharing of best practice across the sector.