The socio-economics of dinosaurs: Dippy storms Dorset
The Natural History Museum’s diplodocus cast, Dippy's eight-venue, two-year tour of the UK has got off to a successful start. Dorset County Museum hosted the iconic object from February to May and received 153,189 visitors, double the initial estimate. The museum calculates that:
125 local school groups visited the museum.
An additional 20,000 people took part in an associated outreach programme from the Jurassic Coast Trust.
201 volunteers were recruited and trained to staff the exhibition.
Visitors to Dippy on Tour spent over £2.25m, contributing £1.1m to the local economy.
The museum’s income also increased by 971.5% compared to the previous year.
There were 401 press clips reaching an estimated 57.8m.
Museum Director Jon Murden thinks that the lift created by Dippy will help as the museum begins its major redevelopment. He said “Dippy on Tour has created a sense of excitement among the staff and volunteers of what this museum can achieve in the future. There is an enthusiasm, energy and can-do attitude which has spread amongst the Museum and town.”
Dippy has now decamped to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which has developed an entire subgenre of short films about holidaying T-Rexes in museums as publicity for the exhibition. BMT, BMT (T-Rex holiday), BMT, Dorset County Museum
Stephenson’s Rocket to remain on long term display in the North
The Science Museum Group has announced that Stephenson’s Rocket, which was built in Newcastle in 1829 and is currently on display there as part of the 80-day Great Exhibition of the North, will now be remaining in the North of the country. It will first appear at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry from September, before being displayed in the longer term at the National Railway Museum in York. Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright welcomed the move, as reflecting a commitment to sharing cultural artefacts across the country. He said “it is right that our great art and culture reaches all parts of the country. This bold move by The Science Museum Group will ensure more people can see this national treasure and is an inspiring example of what can be done to make culture available to the widest possible audience.Gov.uk
NPG ‘Coming Home’ project sends portraits to 50 places associated with the sitter
The National Portrait Gallery has launched a new loans project which will enable the lending of fifty portraits of iconic individuals to the towns with which they are most closely associated. The ‘Coming Home’ project is supported by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust and DCMS. Loans include:
Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of abolitionist William Wilberforce will be exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull. Wilberforce was born in the town.
David Hockney's ‘Self-Portrait with Charlie’ will be shown at the Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in the artist's hometown of Bradford.
Kate Peters' photographic portrait of Sheffield-born athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill will go on loan to Museums Sheffield. The picture was taken in 2012, when Ennis-Hill won the gold medal in the heptathlon.
The 16th century portrait of Richard III will be loaned to the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester, the city in which the king was buried.
Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said “we hope that sending portraits 'home' in this way will foster a sense of pride and create a personal connection for local communities to a bigger national history; thus helping us to fulfil our aim of being truly a national gallery for everyone.” The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine
‘Taking part in history, not just observing it’ NMS gains £776k for new work with young people
National Museums Scotland has been awarded £776k from HLF’s ‘Kicking the Dust’ fund to engage young people with museums. ‘Scotland 365’ will encourage participants to use national collections to explore the past and test innovative ideas to engage their peers with heritage. An initial consultation showed that young people want to take part in active learning and projects around history, rather than just observing it, and the programme has been created with this in mind, making use of artforms including storytelling, craft and dance. The first event, ‘CashBack to the Future’ is already underway, using visual art, animation, and performance. It was delivered by Impact Arts in four areas of Scotland with a four-week residency leading to a showcase event, ‘My Museum’, with NMS collections underpinning the work. NMS hopes that as well as delivering an extensive programme, the HLF funds will allow it to revolutionise its approach to working with young people. Ruth Gill, NMS’s Director of Public Programmes said “the project opens up infinite possibilities for young people and our national collections and we look forward to working together as we develop creative responses to our heritage.” NMS, HLF
Tate St Ives, which recently won Museum of the Year for its new exhibition space, has become the only leisure building on the shortlist for the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building. The winner will be announced in October. ALVA
Total Darkness: using science to address the potential menace of aliens and hamsters
Why has the electricity failed right across a small town? Can the narrator discover the cause, considering theories from burglars to aliens and hamsters, by the light of a fast-failing torch? This is the premise of the Science Museum Group’s new game ‘Total Darkness’ which hopes to inspire a new generation of scientists, inventors and engineers. The game is aimed at 7 to 13 year olds and encourages them to notice the moments in their daily lives where they use creativity, communication and curiosity, all essential for good scientists, to solve practical problems. It hopes that in doing so it will positively influence the attitude of children towards STEM subjects as they enter secondary school. The solution, for those who manage to race around the darkened town before the battery fails, itself points to some of the technical innovations of the future. SMG (blog), Total Darkness
National Gallery acquires first work by a female artist in almost 30 years
The National Gallery has acquired Artemisia Gentileschi’s ‘Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria’ painted in 1615–17. The £3.6m painting will help the Gallery begin to fulfil its ‘long-held dream’ of redressing the lack of female artists in its collections. Chair of the Board Hannah Rothschild said “Gentileschi was a pioneer, a master storyteller, and one of the most progressive and expressive painters of the period. One of a handful of women who was able to shatter the confines of her time, she overcame extreme personal difficulties to succeed in the art of painting. This picture will help us transform how we collect, exhibit and tell the story of women artists throughout history.” National Gallery, Telegraph
The V&A will recommence touring design exhibitions, last run in the 1970s, in the autumn. The museum is using £100k it won as Museum of the Year in 2016 to fund the tour of 60 objects – including a teapot by Christopher Dresser, a 15th century jar from Thailand and a tile made by Grayson Perry – to five museums in the first phase of its new DesignLab Nation initiative. Arts Industry, Stoke Sentinel
Also: A version of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s ‘Knights of the Raj’ is to tour to the Museum of Food and Drink in New York. The original tells the story of how the Bangladeshi community first introduced curry to Birmingham – in the US it will cover a similar narrative featuring the memories of the Bangladeshi community in New York. Arts Industry
Other images this month: Joe the Quilter’s cottage opens at Beamish
Beamish has opened ‘Joe the Quilter’s Cottage’ as the first building in its new 1820s landscape. Although the heather-thatched cottage is itself a recreation, it features stones from the original cottage which were discovered in an archaeological excavation. The occupant of the original building was a well-known Georgian quilter called Joseph Hedley who was murdered in 1826 aged 76. The perpetrator was not found, but his violent death has left a trace in the historical records, including an auction poster for his household furniture. This has allowed the museum to create a detailed picture of Hedley’s life and character, as well as linking the cottage opening to the museum’s own quilt collection. Beamish, Beamish, Beamish (short film) Northumberland Archives
The UK Government has published the Brexit White Paper outlining its position for a post-Brexit relationship with the EU. This document will underpin negotiations with the bloc until October. It outlines the principles underlying its approach to issues which will particularly affect the cultural and creative industries sectors. These include:
The UK ‘attaches importance’ to the continued mobility of talented individuals and groups to support cultural and creative cooperation.
It proposes a UK-EU cultural accord allowing the UK to participate in EU cultural programmes and networks.
It supports the temporary movement of goods for major events, including the instruments of touring musicians and museum collections on loan.
It advocates continued collaboration UK-EU to support the restitution of cultural objects that have been unlawfully removed.
It expresses the UK’s interest in being involved in a successor scheme to Erasmus+.
The UK would like to build on existing precedents, such as Cultural Cooperation Protocols with third countries, to facilitate cultural exchange.
The UK proposes reciprocal visa-free travel arrangements to allow tourism and temporary residence for business activity to continue.
The White Paper seeks to maintain a frictionless border, with a free trade area for goods, underpinned by only those rules needed for frictionless trade. The Government hopes that this will allow UK and EU firms to establish across the territory, and that there will be mutual recognition for professional qualifications. It is also seeking a free trade area with the EU for goods, removing the need for customs checks. CIF, Gov.uk (complete White Paper text), Arts Industry
Post-Brexit movement of people in the cultural sector: House of Lords report
The European Union Committee based in the House of Lords has published a new report ‘Brexit: movement of people in the cultural sector.’ This argues that the UK should negotiate special arrangements with EU27 countries for worker movement, but also lays out the likely outcomes for the cultural sector if EU workers are treated in the same way as third country nationals. It also says that the recent White Paper, while a step in the right direction, lacks specific detail and seeks to fill some of those gaps. Issues include:
Any post-Brexit arrangement with the EU27 will have to be mutual – to allow UK cultural organisations to continue to tour and work abroad, arrangements must be made for ease of travel within the UK.
Many cultural workers are self-employed or on short contracts. Examples include sourcing a performer from the EU to cover illness, sometimes at same-day notice; employing a specialist conservator to work short-term on a museum project; responding rapidly to film and television production cycles.
There are some existing third country visa provisions which could be used post-Brexit to facilitate movement, however these would need to become more flexible to be effective. For instance, some highly skilled but early-career musicians would currently be barred by the 30k salary threshold applied to some visas.
Permitted Paid Engagement visas, which give rights to work in the UK for up to a month, could be extended to EU citizens, but would need to become more flexible to allow early career and less well-known creatives to use this route.
The Creative Industries Federation and British Film Institute were among those supporting a long duration multi-entry visa allowing touring performers to enter multiple EU countries without seeking a visa for each one. However, for this to be effective the UK Government would need to make the EU a reciprocal offer.
Various organisations representing culture gave evidence to the committee. Historic England pointed to the need to retain academics and the potential damage to the UK’s leadership in heritage research if they left the UK; NMDC and the MA pointed to the need to retain European expertise, particularly in national museums and the risk to the UK’s soft power if this is eroded; the Heritage Alliance said that the UK has a shortage of heritage skills which would be made worse by restrictive visas for EU citizens.
Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chairman of the Committee, said “individuals working in the UK cultural sector are highly mobile, and have thrived on collaboration with people from all over the world. The country benefits enormously from the sector’s contribution to its economy and society, and it makes an important contribution to the UK’s international image and influence.If the Government is to achieve its wish to establish an immigration system that meets the needs of the post-Brexit economy, the UK’s negotiators will need to be flexible. This means recognising that any restrictions on EU citizens wishing to enter the UK to work may be matched by reciprocal restrictions on UK workers in the EU.” Parliament.uk, The Art Newspaper, M + H, Taitmail, Museums Journal, CBI, CIF
Also: The Charity Finance Group has published a report on the impact of Brexit on the charity sector. It found that EU nationals comprise 4% of the charity workforce and 82% would be ineligible to work in the UK if the rules applied to non-EU nationals are applied. Charity Finance Group
Also: The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has described the prospect of a no-deal Brexit as a ‘doomsday outcome’ likely to cost the Irish tourism industry €260m in the immediate aftermath, with job losses, damage to visitor flows and a collapse in the value of £ sterling affecting cross-border businesses. The body added "the set of unilateral proposals contained in the UK Government’s white paper appear to be floundering with just over three months to the October deadline for a Withdrawal Agreement. Across Europe, and especially in Ireland, the implications of a ‘no deal’ Brexit are edging up the contingency agendas of politicians, the business community and regulators."ALVA
Museum and arts attendance correlated with Remain vote in new data analysis
An analysis of data from the most recent ‘Active Lives’ survey by Mark Taylor, a sociologist at the University of Sheffield, has revealed correlations between voting Remain and arts attendance. He says that there is a ‘remarkably strong’ correlation between museum attendance and a Remain vote, which is more notable than any other factor except education. There is a weaker relationship between arts participation such as painting or playing a musical instrument and Remain. Eight of the ten most Remain-voting areas were in London, and arts attendance rates in all ten ranged from 79.7% - 92.1%. By contrast, only one Leave-voting area was within 100 miles of London (Thurrock) and arts attendance in the ten most committed Leave areas ranged from 44.1% to 63.5%. However, Taylor said "it's not just that there's a relationship between engagement in the arts and voting Remain at the area level: it looks like it's particularly about attending cultural institutions, which must come as a challenge to the institutions themselves.” Arts Professional
GEM conference explores the evolution of heritage education
GEM has published the full programme for its next conference ‘Past, Present and Future’, which will explore how heritage education has evolved over time, as well as looking to future developments. Speakers come from the Woodland Trust and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature as well as from museums including Derby and Manchester. The event takes place from 4th – 6th September in Nottingham. Tickets start at £397 for GEM members attending the whole event, with day tickets from £145. GEM
Also: GEM has also announced several intermediate heritage courses in cities across the country. Topics include fundraising and income generation, health and wellbeing, creative collaborations and heritage interpretation. Tickets are £125 for members and £160 for non-members. GEM
MCG has now published the full programme for its 2018 Museums + Tech conference with the theme ‘the collaborative museum’. Topics include English Heritage and Google Arts and Culture, cultural organisations and Wikipedia, letting games designers into the museum, and ethics and sustainability of reliance on Google and Facebook. The event takes place at the National Gallery on October 19th. Tickets are £47.50 for students/unwaged, and £99 early bird. MCG
Museums increasingly have to be places for social engagement and agents of positive change, rather than simply venues displaying collections and offering a fixed variety of services. Museums Galleries Scotland is running a ‘Rethinking Leadership’ symposium addressing this shift, and drawing from the findings of the 2016 ‘Character Matters ‘report about sector staff. The event takes place at the National Museum of Scotland on 20th September. Tickets are £25 for the Scottish museum sector, otherwise £50. MGS, MGS (tickets)
The next Sporting Heritage conference takes place on 14th – 15th November at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool with topics ranging from British Asians and English club cricket, artistic representations of football, social media surgeries and sport and the armed forces. Tickets are £20-£100. Sporting Heritage
Also: National Sporting Heritage Day takes place on 30th September and museums are encouraged to get involved. There is some funding available for events through support from the Art Fund. Sporting Heritage, Sporting Heritage (Art Fund support)
A number of events and resources have just been launched to help museums become more accessible for disabled users:
The Horniman Museum has produced a number of short films to help disabled visitors navigate practical issues when visiting the museum – for example, getting into the Blue Badge holders car park, or getting to the Horniman from the nearest train station. The museum has produced 17 short films with nine more to come. Horniman
Disability Confident is a Government scheme to recruit and retain disabled people in the workforce, but few museums are currently members. An event at the Natural History Museum run by the Disability Cooperative Network for Museums will introduce the scheme with case studies from Tate and the V&A. DCN
The Access for All ‘Train the Trainer’ course runs from 18th – 21st September in Derbyshire. It covers topics including creating an access audit and online guide, training staff in-house, marketing and sensory tours. Tickets are £1,750 including food and accommodation. Access for All
The Work and Health Unit has launched a £4.2m fund for schemes helping those with mental health and/or musculoskeletal issues stay in work. Employers and charities are invited to apply. The deadline is 17th August, and projects are expected to run between October 2018 – February 2019. WCVA
Also: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has said that disabled access should come before heritage preservation. He cited plans to build a ramp for access into Coventry Cathedral which were blocked by heritage concerns. There are some existing frameworks, from the Equality Act to Historic England guidelines, which support disabled access, but this has not been enough to tip the balance in some cases. The Archbishop favours additional legislation to create more consistent outcomes in favour of access. ALVA
Matt Hancock promotes social prescribing at his new department
Former Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has now become Health Secretary and has launched a £4.5m pilot social prescribing scheme, which allows GPs to recommend cultural interventions from arts to gardening. The Department of Health and Social Care reports that “a UK study found that after 3 to 4 months, 80% of patients referred to a social prescribing scheme had reduced their use of A&E, outpatient appointments and inpatient admissions.” 23 social prescribing projects in England will share the funds to extend existing projects or create new ones. Gov.uk, Arts Industry, The Times, Gov.uk
Following a Cabinet reshuffle, Jeremy Wright QC, MP has been appointed the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, replacing Matt Hancock and becoming the seventh post-holder in eight years. Gov.uk, The Art Newspaper, Guardian, Design Week
Charles Saumarez Smith is leaving his post as Chief Executive of the Royal Academy at the end of the year. The Art Newspaper
John Kampfner is stepping down as the Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation. He has been replaced by former Southbank Centre CEO Alan Bishop. Arts Industry, CIF
Peter Ainsworth has been appointed as new Chair of the Heritage Alliance, taking over from Loyd Grossman. Ainsworth is a former MP and current Chair of the Big Lottery Fund. He is expected to take up the post in December. Heritage Alliance
British Council report finds reactions to the UK in the US are shaped by culture, not politics
The British Council has published a report based on a survey of 1,000 young people aged 18 – 34 in the UK and US. All were asked about their views about each other’s country. It found that culture is significantly more important than politics in shaping opinions:
Only 17% of US citizens said that past actions of the UK government were among the top three factors in how they saw the country, and overall it was 16th on the list.
By contrast, cultural and historical attractions were the most popular factor (cited by 43%) and history was the second most popular (42%).
Both US and UK interviewees rated the other country’s cultural offer highly, but behind France, Italy and Japan.
However, young people from both countries thought that the other was the most attractive for personal contacts and friendships.
Also: The British Council has published a short report ‘Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth’ which explores how heritage can be used to address social, economic and development challenges. The report includes a theory of change, and examples from the UK and abroad, such as the work of the Trust for African Rock Art and the Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture. Europa
In this year’s soft power index, the UK has regained first place, overtaking France. Germany is third, with the US (which was first in 2016) coming fourth and Japan fifth. The majority of the top thirty countries are European, plus Australasia and Canada. Portland Communications, which produced the report, says that despite Brexit the fundamental strengths of ‘education, culture and international engagement’ in the UK continue to be highly attractive. The report also highlighted the relative independence of the UK cultural offer, contrasting with other more state-controlled approaches to soft power. It picked out the BBC World Service, British Council and artforms including music, art, film and fashion as having particular influence. British Council, Soft Power 30
Reports measure the impact of Creative Europe schemes in the UK
The Creative Europe Desk UK has published two reports on the impact of Creative Europe funding, which supports the cultural and audiovisual sectors, including bodies like NEMO, the Network of Museum Organisations. In 2017, UK organisations received €16.6m, bringing the total to €74m since 2014. However, the funding has leveraged much wider support and benefits:
Match funding brought in a further €20m in the UK in 2017.
Creative Europe projects with UK partners have so far reached an audience of 61 million, including 7 million in the UK.
The scheme has allowed UK creative industries to work with 743 partners across 34 countries. 42% of cross-border co-operation projects have a UK partner.
Since 2014, the culture sub-programme alone has brought €18.7 million to 150 organisations.
Additional benefits have included skills training, opportunities for young people from disadvantaged groups, audience development and the circulation of UK creative works. FACT, a Liverpool-based cinema and art gallery took part in a Creative Europe funded project with partners in Germany and Portugal in 2015, resulting in artist residencies, work with digital agencies and the evolution of transdisciplinary work. FACT found that the support gave it ‘a seat at a table with contacts that are often difficult to reach in industry and in academia’. Creative Europe (publications), Creative Europe (news item), Creative Europe (press releases), Creative Europe (six page summary of benefits in the UK), British Council, Museums Journal
44% say museums contribute most to quality of life in ACE survey
ACE has been consulting widely through the research consultancy BritainThinks as it lays plans for its next ten-year strategy through to 2030. It has now published the findings. These show:
Arts, museums and libraries are valued by the public, but more needs to be done to communicate their value and relevance, especially in a time of austerity. Sector workers are much more likely to say that museums will become more important in the future (55%) than the public (37%). There is also a wide gap for the arts (76% vs 30%) and libraries (51% vs 27%)
However, 74% of the public say that museums are important to them and their family, and 89% say they are important to wider society. Museums are regarded as almost twice as important for ‘educating children’ (61%) and ‘educating me’ (62%) than for ‘experiencing new things’ (36%).
People define arts through a ‘fairly tight prism’ of forms like opera, ballet and classical music and do not always associate their own creative activities with the sector. The report suggests ACE should explore ‘reframing’ culture and producing public campaigns to demonstrate its breadth. One participant commented ‘a lot of people are engaging with art, but they don’t think it’s art’.
When the public are asked which cultural form contributes most to the quality of life, music comes first (56%) followed by museums (44%) with libraries close behind (43%).
Increasing sector diversity is seen as central for two thirds of sector workers interviewed, who call for progress past a ‘tick box mentality’.
Arts and museums and libraries need to be promoted to younger audiences, both as a resource and potential career path. It argues that current educational emphasis on STEM subjects and the perception of arts as an insecure career may both be deterrents.
The balance between London and the regions is a continuing issue with many of the public wanting to see more touring. One workshop participant commented “everything seems to go on in London and nowhere else in the country. Why can’t London exhibitions tour around major cities?” There were also calls to create more local involvement in arts provision.
Digital technology was also discussed, both as an opportunity and threat to the sector.
ACE’s new strategy will also draw from an evidence review of how the sector has performed since 2010. It will be published in autumn 2019. ACE, Museums Journal
Surviving arctic waters and a bankruptcy: fundraiser to return Titanic artefacts to the UK
A coalition of institutions is attempting to raise £15.2m to acquire a 5,500 strong collection of artefacts recovered from the Titanic. When the wreck of the vessel was discovered in 1985, a private company RMS Titanic Inc gained exclusive rights to salvage the wreck and subsequently toured the objects round the world and loaned them to museums. The collection ranges from shoes to rings, buttons, letters, a toy plane, furniture remains and ornate first-class room fittings. However, in 2016 the company went bankrupt. Now the National Maritime Museum and National Museums Northern Ireland are seeking to acquire the whole collection via the bankruptcy court, rather than allow it to be broken up and auctioned. If successful, Titanic Belfast will display the majority of the objects, while the National Maritime Museum will lead on conservation. The National Geographic Society has already made a £380k pledge. Two equity holders in the failed company have also filed bids for the artefacts, but Titanic experts are supporting the museums. Legal proceedings are likely to continue for several months. If the bid for the artefacts is successful, the museums may also seek to acquire responsibility for protecting the wreck itself. Arts Industry, National Geographic, Guardian, The Australian, Belfast Telegraph
After weeks of speculation it has been confirmed that Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building will be rebuilt following a devastating fire which gutted the interior and made some external walls unsafe. School Director Tom Inns said “there’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.” It is not yet clear how a second fire could have taken place in less than five years, although the contractor Kier has assured the school that it had all agreed fire safety measures in place. The rebuild will be paid for by insurance and the School is not currently seeking additional funds from the Scottish or UK governments. Guardian
Also: ‘Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style’ at Kelvingrove Museum heads a BBC list of ten of the best summer exhibitions. BBC
A mill engine weighing about ‘as much as an eight-year-old child’ has been stolen from Totnes museum, after thieves distracted staff. The piece is a model built by local inventor Jack Larrad around 1900. Police believe that the unique piece is likely to appear on the market and hope it will be recognised. A spokesman said “this is a bespoke item so we would also like to hear from any second hand, specialist dealers or individuals who have been offered the item for sale.” It is estimated to have a value of £10k. Devon Live
How museums can contribute to Sustainable Development Goals
The Museum of the Future website has produced a comprehensive summary of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how museums can contribute towards them, ‘show[ing] the world that culture deserves to be taken seriously when it comes to sustainable development’. A chart covers the 17 goals and 169 targets, highlighting places where museums can lead the way, especially around education, inclusion and information. Examples of SDG actions in museums include climate resilience at the new Whitney Museum in the US and work in Natural History museums to protect the diversity of seeds, plants and animals. Manchester Museum’s Henry McGhie is evolving this agenda, and welcomes contact from interested museums. Manchester Museum, Museum of the Future
Work on ‘monumental’ National Gallery Van Dyck passes conservation skills to a new generation
The Getty Foundation has given £70k to the National Gallery for the preservation of a ‘monumental’ Van Dyck from 1637 showing Charles I on a horse. The painting itself has had a colourful history, including being sold off to European aristocracy after the execution of the sitter, rolled up at some point and later evacuated to a slate quarry in Wales during the Second World War. The Foundation hopes work on the painting, which will include removing and replacing the current lining, will enable conservators to pass on skills to a new generation. Getty’s Antoine Wilmering said “For years museum conservators have adopted a ‘wait and monitor’ approach to any major structural intervention on canvas paintings, but the danger is that once treatment can no longer be delayed, the experts with direct knowledge of lining and re-lining won’t be there to offer help.” Visiting international conservators will help with and learn from the work. The Getty Foundation is funding other similar projects, including work at the University of Glasgow on five works from the Scottish national collection. Guardian
Also: 10,000 works in the Royal art collection will be removed during an extensive refit of Buckingham Palace, which is the largest renovation since the Second World War. Some of these works may be loaned to public institutions during the decade-long upgrade. ALVA
‘Write On’ Art Prize promotes interest in art and art history in schools
Winners have been announced for the first year of the ‘Write On’ Art Prize, created by Art UK and the Paul Mellon Centre to encourage a greater interest in art and art history in schools. The organisers hope it will encourage interest at a time of ‘disturbing decline’ in these subjects in state schools. Ten students received awards for essays on artists from Brangwyn to Manet, and at the award ceremony a number said they were considering taking qualifications in Art History at A or degree level. National Gallery Director Gabriele Finaldi was among the judges and said “it is so encouraging to see such talented young writers in their last few years of school.”Art UK
The European Museums Academy and Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums have chosen a 12-strong shortlist of global museums with a particularly strong offering for children. These range from the Museum of Puppetry in Ljubljana, Slovenia to the Railway Museum in Utrecht in the Netherlands. There is one UK museum on the shortlist: the V&A for its Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition and family learning programme. The winner will be announced at NEMO’s annual conference in Malta in November. NEMO, NEMO (conference)
Hugely successful Cultural Protection Fund announces final round
A final round of the Cultural Protection Fund, which offers support internationally to keep cultural objects safe, has opened with up to £300k available for each project. Unprecedented demand means that most funding from the £30m pot for the period 2016 – 20 has already been allocated. Current projects include preserving and revitalising the tradition of domed houses in Syria and protection of archaeological sites on the Gaza Strip. The deadline for expressions of interest for this round is 24th August, with grant decisions being made in December. British Council, British Council (funded projects)
Culture Cannot Wait: conservation in disaster and war zones
The International Institute of Conservators is hosting a Dialogue event between seven people closely involved in the recovery and protection of heritage at moments of crisis, ranging from natural disasters to war zones. Speakers include Lt Col Tim Purbrick who established a unit of cultural property protection specialists in the British Army, Layla Salih who has been a curator at Mosul museum for a decade and Veronica Piacentini who led the cultural protection cell following earthquakes in Italy. The event takes place in Turin, Italy on 12th September as part of a wider five-day conservation conference, but day tickets may become available. IIC
Local council culture budgets continue to decline or disappear in 2018
Figures submitted to Government for 2018–19 by 443 local authorities show a decline in spending on culture of £8.8m or 2.2% compared to the previous year. Over a five-year period there has been a decline of around £48m from £439m to £392m. Budget cuts have been most marked among county councils which do not cover a metropolitan area. In the past five years, spend in these counties including Norfolk and North Yorkshire, fell by 33% from £39m to £26m. Research by Arts Professional in 2017 suggested that these cuts affect small arts organisations and community groups the most. Meanwhile Conservative peer Lord Porter, who leads the Local Government Association has said that funding cuts mean services for vulnerable adults and children are at risk, and that councils are having to cut popular services including parks, libraries and leisure centres. Guardian, Arts Professional
ACE has announced a new round of funding to support Subject Specialist Networks, covering the period January 2019 to June 2020. The deadline for applications is 23rd August, with £700k available, and individual awards of £10k-£80k. ACE
Headley Fund offers curators significant time off for research
A new programme, the Headley Fellowships with Art Fund, is offering the opportunity for curators to take time off from their days jobs to carry out in depth collections research. The £600k fund will allow curators to either take six months off full time or a year off part time, and will pay for temporary staff to fill their post. The Art Fund is seeking projects that will:
Result in a significant public outcome for the museum.
Involve research into a part of the collections that a museum may not have the specialist expertise to use effectively.
Develop the curator’s knowledge and expertise, and spread the learning across the sector.
Potential fellows should be nominated by their museum, and will be budgeted for at a fixed rate of £19,250 for 0.5FTE. The deadline for applications is 15th October. M + H, Art Fund
Government announces it has given £850m in tax reliefs to the Creative Industries
HM Revenue and Customs has calculated that the Creative Industries sector received £850m in tax reliefs during 2017–18. A majority of this was for film (£469m). Theatre relief was £77m, an increase of 67% on the previous year, and orchestras £6.6m. Museum and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief is available for exhibitions dating back to 1st April 2017, however many of these claims are still in process and figures are not yet available for the first year of the scheme. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (overview of tax reliefs), The Scotsman, Arts Professional (theatre), The Stage
More museums successfully appealing business rates
Since York Museums Trust successfully appealed a large bill for business rates in 2017, several other museums have been able to reduce their rateable value. These include the New Art Gallery, Walsall, which is now paying £1 instead of £25k and Chatham Historic Dockyard, with a reduction from £470,000 to £66,000. The Mary Rose Trust recently appealed successfully, and RAMM in Exeter has an ongoing case. The appeals hinge on whether the Valuation Office Agency can set the rateable value at the cost of rebuilding the whole museum structure (‘the contractor’s method’), which often leads to large annual payments, or based on the museum’s net surplus income, which typically reduces costs by 80%. Appeals have been effective where the museum building itself is classed as part of the attraction. Colin Hunter, the director of business rates at the property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton has been providing advice to AIM members, among others, about how museums should respond to large rateable value increases. He said “I’m trying to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet on this and not just accepting what the VOA is doing…The contractor’s method just doesn’t make sense and the courts are now agreeing with us.” Museums Journal, Lambert Smith Hampton, AIM (2017 blog – scroll for advice offer for AIM members), AIM (guide to successfully negotiating business rates)
Future proof: testing new business model ideas in museums
The Arts Marketing Association has published a new guide ‘Future Proof: How to test and review new business model and income generation ideas’. It describes common mistakes to avoid, explores how to interrogate core assumptions, review feasibility and carry out empathy mapping. In one example, it describes how Battersea Arts Centre uses the concept of ‘Scratch’ to share performances and ideas with the public at an early stage, getting feedback to help with development. BAC applied the same principle when it took Wandsworth Museum in-house. Artistic Director David Jubb said “Scratch has enabled me to run a museum and not be frozen by fear that I don’t know the right way to do it.” Other case studies come from Derby Museums, Manchester Jewish Museum and the Eden Project. Culture Hive
Birmingham Museums Trust has become the first major museum to change its image policy to open access. This means that copyright expired work will become free to use under a CCO Creative Commons licence. This abolishes many of the distinctions between whether an image is being used for ‘commercial’ or ‘academic’ use, which has hinged on varying and complex factors such as the size of print run. The only limit is a file size of 3MB. Art historian Dr Bendor Grosvenor who has campaigned for a change to the rules says “for most educational publishing purposes, 3MB is a high enough resolution. But if Louis Vuitton want to make more of their Old Master themed handbags, then they’ll need a higher resolution file, and will have to pay for it. Bravo, Birmingham.” BMT says that the advantage of the new scheme is that allows public better access to and awareness of the collection while the museum is closed for redevelopment, gives free use to academics and researchers, but protects income from the museum’s Print on Demand service. The Art Newspaper
£600m of Gift Aid goes unclaimed by charities, including museums and galleries, each year. The Charity Finance Group is offering two one-day conferences on Gift Aid, in Birmingham on 12th September and Manchester on 3rd October. Tickets are £99. CFG is also offering ongoing best practice advice to all members of the Association of Independent Museums. Charity Finance Group
Museums Galleries Scotland is offering a toolkit on its website to help museums measure economic impact. It is designed to be easy to use, even for those making these calculations for the first time. Visitor Services Assistant Sheila Sim recently used it to measure the impact of six museums run by Lothian Council, and describes the experience as ‘not particularly off-putting or complex’. The main challenge may be about aggregating data within museums rather than the subsequent calculations themselves. MGS blog
AIM has published two new guides for museum Trustees. The first is ‘Keeping up to Date – reviewing your organisation’s governing document and legal form’. The second is ‘Doing a governance audit.’ These are a brief 6 to 8 pages long, with checklists, pros and cons to help with easy decision making. AIM is also offering its members free workshops in financial strategy and governance for trustees. These run from September in locations from London to Lancashire. AIM, AIM (workshops)
Donald Trump’s invitation to the Museum of London – and other cultural reactions to his visit
Donald Trump’s visit to the UK during July resulted in unprecedented public protest against the presence of a foreign leader. Therefore, Museum of London Director Sharon Ament was swimming against the tide when she extended an invitation to visit to the US President. Writing in City AM, she explains that Trump frequently paints a grim picture of the capital as a ‘warzone’ where the hospitals can’t cope with the violence. She argues that a visit to the Museum of London would reveal the real story of the city: “he will see how the Blitz brought us together in the face of the most terrifying adversity. He will see a city that has survived great plagues, great fires, and great fatbergs – and come out the other side diverse, tolerant, and accepting.” Although Trump didn’t take up the invitation, museums have been keen to process reactions his visit. The British Museum is currently seeking to borrow the 6m high ‘Trump Baby’ blimp that floated above London during the protests for its forthcoming exhibition ‘I object: Ian Hislop’s Search for Dissent’, which seeks to uncover ‘what the other people had to say – the downtrodden, the forgotten, the protestors’. Although there has been speculation about other museums wishing to permanently acquire the blimp, its owners say its immediate future is ‘some sort of international tour’ of the many groups and institutions that have asked to host it. Meanwhile, Battersea Arts Centre, marked the President’s visit with banners swathing the front of the building, stating the institution’s values, including ‘Difference is Beautiful’, ‘Build Bridges Not Walls’, ‘More Art Now’ and its motto ‘Not for Me. Not For You. But For Us.’ City AM, Museums Journal, Arts Industry, ALVA, British Museum (Hislop exhibition)
Artists withdraw support from Design Museum exhibition following arms firm private hire
Around a third of artists have withdrawn work from the Design Museum exhibition ‘Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18’ after discovering that it had hosted a private event for the Italian arms firm Leonardo. An open letter to the museum said “it is deeply hypocritical for the museum to display and celebrate the work of radical anti-corporate artists and activists, while quietly supporting and profiting from one of the most destructive and deadly industries in the world.” The artists said that they will not work with the museum again until it develops a ‘publicly available ethical funding policy’ excluding arms, tobacco and fossil fuel companies. In a response published online, Design Museum Directors Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black said that the exhibition “presents a range of views, from across the political spectrum. Our objective was never to side with any party or world view, but to show how different sides have expressed their beliefs, through design”….Professional activists whose work didn’t feature in the exhibition took the view that the museum had acted wrongfully and were quick to exploit the situation…We do not want our programmes to be co-opted by the agenda of others and we stand by our curatorial independence.” They added that Design Museum policies are in line with all other major institutions and that 98% of its funding is obtained commercially, including through private hires. The exhibition, minus a proportion of the works, will now be free to visitors until its planned closing date on August 12th. M + H, Museums Journal, Artnet (full text of letter), The Art Newspaper, Guardian, M + H, Design Museum
Also: Eight members of the Sackler family, including UK arts philanthropist Theresa Sackler are being sued by the state of Massachusetts along with their company, Purdue Pharma, because of the contribution of OxyContin to the opioid addiction crisis in the US. 11,000 people are estimated to have died from opioid addiction in Massachusetts in the last decade. A spokesperson for Purdue Pharma said ‘we vigorously deny allegations’. The case is likely to last for some time, with an initial trial date set for March 2019. The Art Newspaper, Guardian, Non Profit Quarterly
Environmentalists oppose Science Museum oil sponsorship
Meanwhile fifty scientists and environmentalists have signed a letter organised by the group Culture Unstained opposing oil industry sponsorship of Science Museum exhibitions. Signatories include the wildlife presenter Chris Packham and Forum for the Future Director Jonathon Porritt. The letter writers claimed that sponsorship allowed the industry to evade responsibility for ‘environmental and social damage’. Science Museum Group Director Ian Blatchford told Museums Journal that sponsorship is “a positive aspect of the way we work”, adding “I strongly believe we are making the right decisions to secure the long-term future of the museum for the public good, a stance agreed by the board of trustees. Any partner that wishes to work with us has to accept that editorial control sits firmly with the museum." Museums Journal
Tate invites public to comment on panel texts to make displays more inclusive
Tate has launched an initiative ‘Talking About Our Collection’, and is asking the public to tell text[email protected] if they “spot a text at Tate which you believe overlooks or misrepresents an important perspective, or uses language which you suggest we should improve or change”. Tate’s guides programme co-ordinator Hassan Vawda says the approach was developed after the BAME staff network raised the issue, and that it would help feedback ‘travel faster and carry more weight with decision-makers’. Museums Journal, Tate
Medals and paintings acquired for the nation through Acceptance in Lieu
Two collections have been acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. One includes works by JWM Turner and John Cozens which will be accessioned by the Whitworth, and a drawing by Augustus Pugin which goes to Christ Church, Oxford. Meanwhile work by Geoffrey Clarke including 250 prints and 60 cast metal medals which go to the British Museum and sculptures which have been allocated to Leeds Art Gallery. ACE, ACE (Clarke)
Export bar for table which belonged to Charles Dickens
Arts Minister Michael Ellis has placed an export bar on a William IV study table which belonged to Charles Dickens. The asking price is £67.6k, and the bar lasts to 26th October, with a possible extension to January 2019. Gov.uk
HLF has given major funding to two north Wales independent museums to redevelop their offer. Llandudno Museum receives £862k to create a new temporary exhibition gallery, dementia-friendly signage and activities, a family friendly space and a shop which will sell locally sourced products. Penmaenmawr Museum, which has recently relocated to an old Post Office in the centre of the town receives £248k to refit galleries and create a Post Office themed tea room. HLF, Wales 247
Initial plans floated to turn Reading Gaol into a museum
Reading Gaol, where Oscar Wilde was famously incarcerated in 1895, has been closed since 2013. Now there are plans to regenerate the site with a cultural hub including a museum celebrating Wilde, two theatres, archaeological displays and a contemporary art gallery. Theatre Arts Reading is currently carrying out a feasibility study, funded by ACE, to see if the idea can be progressed. Museums Journal