NMDC and MA gather for a day of advocacy at Westminster
NMDC and the Museums Association held a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 21st May to celebrate the UK museum sector and make the case for public funding and support for museums. Politicians from all four UK nations attended, including Culture Minister Michael Ellis and Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan. Several NMDC member museums displayed objects to illustrate the quality of UK collections and the diversity of innovative activity across the sector, including the Natural History Museum which brought a 3D-printed head of Dippy the Diplodocus, currently attracting thousands of visitors on a national tour around the UK; National Museums Northern Ireland, which displayed a 1988 visitor book from the Ulster American Folk Park signed by a 12-year-old Spanish schoolboy who was killed later that day in the Omagh bomb, part of the new Troubles galleries; and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, which displayed a 1920s brooch given to Tyneside suffragette and MP Ellen Wilkinson, now used in engagement sessions with local women on issues around women and politics.
Former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey hosted the event, speaking alongside NMDC Chair Ian Blatchford and MA President Maggie Appleton. Ian Blatchford said museums should be part of the solution for a country facing 'confounding challenges' because they are 'optimistic, authentic, trusted, inclusive, crucial to civic pride and our standing internationally'. He particularly emphasised their reputation abroad: "Our museums are deluged with requests for partnerships in China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and every country that is part of the new economic order. They see new museums as crucial to engaging young people and families in science, design and creativity. They are looking to Britain and its museums as beacons of excellence, so let’s invest in them properly. Adored abroad, but diminished at home is not a good look... Our partners long to understand how a tiny country can be a world leader in universities, culture, museums. They want dialogue, exchange, reciprocity [and] museums are brilliant at this.” Ed Vaizey also emphasised the international soft power of UK culture, often harnessed on David Cameron's foreign trips, and spoke too about the importance of museums creating access "not just digital access, but physical access to collections for people who may not regard a museum as their first and natural port of call". Museums Journal
The Empire Strikes Back: Royal Armouries crowdfund for two Star Wars weapons
Royal Armouries are crowdfunding to obtain two props used in the 1980 Star Wars film ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. One represents a weapon used by the rebels and one by Stormtroopers, but real guns underlie the props. Jonathan Ferguson, Keeper of Firearms and Artillery says “as the weapons nerds like me will know they are made from a Sterling submachine gun, modified to look a bit more science fiction… As far as we know, we are the only museum in the UK which is collecting the arms and armour of the movies”. The museum also has collection items from the Lord of the Rings and Alien franchises. The crowdfund for their latest acquisition is more than half way to its £47k target. Seenit, Crowdfunder
Horniman lays plans to become ‘the most culturally democratic museum in London’
New Horniman Museum Director Nick Merriman has announced his plans for the future of the museum, emphasising environmental issues and the need to empower London’s diverse community and represent it at the museum. He said “the Horniman is unique in being London’s only undivided museum, in the sense that it covers the natural world and human cultures together in one place. Now more than ever, we need to promote understanding and tolerance between cultures, and to engage people in environmental issues that are of mounting public concern, such as climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity.” He added that the museum plans to build visitor numbers to one million each year by 2023 and attract an audience that matches the diversity of London. Merriman will be talking to people from local communities, businesses and educational institutions to refine his plans. Meanwhile the Horniman's new World Gallery will open on 29th June. Horniman, Museum-id
Other images this month: Great North Museum prepares for Which Way North
Other images this month are of some newly revealed items appearing in the Great North Museum exhibition 'Which Way North' which will be a major feature of the Great Exhibition of the North. With less physical heft than Stephenson's Rocket, on show shortly at the Discovery Museum, Charlotte Bronte's tiny book, a prop for Dr Who and a David Hockney painting are among the objects reflecting how the creativity of the North permeates our culture. The exhibition opens on 22nd June. Great North Museum, Get North 2018
Free resources from IWM for not for profits marking the FWW centenary
IWM is offering free film and photographic resources to any not for profit organisation commemorating the final year of the First World War. Participants must first sign up for its First World War Centenary Partnership Programme. 12 images, six sound clips and three film clips are now available for partners to download. Members can also screen three films for free, focusing on women’s work during the war, including ‘Deeds Not Words; the Suffragette Surgeons of WW1’ which explores the stories of the female-staffed Endell Street Military Hospital. ‘The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of The Tanks’ (1917), a little-known non-fiction masterpiece of the period, will also be available. Contact [email protected] or visit the website for more details. 1914.org (centenary partnership website)
Meeting Point Three: opportunities for Northern museums to commission contemporary art
Arts and Heritage is offering the chance for six small or medium sized museums in the North to commission work by a contemporary artist, funded by the third round of its ‘Meeting Point’ programme. Support for participating museums includes networks, events and support to develop plans, grants to develop proposals and £11k to commission an artist. The deadline for applications is 9th July. Works will be shown at successful museums in 2019 and 2020. Arts and Heritage (application), Arts and Heritage (background)
North Atlantic Tales: seeking museums for joint art projects across the seas of Northern Europe
North Atlantic Tales (NATUR) is a new project connecting countries bordering the North Atlantic and North Sea. It will enable artists to work with museums and archives, following the trajectories of stories that link Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Northern England and Scotland. NATUR is keen to hear from museums and archives interested in taking part and hosting an artist to take stories to new audiences. Ten bilateral residencies will take place in the five participating countries in 2018 – 19, with the first project exhibition taking place in Iceland in the autumn. The work is part of the EU’s Year of Cultural Heritage. Curated Place
Germany increases arts budget by 25%, France uses lottery to support culture
German Culture Minister Monika Grütters has announced that the country will increase its culture budget by 23% or $353 million, raising its culture and media spend to around $2bn, if the plan is approved by parliament. She said the budget would send ‘a strong signal that culture is the foundation for our open and democratic society.’ Meanwhile in France President Macron is introducing a new lottery to support the restoration of historic buildings across the country. Guardian, Frieze
EU plans 27% increase to its culture budget for next six year round
The European Commission is seeking to increase its culture budget by 27% for its next six year round, including €650m for culture and €1.2bn for media, including film. The plans need to be agreed by the European Parliament, but are backed by its leader Antonio Tajani who said “culture, more than our economy, is the glue which holds Europe together and must be the starting point of our efforts to revitalise our Union.” EU funding for UK cultural projects is currently guaranteed to 2020. Arts Industry, Arts Professional
Global Museums Index shows growing audiences for museums in Asia
The Museum Index, now in its sixth year, measures the popularity of museums across the globe. It showed that:
The UK is strongly represented, with five London museums in the global top 20 by visitor figures. The British Museum is in eighth place, the top UK museum attraction. Overall however, these museums saw a decrease of 1.15m visits in 2017, despite audience growth at the V&A.
The Louvre has regained its spot as most visited museum in the world after terrorism in 2016 reduced visitors.
Museums from Asia are increasingly prominent in the list: the National Museum of China, in Beijing was top in 2016, and is now second in the list. Asia is the fastest growing region in terms of museum visits, which were up by 11%. The report suggests this is driven by an emerging middle class with disposable incomes and education seeking out museums.
Wales, ‘paradiplomacy’ and the soft power of small nations
The British Council has published new research on how sub-national countries have increasing influence in a globalised world. The ‘Wales Soft Power Barometer 2018’ compared the country to nine other regions including Scotland, Corsica, Northern Ireland, Flanders and Jeju in South Korea. Opinions on each were gathered from 5,000 people across the world on topics including politics, liveability and culture. Wales was ranked sixth for soft power influence, scoring strongly for sport and digital, sixth for culture, and poorly for cuisine and education. The British Council believes that these sorts of insights are becoming more significant in a world where ‘paradiplomacy’ is growing, that is, action on an international stage by cities and regions, rather than only by nation states. It argues that regions across the world with a ‘history of state-less identity’ are likely to do well in terms of global influence. British Council
In early May, the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum in Paris opened its doors to 161 naturists in a ticketed event in partnership with the Paris Naturist Association. Its Vice Chairman told The Times that attending the gallery when naked “you no longer think about what you represent in society…when you are naked, you can concentrate completely on the art.” This sentiment was echoed by the museum’s head of education Marion Buchloh-Kollerbohm: “I am hoping the experience of leaving their clothes at the door will help them leave some part of their identity with it, and experience it with more openness.” Museums Journal, The Times (article limit, then paywall), Le Parisien
DCMS publishes its first statement of ‘Areas of Research Interest’
DCMS has published its first document outlining its Areas of Research Interest (ARI) – the topics where it needs to understand more to deliver on its mission. The topics include:
A specific section seeking research into the effects of the cultural sector, in particular the social and economic impact of heritage on local areas, further analysis of the diversity of the museum sector, drivers for museum visits and engagement as well as wellbeing, soft power, international tourism and the wider impacts of culture on topics such as criminal justice.
The opportunities and risks from the digital revolution – from chances to grow the economy to the risks of fake news and terrorism.
Connectivity and productivity issues, for instance around 5G networks.
Enabling people to thrive, particularly looking at longitudinal studies to address issues from obesity to community participation.
Evidence for policy that will enhance people’s sense of place including housing, regional growth and social cohesion.
DCMS will continue to update its list and welcomes discussions with researchers. It has also recently appointed a Chief Scientific Adviser to increase engagement with UKRI, research councils and academic institutions. The Chief Scientific Adviser’s office can be contacted at [email protected] . However, cultural sector specialists have suggested that much of the information DCMS seeks may already exist. Freelance researcher and CultureCase editor James Doeser told Museums Journal “Some of these things have driven research commissions for years and years… Either they have not been asking the right questions or forgetting the answers they once had.” Gov.uk, Museums Journal, Arts Professional
Also: The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry into the social impact of participating in the arts and the benefits of live music remains open for submissions. The Committee is unlikely to discuss these issues until ‘long after the summer at least’ as it is currently tied up with the fake news inquiry. Arts Professional
Arts, health and wellbeing for children: the evidence in four pages
The Cultural Learning Alliance has produced the third of its condensed briefings, this time drawing together evidence on ‘The Arts, Health & Wellbeing’, in partnership with the children’s mental health charity Place2Be. The four-page document brings together quotes, research papers and statistics describing the effects of cultural participation on young people. Children are twice as likely to report depression or anxiety than in the 1980s, and there is growing physical ill health and rising obesity among children from poorer backgrounds. Arts engagement can help with both. Some effects studied are relatively direct (dance for physical health, drama for emotional processing). Playing an instrument has been shown to help children cope with stress. Sian, a young participant in a music project at Alder Hey hospital said “doctors look at the physical side but don’t necessarily consider the mental. I’ve struggled with my mental health but music helps me to manage this.” Creative Scotland Chair Richard Findlay adds “arts and creativity generally are not ‘additional’, they are fundamental. They are the glue that holds life together; that for some of us, makes life bearable and, for most of us, makes life better.” Cultural Learning Alliance
Guide to accessible exhibitions – and an offer to promote good practice
Shape Arts has published a short guide to curating exhibitions which are more accessible to people with disabilities. The checklist format is simple, but flags up aspects, such as BSL interpreters, which may need to be booked several weeks in advance. Shape Arts also offers to promote any exhibitions from museums and galleries which meet its guidelines through its own mailing list and social media. Shape Arts
Volunteer Makers: widening the demographic of museum volunteers
Volunteer Makers has produced a short report and case studies describing the success so far of its novel, playful app-based approach to recruiting a wider group of people into museum volunteering. Museum volunteer Hannah Mather of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums says “I had previously applied for several volunteering opportunities, and handed in countless forms, each as long and tedious as the others so when TWAM adopted the Volunteer Makers model it was a relief to know how straightforward the application was and I enjoyed the gamification of the site which allowed me to get started straight away and choose what appealed to me.” Time spent volunteering has declined since 2000: although more people want to volunteer, individuals have less time to give. The app approach allows a breakdown of tasks – for some, a museum volunteer may give micro amounts of time from a remote location. It has also attracted younger age groups. Volunteer Makers offers workshops and support for museums joining its ACE-supported programme. There are costs for the service, but a free 30 day trial is available by contacting [email protected]Volunteer Makers (costs) Volunteer Makers
New environmental Accelerator Programme open for expressions of interest
ACE and Julie’s Bicycle are seeking expressions of interest in their new environmental Accelerator Programme, which is available for museums and across artforms. This is a new strand of their collaborative work to help the creative sector become more sustainable. Two cohorts of ten varied cultural organisations will take part in a programme looking at everything from touring models and audience engagement to design, supply chains and income generation. The first cohort runs from October 2018 – March 2020, the second from April 2020 – October 2021. Support includes a three-day training in creative climate Leadership, knowledge exchange and mentor support. The deadline for expressions of interest in the first round is 8th June – this should be a statement of less than 600 words. Julie’s Bicycle, Museums Development North West
‘The status quo is the riskiest place to be’: museum leadership, social change and protest
Asked by a trustee whether the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) would ever be a focus of protest, its Director Kaywin Feldman ‘assured him that we would’. She then “urged him to walk around the galleries if he wanted to find offence. We have it all our walls: imperialism, colonialism, war, oppression, discrimination, slavery, misogyny, rape and more”. In a piece written for Apollo Magazine and reprising elements of a talk she gave for Oxford Cultural Leaders last year, she unpicks the changing nature of museum management in a swiftly changing world. Museums must engage in the conservation about race, class and gender, but cannot do so if there is a monoculture within the museum, reinforced even further by failing to talk to stakeholders outside. She argues that museum directors no longer need ‘fundraising’ as a primary skill but ‘agility, closely followed by bravery’. This may mean the death of the ten-year plan, to allow museums to respond with nimbleness to opportunities and events. Mia itself is about to open ‘Art of Healing’: an exhibition of artwork in response to the fatal shooting of Philandro Castile by a policeman, after being pulled over on the highway. She adds “the exhibition is significant for our museum, but not an easy one – not easy for the museum’s staff and board, for the Castile family, or for members of our community. But what more important role could a museum have today than in attempting to ease people’s pain and bring them together in a safe place for difficult conversations?” Apollo Magazine
The Design Museum has named European Museum of the Year, making it the seventh British winner since the prize was founded in 1977. The museum reopened in larger premises at the former Commonwealth Institute in 2016 and has attracted more than one million visitors to its new home. Chair of museum Trustees Peter Mandelson said “this announcement is a huge testament to the mission of the museum and thoroughly deserved following the opening of such a stunning new building and the successful range of exhibitions and programmes mounted in the last year.” Seven other museums received special commendations including Lascaux IV- International Centre For Cave Art. The Vapriikki Museum Centre in Finland received a special commendation for sustainability. Guardian, EMYA, Vapriikki
M + H Awards: winners include a giant whale project, an aircraft factory (and Discworld)
The winners in the 14 categories of the Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence have been announced, drawing attention to outstanding work over a range of activities from volunteering to exhibitions and museum shops. Prizes included:
The ‘immersive, creative, people-focused’ Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed at Brooklands Museum won best permanent exhibition. (The museum was also shortlisted last month for Museum of the Year.)
The Salisbury Museum won best temporary exhibition with ‘Terry Pratchett: His World’ praised for its ‘immediacy’ and ‘emotional connection’ as well as for radically changing museum visitor demographics.
The Grant Museum’s ‘Whale Weekender’ which invited members of the public to rebuild a northern bottle-nosed whale skeleton won best project on a limited budget.
Holland Open Air Museum built a ‘canon of Dutch history’ consisting of 200 museum objects, 25 interactive games, 67 projectors, and 66 interactive monitors in a 19m high exhibition hall, together conveying all of Dutch history. It won M+H’s international award.
Prizewinners for volunteering included Claire Madge, who blogs as Tincture of Museum, and who has done much to make museums more welcoming for visitors with autism.
RAMM won the best shop under £500k.
The Postal Museum won best marketing campaign for its launch publicity.
UCL museums won best educational initiative for Museums on Prescription.
Restitution, major collection items and the UK in a post-Brexit world
The issue of restitution has been raised by historians, politicians and governments in relation to a number of national museum collection items over the past couple of months. Speaking at the Hay Festival, historian David Olusoga has argued that the UK should consider restitution of contested museum objects as part of forging relationships with the wider world. He said “if our relationship with the Commonwealth after Brexit [is] ... going to be more important, they remember what happened, and they remember the things that were taken. There are real senses of loss in those countries – it’s beneficial to us as a nation to listen to those appeals.” Olusoga was filmed in The British Museum as part of the Civilisations series, speaking about his ambivalence in seeing the Benin Bronzes there as a child. At Hay, he described the removal during the 1897 raid on the Palace of Benin as a ‘very, very clear case of appropriation and theft’.
Meanwhile, in a blog written in early April V&A Director Tristram Hunt describes how the events in 1868 which led to the V&A’s possession of the Ethiopian Maqdala Treasures are brought out in a new display. He writes “as Prime Minister, William Gladstone condemned the taking of treasures from Maqdala, particularly the gold crown and chalice, and ‘deeply lamented, for the sake of the country, and for the sake of all concerned, that these articles … were thought fit to be brought away by a British army.’” Hunt says he hopes the display will be part of an ‘ongoing dialogue about the history of these objects and their place in our national collection today.’ He has suggested a long-term loan of the objects to Ethiopia: the Ethiopian Government has rejected this idea and says that only permanent return is acceptable.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has supported the return of the Parthenon Marbles in an interview with an Athens newspaper Ta Nea, saying ‘we should begin constructive talks with the Greek government for their repatriation.’ A spokeswoman for The British Museum said “The decision on returning objects is enshrined within the British Museum Act (1963), we cannot return things. Any decision would be made by the trustees, not the British government. We continue to believe that there is great public benefit and public value in these objects being in a world collection.”
The former higher education minister Robert Jackson has written for The Art Newspaper summarising some of the practical considerations when discussing restitution ranging from legal title to ethics, safe preservation of objects and access. Guardian, The Art Newspaper (Jackson), V&A blog, The Art Newspaper (Corbyn), The Times, V&A
Also: V&A Director Tristram Hunt has written for The Art Newspaper addressing criticism from left and right of the museum’s acquisition of a section of the Brutalist architecture from Robin Hood Gardens, Poplar, which was demolished last year. He says while some believe the V&A should not be saving material from a ‘failed social experiment’, others say it is participating in ‘social cleansing’, prompting a protest outside the museum. Hunt writes “I see the role of the museum not as a political force, but as a civic exchange: curating shared space for unsafe ideas. And in an era of absolutist, righteous identity politics, these places for pluralism are more important than ever. Where critics are right to caution us is to ensure that our focus on design does not preclude context, and that we avoid fetishising architecture devoid of its social prehistory.” The Art Newspaper, Evening Standard
Mae West lips sofa acquired by V&A after being saved from export
A Surrealist sofa created by Salvador Dalí and Edward James known as Mae West Lips has been saved from export and acquired by the V&A. Arts Minister John Glen placed an export bar on the item in 2017. The asking price of £480k plus VAT was raised by The Art Fund, V&A members and a bequest from Derek Woodman. The sofa is one of five, but unique in its dimensions, textiles and colour. John Glen said ‘this iconic piece is considered to be the single most important example of Surrealist furniture ever made in Britain.’ Artlyst, Arts Industry
Also: an export bar has just been announced for Dalí and James’ ‘Pair of Champagne Standard Lamps’, with champagne cups climbing the lamp. The asking price is £440k including VAT, and an initial deferral date of 31st August. Gov.uk
Stanley Spencer painting returned after discovery under drug dealer’s bed
A Stanley Spencer painting, stolen in 2012, has been returned after being discovered beneath a drug dealer’s bed alongside 3kg of cocaine and 150,000 ecstasy tablets. ‘Cookham from Englefield’ was on display at the Stanley Spencer Gallery when thieves broke through a window to remove it. DCMS’ Government Indemnity Scheme covered the £1m cost of the loss. However, during 2017 the painting was recovered in West London, and two men received jail sentences totalling around 14 years. It was finally returned to its owners this May. Detective Constable Sophie Hayes of the Metropolitan Police’s Arts and Antiquities Unit said ‘the circumstances of its recovery underline the links between cultural heritage crime and wider criminality.’ Gov.uk, BBC, Guardian (Oct 2017)
The Ivory Bill has been introduced to Parliament, six weeks after the end of the public consultation. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that the speed of introduction marked the UK’s wish to show ‘global leadership’ on the issue, adding “elephants are one of the world’s most iconic animals and we must do all we can to protect them for future generations. That’s why we will introduce one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales. The overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation shows the strength of public feeling to protect these magnificent animals.” The Bill includes a number of exemptions allowing sales to and between accredited museums. Gov.uk, Parliament.uk (ivory briefing note)
Also: New Scientist notes that hippo ivory is now being targeted as a replacement for elephant ivory by poachers, with 6000 hippo teeth and 2048 tusks imported into the EU since 2010. New Scientist (paywall)
‘The political elite in their full pomp’ Tate Britain acquires painting through Acceptance in Lieu
A portrait from around 1710 of the ‘Whig Junto’ by John James Baker has been acquired by Tate Britain through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. It is the only collective portrait of the influential political group which led the Whigs in the late 17th and early 18th century, which was instrumental in bringing about the Glorious Revolution, and which gave rise to today’s form of Parliamentary government. Tate Britain Director Alex Farquharson described it as a ‘huge and ambitious painting’ showing the ‘political elite in their full pomp’. ACE
New galleries have now opened 50ft up in the triforium of Westminster Abbey, offering ‘the best view in Europe’. Collections on display include a death mask of Henry VII, the late 14th century Litlyington Missal and ‘possibly the world’s oldest stuffed bird’ an African grey, which was the pet of the Duchess of Richmond for 40 years, and died a few days after its owner in 1702. The Art Newspaper, Arts Industry, The Guardian
Prime Minister announces new £16.1m exhibition space for Jodrell Bank
Jodrell Bank has received £16.1m for a new gallery building to celebrate its place in the history of astronomy. Prime Minister Theresa May visited the site to announce the funding, which consists of £12.1m from HLF and a further £4m from DCMS. The site was founded in 1945 and is the earliest radio astronomy observatory still in existence. The new space will include the fabric of the 1957 dish of the telescope, and will include an auditorium for immersive presentations alongside the gallery and an education hub and café. Artist’s drawings show a building with huge curving glass windows, buried in a grassy hill which visitors can walk over. The funding aims to turn Jodrell Bank into a ‘must see national heritage destination’ in line with its historic importance, and to inspire a new generation of scientists and astronomers. HLF, University of Manchester
Kilmartin Museum receives £3.1m to tell the story of a landscape with 800 prehistoric sites
Kilmartin Museum in western Scotland has received £3.1m funding from HLF to extend its exhibition space and help it to become Scotland’s national centre for excellence in archaeology. The museum sits in the remarkable landscape of Kilmartin Glen, with 800 ancient monuments within a six-mile radius, 150 of which are prehistoric, including cairns, standing stones, carved rocks and stone circles. Two existing museum buildings will be joined together and more artefacts will be displayed. Director and Curator of the museum, Dr Sharon Webb said “we’re absolutely delighted…the project as a whole will enable us to properly care for the artefacts in our collections, and tell their stories interwoven with the sites and monuments in which they were found…The local economy will also benefit. The award also represents well deserved and long overdue UK level recognition of Kilmartin Museum, our collections and of Mid Argyll’s unique cultural and natural heritage.” HLF, Kilmartin Museum, The Times, Herald Scotland
Art Fund aims to substantially increase its giving by 2020
Against a background where money is in shorter supply from some other major funders of culture, The Art Fund’s annual report shows significant growth in its charitable giving, with a core aim of helping museums to build collections. In 2017, 94 organisations shared £5.5m and used it to buy 200 objects and works of art. The Art Fund also launched the £750k Weston Loan programme, as well as continuing to run the £100k Museum of the Year competition. The fund hopes to grow its giving to £10m by 2020, through expanding its National Arts Pass scheme as well as increased donations from business, individuals and trusts. The Art Fund
Declining chances of winning major funding as HLF grants are spread more thinly
The Art Newspaper has tracked the chances of obtaining grants over £2m from HLF over the past couple of years and has found that funding has become significantly more scarce. In 2016, 41% of projects over £2m got grants, but the following year only 30% were approved. In the most recent published round, which took place in December, only 17% were successful, or three out of 18 projects, none of which were museums. IWM’s Second World War Galleries, a proposed major acquisition by York Art Gallery and a coastal archaeology project by the Museum of London were among those turned down. The Art Newspaper adds that HLF support is often useful for more than financial reasons; it is seen as a hallmark of a strong project by philanthropists, who are also happier sharing project support rather than entirely replacing public funds. The Art Newspaper
Welsh museums and libraries gain £1.35m support in new round of capital funding
The Welsh Government has announced the cultural sector recipients of £1.35m from its Transformation Capital Grants programme. Four museums will receive funding to widen access to collections, including refurbishment at The Judge’s Lodging in Presteigne and Llandudno and Pontypool Museums. The Cardiff Story will be creating a ‘guerilla’ service, travelling around local communities. Three libraries will also receive upgrades. Wales.gov
New professional development opportunities launched for cultural sector fundraisers
The Institute of Fundraising has launched a new programme, supported by ACE, to build knowledge for fundraisers in the cultural sector by offering supported places at major conferences. RAISE: arts, culture & heritage is open to fundraisers across England, and the deadline for 2018 applications is 8th June. Institute of Fundraising
Civil Society consultation and the possible return of grants for charities
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has floated the idea that there might be a return of grants for charities from Government to make them more sustainable, while wishing to ‘preserve and extend the sector’s independence’. He said that more should be spent on ‘small and local groups’ and praised the importance of culture, sport and community groups to ‘strengthen our social fabric’. He also said he hopes Civil Society will “recover its confidence to speak into our public life. The greatest social and political changes in our history have come about because independent people formed associations to press for change. If that means respectful criticism of government, so be it.” The Civil Society consultation ended on 22nd May, and DCMS is now reviewing feedback. Civil Society, Gov.uk (full speech)
DCMS has updated its guidance on VAT refunds for museums and galleries to include information on the broadening of reliefs, which came into force on 3rd May. The closing date for the next round of applications is 2nd November. Gov.uk
Major Cultural Heritage summit – and a night of German pop
The European Cultural Heritage Summit ‘Sharing Culture – Sharing Values’ is the main event in the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Delegates from across Europe will discuss topics from science to digital, communicating heritage to youth, environment and internationalism. The event takes place in Berlin from 18th – 24th June. There will also be an evening of dancing at the Museum of Communication ‘while learning how 100 years of pop music has formed German society’. NEMO (Dance at the museum) NEMO (summit)
Happy Museum is running a ‘Values for Stronger Communities’ event, drawn from experiences from a year-long project at Manchester Museum. It argues that most people care deeply about the area where they live, but believe that others do not. Museums are venues where ‘values of compassion, connection and community may be expressed and strengthened’. The work in Manchester led to changes in everything from volunteer programmes to invitations to donate. Workshop presenters include Esme Ward, Director of the Manchester Museum, and staff from Battersea Arts Centre, where the workshop takes place. The event is on 9th July and tickets are £55. Happy Museum
Creative Yorkshire: discussion for businesses and museums
The Creative Industries Federation is organising a Creative Yorkshire meeting to bring together creative businesses across the region. Discussions will include the success of Hull City of Culture, and how creative industries growth can benefit all of Yorkshire and not just particular city hotspots. Museum professionals are invited to learn more about how they fit in the cultural landscape of Yorkshire, how museums can act as anchor institutions and how they can encourage further innovation and growth of creative industries. The event takes place at Hepworth Wakefield on 17th July from 5 – 8pm. CIF
The Social History Curator’s Group conference, ‘A True Reflection? Displays, stories and exhibitions’ explores representation in museum displays. Speakers include Kay Jones from National Museums Liverpool to discuss their LGBT exhibition ‘Tales from the City’, Isabelle Lawrence from the Science Museum on ‘Faith, Hope and Fear’ and Thanh Sinden of Museum Detox and Culture Coventry on ‘Museums in the context of the fixed mindset’ as well as an interactive session on museums and social media. The conference takes place at Beamish on 19th July and the Great North Museum Hancock on 20th July. Tickets are up to £215 for both days. SHCG (booking), SHCG (conference website)
Kids in Museums: planning workshops for November Takeover Day
Kids in Museum is offering planning and sharing workshops across the country for those participating in the November Kids Takeover Day. Events run from 13th June – 16th July at eight museums across the country from Brighton to York. Events are free but booking is essential. There will also be a Teen Twitter Takeover of museum feeds on 3rd August, contact Kids in Museums to take part. Kids in Museums, Kids in Museums (Teen Twitter Takeover)
Survey: participatory practice in the museum sector
Research consultancy ERS has been commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to carry out research into participatory practice in museums and galleries. Topics include the current practice for involving communities in activities and decision making, and how this has shifted over time. ERS invites sector professionals to fill out a survey, which should take 10 – 15 minutes to complete. Research findings will be published in winter 2018 and will support the sector with lessons about good ways to embed effective participatory practice. The deadline for responses is 15th June. Survey, ERS Ltd
Case studies: ethical trading and ditching plastic
Museum Practice is seeking case studies of museum shops which sell ethical products or have made efforts to reduce plastic in commercial operations. The deadline for submissions is 15th July. Museums Journal
Wales tailors its heritage offer to French and German visitors with new trails
French and German tourists have visited Wales and have written about their experiences since the mid 18th century. Now the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is using these historic accounts, spliced with a number of suggested modern heritage trails on a multi-lingual website, to attract a new generation of tourists from both countries. This highly tailored approach was funded by AHRC to include a digital dimension including a VR Tintern Abbey alongside historic stereoscopic photographs. Journey to the Past, Tintern Abbey VR
VisitBritain has published a list of dozens of events aimed at attracting tourists from different nations, promoting creative assets to international journalists and practical revenue generation through selling visitor Oyster cards. VisitBritain
The three year £40m Discover England Fund supported regional consortiums to create bookable projects for tourist groups – often bringing together a range of organisations from hotels to museums, and across LEP boundaries, to co-operate in developing an offer. The Discover England conference is an opportunity to learn from the experiences of these projects. The event takes place on 2nd July in Westminster – full programme and venue to be announced. Visit Britain
Medway Council considers selling part of its Guildhall Museum
Medway Council is considering selling part of its Guildhall Museum in Rochester to pay for the upgrade of other historic holdings. The proposal is to dispose of the conservancy building, the smaller of the two museum buildings, and upgrade the early 17th century Corn Exchange as well as the Guildhall museum main building dating from 1687. Conservative councillor Stuart Tranter wrote that the conservancy building ‘is often missed out by visitors and can be seen as little more than a repository for Victorian exhibits’. Labour councillor Alex Paterson said the building was used for educational purposes, adding “I’m not convinced we have an overall strategy for the high street. For what is essentially the tourism jewel in the crown of Medway, it seems a very piecemeal approach.” No final decision has been made. Rochester Guildhall Museum, Museums Journal
Also: There are plans to close the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester, turn it into a student careers centre and instead have a ‘distributed’ gallery across the university campus. Those objecting to the plans say that much of its 20th century contemporary art collection is too valuable to show outside a designated gallery. The Otter Gallery would also lose its accredited status. Museums Journal
Eureka! children’s museum plans second site in Liverpool
Eureka!, the children’s museum in Halifax, is planning a second site in Liverpool as well as expanding into a second building at its original home. Its Chairman Peter Smart said "we are still in the early stages of both projects but are so pleased to finally be able to talk about them to start building the momentum for the next 25 years of Eureka!” Initial estimates suggest that Eureka! plans could bring 28 direct jobs and 91 indirect jobs into Liverpool. Manchester Evening News, Arts Industry
New Museum School: diversifying the workforce, filling skills gaps
The organisations Culture& and A New Direction have formed The New Museum School – work-based training in the museum and heritage sectors, covering topics from conservation to digitisation and learning heritage crafts. It aims to diversify the sector workforce as well as plugging skills gaps. The National Trust and Royal Museums Greenwich are among the organisations already partnering in the work. Culture& is seeking further partners to host 34 placements: host museums pay £10k towards the trainee position with a further £25k in costs being met by HLF. Culture&
Character Matters: plans for developing a museum workforce for the next decade
In September 2016, the ‘Character Matters’ report outlined the skills and characteristics which the museum sector will need over the next decade, noting “the museum workforce will face a growing need to adapt and develop new skills, knowledge and ways of working in order to meet the needs of the organisations and audiences they serve.” The UK Museums Workforce Steering Group has now produced a delivery plan for the period April 2018 – March 2020, aimed at creating a diversified workforce and shift organisational culture. The proposed actions include:
Taster experiences for young people in museums at the point when they are making career choices.
Increasing the routes into work in the museum sector, including apprenticeships.
Management and leadership level traineeships, so people with transferable skills can enter the sector at a senior level.
A minimum number of days per year for all staff and volunteers to dedicate to professional development.
Developing short courses based on current skills gaps such as business management and digital skills.
Developing funding opportunities to support skills and knowledge development.
Ensuring that Boards have an appropriate range of skills and qualities.
The plan also includes specific commitments by participating organisations including AIM, ACE, MALD and MGS as well as the MA. ACE
Following a blizzard of emails in a month in which GDPR attracted more Google searches than Beyoncé, the Government has published summaries of the new data protection landscape. The General Data Protection Regulations sit beside the Data Protection Act (2018) which also came into force in May. The Government’s brief guidance highlights the right to be forgotten, especially, but not exclusively for young people turning 18, the right to withdraw data from one platform to put it on another, and the duty to tell people promptly if their data is breeched. There is also a new age-appropriate design code to help people understand the needs of children and young people. GDPR has reportedly created a conflict of duties in some arts organisations: required by ACE to share their audience data as a condition of funding, but forbidden to do so without consent by new GDPR rules. This has currently caused the South Bank Centre to rescind its data sharing agreements with 40 arts organisations on the grounds that it would be ‘logistically impossible’ to get appropriate consent. Gov.uk, CNBC (Beyoncé-related summary of GDPR), Arts Professional
Also: The National Archives has just published a useful guide to archives and data protection law in the UK. National Archives
NHM’s increasingly digital relationship with scientists aids the study of climate change
The Natural History Museum has just digitised its four millionth specimen – meaning that around 5% of its vast collection is now online. Vincent Smith, Research Leader in Informatics said “for every scientist that comes to South Kensington to physically visit the Museum’s collections, 10 visit our digital collections, and this proportion is growing each year… use of this freely accessible data, is creating opportunities for research and collaboration that would have been unthinkable just three years ago.” Partnership projects such as PREDICTS are using the data to measure the impact of humans on climate and ecosystems and point to ways in which forests, savannahs and other vulnerable landscapes can be protected. NHM blog
New data from Ofqual underlines decline in arts GCSEs
The long-running debate about whether, and to what extent, arts GCSEs are declining as a result of the Ebacc has been fuelled by new data from Ofqual. Figures show that arts as a percentage of subjects taken has declined from 11.7% in 2014 to 8.4% in 2018. Across a number of subjects, from music to performing arts and media, only Art & Design grew, by 2.2%. Arts Professional
Tech Disciple or Insulated Straggler? YouGov and V&A explore attitudes to the future
The V&A and YouGov have created a ten-question survey to explore the population’s attitude to the future, along axes such as optimism vs pessimism; feelings of powerfulness vs powerlessness; technophobia vs technophilia; and disruption vs continuation. The survey suggests six rough categories of people from the results, ranging from All Round Optimists (22%) who feel positive about everything except the people who have power in society, to Tech Disciples (14%) who are often male, early tech adopters and social pessimists. Acquiring new technology hot off the press is a minority pursuit in most groups however. The survey accompanies V&A’s new The Future Starts Here exhibition, which runs to November and includes an Anthropocene spike and a Superflex Aura powered bodysuit. V&A, YouGov
The latest estimate of imports and exports of goods and services relating to the DCMS economic sectors has been published, covering the year 2016. However, it does not include tourism, and there will be a supplementary release with these figures. The estimate shows:
These figures overall are the highest recorded for the period 2010 – 16, both in absolute value and as a proportion of the UK total contributed by DCMS. £27.1bn of goods were exported in 2016, or 8.9% of all exported goods from the UK.
The Creative Industries sector exported £27bn of services, up 27.4% from 2015.
Cultural Sector exports (an area including museums) exported £7.6bn in services, 90% of which came from the Film, TV and music subsector.
The three largest DCMS sectors in terms of trade are Digital, Creative Industries and the Cultural Sector – but as there is so much overlap between sectors it is difficult to draw comparisons between them.
Museum goods were significantly recorded for the first time in 2016 at £6m, but the export of museum services, which has been tracked since 2010, is much larger at £1.036bn - double the £515m in 2010, but down slightly from £1.15bn in 2015.