Oxford University Museums have been awarded £1.45 million per year for three years from 2015 by Arts Council England.

The funding, which will benefit the Ashmolean Museum, Museum of the History of Science, Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum, is part of Arts Council England’s Renaissance programme.

The money will be used for a wide range of activities to engage the public, including educational visits for schools, activities for families and lifelong learners, and community outreach programmes.

The funding will also support conservation, collections care, loans and technical services. It has enabled the development of digital resources which allows people to access the collections online.

In the last year, the free-to-enter museums received around two million visitors, provided education sessions to almost 90,000 school students, and engaged 40,000 children and 85,000 adults inside the museums and out in the community.

Professor Paul Smith, Director of the Museum of Natural History at Oxford, said: ‘Over the years, Renaissance funding has transformed the way that the University museums interact with the public. The new funding will enable us to continue innovating and to provide exciting and novel programmes for visitors.’

Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Services and University Collections at the University, said: ‘Arts Council England’s major grant will help ensure both that the galleries and the expertise of their curatorial staff are even better used by schools, and local, national and international visitors and colleagues, and that Oxford University Museums continue to play a significant leadership role in the sector.’

Oxford University Museums is a Major Partner Museum comprising the Ashmolean Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of the History of Science. Arts Council England’s Renaissance programme has provided £22.6 million to 21 Major Partner Museums since it launched in April 2012.

As part of the Major Partner Museum portfolio, Oxford University Museums also provide leadership within the museum sector. Over the past three years the consortium has developed the Oxford ASPIRE programme, which runs training and knowledge-sharing events for museum professionals on topics including fundraising and philanthropy, commercial enterprise, digital development, and audience engagement. From March 2015, ASPIRE will pilot Oxford Cultural Leaders, a new international leadership programme for the sector.