Two months ago we broke the news that we were facing potential closure unless we could raise £20,000 by March 2019. We asked for your help and today I am very pleased to say that we are almost there! We have already received at least £16,750 of donations, with further pledges and promises that give us cause to feel incredibly optimistic about our future beyond next year. Thank you for your support; we’re not there yet, but we are getting close.
A few weeks ago, whilst being interviewed on local radio, I was asked whether museums still have a purpose in this digital age. It is true that now, more than ever, it is possible to see objects and engage with their stories outside of the museum building, something we’ve seen ourselves this year through our work with virtual reality. Yet there is something simply wonderful about being able to walk in Jenner’s footsteps, to find yourself perhaps standing in the spot where he realised that his discovery could save millions of lives. Or to stand outside the Temple of Vaccinia in the same place that people came for their first ever vaccination, placing their trust in Jenner in the hope of a world free from smallpox. This is what we want to save.
But Dr Jenner’s House isn’t just about looking back. We want to celebrate Jenner’s legacy and part of that is recognising that vaccines still save between 3 and 4 million lives every year. We want to talk about polio, which is so close to being eradicated, to explore the recurrence of measles, and to chart the race to find vaccines for new diseases. We want young people to be inspired by Jenner’s curious mind and to follow his example in asking questions of the world around us. We think that matters and that it is important that we do this against the backdrop of Jenner’s former home.
Clearly I’m not alone in this view. When we asked people to come to Dr Jenner’s House for a photocall in support of our fundraising campaign, over 230 people turned up. This year we’ve had a 7% increase in regular visitors, despite the best efforts of the weather to keep people away. We’ve opened new exhibitions, refreshed our existing displays, developed a virtual reality game that can be played at home, hosted scientists from around the country on Discovery Day, and so much more. But we know we still have lots to offer. We’ve already been speaking to a range of potential long-term funding partners and over the coming months we will be putting in grant applications to help us develop our offer and make us less reliant on charitable giving. This all takes time, so we hope that you’ll continue to support our campaign to keep the museum open and to raise £20,000 by March 2019.
27 November 2018
You can also donate by text message: text JENN34 £5 to 70070 to give £5 to the appeal.
You can also support the museum in a number of other ways: by becoming a member of The Chantry Club, by purchasing our Christmas cards, coming to one of our events, volunteering, or just telling your friends and colleagues about our campaign.