World Collections Programme

The World Collections Programme (WCP) was formed in 2008 to establish two-way partnerships with institutions in Asia and Africa, and increase their access to UK collections and expertise.

Priority regions for cultural exchange

  • Africa
  • The Middle East
  • India
  • China
WCP map of activity across the world 

Participating UK institutions

  • British Museum
  • British Library
  • Natural History Museum
  • Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew)
  • Tate
  • Victoria and Albert Museum

Although DCMS funding for the programme ended in April 2011, the network continues to enable greater coordination of international activities outside of Europe between the six members. Chaired by British Museum Director Neil MacGregor, the programme also draws on international partnerships through DCMS, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, BBC World Service, British Council and other UK bodies.

Funding and previous activities

Between April 2008 and April 2011 the WCP received funding from DCMS of £1 million per year. This funding allowed a wide range of activities and programmes to take place, as detailed below.

WCP activities

  • Developing new relationships
  • Digitisation of the Collections enabling wider electronic access
  • Professional development, training, skill sharing and staff exchange
  • Non-English language access to the Collections (online, radio etc)
  • Public programme connected to exhibitions
  • Overseas exhibitions and loans
  • Join research and conservation opportunities

WCP projects

Find out about the different World Collections Programme projects:

Show all Africa projects

Develop a partnership with the Institute of Ethiopian Studies
Greater access to UK-based Ethiopian collections

Show all Middle East projects

Show all India projects

Natural History Museum and the National Natural History Museum, New Delhi
Initial development of a partnership between these two organisations

Show all China projects

Natural History Museum and the Geological Museum of China, Beijing
Initial development of a partnership between these two organisations

Multi-country projects

International Training Programme

Annual UK-based British Museum-led 6-week training programme for 24 international curators, artists and museum professionals to work with specialist staff at the World Collections Programme institutions and also develop skills in the basics of museum management. The World Collections Programme has provided funding for the 2008 and forthcoming 2009 training programmes.

This project also involves:

  • Tyne and Wear Museums
  • Lincoln - The Collection
  • Manchester Museum 
  • Whitworth Art Gallery
  • Glasgow Museums
  • Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery
  • National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

Developing multi-lingual access to the collections

The World Collections Programme provided funding to develop access to the collections in languages other than English.