The public is set to benefit from £3m of fresh lottery funding for museums and galleries sparked by concerns over the ?state? of the nation?s collections.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) wants organisations to use the money to ?increase activities for the public?, as well as to support acquisitions, research and curatorial skills.

The cash will be ploughed into as many as 20 projects during 2007 and 2008.

The grants will range from £50,000-£200,000 and will be available to small, local museums and galleries as well as larger organisations.

Welcoming the news Tyne & Wear Museums director Alec Coles said: ?There has long been a need for strategic investment to halt the inertia felt by our museums and galleries but the resources needed for the collections have simply not been there. It will make a huge difference to have a truly strategic approach to funding.?

However, the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT) is so far staying tight-lipped over whether it will bid for a slice of the funds.

Though not ruling it out, an NMPFT spokesman told us that the museum has no immediate plans to apply for a grant.

Organisations will be asked to ?show how they will increase public involvement and enjoyment of their collections,? according to the HLF in a statement.

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