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Designated status awarded to the collections of BT Archives and Black Country Living Museum

  • Date: 16 February 2012
  • Area: London, Midlands

Arts Council England has today announced the award of Designated status to the collections of BT (British Telecommunications) Archives and the Black Country Living Museum. This is the first time the Arts Council has administered and awarded Designated status since assuming responsibilities for museums and libraries from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in October 2011.

Designation identifies the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance. In recognising these inspiring collections, Arts Council England believes that the collections of BT Archives and the Black Country Living Museum represent a vital part of our national cultural heritage.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said:

'We are delighted to be awarding this prestigious standard to both BT Archives and the Black Country Living Museum. Both organisations' collections offer a fascinating and important insight into the history of the nation, and should be celebrated.'

BT Archives was awarded Designated status for its compelling documentation of the leading role that the UK and BT and its predecessors have played in communications technology from its very beginning. The archives cover the provision of communications services around the country and across the globe, and its profound influence on society and impact on people’s lives. 

The collections of the Black Country Living Museum constitute a comprehensive record of industrial activity and society in the Black Country chiefly spanning the period 1800 to 1950. They include four original industrial features on site - including two mine shafts, limekilns and a canal arm - representing a microcosm of the classic Black Country industrial landscape.

Suzi Williams, BT Group Marketing and Brand Director, said:

'We're thrilled - Designation recognises BT Archives as an important collection not just about BT's corporate history and leading role in the development of telecommunications technology, but also for social, economic and industrial and many other histories. We're proud to preserve and share these unique and exceptional resources as part of our commitment to the nation's, indeed the world's, memory and heritage.'

Andrew Lovett, Director and Chief Executive of the Black Country Living Museum said:

'This is an enormous step forward for the museum, not only recognising the strength of our entire collection, but an endorsement of how we are developing our own style of engaging people - our visitors - creatively in history.'

Following the announcement, there are 140 Designated collections in England, held in 112 different organisations. Organisations holding Designated collections are expected to work towards the provision of high-quality services which deliver the fullest possible public access to those collections, and to take a leadership role in the sector by helping other cultural institutions in ways such as sharing expertise, offering advice and lending objects or materials.

You can download a list of the Designated collections here.