ARMY MUSEUMS OGILBY TRUST (Registered Charity No: 250907)
The Army Museums Ogilby Trust is a registered charity founded in 1954 by the late Colonel Robert Ogilby (1880-1964). Colonel Ogilby’s experiences as a wartime soldier persuaded him that the principal distinguishing feature of the British Army that set it apart from all others was the fighting spirit that its soldiers drew from the regimental system and its associated sense of continuity and obligation.. It was in his words this “esprit de corps alone which held men together in tight corners”.
He therefore resolved to do his best to perpetuate the system in which he so fervently believed by the provision of trust funds to promote a wider interest in military history and military scholarship through the medium of regimental and corps museums. Accordingly he established two Trusts: The Army Museums Ogilby Trust, established in 1954 with a capital of £95,000; and the Robert Ogilby Trust, established with a bequest of £90,000 from his estate in 1973, the fund and income to be devoted to military historical research and the publication of products of that research. These two trusts were amalgamated in December 1993 under the title of The Army Museums Ogilby Trust.
The Trust has played, and continues to play, a very significant part in the establishment and development of regimental and corps museums. There are some 150 such museums in the United Kingdom today and they are as varied and individual as the regiments they represent. A visit to any of them will produce evidence of the Trust’s activities: objects purchased with the assistance of a grant-in-aid; endowments to support their establishment or development and improvements to the preservation, conservation, display and recording of objects and archive material achieved through professional advice funded by the Trust. Most museums are now charitable trusts and the legal costs associated with establishing them were, in most cases, borne by the Trust.
The Trust has contributed to professional military, museum and heritage journals and has sponsored or supported the publication of a number of works of reference. More recently it has created and now maintains a website, www.armymuseums.org.uk, which is recognised as the definitive guide to regimental and corps museums. The site carries advice on tracing army ancestors and includes a 4,000 volume regimental bibliography. The Trust also responds to inquiries from the general public.
Army museums are in most cases now well established and integrated into the national museums sector. They have forged strong links with the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council, its Regional Agencies and other professional bodies. Their collections provide valuable insights into the great events of our military history but they also illustrate the close links that have existed and continue to flourish between regiments and their local communities. The care and management of such collections is a heavy responsibility which demands specialist knowledge, professional training and funding. The ever rising burdens of health and safety legislation, professional standards, and educational activities linked to the national curriculum and public expectation are increasingly expensive.
The underlying objectives of the Trust remain those set by its founder, adapted and developed to encourage a contemporary presentation of military heritage geared to the education of young people by reference to the national curriculum and reflecting the changing needs of regimental and corps museums. Currently the Trust supports museums by the provision of advocacy, advice and funding in the following ways:
- With the agreement of their trustees, to represent the individual and collective views of regimental and corps museums and to enhance their profile in dealings with the Ministry of Defence, other Government Departments and their agencies.
- Through close liaison with the Ministry of Defence, the National Army Museum, the Charity Commissioners and other professional agencies, to track developments in policy and practise and to pass that information to regimental and corps museums through regular conferences, newsletters, strategy papers and visits.
- The provision of free legal and specialist advice and assistance with the constitution, structure and registration of existing and projected museums, including the creation of new trusts to embrace the collections of several pre-existing museums.
- In conjunction with other agencies to secure for the trustees of regimental and corps museums the best available advice on such professional matters as the protection, conservation, preservation and presentation of their collections and the operation and further development of their museums.
- Fundraising in order to support the provision of grants-in-aid and other appropriate financial support for the increase and improvement of collections and the training of museum staff.
- The provision of a website, approved by the Ministry of Defence, as the definitive guide to regimental and corps museums.
- Participation in the development of Ministry of Defence policy towards museums to ensure that the interests and concerns of museum trustees are properly represented, thereby ensuring the best possible future for regimental and corps museums.
The Patron, Vice Patrons and Trustees bring to the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, and thereby to the service of regimental and corps museums, unparalleled experience across a wide field.