Struggling Dorset art museum boosted by Frink exhibition success

Image caption, Museum executive director Claire Dixon said it was good to see Elisabeth Frink get the recognition she deserves

  • Author, Curtis Lancaster
  • Role, BBC News

A museum that was struggling to pay its running costs has been boosted by public support for a popular exhibition.

Dorset Museum and Art Gallery credited the increased footfall to a display celebrating the late sculptor Elisabeth Frink.

Elisabeth Frink: A View from Within explored her artistic and personal life in Dorset, as well as the influences that shaped her work.

Museum executive director Claire Dixon said: “We’re not out of the woods yet but it just goes to show what can happen if you get the right exhibition to the right people.”

Image source, Dorset Museum

Image caption, The museum, originally built in 1846, reopened in 2021 after a £16.4m construction project

In January the museum, in Dorchester’s High West Street, was awarded a grant of £250,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a further £150,000, spread over three years, from Dorset Council.

Despite this Ms Dixon said it was struggling financially after visitor numbers had fallen and running costs had increased following a £16.4m construction project that finished in 2021.

The Elisabeth Frink exhibition was on show from December to April, and Ms Dixon said the feedback was “incredible”.

“It proves that if we get it right then people love it,” she said.

She added that Elisabeth Frink is “having her moment” and it is “good to see a female sculpture get the recognition she deserves”.

The museum attracted visitors from outside of the county as well as locally, Ms Dixon said.

The team is working on improving its digital strategy to reach tourists visiting Dorset this summer.

“We are not safe from our financial troubles yet. We still need to prove that we can get footfall in the peak season,” she added.

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