Major National Lottery investment to unlock UK’s archives

Logos of the four partners in a square

A £5m investment into the archives sector will unlock collections across the UK and build the skills and resilience needed to care for them into the future.

The National Archives, the Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation are delighted to announce that The National Lottery Heritage Fund has invested in the Archives Revealed funding programme, awarding £5 million to the partnership. This is one of the Heritage Fund’s biggest investments into archives this century and will increase the value of the programme to £6 million over three years, allowing many more archives to benefit from the fund.

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Our archives are home to our stories. Records, collections and histories all shine a light on who we are, how we live and what is important to us. I am delighted that National Lottery funding will support Archives Revealed to unlock many more of these stories right across the UK and safeguard them for future generations.

“Our £5million investment will not only amplify the impact of the fantastic Archives Revealed programme – a long running partnership between The National Archives, the Pilgrim Trust and the Wolfson Foundation – but will also share skills and knowledge, foster partnerships and build organisational resilience in the sector. All of this is vital for protecting the future of our archives and delivering our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future.”

Archives Revealed is the only national funding programme dedicated to unlocking archival collections. The aim of the fund is to ensure that significant archive collections, representing the lives and perspectives of all people across the UK, are made accessible to the public for research and enjoyment.

This new investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will enable Archives Revealed to support more and larger grants, creating greater impact across the archives sector. The programme will also include funding for public engagement and participatory work for the first time. Archives Revealed will give around 160 grants to archives across the UK over the coming three years, and the Heritage Fund’s investment will ensure that over five times more funding is delivered in 2024-2027 than was possible in 2020-2023.

The programme will continue to offer Cataloguing Grants of up to £50,000 for archives to create catalogues of important archival collections. Catalogues enable people to find and explore archive collections – without them, there would be no access to these crucial records and the stories they tell. Archives Revealed Scoping Grants of up to £3,000 will also remain available to assess underexplored collections and support their development.

Additionally, the programme will start offering larger Consortium Grants of up to £150,000, for projects spanning multiple archives and collections that have the potential to create wider regional or thematic impact. The funding from the Heritage Fund will also allow The National Archives to create a new sector development and training programme, to build the skills of archive professionals and volunteers so that the funded projects and organisations can achieve even more.

Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives on behalf of Archives Revealed said:

“This is an exciting time to be involved in archives. This generous grant allows Archives Revealed to help more archives in the coming years, to get the very best out of their collections and make them more accessible, demonstrating that archives truly are for everyone. The addition of a new training programme allows us to continue to support the archive sector as a thriving, inclusive sector which places development and professionalism at its heart. Archives Revealed will continue to save archival heritage, equip archives for the future through skills and knowledge sharing, and significantly increase the reach of archives to diverse audiences across the UK.”

Archives are for everyone because they are about everyone – past, present and future. The new, expanded funding programme will support The National Archives’ work across the archives sector, as well as Heritage 2033, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s 10-year strategy for investing in heritage for the future as well as the present.

Further details on each grant programme’s timeframe and application process will be published in August, and a webinar on Monday 2 September will provide comprehensive information for applicants.