The Novium is one of just 14 museums across the UK to benefit from The Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund, designed to explore and expand digital innovations developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund is a collaboration between The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and The Museum's Association. A total of £600,000 will support the 14 museums to kick-start, scale up and evaluate the innovations they designed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual field trips were first developed by The Novium Museum in response to the challenges faced by primary schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The field trips were created thanks to a grant of £21,646 awarded through Art Fund's Respond and Reimagine programme. Aimed at seven to 11-year-olds, they bring high-quality museum learning into the classroom.

Combining collection objects, actors and interactive elements, the virtual field trips include 45 minutes of interactive filmed content, object-based activity sheets, an optional loan box and optional virtual city walks.

The Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund grant will enable the museum to further develop the virtual field trips with a focus on reaching children experiencing increased disadvantage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will allow the museum to share more of their collections by expanding the curriculum subjects covered, as well developing virtual field trips for early years and key stage one audiences. It will also allow the museum to offer blended learning opportunities for children who have experienced a widening opportunity gap as a result of COVID-19, with a number of virtual field trips being offered in combination with physical workshops at the museum.

Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Community Services and Culture at Chichester District Council, says: "This is fantastic news for The Novium Museum. Feedback from school groups who have already benefitted from our virtual field trips has demonstrated a real need for our dynamic virtual learning offer.

"This grant funding will allow us to further develop our virtual field trips and create more opportunities for children across the Chichester District and beyond to benefit from our enriching learning programme and museum collection."

Information about The Novium Museum's learning programme, including Virtual Field Trips and Covid-secure measures, can be found at: The Novium Museum - learning or by emailing noviumlearning@chichester.gov.uk

The Novium Museum is currently open from Tuesday - Saturday, 10am until 4pm and 10am until 3pm on Sundays. Admission is free, with donations gratefully accepted, but tickets must be booked online in advance. For more information, visit the museum's website: The Novium Museum - plan your visit .

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, said: "Museums play a vital role in bringing communities together; they help us to understand our past and imagine a better future. This investment will bring diverse, underrepresented voices into museums to share their experiences, so that new audiences benefit from our outstanding museums and museums benefit from different perspectives.

Coming together as a society to learn and discover new things is a key part of our cultural lives, and the recipients of this funding will help to facilitate this in novel and exciting ways."

Sharon Heal, Museums Association Director, said: "The Digital Innovation and Engagement grants were a timely opportunity for museums to build on their creativity in engaging their communities during lockdown and to develop their skills in the digital space.

"The 14 grants awarded represent the best of a very competitive funding round and range from innovative co-curated online tours to explore decolonial narratives, to creating online forums for care-leavers.

"Working with UKRI-AHRC has helped us develop a ground-breaking funding stream that will support museums to build on the new ways of working that have evolved in the pandemic and we look forward to continuing this partnership."

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair and UKRI International Champion, said:"Our nation's museums have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to educate and inspire audiences while their doors were closed. The resources developed to enable this has had the additional positive outcome that it has helped them reach diverse, global audiences and has redefined what is possible for the future.

"There is a lot of optimism about what this means for the sector and investments such as these will support museums to continue to innovate and grow."

Date of release: 1 July 2021

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