Yorkshire Sculpture International aims to make the north a major destination for sculpture
Yorkshire Sculpture International is a new initiative to make the county a major European destination for sculpture, rivalling events such as Sculpture Projects Münster. The first season runs to 29th September, and includes four partners: Leeds Art Gallery, the Henry Moore Institute, Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Highlights include ‘three of four’ by Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen, an aluminium frame filling the central court of Leeds Art Gallery ‘effectively creating a contemporary room within a historic room’ and ‘Kimsooja: To Breath’ which transforms a historic chapel at YSP with a light installation. Sarah Brown, Principal Keeper of Leeds Art Gallery said “through the strong partnership of four world-class organisations, the Yorkshire Sculpture International festival demonstrates the force of this region in social, cultural and economic growth by being both locally relevant and internationally ambitious.”The Art Newspaper, Yorkshire Sculpture, Museums Journal
24 hour museum people: Museum of London reveals its West Smithfield plans
The Museum of London has revealed detailed plans for its new £332m site at West Smithfield. The new museum will preserve many of the existing market buildings, with the complex offering more space for permanent collections and blockbuster exhibitions. There are also proposals for a sunken garden and a well reaching down to the River Fleet. Director Sharon Ament said ‘we will be inhabiting what I believe is one of the most 24 hour parts of London’ and expressed enthusiasm for regular late night openings of at least parts of the site, including a revived 19th century tea room called the Cocoa House. There will now be a public consultation on the plans, with a view to gaining planning permission later this year and an opening in 2024. Twitter (new site mock ups), Museum of London (consultation site), Evening Standard
Museums at the seashore: historic boats and a rediscovered plane
For the first time, National Maritime Museum Cornwall is offering its visitors the chance to take a spin in one of its historic boats, Jonik, a 24ft motor launch built in 1934. Boat collection manager Andy Wyke said “each season we moor a selection of our boats on to our pontoons for visitors to see but this is the first time we’ll be inviting visitors on board for a trip.” The tour will take in some of Falmouth’s major landmarks.
Meanwhile, the National Museum of the Royal Navy has been involved in a project to retrieve a 1943 Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber from the Solent. The plane was found by National Grid engineers last summer during a seabed survey and has been excavated by Wessex Archaeology. The find will help a longstanding project at NMRN’s Fleet Air Arm Museum which is attempting to reconstruct a Barracuda, as very few blueprints of the design still exist.
Also: Stromness Museum, Orkney will be offering snorkel safaris as part of the Orkney International Science Festival in September, supported by the MGS Festival Fund. Guided snorkelling groups will explore underwater wildlife around the piers in the morning and in the afternoon a diver will bring sea urchins and other sea fauna for people to view on the beach, before safely returning creatures to the sea. MGS, Orkney International Science Festival
Further images this month come from the opening of IWM's Culture Under Attack season, which consists of three free exhibitions, live music, performance and talks. These look back through a century at the attempted erasure of culture - from the 1940s Baedeker raids to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas. It also celebrates the protectors of built heritage and musical culture - from the German swing kids who opposed Nazi ideology to the modern Songhoy Blues, who explore the lost music of Northern Mali, despite being currently exiled with their music forbidden under Sharia Law. IWM (Rebel Sounds), IWM (What Remains), IWM (Art in Exile), Guardian, Evening Standard
ACE publishes draft strategy for a final consultation
ACE has published its draft strategy covering the decade to 2030 for a final three-month consultation before it is finalised in the autumn. The strategy seeks to address both abiding issues, such as diversity, representation and geographical spread of cultural activity, and the likelihood of rapid societal change ‘economically, technologically, socially and environmentally’. Simon Mellor, Deputy CE for Arts & Culture said “in future we will place as much emphasis on our advocacy and development responsibilities as our role as a funding agency.”
ACE says that three issues will shape what it chooses to fund: ambition and quality; inclusivity and relevance; dynamism and environmental sustainability. Shifts in emphasis for funded museums and for ACE itself will include:
Encouraging more use of collections, knowledge, skills and resources on activities which allow people to develop their creative potential.
A collaborative approach between cultural organisations to reach as wide an audience as possible. Local libraries, museums, arts organisations and music education hubs may work more closely, especially in reaching young people.
Helping a wider group of cultural organisations to work internationally, and being encouraged to bring international work to the UK.
ACE will also place greater emphasis on facilitating the sector to partner with higher education and technology firms, and offer help to develop a ‘richer data culture’.
ACE will aim to support greater innovation and ‘explicitly demonstrate our appetite for risk and tolerance for failure’.
Application processes will become simpler.
As well as continuing to offer grants, ACE will develop loans and stakes as alternative ways to support culture.
Making the most of your museums: a handbook for councillors
Arts Council England and the Local Government Association have collaborated on a new handbook for councillors to guide them in shaping plans for local authority run museums. It includes case studies highlighting operating models, partnership working and the value of museums towards broader social ends. These include:
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council which is responsible for five sites attracting 1.2m visitors each year. It recently increased funding to the museums service by £100k while also reducing the barriers to sites running more commercial operations. The result has been more income, including £250k generated at Elsecar Heritage Centre.
Manchester Museum's 'A Rubbish Night at the Museum' provided community leadership with an attractive evening event which led residents to consider the complex causes of rubbish in the city. As well as 300 people at the event itself, it gained much wider traction through media coverage.
Bath Museums Partnership, a coalition of 13 museums, has been working since 2015 to produce a more coherent joint offer to the city's visitors. The result has been a 63% increase in the number of attractions visited per tourist.
The Kirkleatham Museum's Forward Plan is a case study of how to make a strategic plan against the backdrop of cuts. The report comments that "there is a strong sense that the museum profile has been raised internally and externally, and that the council now owns the museum in a way which was not recognised before."
In his introduction, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board says that museums can help with a whole range of civic plans, from developing cultural quarters to public health issues such as Alzheimers, or community cohesion, but adds: "if they are to do all this, then we have a responsibility to ensure they are given the political direction they need to prioritise their work; give them the freedom to communicate their offer on websites and social media; and empower them to seek the right training and networks to help them to be more commercial, innovative and creative." LGA
Museum Development Network review – from strategic grants to digital and collections care
The Museum Development Network is UK-wide and represents bodies and individuals that help museums to develop resilience. It aims to champion the unique value of museums and works with them ‘regardless of size or scope’. MDN has produced a report showing the eclecticism of its interests from 2015 – 18, having worked with 1,930 museums in the period. Its achievements include:
Audience development work, including training in 3D printing, VR and live streaming for small museums in London; neurodiversity training in the West Midlands and strategic grants for audience building in the North East.
Work with young people and schools, including young ‘mystery shoppers’ in museums in the North West.
Promoting the benefits of the museum sector to communities, from social media museums marketing for 70 museums in the North East to a course in Yorkshire to teach museums how to frame their work in a wellbeing context.
Collections care, including helping develop expertise in topics from numismatics to human remains and textiles, in regions with a lack of in-house knowledge.
For the next reporting period to 2022, MDN is now working with ACE and The Audience Agency to deliver a national model of audience development support. MDN
National Museum of Brazil Director appeals for letters of support
Alexander Kellner, Director of the National Museum of Brazil, which was destroyed by fire earlier this year, says that he is currently struggling to find funds to preserve items saved from the wreckage, and to pay for basic items such as 'computers, gloves, masks, certain glues'. To date, $265k has been given in donations, $100k of which came after comparisons were made between the Brazilian situation and the flood of donations for the repair of Notre Dame. Kellner says he has yet to receive any high-level contact from the new Brazilian Government, which has now been in power for five months. He has appealed for letters of support from the international community, which he hopes might spur the Government into action. He told the Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi ‘Just a letter. It doesn’t cost much. But it may change a lot.’ M+H
DCMS workforce figures show 12-month decline after several years of growth
DCMS has published its Economic Estimate for Employment during 2018, for all the sectors it oversees. Overall, there were 5.3m jobs in digital, culture, media or sport, accounting for 16% of the workforce. Figures show:
Although there has been strong growth since 2011 of 13.1% against a national average of 10%, in the last year DCMS sectors have shown a shrinkage of 0.1% while wider employment has grown by 0.8%. Nevertheless, the figure for 2018 is still the second highest ever recorded.
Culture makes up 2% of the whole UK economy and has grown by 21% since 2011.
However, all cultural subsectors except the arts shrank between 2017 and 2018. Employment in museums and galleries decreased by 1.5%. There were larger declines in crafts (8%), libraries (13%) and film, TV and music (5.7%).
DCMS also provides links to figures for cultural employment across the EU, for contrast. Culture makes up 3.8% of all EU employment, or 8.7m people. Gov.uk
Survey shows Front of House staff less likely to feel valued
For a second year, FOH Museums has run a survey asking Front of House staff how they feel about their roles. Responses have increased from 190 to 564 this year, with 59% describing themselves as working in a Front of House role. The figures show that FOH staff are more likely to feel undervalued (58%) compared to those in back of house roles (24%). They are less likely to feel motivated to pursue a career in museums (48% vs 76%). Rachel Mackay, now manager at HRP at Kew, who has previously worked in Front of House roles pointed to pay and contracts, and also told Museums Journal “many people work front-of-house as a stepping stone into the museum world. As managers, it’s important to look at ways in which you can support this development – through mentoring, job-shadowing or interview training.” Museums Journal
Ed Vaizey considers cultural credentials of the two candidates for PM
Two articles in The Art Newspaper, including one by former Conservative Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP, discuss the cultural interests of the two candidates for Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Hunt was Culture Secretary from 2010 – 12 and both he and Johnson worked on the Cultural Olympiad which took place alongside the London Olympics. As Mayor of London, Johnson gave his backing to V&A East and a new location for the Museum of London as well as the cancelled Garden Bridge scheme. Neither is likely to be directly involved in the relatively low priority of cultural policy as Prime Minister, but policy decisions on public expenditure and Brexit will be crucial for the sector. Vaizey’s concludes that “while there is not a single candidate who can be enthusiastically described as arts friendly, there are enough links to give one cause for guarded optimism”. The Art Newspaper, The Art Newspaper (Vaizey)
Emerge Festival: new London Lates Festival at museums and cultural sites
Culture24’s Lates festival planned for and with a target audience of 18 – 30 year old Londoners has been announced with the new name of Emerge Festival. With one ticket, audiences will be able to visit events at 50 arts, heritage and museum venues across the city to watch breakthrough acts. The event takes place on 27th – 28th September. 50 venues have already signed up, including NHM, UK Parliament, the Horniman, National Army Museum, Jewish Museum, London Zoo, Rich Mix and Cinema Museum. Emerge (venue map), Emerge (current full list of venues), Emerge (tickets)
ACE is launching its new Digital Cultural Network with a series of two-hour events across the country in early July, including Bristol (5th), Birmingham (9th) and Cambridge (10th). It is a chance to meet local Tech Champions, who will be embedded at each regional ACE office, providing practical resources and support. Due to pressure of numbers, ACE asks for not more than one person to attend per organisation. ACE
The annual Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities Conference is covering the topic of ‘Navigating the Digital Shift’. Run by National Archives, Jisc and Research Libraries UK it will bring together speakers from across museums, libraries, archives and universities. Topics include developing digital platforms, digital inclusion, skills shifts in the workforce, changing ideas of cultural value, immersive experiences and whether digital can be used to address the sustainability of archives. The event takes place at Birmingham Conference Centre on 12th – 14th November. Ticket prices range from £74 for a single day to £228 for the whole conference. Some bursaries are available, funded by National Archives. DCDC
At its third ‘messing about in museums’ event, Happy Museum will be exploring the intersection between play and protest, playfulness for adults and a child’s right to play. The morning will be devoted to short talks, including Leeds City Museum on its Family Friendly Award, the People’s History Museum on play and activism, Coventry Transport Museum on offering staff play training, plus insights from the Welsh Play Sufficiency Legislation, first introduced six years ago. The afternoon will be a chance to network and develop ideas. The event takes place at Leeds City Museum on 17th July. Tickets are £38. Happy Museum
The Museum Ethnographers Group is holding an event to consider restitution issues as they relate to ‘world cultures’ collections held by regional museums. The event will be co-chaired by Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums and Helen Mears, Keeper of World Art at Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. There will then be a tour of the new World Gallery at Derby Museum & Art Gallery. The event takes place on 18th July – contact [email protected] to book a place. Museum Ethnographers Group
Also: V&A Director Tristram Hunt has written an essay for The Observer, considering the state of the restitution debate. The V&A has had recent ‘productive’ discussions with the Ethiopian ambassador about loans of the Maqdala treasures to Addis Ababa. These are the subject of a restitution claim by the Ethiopian Government. Guardian, Guardian
Nick Ralls has been appointed to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, having previously been general manager of Severn Valley Railway. Museums Journal, Shropshire Live
Melanie Keen will become Director of the Wellcome Collection this autumn. She is currently Director and Chief Curator of the Institute of International Visual Arts. Museums Journal, Wellcome Collection
‘Culture Is Digital’ progress includes National Gallery Innovation Lab considering robotics and neurobiology
DCMS has published a progress report on the 2018 Culture is Digital commitments, which planned how to develop the sector’s knowledge and competence in using new digital innovations. Work now underway includes:
ACE’s £1.1m Digital Culture Network has launched, aiming to increase digital skills and capacity over the next two years. Introductory workshops are available through to 10th July ACE
A Digital Culture Code of practice and Digital Maturity Index are being commissioned by ACE and NLHF. These will help organisations benchmark their digital development and help them decide where to use resources. Audience Agency
NLHF is also making £1m available to build digital capacity in the heritage sector, including for organisations with zero digital skills and offering support for one-to-one skilling up for individual staff members. NLHF
The Intellectual Property Office has reached over 100 cultural organisations with free training in IP.
National Archives has launched its online collections taskforce. Working across the sector, it is publishing resources outlining what organisations should consider before undertaking a digital project. It has already published resources in partnership with Culture24. Digital Pathways
The National Gallery is launching a new Innovation Lab, Gallery X this summer with King’s College London as its R&D partner. This will allow access to technologies developed in King’s Labs from robotics to informatics to neurobiology. The project will consider what these will mean for culture a decade from now. As well as creating new experiences for gallery audiences, NG will share its findings widely across the sector. In parallel, the Royal Opera House is opening an Audiences Lab to consider immersive digital ways of reaching audiences. Gov.uk, NLHF
One by One: further research into improving digital literacy in museums
The One by One project, which seeks to build digital literacy in museums of all sizes, has published its second report. This phase aims to help museum people to better articulate their digital needs, and shape the resources One by One will create for the sector. The findings are based on workshops, desk research, surveys and social media conversation. The report concludes that resources must be person-centred and shaped to a museums context - many existing digital toolkits are not a good fit for the sector. There also needs to be a better framework for museums – including a shared set of terms. Responses from museums themselves highlighted the difficulties for smaller operations, which don’t have much capacity for experiment. Definitions of digital skills remain extremely broad – from using email and Google to coding and analysing data. One by One is therefore considering how to develop materials relevant to all these eventualities. One by One
AI ‘unsupervised learning’ puts paintings in date order and tracks centuries-old co-working
An article in Nature describes how AI is being harnessed to bring new insights to old paintings. By allowing AI to undertake ‘unsupervised deep learning’ on Renaissance paintings, it could track where the same image turned up over multiple paintings and showed how artists collaborated in shared workshops. Meanwhile, a team at Rutgers University was surprised to find that when ‘unsupervised’ AI was fed 77,000 paintings spanning five centuries, it put the works into chronological order. Nature
Village museum with 75,000 visitors since 1968 livestreams to 0.5m in China
Ruddington Village Museum focuses on retail in the late Victorian and Edwardian period and had received a total of 75,000 visitors in the last fifty years. Then Feixue Huangdu, a Nottingham Trent museums and heritage MA student visited to hold a webcast to an audience in China. 434,000 Chinese people joined the virtual tour, which was led by four local guides who then answered questions translated by Feixue. She said “when I realised the size of the audience figures, I felt very excited and took it as proof that what I am doing is valuable. It also showed the great charm of British heritage to Chinese audiences. For Chinese viewers, most of them will never have the chance travel to UK in their lives, let alone visit these museums, but they are really interested in learning about British culture and heritage.” She plans to continue with further webcasts in the future. BBC, Ruddington Village Museum
Following BM-trained Iraqi archaeologists as they repair damaged heritage
Over two hour-long programmes, the BBC World Service has been following the journey of eight female Iraqi archaeologists undertaking training to save the treasures of Iraq at the British Museum. Most were at the beginning of their careers when so-called ISIS struck, and were prevented from working by the regime. Now, armed with new training drawing from the BM’s collections, its expertise, and the case study of London’s recovery from the Blitz, they have returned to make decisions about what to restore, or not restore, from heritage casualties including Nimrud and sites within Mosul. Often the heritage and personal narratives intertwine: one participant describes her joy at discovering her sister’s survival in Mosul, followed by realising that the city’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri had been destroyed by retreating fighters on the same day. BBC World Service
Journey into No Man’s Land – tracing lost wars and modern geopolitics through 3D films
In collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, researchers from Durham and Royal Holloway Universities have produced a number of 3D films showing the sites of former war zones and other forbidden areas. ‘Portraits of No Man’s Lane’ includes 360degree films of Nicosia Airport, Cyprus, destroyed FWW villages in France and stories of climate emergency from the Amazon. Project co-lead Alasdair Pinkerton said that although no man’s lands have existed for a millennium, “the forces shaping our lives are accelerating their appearance around the world and amplifying the geopolitical challenges they pose.” Google Arts & Culture, Daily Mail
Anything but Silent: British Library launches new podcast
The British Library has launched a new podcast, ‘Anything but Silent’, which takes a look globally at ‘people making amazing things happen in libraries’. The first episode explores liberty: ranging from Magna Carta to a library in Nepal which is helping in the fight against human trafficking and how the library at HMP Nottingham is helping prisoners to stay in touch with their children. British Library
Art Fund launches new £250k round of its Weston Loan Programme
The Art Fund has announced a third round of the Weston Loan Programme, supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation. This offers support for regional museums and galleries to receive loans from national collections. £250k is available in total for this round, which is expected to fund around 50 museums. The grants are generally between £5k - £25k and cover up to 100% of the costs of the loan, including expenses such as transport, security reviews, invigilation and conservation. Museums involved in the first two rounds have seen a significant rise in footfall through participation, such as the Manor House Museum in Kettering where visitors increased by 100% with its exhibition of British Museum treasures. The Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG) is offering its Preparing to Borrow workshop across the country through to July, and museums are encouraged to attend one of these before submitting an application. The deadline for Weston Loan applications is 10th September. Art Fund, TEG (workshop dates)
…and new funding for conservation and small projects
The Art Fund is also launching a new conservation fund, offering support for newly acquired works and those being taken out of store to go on display. Applications to the fund will open on 28th July. There will additionally be a Small Projects Fund, offering up to £10k for a very wide range of smaller plans. Previous recipients have included the Iniva conference, which considered barriers to collecting works by BAME artists and FACT’s curator in residence programme, which invited curators from under-represented backgrounds to contribute to its work in 2019. Art Fund
Updated guidance on protecting cultural objects on loan from abroad
DCMS has updated its guidance to UK museums on how to protect objects on loan from abroad from court-ordered seizure. Contested objects can be protected in law from seizure while on display, provided the museum has undertaken an application process. Gov.uk
Chippendale tables and looking glasses acquired under the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme
Two tables with looking glasses created by Thomas Chippendale for Harewood House, West Yorkshire, have been accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and will enter the collections of the V&A. However, following conservation, the objects will remain on loan to Harewood House, in the room for which they were designed. V&A Director Tristram Hunt said “it is exceptionally rare to find Thomas Chippendale furniture as well documented as that at Harewood House – the most lavish commission Chippendale ever received.”ACE, Yorkshire Post (image)
Export bars for an evocative watercolour and a gothic crab
An export bar has been placed on the 1780s watercolour ‘The Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo’ by John Robert Cozens. RCEWA member Aidan Weston-Lewis said “it is justifiably heralded as one of the supreme achievements of 18th-century British watercolour painting”. The asking price is £2.9m and the export bar runs to 20th September with a possible extension to 20th January. An anthropomorphic stoneware crab, one of the first examples sculptural art pottery, has also received an export bar. Created by the Martin Brothers in the 1880s, its grotesque features are typical of the potters’ taste for fusing the gothic with the natural world. The asking price is £217k + VAT and the export bar runs to 16th September with a possible three-month extension. Gov.uk (crab), Gov.uk (Cozens)
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has launched a new Heritage Horizons Fund for projects over £5m. There will be £100m available over the next three years. All kinds of heritage projects will be considered, but there will be a particular focus on NLHF’s strategic priorities: landscape and nature, and heritage at risk. 10 – 12 projects will be shortlisted before a final selection. The last awards of this size were made in May 2017; previous major recipients have ranged from national museums to outdoor spaces like the Great Fen and historic city sites like Piece Hall in Halifax. NLHF’s CEO Ros Kerslake said that they had thought ‘long and hard’ before deciding to continue investment in large scale projects, but said “when we consulted it was clear to us that if we stopped, it is unlikely that anyone else would be able to step in, and major, transformative heritage projects simply would not happen." NLHF, Museums Journal, ALVA
£3k grants for collaborative, digital and creative school projects exploring the Age of Revolution
The Age of Revolution project draws parallels between the period 1775 – 1848 and modern technical revolution. It is offering an opportunity for creative organisations and schools to work together on digital collaborations, responding broadly to the theme. There is up to £3k available for each project, which should use basic digital kit such as Raspberry Pi, 3D printing or iPads, alongside museum objects or resources as inspiration. Funding will cover materials, workshop facilitation and transport costs for museum visits. The deadline for applications is 12th July. Age of Revolution
The Heritage Alliance has produced a four-page manifesto of its ‘fiscal and funding priorities’ for 2019. These include requests to reduce some forms of tax, including moving towards 0% VAT on the repair and maintenance of heritage buildings after Brexit. It argues for continued participation in European schemes such as Horizon 2020 and avoiding imposing tariffs on restoration materials. Heritage Alliance
MGS removes match funding requirement for Small Project grants
Museums Galleries Scotland has removed the requirement for 25% match funding to receive grants from its Small Project Fund. It hopes this will expand the number of museums that feel able to apply for grants up to £5k. The change applies for the new round, which runs to 26th September. MGS
St Fagans becomes the first Welsh winner of Museum of the Year
St Fagans National Museum of History has won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year Award for 2019. The museum, which is home to original and recreated buildings from across Welsh history, from Iron Age roundhouses to a prefab bungalow becomes the first Welsh winner of the £100k prize. It recently completed a major £30m six-year development which included the creation of a medieval Prince’s court and a learning centre. Art Fund Director Stephen Deuchar said that the museum is “a monument to modern museum democracy, it has been transformed through a major development project involving the direct participation of hundreds of thousands of visitors and volunteers, putting the arts of making and building into fresh contexts.” Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life, who was among the judges said “everyone I met and saw at St Fagans was in constant, lively conversation about their shared history, culture and lived experiences. This is their place – and it is strongly felt on every visit. It is heartening that the museum’s major supporter, the devolved Welsh government, has put culture at its core for the wide benefits of everyone in the country.” The Art Newspaper, Guardian, Twitter (St Fagans short film), Art Fund
Horniman Museum wins Horticulture Week Custodian award
The Horniman Museum’s Grasslands Garden has won ‘Best Planting Design’ in the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards. It is among 15 winners, which also include heritage sites, municipal gardens and the innovative London Borough of Croydon Natural Capital Account. Horniman’s Grasslands Garden features naturalistic planting, biodiversity to attract pollinators and planting in deep gravel so the garden almost never needs watering. There is also museum-style interpretation and a sound post. Custodian Awards, Horniman Museum
Also: Horniman has run a month-long display in its aquarium to highlight plastic pollution in the ocean. Six of its tanks have plastic underwater and others incorporated in dry areas. The jellyfish have been removed from their tank and replaced by plastic bags for a month, which bear a ghostly resemblance to the marine life they have displaced. The display continues to July 6th. Twitter (plastic in the jellyfish tank)
The MA’s annual Museums Change Lives Awards, which celebrate the social impact of museums, have opened for entries. The four categories are: radical changemaker, environment and sustainability, best small museum project and best project. The deadline for entries is 9th August. Museums Journal
Collections Trust Awards for ‘use-led’ museum projects
The Collections Trust is seeking examples of ‘use led’ collections projects for its annual awards, drawing inspiration from the recent MA ‘Empowering Collections’ report. There will be a £1k prize for the winning museum to spend on an agreed collections project. The deadline for entries is ‘close of play’ on 31st July. Collections Trust, Museums Journal (Empowering Collections report)
Kids in Museums has announced the shortlist for its annual Family Friendly Awards. For the first time the entries have been divided into small, medium and large categories, with 15 shortlisted in all. Museum of Liverpool, World Museum Liverpool and Riverside Museum Glasgow make up the large category, while the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs and Erewash Museum in Derbyshire are among the smallest. Two Cambridge museums: The Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences and University Museum of Zoology are in the middle category. Undercover family judges will visit over the summer and winners will be announced in October. Museums Journal, Kids in Museums, Devil’s Porridge Museum, Erewash Museum
ACE report shows private investment in culture has grown by 8% over three years
The Private Investment Culture Survey, recently published by ACE, reveals that donations by trust, foundations, businesses and individuals has grown by 8% over three years. Figures show:
91% of arts and cultural organisations received some form of private investment in 2017 – 18.
Private investment grew from £505m in 2015 – 16 to £545m in 2017 – 18.
In 2017 – 18 individual giving was the largest proportion at 43%, funds from trusts and foundations are at 38% and businesses 18%. All three strands grew from 4 – 11% over three years.
Museums received 23% of all giving, with just over half of that coming from individuals, and a third from trusts and foundations. At 27%, only visual arts received a greater slice of all giving than museums, with dance and literature receiving the least at 3% and 2% respectively.
Private investment remains unevenly spread: 66% goes to London organisations, where it comprises 54% of total income. Regionally, private investment is 8 – 17% of total income.
However, the South West has grown its private investment by 31%, significantly over the 8% growth average.
50 larger organisations received 60% of all giving, and are the most likely to receive major individual giving. Small organisations are more likely to look to small local businesses.
In his introduction ACE Chair Sir Nicholas Serota said that ACE is conscious of “how size and geographical location continue to influence the success of fundraising efforts. We will maintain our support and resources to help organisations everywhere become more resilient, with strategic investment in fundraising skills and effectiveness.”ACE (full report), Philanthropy Impact
Oxford University receives £150m donation to explore humanities and AI
US billionaire philanthropist Stephen Schwarzman has given the University of Oxford £150m, described as the largest donation to the institution ‘since the Renaissance’. It will be used to create the Schwarzman Centre for Humanities, covering History, English, Philosophy and Music, alongside an Institute of Ethics in AI, to address the social effects of the emerging technology. Schwarzman said “AI is an explosive force that is going to change the world we live in in the next 10 to 15 years in a very profound way, some for good and some not so good… so there was a real need to control the introduction of those technologies to the benefit of society, and what I realised is that Oxford had certain unique characteristics through its work on the humanities and philosophy that would complement what the ‘hard’ scientists were doing around the world.” The project, which will include an exhibition space, and a place for ‘experiment and experiential learning’ has been described by Oxford author Philip Pullman as ‘one of the most exciting ideas for a long time’. Guardian, Schwarzman Centre, Telegraph
Reaching a wider, more diverse pool of cultural donors
Fundraising plans in the cultural sector tend to be aimed at largely ‘white, British and upper middle class’ people, according to Michelle Wright of Cause4. She argues that just as institutions seek to diversify workforce, boards and visitors, they must look to fundraise from the UK’s BAME population, which forms 19.5% of the whole. She adds “as the current political climate shows, it is more and more difficult to find a middle ground between populism and the perceived elitism of the arts sector…. We urgently need to raise awareness of the full breadth and diversity of the arts and culture sector – and our work with donors needs to drive this thinking too.” To achieve this, fundraising plans need to be tailored to specific communities: for example, Na’eem Raza offered expert advice on fundraising from the Muslim community at the recent Northern Lights Philanthropy Conference. Arts Professional,
First Centre for Cultural Value to open in Leeds, offering courses and collaboration for the sector
Leeds University has won the bid to host the new Centre for Cultural Value, aimed to make academic research more accessible, bridging the gap between theory and practice in cultural work. It is backed by £2m in funding over the next five years from AHRC, ACE and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Its programme of work will seek to heavily involve people from across the cultural sector and will include:
Simplifying and summarising work from the Audience Agency, Arts Marketing Association and other data providers, and making reports searchable by theme.
Creating a ‘network of networks’ to signpost researchers and Government towards useful information.
Launching a free massive open online course (MOOC) on evaluation, with the aim of encouraging a more rigorous approach not just aimed at advocacy.
There will be £200k available in grants from £5k - £15k to encourage organisations to work with academics and explore new methods of measuring cultural value.
It will also prioritise ‘timely’ topics, including conflict resolution, the repercussions of Brexit, wellbeing and cultural regeneration.
King’s College launches arts, health and wellbeing hub
King’s College London has consolidated its longstanding work on the intersect between health and the arts by formally launching an Arts, Health and Wellbeing Hub. This will bring together academics, students, healthcare and cultural professionals with an interest in arts in health. It will continue programmes exploring arts in the training of medical students or for managing health conditions. There is a newsletter offering updates on its work. King’s College, King’s College(newsletter signup)
Decade of data suggests museum visitors are less likely to develop dementia
Research by University College London suggests that museum visitors are less likely to develop dementia, even after controlling for factors such as education and wealth. The analysis was based on a decade of data on 4,000 people aged over 52. In each year, up to 10 per 1000 developed dementia in the non-museum-going group compared to up to 3 per 1000 among museum visitors. Dr Daisy Fancourt said that this is in line with previous research suggesting that attending plays and concerts has a similar effect. She said ‘the more people engaged the stronger the association was’. It’s likely that a complex of effects is in play, from cognitive and emotional stimulation, to the potential for social engagement and physical exercise. Arts Professional, British Journal of Psychiatry (full paper)
Ten stories against loneliness: re-creating human connections in cafés, museums and football grounds
Nesta and the Cares Family have published a new report ‘Finding connection in a disconnected age’ which tells the story of ten projects which cut across social divides and prevent isolation – ranging from ‘Chatty cafés’ where people are encouraged to talk to strangers, to an intergenerational befriending project, football schemes or The Roots Programme which offers ‘cultural exchanges between people with radically different life experiences’. Civic spaces often form the vital backdrop: Hackney Museum hosts ‘Xenia’ a place for women from many backgrounds to learn or teach English in an informal setting. Here, objects from the museum are used to shape conversations and navigate complex themes. Across all projects, founders emphasise the need for spaces offering a chance for genuine conversation. Roots Programme founder Ruth Ibegbuna says “we are a society built on superficiality and instant reactions, but most people are desperate to be seen truly. This doesn’t just affect us as individuals, but also deepens those divisions which have led to toxic conversations about class, Brexit, north and south, immigration and countless other topics. It’s easy to feel bleak about this…Nonetheless, there is optimism to be found in bars, museums and offices around the country. When you look someone in the eye and speak openly about your experiences – and listen to the experiences of others – you can see that genuine connection is still there to be forged.”Nesta
Better planning in an age of overtourism: from the Netherlands to Peru
In early May the Netherlands Tourist Board decided that it will no longer promote the country as a tourist destination, but instead seek to redistribute tourists to a wider range of areas. This follows years of pressure, particularly in Amsterdam, which received 17 million visitors in 2018, despite being a city of only 830,000. The city’s previous responses to overtourism have included reducing the number of Airbnb rental nights and removing a landmark ‘I Am Amsterdam’ sign outside Rijksmuseum because of the gridlock created by people attempting to take selfies. Even so, CityLab argues that its cultural policy has not been consistent, with a hotel and airport boom in Amsterdam inevitably bound to draw more tourists. Similar situations are being debated across the planet: with sites attracting huge crowds ranging from Machu Picchu, to the top of Mount Everest and Taj Mahal as well as some world museums. Bruges in Belgium has also reduced tourism ads and restricted cruise ship numbers. The Washington Post notes that the global pressure is driven by a tourist traffic of 1.4bn arrivals each year, including millions with identical bucket lists. It suggests that solutions are likely to come from a combination of policy – with governments capping crowds and steering them to a wider range of attractions - and greater awareness from travellers themselves. For example, the Avoid Crowds website suggests times when major European cities are likely to be busiest, promoting pre-booked and early morning tours. Dezeen, Washington Post, Guardian, City Lab, Avoid Crowds
New Tourism Sector Deal aims to for growth outside London and ‘most accessible tourism in Europe’
The UK attracted 38 million visitors in 2018 and it is expected that this figure will grow by a further 23% by 2025. Domestic tourism is also expected to grow by 3% each year in the same period. In the light of this, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the first Tourism Sector Deal, aimed at helping this expansion and making sure it has adequate infrastructure. Plans include:
130,000 hotel rooms built in the next five years, 75% of which will be outside London.
There will be 30,000 apprenticeship starts each year in the tourism industry, and a new mentoring scheme to reach 10,000 people to further develop their careers.
The Government will create five Tourism Zones for areas wishing to develop their offer, particularly outside the traditional high season of July – September. These might include developing conference facilities for businesses as well as encouraging tourists.
There will be a new Tourism Data Hub to help the industry better understand its potential market.
The UK will aim to become the most accessible tourist destination in Europe by 2025 – increasing the number of visitors with disabilities by 33%.
The Guardian reports on the big picture of the world’s 1.4bn annual tourist arrivals. It shows that world tourism has more than tripled since 1990, although four fifths of travellers are within their own region. France is the most visited country in the world, with 87m visits and the Chinese contribute the most global visitors, now at 143m. Tourism makes 2.5% of the UK’s GDP though VisitBritain is optimistic this could rise to as much as 10%. Claudio Milano from Ostelea School of Tourism told The Guardian that tourist visits would not be directly affected by Brexit, but that “tourism is a sector which is based on migrant workers, so Brexit will have more of an impact on tourism’s workforce than on the attractiveness of the UK.”Guardian
Paris plans for greener heritage sites and ‘islands of freshness’ to cool the city
Paris has announced an ambitious new plan to have 50% of the city covered by planted areas by 2030: this may include everything from parks to green roofs. Many of the city’s heritage sites will be reframed as a result. For example, the opera house will be surrounded by a cherry orchard, which will in turn displace parking space, encouraging the use of public transport. The idea is to create ‘islands of freshness’ to offset the heat island effect of the city. In the shorter term, France has been dealing with its record heatwave by offering civic spaces, including museums with air conditioning, as places to cool down. CityLab
Blackpool Museum receives £4m as part of support for attractions across the North
NLHF has awarded £4m towards longstanding plans to build a museum at Blackpool, offering the ‘final piece in the jigsaw’ for the £12.6m project. It is currently referred to as 'Show Town: The Museum of Fun and Entertainment', but the name has yet to be finalised. It is Blackpool’s first museum and will explore the town’s place in history as the first mass seaside resort. It is due to open in 2021, and hopes to attract 296,000 visitors, create 39FTE jobs and bring £13.6m in regional economic benefit. It is part of a wider regeneration programme driven since 2012 by council leader Simon Blackburn, who discussed class and perceptions of the town with The Guardian. He said “I think there is a very dangerous and class-bound assumption that we are building hotel rooms and cultural attractions for a different kind of person. I’m working class in my bones and I don’t like the idea that it’s only middle class people who want to go to a museum or stay in a nice hotel.” The museum will be free to local residents; Blackburn’s hope is that it will drive civic pride and give a narrative beyond modern poverty and poor health. V&A will be working with the project and will lend objects to appear alongside the town’s existing collections.
Other recipients from this round of NLHF’s fund, which collectively received a further £6m, include £159k towards bringing Dippy on Tour to the North West; £1.7m to double gallery size, celebrate early 60s band culture and create event space at The Whitaker Experience in Rossendale; and £1.8m towards heritage-led regeneration in Stockton Town Centre. NLHF, Guardian, Museums Journal, Buttress (Whitaker project)
Manchester Jewish Museum to gain new 'learning kitchen' in £5m regeneration
Manchester Jewish Museum will shortly close for two years for its first major regeneration in 30 years. Based at a 19th century former synagogue built by cotton traders from Spain and Portugal, in recent years it has become an event space as well as a museum, featuring everything from Bollywood concerts to hip-hop. The regeneration will double museum space, to show more of the 30,000- strong collection, which includes books, photographs, a 1940s kosher ration book and oral histories. A particular feature will be a 'learning kitchen', bringing people together in the new cafe. Chief Executive Max Dunbar said “we have always found that food brings people together, so the learning kitchen will be a community space where we will break bread together, have curry nights and allow people to interact in a way that they wouldn’t normally. This will not just be a space for the Jewish people here, it will be for everyone. We are planning to challenge the perception of what a Jewish museum is.” Over the next two years the museum will live in a pop-up space at Manchester Central Library, engaging with the library's 1.5m visitors ahead of reopening in 2021. Mancunian Matters, Manchester Jewish Museum, Jewish Chronicle
Early plans for a Roman museum in York as part of £150m city centre development
York Archaeological Trust has partnered with developers to propose a new museum of Roman York as part of a £150m development called the Roman Quarter. The museum would be part of a complex alongside housing, retail spaces and a hotel. ALVA
More than ‘Tudors, Tudors, Tudors’ – Commons debates migration in the history curriculum
In a Commons debate on the place of migration in the history curriculum, Helen Hayes, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, argued that the current syllabus is failing to appeal to children of all backgrounds and that “a migration-focused approach to British history both globalises it, placing it within a wider international context, and localises it, opening up previously marginalised and untold stories about specific times and places”. She cites examples from Vikings in Ormskirk to Romans in Bath and the link between Spitalfields and generations of immigrant communities. By contrast, she quoted one young person characterising the curriculum they experienced as ‘the Tudors and the Tudors and the Tudors’. She praised two exam boards which introduced units on migration in 2016, but said that these remain optional with some barriers to take up. Responding for the Government, Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb said that since 2010 DfE has aimed at a ‘knowledge based curriculum’ rather than a narrow range of topics aimed at developing ‘so-called historical skills’. He said that the Government does not intend to change the history curriculum for the life of this Parliament, but pointed to areas which already include relevant topics. He also highlighted resources on diversity and teaching history produced by the Runnymede Trust. Hansard, Guardian, Runnymede Trust
What really works for natural history galleries? National Museum Wales reviews the evidence
Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales has been carrying out research on displaying natural history collections, drawing together ‘grey literature’ – findings that have not been widely published – alongside its own experiments in collaborative working with its own audiences. Discoveries include:
Interpretation panels are seen as central, but most people don’t read them.
Dioramas create discussion and there are ways of rethinking them for the 21st century – from ‘whole gallery’ dioramas to more abstract backdrops.
Children process galleries differently from adults and are attracted to things that are already familiar. Giving them a camera is a good way to discover what draws their attention.
The museum used 7 – 11 year olds as consultants from 2016 – 18 for its new exhibition ‘Wriggle, the wonderful world of worms’. The children helped to conceptualise the walk-through worm den - the ‘Wriggloo’, and suggested crawl through spaces, and a soundtrack of underground squelches and slurps. The museum intends to continue its participatory work and embed it in all exhibitions. NEMO
RAMM offers work placements for UK’s first T Level students
T Levels are a new, two-year technical qualification aimed at 16 – 19 year olds and equivalent to A Levels or an apprenticeship. They are due to begin nationally in 2020, but Royal Albert Memorial Museum is already acting as a work placement venue for some of the first students. Kyle, who used part of his placement to develop a digital interactive panel for a museum wall said “before I worked at RAMM, I would never have thought of working in the cultural sector. Now I have a much better idea of what I’d like to do in future. Work isn’t half as scary as I thought it was.” Exeter College