We The Curious receives vital funding from Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage

Thursday 22 October | Jen Forster

Educational charity, We The Curious, has received a £173,400 grant from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, part of the Government's £1.57bn support package to support the culture sector.

The latest support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, in conjunction with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, now marks the third grant in support of We The Curious in the past year, including a grant towards their forthcoming new exhibition Project What If and a grant from the Heritage Emergency Fund which was awarded earlier this summer.  

Following Government lockdown guidelines, We The Curious has been closed since March 2020 meaning a £2.4m loss in income for the educational charity. Meanwhile, the entire ground floor has been undergoing a complete transformation, with the installation of a bold new experience Project What If – the opening is on track for 6 November 2020, and tickets on sale shortly for visitors to return to the venue.

With over 10,000 questions collected from every postcode in the city, Project What If will be the first major science centre exhibition in the UK inspired entirely by the curiosity of a city’s residents.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has previously funded an element of Project What If, with a £80,000 grant supporting the development of a set of exhibits focusing on the theme of ‘time’ through multi-disciplinary ways, including art commissions, oral histories from Bristol residents and exhibits which explore space discoveries. Funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund will help We The Curious to improve access and inclusion to Bristol's diverse scientific heritage.


Being neither a museum, a frontline crisis charity or an art gallery, the science centre was not previously eligible for the Government COVID-19 support packages announced earlier this year, so has been, and is still seeking support from local businesses, trusts and individuals for the remainder, which in the current circumstances and following eight months of enforced closure, is more crucial than ever.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has supported We The Curious with two separate grants specifically related to the COVID pandemic. Firstly, the Heritage Emergency Fund for £99,800, which was awarded in the summer, as a grant intended to limit the impact of the enforced closure of the venue. The support is for ongoing running costs for the site, including essential maintenance to preserve the heritage of the Grade II listed estate, which as a rich history and was previously an Engine Shed for Brunel’s Great Western Railway.

Secondly, We The Curious is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the COVID pandemic.

This vital support is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms-length by Historic England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

This support will go towards costs associated with We The Curious reopening safely, helping to cover related expenses such as PPE, new signage, extra cleaning provision, supporting a new contactless ticketing system, health and safety training and staff time focused on reopening.  


Donna Speed, Chief Executive for We The Curious said:

“We’re extremely grateful for the support that we’ve received through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Culture Recovery Fund; it has been a truly challenging year for us with virtually no income, as it has for so many – since our enforced closure in March.

“At this time particularly, we’re all looking to science research for answers, and to help solve challenges including the COVID pandemic and climate crisis. There’s never been a more important time to facilitate a greater connection with science and culture.  

“We’re excited to be reopening next month, and this support will go towards enabling us to do that, but we’re still in a critical position, and need the continued support of our visitors, partners and funders to ensure that we’re still here for future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”



We The Curious is an educational charity and interactive science centre in Bristol which brings together science, art, technology, culture and innovation to create positive change for its community and environment and “create a culture of curiosity”.

This year We The Curious is celebrating 20 years in Bristol, and will be reopening in November, with tickets on sale shortly – visit www.wethecurious.org for more information.

Project What If was supported by a £3m grant awarded by the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. The support for the charity and new exhibition has been hugely successful in addition to this, with over £900,000 donated by other generous funders.

For more information on supporting We The Curious and to donate, please visit https://www.wethecurious.org/charity/educational-charity




For more information, images, interviews or to arrange a press trip, please contact the Jen Forster, Communications Manager – jen.forster@wethecurious.org or 07967 334152. You can follow We The Curious on Twitter (@wethecurious_) Facebook (wethecurious) or Instagram (@wethecurious_). Visit www.wethecurious.org for more information.


Editor’s Notes:


About We The Curious

We The Curious was previously known as At-Bristol Science Centre; an educational charity with an aim to “make science accessible to all”, it opened in 2000, and welcomed over 5 million visitors in the past 20 years. At-Bristol relaunched as We The Curious in September 2017, with a new vision that is committed to creating a culture of curiosity.

We The Curious is an idea and a place for everyone. Our venue on Bristol’s harbourside is a bit like an indoor festival, with all sorts of different experiences, where you can interact with exhibits, test stuff out and participate rather than just visit.  We’re all about empowering everyone to ask questions and get creative - with boundaries removed between science, art, people and ideas - a culture of curiosity. This year We The Curious is celebrating 20 years in Bristol.


About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk. Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund   


Inspiring Science Fund

The Inspiring Science Fund, a partnership between UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome, has invested £30 million in science centres across the UK, enabling them to revitalise their public offer and to develop more sustainable working practices for the future. New exhibitions and learning centres, alongside inclusive and creative community programmes, will inspire visitors to engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in fun and exciting new ways.



Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation.



UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), brings together the 7 UK research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England, working closely with its partner organisations in the devolved administrations of the UK Government. The scheme is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome.


About the funding campaign

In addition to the support from the Inspiring Science Fund, Project What If has so far received generous support from: John James Bristol Foundation; The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851; Garfield Weston Foundation; National Lottery Heritage Fund; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; Innovation 4 Growth; Nisbet Trust; Charles Hayward Foundation; Britford Bridge Trust; Kirby Laing Trust; Medlock Charitable Trust; National Lottery Community Fund, an anonymous funder and local individual donors.