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Newsletter January 2010

Happy New Year and welcome to NMDC’s monthly news update.
In this issue:

and much more…

NMDC NEWS

NMDC highlights unique role of museums

Museums provide knowledge and inspiration, while also connecting communities.  At a time of economic recovery, and in the run-up to the Olympics, they are more important than ever. Museums and galleries deliver world-class public services which offer individuals and families free anatnd inspiring places to visit and things to do.  Museums attract audiences from home and abroad.  They build confidence in Britain and stimulate the creativity and innovation that will help drive economic success.  Museums provide the places and resources to which people turn for information and learning.  They care for the legacy of the past while creating a legacy for the future.

These are the key messages from Museums Deliver, NMDC’s new publication demonstrating the wide-ranging social and economic importance of museums in the UK.  The report describes the activities of our museums and their unique role in society from the global stage to the local high-street.  It is packed with evidence and case-studies, and with museum facts and figures, including:

  • In 2008, museums attendance in the UK increased at over three times the national average for visitor attractions;
  • More than two thirds of children aged 5–11 visited a museum outside of school last year;
  • For every pound invested in culture, a further £3.50 is generated;
  • Using minimal public resources – just 0.08% of total government spending in 2007/2008 – museums leverage additional funding and produce a world class public offer.
  • In 2007/08, national museums virtually doubled total government funding through self-generated income, raising 46% of their own income.

The publication also contains pledges of support for museums, including from Camila Batmanghelidjh, found of Kids Company:

“Museums are uniquely egalitarian spaces. Whether you are rich, poor, or uniquely-abled, the museum door is always an open welcome. A sense of history and beauty, gifts from our cultural heritage, inspires the ordinary soul into extraordinary possibilities. They bind communities together, giving them heart, hope and resilience. If life was just about earning to eat, we’d be depleted and tired. Museums bring to life the opportunity to experience meaning beyond the mundane. Museums make the soul sing!” 

Museums Deliver is at www.nationalmuseums.org.uk

All Party Arts and Heritage Group

NMDC had a productive meeting with members of the All Party Arts and Heritage Group last month.  NMDC Chair, Dr Michael Dixon, outlined the key points in the Museums Deliver publication and discussed how museum policy objectives could be met.

DIRECTORS IN THE NEWS

Alec Coles to become Director of Western Australian Museum, Perth

After nearly 8 years as Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), Alec Coles is leaving to take up a new role as Director of the Western Australian Museum, in Perth, Western Australia. He will take up his new post in March 2010, and will manage the Museum’s six sites, its Collection Research Centre and a number of maritime heritage sites.  In particular, he will be responsible for developing the business case for a major new State Museum in Perth.

In his current role as director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Alec is responsible for twelve museums, galleries and heritage sites.  He also leads the North East Regional Museums Hub through the Renaissance programme.  He has been a member of NMDC since 2007.   TWAM statement

New Years Honours

Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Chair of NMDC between 2007-2009, has been awarded a Knighthood in the New Year Honours for services to the arts.  He is the second successive NMDC Chair, following Sir Robert Crawford, to be knighted. Natalie Ceeney, Chief Executive of The National Archives has been awarded a CBE. 

Other honours in the museums sector include CBEs for David Barrie, who was Director of the Art Fund until last year; and Penny Johnson, Director of the Government Art Collection.  Hillary Bauer, Head of International and Cultural Property Unit at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has been awarded an OBE, as has, Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, Special Assistant at the British Museum, and Julia Fawcett, Chief Executive of the Lowry Centre.  New Years Honours List

DCMS expenditure

NMDC Chair, Dr Michael Dixon has written a letter to the Telegraph refuting the suggestion in an article by Neil O'Brien of the think tank Policy Exchange, that nobody would "notice much if the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had its budget halved."  Mike wrote: "90 per cent of the DCMS's budget is spent not on itself but by the institutions that constitute the cultural infrastructure of this country, of which we are justly proud.  Would Mr O'Brien like to choose between closing the Natural History Museum or the National Gallery, between shutting down the National Theatre or the RSC? I think people would notice a great deal." Telegraph article    Michael Dixon's letter

A History of the World

Neil MacGregor, has given a series of interviews to promote A History of the World in 100 Objects, the radio programme created by the British Museum and the BBC. Mr MacGregor will present the hundred 15-minute instalments of the programme on BBC Radio 4 over the course of this year, beginning on 18 January.  The Guardian published a two-page interview with Mr MacGregor, discussing the exhibition and work of the British Museum.  Guardian 
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POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government – mentions museums

The Prime Minister launched the Government programme Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government, on 7 December outlining “how the Government will improve public service outcomes while achieving the fiscal consolidation that is vital to helping the economy grow.”  In the overall context of an emphasis on frontline services the Government makes clear its intention to  “rationalise and reform” arms length bodies by reducing the number of such bodies performing advisory or related functions by over 25%, subject to the necessary consultation and legislation.  The merger of the four existing military museums into the new National Museum of the Royal Navy, is highlighted as an example of reducing the number of bodies whose primary function is service delivery.  The Government also intends to publish data in the next budget showing the cost of HR, finance and other back office functions for arms length bodies, and will require back office consolidation plans from all such bodies showing how they will reduce costs and “strengthen the drive towards shared services”  Smarter Government report    The Prime Minister’s speech

Pre-Budget Report outlines rationalisation of DCMS bodies

The Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report of 9 December reiterated the themes of the Smarter Government programme.  Of particular relevance for museums is chapter 6, Protecting Public Services, which provided further details on the rationalisation of Arms Length bodies.  The £11 billion of savings a year by 2012-13 through Smarter Government includes:

  • at least £500 million by reducing duplication between organisations and streamlining Arms Length Bodies (ALBs). By Budget 2010, a review will identify further options for rationalisation. This will include considering options for rationalising up to a third of DCMS non-museum ALBs, including streamlining ten DCMS advisory bodies and bringing forward plans for merging the UK Film Council and the British Film Institute;
  • £650 million from cuts of 50 per cent in consultancy spend and 25 per cent in marketing and communications spend across government;
  • £300 million by improving energy efficiency across the public sector to reduce energy demand and costs, cutting bills by around 10 per cent and contributing to climate change goals;
  • £140 million from reducing the costs of the senior civil service by up to 20 per cent and cutting sickness absence amongst civil servants; and
  • £8bn savings identified by the Operational Efficiency Programme through improving back office, functions, IT, collaborative procurement and property running costs
  • All public sector pay settlements will be capped at 1% for two years from 2011, with a proposed pay freeze in 2010-11 for senior staff, including NDPB Chief Executives.  Contributions to public sector pensions to be cut by £1bn a year.

There will be £5 billion of additional savings by 2012-13 from targeting and prioritising spending, including:

  • £600 million from higher education and science and research budgets from a combination of changes to student support within existing arrangements; efficiency savings and prioritisation across universities, science and research; some switching of modes of study in higher education; and reductions in budgets that do not support student participation;
  • £350 million of savings from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to be found from central budgets, NDPB efficiency savings and from reviewing pilots and programmes to focus on the most effective interventions;

The full report, speeches and press releases are available on the HMT website.

Culture Secretary announces over 600 new jobs in cultural sector

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw MP has announced the creation of 624 new jobs in the cultural sector through the Future Jobs Fund.  These include 142 jobs created by English Heritage, working on the digitisation of 30,000 images of Wiltshire and making them easily accessible to local schools and community groups and over the internet.  Creative and Cultural Skills has also received funding to create 200 jobs nationwide in a range of positions in cultural organisations and community venues.

The Future Jobs Fund is a Department for Work and Pensions led initiative that aims to create 120,000 jobs for young people aged 18- 24 who have been unemployed for 6 months.  DCMS has committed to contributing 10,000 jobs within this: 5,000 in sport and 5,000 in culture.  DCMS website

George Osborne sets out commitment to museums

Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne MP spoke at Tate’s Family Conference last month, setting out his party’s commitment to the arts and museums sector:  “Right from the top our party, we are deeply committed to the British arts sector, and we want to see it flourish and thrive in the years ahead”, said Mr Osborne.

 Themes raised in the speech include:

  • A commitment to public funding and free admission – funded in part by returning the Lottery to its original four causes’
  • Supporting philanthropy – with a focus on endowments and reference to the US model;
  • Five year funding deals for large cultural organisations;
  • ‘Setting the arts free from bureaucratic control’ with a Museums and Heritage Bill;
  • A limit on funding bodies’ expenditure on administration/back office functions, to be no more than 5%.;
  • Encouraging self generated income with match funding;
  • Recognition of the social and economic benefits of the sector, including the importance of the creative economy; and
  •  acceptance of the intrinsic value of the sector: “There is no government metric or policy report that can ever fully capture this basic truth: that art matters for its own sake.’  George Osborne’s speech

New Culture Minister for Scotland

Fiona Hyslop has been appointed as the new Minister for Culture and External Affairs in the Scottish Government.  Mike Russell has been promoted to replace Fiona Hyslop as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.  Fiona Hyslop is an Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians.  Her new responsibilities include the Joint Ministerial Committees and liaison with the Westminster Government and with Europe.  She has said she is “hugely enthusiastic about her new role as Culture and External Affairs Minister, involving promoting Scotland and ensuring we make the most of our cultural assets and overseas links” Scottish Government     Fiona Hyslop biography
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MUSEUM SECTOR NEWS

Happy New Decade?

At the end of 2009, the media considered the fortunes of museums over the past ten years with Richard Dorment in the Telegraph hailing the last decade as “a golden age of the public art galleries and loan exhibitions”.  Telegraph

Tristram Hunt in the Observer though foresaw an end to the “unprecedented investment in galleries and museums… and a return to the dark days of closures, entry charges and pandering to the familiar looms.”  Observer

Meanwhile, The Independent on 3 January considered the financial difficulties facing many museums, reporting that 40 institutions are under threat or have already closed.  The Independent

British Pathé offer national museums unlimited archive downloads

Following successful negotiations with British Pathé for discounted access to its film archive for download and use by local museums, MLA has been exploring the possibility of extending the deal to national museums.  British Pathé have now developed a new offer for national museums and created a mechanism for delivering bespoke solutions.  This will include options for posting British Pathé content online, multi-site licences, mobile exhibitons and for use as an academic resource.  British Pathé are confident a new proposed average monthly charge of £700-800 for unlimited downloads comfortably beats existing arrangements where one-off payments of £10,000-12,000 were common for short film clips supporting single time-limited exhibitions. British Pathé

Export Reviewing Committee calls for tax changes

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest has published its 55th annual report revealing that items worth just over £1.5 million have been saved from export and will remain in the UK.  Following recommendations from the Reviewing Committee, the Culture Minister placed temporary export bars on 25 objects of outstanding significance during the period 1 May 2008 to 30 April 2009.  Nine of these cases resulted in acquisitions by institutions or individuals in the UK, including two items which had received a “starred” rating by the Committee to denote that every effort should be made to retain them.  In seven cases, matching funds could not be raised for items found to be of outstanding significance and these items, valued at £14.5m, were subsequently exported. 

In its report, the Committee, chaired by Lord Inglewood, raised concerns about the effectiveness of tax incentives such as the douceur system, which was devised to encourage owners to sell to UK public bodies through private treaty sales rather than sell on the open market.  The Committee has recommended the scheme is reviewed and amended. In particular, the Committee believes that the douceur should apply in any case where tax can be offset through transferring ownership of a cultural object to the nation.  In addition, the Committee has said that the Acceptance in Lieu scheme should be expanded to allow offers of cultural items to offset not just inheritance tax, but other taxes as well.  Export Reviewing Committee Report

45.3% of adults visited a museum in past 12 months

The latest figures from the DCMS Taking Part survey show that the percentage of adults visiting museums continues to rise.  The survey found that 45.3% of adults in England had attended a museum, gallery or archive at least once between October 2008 and September 2009. Participation in museums has risen steadily since DCMS launched the survey in 2005, when 43.8% of adults visited a museum in the previous 12 months.  Meanwhile, regular attendance at libraries has fallen from 49.6% of adults in 2005 to 38.5% in the past 12 months.  Taking Part Survey

MLA establishes Leading Museums Group to oversee action plan

MLA has established a steering group to oversee and support the delivery of the actions identified in Leading Museum:, A Vision and Strategic Action Plan for English Museums, published in July 2009.  The group’s initial role will be to establish the remit of the MLA and other bodies in delivering results, feeding into MLA’s business planning for Renaissance 2011-14. In addition, a wider reference group from the museum sector and its organisations will support the Group and the delivery of the ten actions identified in Leading Museums.  The members of the group are:  

  • Professor Tom Schuller (Chair), author of Learning Through Life and former Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation at OECD;
  • Dea Birkett, Director of Kids in Museums;
  • Jonathan Drori CBE, an expert in public bodies’ use of technology and new media;
  • Sheila Healy, former Chief Executive of Cornwall and Shropshire councils;
  • John Orna-Ornstein, Head of the British Museum's London and national partnership programmes; and
  • Vanessa Trevelyan, vice-president of the Museum's Association and head of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.

MLA website http://www.mla.gov.uk/news_and_views/press/releases/2009/leading_museums_group

Liechtenstein exhibition at Royal Academy cancelled

The Art Newspaper reports that Hans-Adam II, The Prince of Liechtenstein, has cancelled a major exhibition of his collection at the Royal Academy this autumn, following a dispute about an export licence for another painting he owns. The work by Sánchez Coello has been impounded by HM Revenue & Customs since 2007, while it investigates an export licence dispute with a London art dealer.  The Art Newspaper

Cultural organisations share experiences of outdoor projects

Arts Council England has published Beyond Their Walls, in which ten major London arts and cultural organisations share experiences of creating public events outdoors. The contributors include the British Museum, Tate, Exhibition Road Cultural Group and British Library.  Beyond Their Walls

New report places culture at the heart of commercial practice

A new report from Arts and Business, Beyond experience: culture, consumer & brand, provides advice on how brands and businesses can rebuild relationships with their markets through dynamic and innovative associations with culture and the arts.  The report by Joseph Pine & James Gilmore goes on to investigate the changing nature of consumers, and their increasing need for authentic experiences and meaningful transformations, which it is suggested culture is well placed to provide. Arts and Business Arts and Business

A roadmap for arts and cultural R&D

A new report published by Mission Models Money (MMM), proposes that publicly funded arts and cultural organisations should "aspire to, and be funded to, engage in Research and Experimental Development (R&D), particularly that which aims at innovation, that is, new social application." The report, It’s not rocket science: a roadmap for arts and cultural R&D, investigates how arts and cultural organisations can re-imagine their relationship with private sector businesses, social enterprise and public service delivery and sets out a Blueprint to promote arts and cultural sector R&D.  Mission Models Money  

Museums sign up for Britain Loves Wikipedia competition

Britain Loves Wikipedia is a photography contest focusing on objects in UK museum collections. The contest will run throughout February 2010, when members of the public - primarily those with an interest in Wikimedia and/or photography - can visit participating museums to take photographs of pre-specified “targets”, to be decided on jointly by the museums and Wikimedia UK and prizes will be given for a variety of categories.  The photographs entered into the competition will be made available on Wikimedia Commons, which is an image library used by a number of websites including Wikipedia.

The project builds on the success of two similar photography competitions last year in the United States and UK, and in the Netherlands.  The deadline for museums wishing to participate is 15 January and the event will be launched at the V&A on 31 January.  Britain Loves Wikipedia

Gowers Review of Intellectual Property - consultation on copyright exceptions for museums

The Government has published a consultation paper setting out detailed proposals to take forward the Gowers recommendations on copyright exceptions, which are intended to improve access to and use of copyright works.  The paper follows on from the 2008 consultation on the Gowers report to which many museums and museum sector organisations responded.  It sets out draft legislation and seeks comments on the accuracy of the impact assessments.  The draft legislation includes measures to enable museums and galleries, as well as libraries and archives, to copy works in their permanent collection for archival purposes and preservation, including mitigating against wear and tear of master copies.  The deadline for responses is 31 March.  Intellectual Property Office  

National Family Week 2010

MLA is encouraging museums to participate in National Family Week 2010 (31 May - 6 June), which aims to encourage families to spend quality time together.  Hundreds of museums, libraries and archives participated as partners in the inaugural national Family Week in 2009.  In 2010 there will be core theme days to which museums, libraries and archives can link their family learning activities, including “Family Week Story Time” on 2 June and “Family Week Road Trip” on 3 June.  www.nationalfamilyweek.co.uk

Funding for museums to work with 1000 trainee teachers

MLA has announced funding for 15 museums and their partners as part of the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Grants Programme.  These museums will work with more than 1,000 trainee teachers to support learning, develop cross-curricular projects and encourage school visits.  The ITE programme is designed to empower teachers at the beginning of their professional careers in using museum and archive collections and also aims to challenge museum and archive staff to think about their professional practice and collections by working with student teachers.  The partnerships include the British Museum and Cass School of Business; North East Regional Museums Hub and Northumbria University; and the Royal Armouries and Leeds University.  MLA website

Learning Outside the Classroom

With funding from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC), the Heritage Sector Partnership has developed some resources to help heritage organisations improve their understanding of the LOtC Quality Badge and review their learning services within the Quality Badge framework.  Group for Education in Museums

Nominations sought for UK Memory of the World Register

Nominations are being sought for the UK Memory of the World Register for documentary heritage which has cultural significance specific to the UK.  The UK Register is part of the international UNESCO Memory of the World programme, which promotes access to the world’s archive and library collections, as well as their preservation.  The UK Memory of the World Register will highlight some of the UK’s exceptional, but lesser-known documentary riches by awarding them the globally-recognised Memory of the World status.  The deadline for the first round of nominations to the UK Memory of the World Register is 8 January 2010.  UNESCO

MLA introduces Board secondment scheme to promote diversity

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has introduced a new Board secondment scheme to promote diversity among decision-makers.  A wide field of applicants competed for the first two appointments. The first two successful candidates are Ms Subnum Hariff, Partnership and Access Manager for Bolton’s Libraries, Museums, Archives and Arts who has recently completed the one year Clore Leadership Programme, and Dr. Atul K. Shah is founder and chief executive of the social enterprise Diverse Ethics.  They will join the MLA Board for one year from January 2010.  Further appointments will be held every six months as the scheme rolls forward.  MLA website

Embedding Shared Heritage: the Heritage Diversity Task Force

The final report of the Mayor of London's Heritage Diversity Task Force has been published.  Embedding Shared Heritage includes recommendations to promote cultural diversity within organisational practices, policies and programmes in the following areas:  museum and archive collections; audiences; governance; workforce; equitable partnerships; and the Cultural Olympiad.  The recommendations include:

  • a new sector-wide professional working body to tackle institutional and cross-sector barriers to change
  • the development and implementation by DCMS, in partnership with national museum directors, of a strategy to embed cultural diversity good practice into board appointment processes;
  • A Race Equality Workforce Declaration, to support employers in their efforts to redress the continuing under-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the sector’s workforce by 2015. Organisations who sign the workforce declaration will form a sector–lead network, implementing the declaration through a programme of shared best practice and skills training.

The report also includes essays by a wide range of cultural leaders including Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery; Professor Jack Lohman, Director of Museum of London and Natalie Ceeney, Chief Executive of The National Archives.

The Heritage Diversity Task Force was established in 2006 to implement the recommendations of the Mayor's Commission on African and Asian Heritage set out in the report Delivering Shared Heritage (2005).  Embedding Shared Heritage report

Diversify scheme extended to include low-income backgrounds

The Museums Association (MA) is looking for museums to host Diversify bursaries.  The scheme is now open to anyone from a low-income background.  Hosts are also sought for traineeships at management level and for deaf and disabled people. 

Diversify was established in 1999, to address the under-representation of black and minority ethnic people working in museums and galleries. Since the start of the programme over 100 people have been directly supported on training programmes.  Recent research by the MA suggests that the overall UK museum workforce is about 7% BME, whereas the comparable figure in 1993 was around 2.5% and in 1998 it was 4.2%.  Museums Association

Call for proposals for the Museums Association’s Conference

The Museums Association is seeking proposals for this year’s Conference, which will be held in Manchester between 4-6 October. The conference themes are:

  • Working in partnership – exploring how new models of service delivery can be developed, and the benefits of working in partnership;
  • Whose museum is it anyway? – examining both museums’ and the public’s relationship with collections and what a sustainable future might look like;
  • Showing off - explore how museums can redisplay their collections, put on engaging and stimulating exhibitions and use objects to tell new stories.

Proposals can be submitted on one of the themes or as a standalone session.  The deadline for proposals is Friday 19 February 2010. Museums Association

Also:

A maritime enthusiast has turned a garden shed measuring 12ft by 6ft (4m by 2m) into one of the country’s smallest museums. more

A silver cigarette case, stolen four years ago from the National Trust property has been returned along with an anonymous letter of apology.  The object was stolen from Florence Court in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland by a visitor on a tour in 2005.  more

A man has been arrested after a suspicious fire at the Cae Dai Museum in Denbighshire, which is believed to have destroyed a classic car collection.  more
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CULTURAL SECTOR NEWS

Baroque masterpiece Seaton Delaval Hall becomes public property

For the first time in 25 years a stately home and its historic contents have been offered up to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax.  Seaton Delaval, in Northumberland, has been acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) Scheme, in settlement of a tax bill of £4.9m, and gifted by the Government to the National Trust.  The Grade I listed mansion has been acquired with hundreds of items of furniture, sculpture, family portraits and more than 80 acres of land.  It was built between 1718 and 1731 by Sir John Vanbrugh is widely regarded to be the finest work of the English Baroque and one of the most important historic houses in Britain.  The National Trust has pledged £6.9m to create an endowment fund for the future running of the property.  £3m was raised by a public campaign with additional funding from the regional development agency, One North East and the Art Fund.  The National Trust has not acquired an entire house and its contents via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme since the acquisition of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire in 1985.  The Acceptance in Lieu scheme is administered by MLA on behalf of the Government.   MLA website

Heritage Alliance steps up campaigning

Heritage Link has a new name – Heritage Alliance – and has announced a shift in focus to become a more active campaigning body.  Loyd Grossman has taken over from Anthea Case as chair of the organisation, which brings together over 75 non-government heritage groups in England.  The core messages of the Heritage Alliance campaign are set out in a new manifesto Making the Most of our Heritage, describing how heritage can help government deliver its objectives in four key areas: building a new economy, giving value for money, empowering people and responding to climate change.  The manifesto proposes actions an incoming Government might take to ensure that our heritage can deliver even more to our national wellbeing in economic, social, environmental and educational benefit.  Making the Most of Our Heritage

Visiting Arts becomes UK Cultural Contact Point for European opportunities

Visiting Arts has successfully bid to be the UK’s Cultural Contact Point (CCP) for the EU Culture Programme from 1 January 2010.  As part of the contract awarded by DCMS, Visiting Arts will undertake presentations about the Culture programme and other EU funding opportunities at a range of events across the UK.  Visiting Arts will work closely with of EUCLID, which has been the CCP for the UK since 1999.   The existing website www.culturefund.eu  and the Alert e-newsletter will continue to provide the latest information on European funding. Email enquiries can still be sent to info@culturefund.eu

Fourteen areas in long-list to become the UK’s first City of Culture

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge MP has announced the final list of bidders vying to become the UK’s first City of Culture in 2013.  They are: Barnsley, Birmingham, Carlisle, Chichester, Cornwall, Derry, Durham, Hull and East Yorkshire, Ipswich and the Haven Gateway, Norwich, Portsmouth and Southampton, Sheffield, Southend, Swansea. 

An Independent Advisory Panel, chaired by Phil Redmond, will meet in February to consider the bids and will recommend a short-list to the Secretary of State in the early spring.  DCMS website

Ambassador(s) for Philanthropy

Dame Stephanie Shirley, appointed as the Government's ambassador for philanthropy in April this year, has launched a website that aims to ‘give philanthropists a voice’.  The site, called Ambassador(s) for Philanthropy, featuring videos of philanthropists talking about their giving, is seed-funded by Dame Stephanie and is independent of her role as the Government’s philanthropy ambassador.  Arts and Business

DCMS library modernisation review

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge MP has launched a consultation on the future of public libraries.  The consultation paper, Empower, Inform, Enrich - The modernisation review of public libraries, poses a range of questions on how libraries should address declining usage, digital opportunities and economic pressures including:

  • What could libraries learn from other sectors including the private sector?
  • How might we bring more private funding into the public library service?
  • Should virtual lending (i.e. lending downloads to the home via the internet) be the future of the public library service?
  • What commercial activities should we encourage libraries to operate?
  • Is it important that libraries remain a statutory obligation for local authorities?
  • How important is it that libraries are housed in dedicated buildings?

The paper also seeks views on the future role of MLA. 

The consultation paper begins with 30 essays offering different views of the priority issues from contributors including the authors Tracy Chevalier and Michael Rosen; Random House Chair and Chief Executive Gail Rebuck, Starbucks MD Darcy Willson-Rymer, as well as Margeret Hodge, Roy Clare and Lynne Brindley.

DCMS intends to publish a policy statement in the spring which will set out the Government’s vision for the future of public libraries.  The closing date for responses is 26 January. DCMS consultation paper

British Library opens world's most advanced library storage facility

The British Library has opened the world's most advanced library storage facility at its Boston Spa site in West Yorkshire.  The building provides 262km of environmentally controlled storage and will eventually house 7 million items from the UK national collection.  The storage void where materials are kept is a low oxygen environment to reduce fire risk. Robotic cranes are used to retrieve items, which are stored in bar-coded containers. The £26m building has been funded by a £26m grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.  More http://www.bl.uk/news/2009/pressrelease20091203a.html

Consultation on powers to archive websites

DCMS has launched a consultation on the legal deposit of UK online and offline non-print publications which are available free of charge and without access restrictions.   The proposed changes would enable the British Library and other Legal Deposit libraries to archive all freely accessible UK websites without having to seek individual permissions.  Since 2004, the UK Web Archive, operated by the British Library on the basis of voluntary deposit, has archived over 5000 websites on a range of key topics.  The proposed changes would enable the Library to capture a far more comprehensive picture of the UK's 8 million web domains for all researchers of today and tomorrow.  In a statement welcoming the consultation, the British Library said: “With so much material now being published digitally and online only, a failure to capture this material through a lack of legislation could create a ‘digital black hole'.” British Library  DCMS website

Also:

English Heritage has reported a bumper year with rising visitor numbers and membership rates up 24% compared with last year.  more

Live music performances for 100 people or less will no longer need to be licensed, under proposals announced by the Department for Culture Media and Sport last month.  more
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LONDON 2012

Select Committee calls for evidence on Olympics Legacy

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have announced an inquiry into preparations for securing a lasting legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games.  The Committee has issued a call for evidence seeking views on:

  • whether the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will deliver a lasting legacy of social, physical and economic regeneration;
  • ways of maximising the value of the Olympic legacy both within the host boroughs, London and across the UK;
  • the use and management of the Olympic Park and venues after 2012;
  • progress towards meeting targets to increase grass roots participation in sport;
  • the aim of leaving a lasting legacy that improves cultural life; and
  • how success in delivering lasting legacy can be measured.

The Committee will also examine other areas of interest that arise.  The deadline for submissions is 11 January.  Select Committee announcement

Research shows support for cultural activities in run up to 2012 games

DCMS has published the latest research data on public opinion across the UK about the legacy of the London 2012 Games.  Cultural activities were among the activities people would most welcome in the run up to the Games, mentioned by 11% of respondents.  Respondents were asked un-prompted to mention what kinds of Olympic-related activities they would welcome in their local area in the run-up to the Games.  The top four activities were sporting activities (45%), family- or children-related activities (24%), general community events (19%) and cultural activities (11%).

Public awareness of activities linked to the games is low, with only 7% of people saying they know a lot or a little about the Cultural Olympiad.  This rises to 14% in the host boroughs.  6% of respondents said they were aware of the London 2012 Inspire programme and 5% were aware of Open Weekend.  Last year one in four people said they were aware of the Cultural Olympiad.  DCMS website

London 2012 planning tool

The Greater London Authority is developing a planning tool to help coordinate all the activities planned for 2012.  The focus is January - September 2012.  Organisations are being invited to send 2012 event details to culture2012@london.gov.uk
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CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

Scotland's Creative Industries

The Scottish Government has published at Creative Industries Key Sector Report.  The report includes an overview of the sector, the challenges and opportunities facing the creative industries, public interaction and effectiveness and international aspects.  Scottish Government

Cultural and creative arts

The House of Lords had a brief debate on the cultural and creative arts, following a question from the Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Sharp of Guildford.  Speaking for the Government, Lord Davies of Oldham said: "The creative industries contributed 6.4 per cent of the UK's gross value added in 2006.  There are 1.9 million people in creative jobs, both in the creative sector itself and in creative roles in other sectors."  The Bishop of Liverpool referred to two reports published on Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture which both show that "for £20 million of government investment, there has been a £120 million impact on the regional economy."  Hansard

Museums included in new definition of German creative industries

A new report commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology calculates that the value of the culture and creative industries in Germany is 2.5% of the gross domestic product.  The report presents a new model for the definition and classification of the creative and cultural industries in Germany, which includes libraries, archives, museums, botanical and zoological gardens as a specific economic category.  Culture and Creative Industries in Germany report
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IN PARLIAMENT

Eight out of top ten visitor attractions are national museums

In response to a Parliamentary Question, Margaret Hodge MP published data from VisitEngland showing the 10 tourist attractions in England which had the most visitor figures.  In 2008, eight of the top 10 were national museums. 

  • British Museum - 5.93m visits
  • Tate Modern - 4.86m
  • National Gallery - 4.2m
  • Natural History Museum - 3.26m
  • Science Museum - 2.7m
  • Sheffield Winter Garden - 2.5m
  • Victoria and Albert Museum - 2.42m
  • Grand Pier, Weston-Super-Mare - 2m
  • National Portrait Gallery - 1.84m
  • Tate Britain - 1.62m         Hansard

Praise for national museums’ international activities

Derek Wyatt MP has tabled an Early Day Motion, praising the work of national museums and calling on the Government to provide further funding.  29 MPs from across all parties had put their names to the EDM before the Parliamentary Recess.  EDMs are used by MPs to draw attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrate the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.  Full wording of EDM 374:

“That this House congratulates the management team at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the stunning new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries; notes this is a particularly golden period for the UK's major museums, galleries, councils and gardens with, amongst others, the British Museum actively involved in Expo 2010 in Shanghai and also in Abu Dhabi and the British Library in Baghdad which, coupled with the British Council's own 75th anniversary with Joseph Nye speaking in January in Parliament and the National Portrait Gallery's, Beatles to Bowie, receiving rave reviews, demonstrates yet again the power of soft diplomacy; and calls on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to come forward with further funding to enable these world-beating institutions to continue to flourish at home, and, as importantly, overseas.”   EDM 374

University Museums funding

Former Arts and Education Minister, Lord Howarth of Newport, secured debate in the House of Lords on university museums and galleries (UMGs) funding on 5 January.  In an article for ePolitix in advance of the debate he argued that ring-fenced funding should be maintained, and said: “The worry is that ring-fenced funding will end and UMGs will become heavily dependent on funding from their parent universities at a time when the Higher Education budget is under extreme pressure.”  Lord Howarth said during the debate he would urge that “accounting procedures or other means should be put in place to ensure that public funding for these museums, which we should treasure as national assets, is not reduced and remains clearly visible.”  ePolitix

Scotland’s History Online

The Scottish Parliament had a 90 minute debate on history education following a motion tabled by the Scottish Government “acknowledging the importance of learning about Scotland's heritage, history and culture and place in the world, and welcoming the launch of Scotland’s History online, a world-leading online resource from Learning and Teaching Scotland, which draws on resources from the National Galleries of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and other sources." The Minister Keith Brown MSP reported that the website "has had more than 20,000 visitors in the first month, and there have been almost 100,000 page hits to the resource".  The motion was amended in debate to include "[Parliament] asks ministers to report to the Parliament on the place of history in the developing curriculum; reiterates its belief that history should be taught without political interference; recognises that the effective teaching of history and all other subjects requires teachers to be equipped with the necessary resources and training."   Full debate    Scotland’s History Online  

1.8m visits to national museums in Yorkshire and the Humber

In response to a Parliamentary Question by Hugh Bayley MP, the Government published visitor figures for the four national museums in Yorkshire and the Humber: The National Media Museum, National Railway Museum, Royal Armouries and National Coal Mining Museum for England.  The museums received over 1.8m visits in 2008-9.  Hansard

External expert advisor’s sought for National Assembly for Wales

The National Assembly for Wales is offering the opportunity for experts, researchers and specialists to put forward their names for future possible short-term research contracts.  National Assembly committees may appoint advisors and commission expert advice in a variety of areas including culture.  National Assembly of Wales

Also:

Shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP asked the Government what plans it had to ask museums to undertake valuation of their collections.  Margaret Hodge MP replied that there were no plans to do so.  more

In a debate on the Equalities Bill, Lord Adebowale said the Bill should include "the duties of publicly funded, broadcasters, the Arts Council, museums and others to support fairness and equality in society."  more

Andrew George MP asked what discussions the Culture Secretary has had regarding the Parthenon marbles.  Margaret Hodge MP replied that the Culture Secretary had met Neil MacGregor recently to discuss the British Museum's capital programme and had also been "briefed on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures, whose management... is a matter for the Museum and not for the Government." more

An Early Day Motion supporting learning outside the classroom and calling on the Government to make sure schools provide a wider range of quality experience outside the classroom, has been signed by 73 Members of Parliament.  Parliament website more
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AWARDS

Jodi Awards 2009

The 2009 winners of the Jodi Awards were announced by Martha Lane Fox, the government’s Digital Inclusion Champion, at the Victoria and Albert Museum last month.  The awards celebrate the best use of digital technology in the service of access to culture for disabled people in museums, galleries, libraries, archives, heritage venues and disability organisations, and have been extended this year to arts organisations and individual artists.  This year's winners included:

  • Digital Access Onsite - Audio guide for visually impaired visitors, Imperial War Museum Duxford and Antenna Audio
  • Digital Access Online - Podcasts from the Past, Museum of London
  • Digital Access Online (low budget) Sally Booth, www.sallybooth.co.uk
  • Digital Access for People with a Learning Disability - Across the Board: autism support for families, Leeds Library and Information Service.  MLA website

 Long list for the family friendly museum award announced

The long list for the Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award has been announced.  The 20 museums on the list include the following NMDC members: the Great North Museum, Newcastle Upon Tyne; National Railway Museum, York; National Waterfront Museum, Swansea and World Museum Liverpool.  The shortlist will now be selected by a panel of judges, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  These museums will then be “road-tested”, anonymously, by families who will pick the winner.  Kids in Museums website  Kids in Museums website

Nominate extraordinary adult learners online

Nominations are open for the Adult Learners’ Week award, which recognises adults who have transformed their lives through learning.  Everyone nominated for an award will receive a certificate of achievement. The winners will receive a learning voucher valued between £200 and £1,500.  Adult Learners Week Award www.alw.org.uk/nominate

Nominations for Museums & Heritage Awards

Nominations are invited for the 2010 Museums & Heritage Awards. There are eleven categories of award in 2010, including a new Innovations Award and a new Entrepreneurial Museum of the Year Award. The categories will be judged by a panel of experts from a range of industry sectors and specialisms. The judges will look for evidence of ‘outcome, creativity, relation to objective and cost effectiveness’. The deadline for entries is 19 February and the awards will be presented on 12 May. Museums & Heritage Awards

Nominations invited for conservation award

Nominations are invited for the 2010 Plowden Medal. The Plowden Medal is awarded annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession and whose nomination would be widely welcomed within the conservation community. The final date for the receipt of nominations is Friday 12 February 2010. Plowden Medal
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APPOINTMENTS

The Prime Minister has re-appointed Professor Sir David Cannadine as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery for a further four years. He is Chair of the Board of Trustees.  more

Four new Trustees have been appointed to the Board of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. They are: David Beresford Vokes, Professor Anthony George Atkins, Victoria Mary Provis and Dr Keshav Singhal.   more

Roy Clare CBE, Chief Executive of MLA, has been appointed to the board of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.  more

Caroline Collier, Director, Tate National, has been appointed as Chair of Arts Council England, South East. more

Anna Cutler has been appointed Tate’s first Director of Learning. She will take up the post this month.  She has been Head of Learning at Tate Modern since 2006, and was previously Director of Creative Partnerships Kent. more

DCMS is currently seeking applicants for the posts of Chair of the British Library, (£37,000 for 8 days a month, closing date 12 January 2010) and Chair of the National Museum of Science and Industry (unpaid post, 3 days a month, closing date 15 January 2010).  DCMS website more

INTERNATIONAL

Sarkozy announces €750m cultural digitisation project

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced plans to invest €750 million in the "digitisation of the content of our museums, our libraries and our cinematographic heritage."  The package is part of a new £35 billion spending plan aimed at boosting France's economic growth and competitiveness. The money will finance a public-private partnership to digitise the works and is expected to boost Gallica, France's own book-scanning project, which is linked to Europeana, the EU's digital library.  Last month, Sarkozy criticised Google's plans to digitise French books saying: "We are not going to be deprived of what generations and generations have produced in the French language just because we weren't capable of funding our own digitisation project."  Telegraph   New York Times

French National Museums sign education deal with Government

The Director of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux has signed an agreement with the Minister of National Education and the Minister of Culture and Communication agreeing a programme of actions for development of arts and cultural education in schools and colleges. The programme will include educational projects in national museums and online resources for the classroom and for professional development of teachers. French Ministry of Culture

Netherlands €12m programme of innovation in the cultural sector

The Dutch Minister of Culture has allocated €12m for projects to promote innovation in the cultural sector. The projects will all involve use modern technology and smart partnerships with outside groups.  €2.1m has been awarded in the first round of funding to six projects including a virtual exhibition tour developed by the Association of National Subsidised Museums and a mobile phone application for the Stedelijk Museum.   Dutch Ministry of Culture

Spanish Government launches "Give Culture" campaign

The Spanish Ministry of Culture launched a campaign last month to encourage the purchase and distribution of cultural products during the holiday season. The nationwide television campaign aimed to promote cultural books, video games, art, theatre, opera, exhibitions, music and movies, with the slogan "culture is something that envelops".  The campaign promoted internet purchases as an easier way to access cultural products.  Spanish Ministry of Culture

Strikes close French national museums

Many French museums were closed by industrial action last month as workers went on strike over plans to cut museum staffing levels as part of a plan to reduce the civil service pay roll.  The Government's policy is to replace only half of all retiring civil servants. The Pompidou Centre, Paris, where industrial action started, was closed from 23 November - 17 December.  At the Pompidou Centre, 44% of staff at the Pompidou are over 50 and unions expect 26 jobs to go next year, followed by 23 in 2011. Other museums affected by the strike action include the Louvre, Chateau de Versailles, Musee d'Orsay and Musee Rodin. The dispute is unresolved and the union plans to call a new strike this month. Radio France Internationale

Museum to close so building can be use as wedding venue

Melbourne City Museum, which opened in The Old Treasury Building in 2005, will close next year to allow the building to be used as a wedding venue.  Finance Minister, Tim Holding said: "There comes a point where it must be recognised that space within such an extraordinary architectural icon could be better utilised."  The Marriage Registry, which currently shares the building with the museum, hosts around 3,500 weddings each year, attracting more visitors than the museum.  Finance Minister’s statement  

Meanwhile, the Field Museum, Chicago has a new offer for people wanting to propose in the museum's Grainger Hall of Gems. For a $350 fee the museum will provide a display case lit to hold a diamond ring and a champagne toast.  Chicago Tribune
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NATIONAL MUSEUMS' 2010 HIGHLIGHTS

There will be over a hundred exhibitions opening at national museums around the UK this year as well as an ambitious programme of touring and partnership exhibitions. Major events in 2010 include the re-opening of the Museum of London’s lower galleries.  Throughout the year museums, libraries and archives also have a range of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of African Independence celebrations and the International Year of Biodiversity

Ashmolean Museum: In September, the museum will inaugurate a major new exhibition programme with, Pre-Raphaelites and Italy.  The exhibition will explore the Pre-Raphaelites’ interest in Italian literature and landscape for the first time and will include cartoons and drawings which have never been exhibited before in England. www.ashmolean.org

Amgueddfa Cymru: National Museum Wales:  Major exhibitions include Artes Mundi 4 opening at the National Museum Cardiff in March, and the works of ceramic artist Elizabeth Fritsch opening in October. Overseas, Turner to Cézanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection continues to tour the United States opening at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in January and then the Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico in May.  The Museum will be marking the International Year of Biodiversity through a series of events, activities and a Royal Society travelling exhibition at each of its seven sites. In addition, Amgueddfa Cymru will be asking whether Wales needs a National Science Museum to preserve the country’s scientific legacy at a one day conference The Scientific Heritage of Wales: The Way Forward, at National Museum Cardiff on 18 March. www.museumwales.ac.uk. www.museumwales.org.uk

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery: Turner to Samuel Palmer: British Watercolours 1800-1850 opening in January is drawn entirely from the Museums’ collection.  It is the second part of an exhibition first shown at the Nordic Watercolour Museum, Sweden in 2007. Work will continue on Birmingham – A City in the Making the major project to transform the top floor of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and create five new galleries. www.bmag.org.uk

British Museum: Work will begin in January on the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre, planning permission for which has just been granted. Funding of £92m has already been secured towards the total cost of £135m for the building, which is designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and due to be completed in 2013.  A History of the World in 100 Objects, the 100 part series written and narrated by Neil MacGregor will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 throughout the year, and supported by a wider programme of events including partnership with 350 museums around the UK.  Kingdom of Ife: sculptures from West Africa, opening in March will feature magnificent 12th-15th century artworks from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.  The exhibition will form part of a season of African art and culture at the British Museum to coincide with the 50th anniversary of African Independence celebrations in 2010. Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance drawings, opening in April will bring together the finest group of Italian Renaissance drawings to be seen in this country for over seventy years.  The final exhibition in the Reading Room this year is Journey through the afterlife: the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, opening in November. The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece opens at the National Museum of Korea in April featuring 125 objects from the British Museum's Greek and Roman collection. www.britishmuseum.org

Glasgow Museums: A major exhibition Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880 - 1900, opens at Kelvingrove in April.  It features around 140 works by the collective and we expect it to be the definitive retrospective of their works.www.glasgowmuseums.com

Imperial War Museum: The Ministry of Food at the Imperial War Museum London in February marks seventy years since the introduction of food rationing. Shaped By War: Photographs by Don McCullin opening at Imperial War Museum North in February, is the result of a unique collaboration between the world-famous photographer and the IWM and will include more than 200 images and objects. In July, IWM North will open a major interactive exhibition on life at sea in wartime.  In May, IWM London will open Explore History, a new public space designed to give visitors greater access to the Museum’s collections, through interactive multimedia touchscreens and physical displays. In November, the IWM London will open a new gallery displaying the world's largest collection of Victoria Crosses and George Cross medals along with the personal stories of bravery behind the medals. www.iwm.org.uk

Museum of London: The museum’s ground floor galleries will reopen this Spring following a £20.5 million redevelopment project, which has increased the gallery space by 25%, and created four new galleries to telling the story of modern London and Londoners from 1666 to the present.  Huge street-level glass windows along London Wall will provide a showcase for the Lord Mayor's Coach.  Meanwhile at the Museum of London Docklands, Post Abolition: Commemorative stamps from around the world, looks at how the abolition of slavery has been commemorated through the everyday postage stamp.  www.museumoflondon.org.uk

 Natural History Museum: In May, the Museum opens The Deep, an exhibition that will plunge visitors into the abyss and in April, Butterfly Explorers opens, offering the chance to see spectacular butterflies in diverse habitats.  Returning in October is Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the world’s greatest wildlife photography contest.  The Museum is also launching the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity, a new resource centre for those interested in natural history and a new permanent art and illustration gallery for its collection of prints, watercolours and oil paintings from eminent natural history artists.  Also, in March 2010, the Museum stars in the new BBC series, Museum of Life; a story of mysteries, dinosaurs, and audacious attempts to understand the natural world. www.nhm.ac.uk

National Galleries of Scotland: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  The centre piece of the celebrations is Another World - Dalí, Magritte, Miró and the Surrealists, a major exhibition opening at the Dean Gallery in July, which will display Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's world-famous collection of Surrealist art in its entirety for the first time.  Impressionist Gardens, opening at the Royal Scottish Academy Building in July is a major international exhibition of around 90 works including loans from collections around the world, and will be the first ever to be devoted to this subject..  Work will continue on the Portrait of the Nation project to transform the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  www.nationalgalleries.org

National Gallery Painting History: Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey opening in the Sainsbury Wing in February sets the iconic ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’, in the context of the works which made Delaroche's reputation.  Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, opening in June, explores the vital contributions of applied science and connoisseurship to the understanding of Old Master paintings.  The major exhibition in the autumn is Venice: Canaletto and his Rivals, the first exhibition of its kind in the UK.  It will bring together approximately 55 major loans from public and private collections of the UK, Europe and North America, to show artist's finest views of Venice, alongside all the major practitioners of the genre. www.nationalgallery.org.uk

National Maritime Museum Toy Boats opening in May has been developed in collaboration with the Musée national de la Marine, Paris. It will contain over 100 colourful and imaginative toys dating from 1850-1950.  Solar Story: understanding the Sun opening at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in January includes striking images telling the story of the Sun from early observations at the Royal Observatory to latest discoveries by NASA. Work will continue on the construction of the Sammy Ofer Wing due to open in 2012. www.nmm.ac.uk

National Museums Liverpool2010 will see the fit out of the new Museum of Liverpool in preparation for its opening in Spring 2011. The £72m museum is the largest newly built national museum in Britain for over a century, and the world’s first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city. A new learning suite at the Lady Lever Art Gallery opens in February, providing more opportunities to expand the gallery’s informal learning programme. Plantastic!, an exciting interactive science exhibition exploring the secret world of plants opens at the World Museum in February.  China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868 – 1872, opening at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in February reveals the vanished world of Imperial China. High Kicks and Low Life: Toulouse-Lautrec prints opening at the Walker Art Gallery in May is an evocative selection of prints from the British Museum.  The illustrious John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize also opens at the Walker Art Gallery in September.  www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

National Museums Northern Ireland: The Ulster Museum has an extensive line-up of events planned for 2010 including a major Irish and International Art Exhibition featuring the museum’s own world-class collection.   The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum will host The Art of History, an exhibition of watercolours of Irish town life in the 1820s, opening in April.  The Ulster American Folk Park, currently undergoing a £2.4m expansion, will host Through the Eye of A Needle exploring how the humble needle effectively revolutionised the manufacture of costume and in turn played a major role in creating mass employment for women and shaping Britain’s industrial history.  www.nmni.com  

National Museum of Science and Industry: At the Science Museum 1001 Inventions, opening in January,will trace the story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world, from the 7th century onwards.  The exhibition, featuring many interactives, displays and dramatisations explores the shared scientific heritage of diverse cultures and looks at how many modern inventions can trace their roots back to Muslim civilisation. www.science www.sciencemuseum.org.uk  The National Railway Museum's exhibition Once Upon a Tide, opening in February, has been created in partnership with the National Railway Museum in the Netherlands and celebrates 100 years of North Sea crossings and rail-ferry links with Europe. www.nrm.org.uk   Simon Roberts: We English opening at the National Media Museum shows the photographs taken in 2008 of the English at leisure.  It includes a new photographic work commissioned by the museum to represent the Bradford district.    www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

National Museums Scotland: A major exhibition of the Lewis Chessmen will open at the National Museum of Scotland in May 2010 before touring to Aberdeen Art Gallery, Shetland Museum & Archives and Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway. The exhibition tour will include 30 chess pieces – 24 from the British Museum and 6 from NMS.   Meet Your Maker, a partnership exhibition with craftscotland, will offer a behind the scenes look at the Scottish contemporary craft scene and enable visitor to talk to artists and buy some of their work.  Work will continue on the  the £46.4 million Royal Museum Project, which is due to open in 2011.  www.nms.ac.uk

National Portrait Gallery:  A major photographic exhibition Irving Penn Portraits will open in February featuring over 120 prints from the seventy-year career of the photographer who died last year.  The Indian Portrait: 1560 - 1860 opening in March brings together about 60 works to tell the story of portraiture on the Sub-Continent. www.npg.org.uk

Royal Armouries: Construction will begin in March on the £3.5m redevelopment of Fort Nelson, in Hampshire. The project will create enhanced visitor facilities, galleries and education facilities. The Royal Armouries will also be working with Historic Royal Palaces on a major project to restore and redispaly the White Tower at the Tower of London, for completion in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.  The Royal Armouries, Leeds has a stimulating mix of events throughout the year, including spectacular jousts, family events with a wide variety of themes ranging from Pirates to the Wild West, and a Henry VIII themed summer.  www.royalarmouries.org

Royal Air Force Museum: The RAF Photographer of the Year Exhibition opening in January offers behind the scences view of the RAF with images taken by serving Personnel.   An exhibition opening in February will commemorate the centenary of RAF pilot Douglas Bader.  In April the will be a new display on famous Australian and New Zealands pilots who contributed to the RAF and the development of Aviation.  www.rafmuseum.org.uk

Sir John Soane’s Museum: Mrs Delany and Her Circle, opening in February will bring together art, fashion and science to survey the life of Mrs Delany, a significant figure in the practice of natural history in Georgian England.  The exhibition is organised with the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. www.soane.org

Tate: Chris Ofili opening at Tate Britain in January provides a major survey of the artist's work and promises to be “blasphemous and inspiring, elegiac and sexy”.  Other exhibitions at Tate Britain include a fresh look at the work and legacy of Henry Moore and Rachel Whiteread: Drawings opening in September.  Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic opening at Tate Liverpool in January is first exhibition to trace in depth the impact of Black Atlantic culture on Modernism.  In May Tate Liverpool opens Picasso: Peace and Freedom, a major exhibition bringing together over 150 works by Picasso from across the world. Tate Modern exhibitions include Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde: Constructing a New World in February and Gaugin in September. www.tate.org.uk

This year there will also be twenty-one exhibitions at museums around the UK displaying masterpieces from ARTISTS ROOMS, the contemporary art collection donated to the nation in 2008 by Anthony D'Offay. The ARTIST ROOMS tour in 2009 reached around 8 million people nationally and more than 3,000 young people took part in education projects related to exhibitions. The ARTIST ROOMS 2010 Tour has been made possible by The Art Fund and is supported by the Scottish Government. Held jointly by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, ARTIST ROOMS is the largest public gift of art to museums in UK history. The collection has also been enhanced by artists and collectors who have made significant new donations to the scheme.  more

Tyne and Wear Museums: A major family exhibition, China: Journey to the East opens at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens in January with objects from the British Museum spanning 3,000 years of Chinese history and culture.  Knitted Lives at the Shipley Art Gallery from February has been created by 40 women from Newcastle as part of a project with Equal Arts in Gateshead.  Japanese Wave, opening at the Laing Art Gallery in May, focuses on images and artefacts from the 19th century, drawing on the gallery's impressive collection of Japanese art. The National Portrait Gallery's exhibition, Beatles to Bowie: the 60s exposed, opens at the Laing in February.  The second exhibition in the POSITIONS project curated by the Laing Art Gallery and artists CullinanRichardwill open in June.  Cavegirl is centred around an iconic sculpture by British artist Rachael Whiteread, along with newly commissioned artworks.  www.twmuseums.org.uk

Victoria & Albert Museum: Quilts opening in March will showcase the V&A's collection of patchwork and quilted covers bringing together over 300 years of British quilting history.  Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill opening in March is the first major exhibition on Walpole, the most important English collector of the eighteenth century.  Grace Kelly Style Icon, opening in April will display over 50 outfits from the star's wardrobe from the 1950s-70s.  www.vam.ac.uk

Wallace Collection: Shhh… it’s a Secret! Unlocking the secrets behind the treasures of the Wallace Collection opening in February is a family exhibition developed with young curators from St. Vincent’s Catholic School.  There will also be a display of the Wallace Collection’s paintings by Paul Delaroche (the finest collection of his works outside the Louvre) to complement the major exhibition at the National Gallery www.wallacecollection.org
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NMDC JOBS

Our jobs website, www.nationalmuseumjobs.org.uk currently has details vacancies at museums around the UK including:

  • Weekend Demonstrator, Clore Natural History Centre, National Museums Liverpool
  • Digital Marketing Officer, National Maritime Museum
  • Human Resources Manager, National Museums Scotland
  • Conservators (3 posts), National Museums Liverpool
  • Membership Executive, National Maritime Museum

For details of these jobs and many more visit www.nationalmuseumjobs.org.uk

And finally...

The V&A has acquired 40 cartoons by the caricaturist James Gillray (1756-1815), which have been discovered in the archives of the Criminal Law Policy Unit of the Ministry of Justice.  The album was probably seized by police more than a century ago as 'pornographic material' and handed to Government officials.  Ministry of Justice http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/newsrelease151209a.htm

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