Tax evasion, 11th century style: huge post-Conquest coin hoard is discovered
The British Museum has announced the discovery of an exceptional hoard of coins, dated from immediately before and after the Norman Conquest. The 2,528 coins showing Harold II and William the Conqueror were found in a Somerset field in January by two metal detectorists, and handed in to the Treasure Scheme administered by the British Museum, which has also cleaned and catalogued the coins. The find is so rare that it doubles the number of known coins from Harold’s reign and increases early William I mintings by fivefold. Three coins are ‘mules’, which have imprints of two different kinds of coin on the head and tail. These were produced as a way of dodging the tax due on the more recent coin designs. The coin hoard, likely to have been hidden by a wealthy landowner in turbulent times, would have bought 500 sheep in 1067 – 8, but a modern valuation has not yet been fixed. A Coroner will now determine whether the coins are Treasure under the Treasure Act. If confirmed, Roman Baths & Pump Room has expressed an interest in acquiring the hoard. Guardian, Telegraph, inews, Arts Industry
Bronze age finds from 'boggy field near Dawlish' saved for RAMM's collections
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter has successfully fundraised the £12k needed to buy, conserve and display the Dawlish Hoard, a 3,000 year old group of bracelets, ingots and weapon fragments buried in the Bronze Age. The final £300 was appropriately donated by local jeweller and lifelong RAMM visitor Erin Cox. The hoard is now being conserved and will go on display at the museum as soon as possible. RAMM, Devon Live
NHM to work more closely with the Brazilian Museu Nacional as it recovers from fire
A year ago, the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was destroyed by fire and has since struggled to raise significant funds towards the recovery process. However, after several months of contact, the Natural History Museum has signed a five year MoU with Museu Nacional to work more closely together, and senior NHM staff have travelled to Brazil to deliver workshops on digitisation and collections management. Additionally, the British Council has provided £35k towards digitising surviving collections and for academics from both countries to collaborate, and a further £20k to support the MoU. NHM Director Sir Michael Dixon said “we are making this declaration of support to one of our international counterparts, because we understand the global necessity of these collections to further advance our scientific knowledge of the planet we live on and to help humanity make better decisions now and for the future.” M+H, NHM
Regional museums from Orkney to Swansea co-curate touring exhibition with BM
For the first time, four regional museums have co-curated a touring exhibition with the British Museum. ‘Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now’ is drawn from the BM’s collections and includes work by Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor as well as emerging figures Rachel Duckhouse and Adel Daoud. The participating museums are the Oriental Museum in Durham, the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, and the Cooper Gallery, Barnsley. Isabel Seligman, a curator of prints and drawings at the BMs said ‘it has been a rewarding, amazing experience and has given us new perspectives on the collection.’ Arts Industry, Guardian, British Museum
V&A opens itself to BBC filming for ‘Secrets of the Museum’
The V&A will star in a documentary on its inner workings, to be shown in six parts on BBC Two next year. The programmes will follow V&A specialist teams, reveal ‘tricks of the trade’ and feature some of the museum’s collections. V&A Director Tristram Hunt said "we hope this series will inspire a new generation of designers and makers, museum-goers and day-trippers to fall in love with the V&A and its remarkable collection."Evening Standard
Government announces above-inflation settlements in 2019 Spending Round
Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced a growth in spending of 4.1% above inflation across departments in the 2019 Spending Round. This will cover the period 2020 – 21, with longer term settlements to be announced next year. Aspects relevant to the cultural sector include:
DCMS receives £1.6bn, or a 4.1% increase in real terms. However, this follows several years of a static settlement, which represented declines in real terms.
This includes funding to museums and galleries and to Arts Council England and Sport England. However, no detailed allocation has yet been published.
There will be more money for education including £700m for special educational needs and £400m to skill up 16 – 19 year olds.
Overall, there will be a £13.8bn increase in spend on public services. This includes £490m increase in spend on transport including £200m on bus services.
Commenting on the budget, the Scottish Government’s Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said that the Spending Review did not offer a sufficient guarantee against a No Deal Brexit and asked that all EU funding should be ‘replaced in full by the UK Government’. NMDC commented that 'the inflationary increase for culture is a positive sign that Government understands the risk that further decreases in funding would have on the sector.' ACE is yet to comment on the settlement, but in the run up to the Spending Review published articles highlighting the importance of community cohesion through culture. Gov.uk (whole text), Gov.uk (key announcements), The Art Newspaper, Scottish Government (no deal funding), Arts Professional, NMDC, ACE (annual report), The Stage
Also: ACE’s Creative People and Places scheme, which promotes arts in under-served areas, has added 13 more places to its scheme including collectives from Middlesborough, Basildon and Great Yarmouth. It plans to invest £17.5m in these over the next four years. ACE (list of projects), ACE (blog) Arts Professional
ACE describes principles underlying its new ten-year strategy
As ACE’s consultation on its forthcoming ten-year strategy nears its end, Deputy Chief Executive Simon Mellor has written about the three principles that will underlie its future funding decisions. These are:
Ambition and excellence. ACE does not believe that ‘certain types or scales of artistic activity are inherently of higher quality or value than others’ and says that excellence can equally be found in a village hall as a city centre concert hall.
Inclusivity and relevance. ACE will not ask organisations to justify the ‘relevance’ of individual works of art, but the way organisations work – including their public programmes – should be valued by communities and stakeholders.
Dynamism and environmental sustainability. ACE is expecting many existing issues to intensify over the next decade – from digital transformation to pressure on funding, and accelerating impacts of climate change and resource distress. It will seek to fund organisations that are both more entrepreneurial and taking steps to reduce carbon footprint.
ACE is currently creating a framework to show existing NPOs how they are performing against these benchmarks. In the meantime, the ACE consultation remains open until 23rd September. Arts Professional
The Government has issued guidance and a simple questionnaire for individuals and businesses to establish what actions they need to take ahead of Brexit, including EORI trading numbers for any business involved in import or export. Cultural and business preparation resources published in the last month include:
Preparing your business or organisation for Brexit: general guidance uk
Immigration arrangements after Brexit – parliamentary statement uk
£9m announced for ports and nearby towns ready for Brexit uk
Overview on the specifics of EORI trading numbers uk
There has also been some commentary on preparations:
The Scottish Government has asked whether the Erasmus+ programme will be available only to England in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Scottish Government
Scottish Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop has also invited the UK Government to attend a summit on festival visas Scottish Government
NCVO has called for ‘resilient communities fund’ to support charities which will in turn support communities during Brexit Civil Society
At time of going to press, the date and nature of Brexit remains contested in Parliament, with the Government seeking a General Election ahead of its stated leave date of October 31st.
The Sporting Heritage Summit 2019 draws together an eclectic group of speakers from sports clubs, universities and community groups as well as museums, libraries and archives. Speakers include Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism in the Welsh Government, Richard McBrearty of the Scottish National Football Museum and Louise Bruton of DeMontfort University who discusses the archives of the Ski Club of Great Britain. There will also be a session on NLHF funding. The event takes place at the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket, Cardiff on 23rd and 24th October. Tickets for both days are £105 for non-members, or £60 for a single day. Sporting Heritage
Rural Museums Network seminars offer expertise to non-specialists
The Rural Museums Network is offering seminars across the country aimed at non-specialists working with or looking after rural collections. Ten museums across the country – ranging from the Somerset Rural Life Museum to Beamish, St Fagan’s and the Museum of East Anglian Life – will be offering the free events from October until February 2020. Bursaries of up to £125 are also available to cover travel and related costs for staff from smaller museums. Participants will also be able to take part in a new network for those working with rural collections. Rural Museums Network
Unlocking Culture: an entitlement for children and young people — Engage Conference 2019
Engage, the gallery education charity is holding its 2019 conference on the topic ‘Unlocking Culture: an entitlement for children and young people’. It will examine the benefits and challenges of young people’s access to the arts, exploring case studies, partnerships and policy. The keynote will be from children’s author and Site Gallery Director Sharna Jackson; other speakers include Dhikshana Turakhia Pering, Young People’s Producer for Brent’s 2020 year as London Borough of Culture. The event is aimed at all those working in cultural education, especially the visual arts and heritage. It takes place on 5th – 6th November at Northumbria University. Ticket prices start at £150 for members and £360 for non-members. A number of bursaries are available. Engage
2nd Green Great Britain Week and Carbon Literacy workshops across the North West
The Department for Trade and Industry is holding the second Green Great Britain Week from 4th – 8th November, and is encouraging businesses, community groups, charities, local authorities and universities to take part and list events on the dedicated site. As part of this work, Museums Development North West is running Carbon Literacy Workshops available to every accredited museum in the region, and those seeking accreditation. Events take place at five museums during the week, and more will be organised as necessary. As well as giving a global and national perspective on climate change, the course is highly practical. A previous participant says “Carbon Literacy is about understanding what I actually need to do, where I can get help to do it, actually doing it and seeing that I’ve done it.”Green GB, MDNW
The Heritage Alliance annual Heritage Debate is this year on the topic of ‘Reaching for Net Zero?’and will look at challenges to the sector as countries around the world including the UK commit to moving towards a net zero emissions economy. The event takes place at the Waldorf Hilton, London on 21st October. Tickets are £13 - £32. Heritage Alliance
VisitEngland and Google Digital Garage are offering one day free training to teach businesses how to become’ international ready’. The national programme has been developed as part of the Government’s Discover England fund and is aimed at everyone involved in tourism – from museums to accommodation providers. The course will cover issues from obstacles to market to defining an offer, pricing, content creation and the characteristics of inbound tourism. The course is running in cities across England to 31st October. VisitBritain
Arts Marketing Association autumn programme – from podcasting to crisis comms
The AMA has published its broad ranging autumn programme, including online and place-based courses. Topics include diversifying audiences, mentoring training, creating podcasts and livestreaming, crisis communications, agile working, reaching deaf audiences and social media advertising. Costs are typically £55 - £115. AMA
Big Change Series 2019 – 20: discussing big issues in the cultural sector
Over the next year, London cultural education group A New Direction will be hosting three events for London arts, cultural and heritage organisations to come together and discuss the big issues of the sector in a time of ‘rapid and wholesale socio-political change’. The first covers the topic ‘CPD and Digital Skills with Tech Pathways’. It takes place at the Museum of London on 6th November from 3pm. Tickets are free, but booking is essential. A New Direction
Artistic Freedom and the Internet: opportunity or threat?
The internet has given creative people and organisations direct access to a global audience, but also the risks of a previously unseen ‘volume and intensity of censure’. The workshop ‘Artistic Freedom and the Internet: opportunity or threat’ is offered by Index on Censorship and Birmingham arts organisations to explore whether this leads creatives to self-censor. It offers legal as well as practical advice on dealing with online criticism. Cultural stakeholders as well as artists and arts organisations are encouraged to attend. The event takes place at Birmingham Open Media on 17th September. It is free, but limited to 30 places and booking is essential. The Space
Planning to help philanthropy reach smaller organisations as well as ‘super institutions’
Caroline McCormick, Director of Achates Philanthropy argues that philanthropy needs to be rebalanced, so that a wider ecosystem can benefit, beyond larger institutions. She said that currently in the UK only 1% of all philanthropic giving goes to culture and of this 60% goes to the 50 largest organisations – a landscape shaped by often ‘transformational’ gifts by ultra-high net worth donors. She suggests that large organisations should help support a wider fundraising ecosystem, and that smaller institutions should “look at their role and develop a cultural identity, connect with their audiences and invite people in.” Achates Philanthropy has just announced five tailor made philanthropy development seminars for runners up to its annual Achates Philanthropy Prize. The Stage (paywall), Achates Philanthropy Prize, Fundraising.co.uk,
Is Philanthropy out of step with the times? Exploring tax, equality and transparency
The Philanthropy Programme’s third event for 2019 asks difficult questions about the place of philanthropy in a world of growing inequality, where the public attitude to wealth is becoming more hostile. Should we ‘stop talking about philanthropy and start talking about tax’ as historian Ruter Bregman asserted at Davos, in a clip which quickly went viral. Panel members including Natasha Müller, Philanthropist and Impact Investor and Jake Hayman, CEO of Ten Years’ Time. Run by STEP and Philanthropy Impact, which both support giving among the wealthy, the event aims to ‘understand the challenges and criticisms that are levelled at the field’. STEP
Also: Sarah Miguel has blogged about what the People’s History Museum learned about door retention during its ‘Join the Radicals’ giving campaign. Meanwhile, Michelle Wright, CEO of Cause4 has written about the process of establishing an ethical policy. Arts Fundraising, MuseumNext
Derby Museums among those sharing £7.1m from ACE for Leadership development
Derby Museums is among 18 projects sharing £7.1m in the first round of ACE’s Leadership Development Fund. It will receive £468k for its UK Creative Community Fellows programme, which will help develop a cross-sectoral group of arts leaders, working in the intersect between arts, culture and community development. It draws on approaches developed in the US and has two US-based partners: University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy and National Arts Strategies, as well as support from the UK branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Other grant recipients include Coventry City Culture Trust, which will develop new leaders as a part of Coventry’s year as City of Culture; the Jerwood Transforming Leadership Programme, aimed at developing leaders who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds; a ‘New Horizons’ Clore Leadership programme open to sole traders, entrepreneurs and early career practitioners among others; plus three projects to promote leadership among deaf, disabled and learning disabled people. Hannah Fox of Derby Museums said "we're delighted to be partnering to develop a diverse, skilled and well-connected cohort of arts and culture leaders, highlighting and supporting the work of individuals who may not be in formal positions of authority to shift the status quo in their communities. Fellows will learn connect across sectors, deepen connections with their communities and more effectively design, implement and evaluate their transformative projects."ACE (press release), Derby Museums
Decision Science project harnesses a deeper look at psychology to improve fundraising
Eleven cultural groups including York Museums Trust are taking part in a new experimental fundraising programme, which draws on the findings of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology to improve results. The programme, which is supported by ACE and the National Arts Fundraising School, will run until March next year, when there will be a seminar and publication on the findings. In the meantime, a dedicated website and newsletter will give updates on this approach. A spokesperson for YMT said “we’re incredibly excited to be part of this ground-breaking project- looking at ways to involve our members and visitors across our three different sites.The idea of applying techniques based in the latest science is one that we’re all looking forward to”. Decision Science, Decision Science (newsletter signup)
Also: Global figures from Paypal show that although individual charitable gifts through its site are declining in value, many more people are giving. In 2018, 55 million people gave $9.6bn through the site to 665,000 non-profits, up by $1.2bn from the previous year. Data suggests that those in the lowest income brackets tend to give a higher proportion of their net income. Fast Company
Visit Britain statistics show 6% rise in English museum visits during 2018
New statistics from VisitBritain show that visits to museums in England grew by 6% in 2018, reversing three years of declining numbers. The figures are based on data from 444 museums and galleries, plus hundreds of other attractions from places of worship to farms, heritage sites and zoos. They show that:
Overall, there were 4% more overseas visitors across all types of attractions. Those most likely to receive increases in overseas tourists were places of worship (9%), historic properties (8%) and museums and galleries (6%).
Local and day trip visitors were up by 3% for museums and galleries.
Family groups formed 29% of all visits to museums and galleries, and this group increased visits by 16% in 2018.
184 museums and galleries in the survey charge admission, averaging £6.43 (up 4%). The average across all charging attractions was £8.82.
Use of digital communications across attractions has levelled off, with large majorities (89%) having some sort of digital presence. 84% of museums are now on Facebook and 63% on twitter – however only 44% use e-newsletters, compared to 64% of historic houses.
The North West region performed particularly strongly, growing visitors by 8% in the last year, driven by programming by national museums, including World Museum Liverpool’s Terracotta Warriors and IWM North’s WW1 centenary commemorations.
VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe pointed to museums and galleries as the top driver of international visitors. She said “it’s not surprising to see our museums and galleries returning to the top spot, confirming England’s position as a cultural hub.”Arts Professional, Visit Britain (full report)
Diverse Millennial and Gen Z audiences far more likely to attend visual arts shows
New research from the Audience Agency shows that under 35s are significantly more likely to visit visual art shows – particularly ‘Generation Z’ – those born from the late 1990s onwards. The group better reflects the ethnic makeup of the population than many other cultural audiences, but remains more concentrated among the relatively affluent. The research is drawn from more than 100 visual arts organisations, including larger institutions such as Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, The Baltic and Hepworth Wakefield. Figures show that:
41% of visual arts audiences are aged 16 – 24, compared to an average of 13% for other artforms. By contrast, 41% of museum goers are over 65.
BAME attendees form 20% of the total for applied arts and 16% for fine arts, though only form 8% of craft audiences.
Half of all visual arts audiences are from the most highly culturally engaged groups, who are also more likely to be relatively affluent city dwellers.
They visit frequently, often alone or in adult groups, contrasting with museums which are more likely to attract family audiences.
Younger visitors are more local, with a third of under 35s visiting a gallery less than 15 minutes away, while older audiences travel further.
Cathedrals see 70 - 100% increase in visitor numbers, following the lead of museums
With innovations including light shows, giant planet installations, a vintage helter skelter and crazy golf, cathedrals have significantly increased visitor figures this summer, some by 70 – 100%. Although the media reported at least a handful of objections to the Norwich Cathedral helter skelter, visitors stretched through the cathedral’s doors and into the street. M + H suggests that these are signs of a new era, not a ‘hiccup in the status quo’, and lists 20 cathedrals taking a novel approach to attracting visitors in 2019. This may open the door to more potential museum partnerships, like the tour of Dippy to Norwich planned for 2020. The Cathedral’s Reverend Canon Andy Bryant said “it’s very much like the change in museums…People used to think museums were all about being quiet, with everything kept behind a glass case. Museums are increasingly doing more to interest and engage visitors; that’s what’s made museums and galleries come alive. We’re part of that movement.”M+H
Also: TIME magazine has published its list of 100 of the best places to visit, stay and eat and drink for 2019. V&A Dundee is among those listed, alongside an Icelandic geothermal bath, the Newseum – a museum of news in Washington DC, and Helsinki Central Library Oodi, which offers a futuristic mix of robot librarians, recording studios and an ‘immersive 3D chamber’ as well as a room with a view to read in. TIME (whole list), TIME (Helsinki library), Evening Telegraph, WTop (Newseum)
DCMS publishes international trade and tourism figures for 2017
DCMS has published Economic Estimates for trade across the its sectors for 2017. The report shows that:
DCMS sectors exported £54bn of services and imported £30.4bn, the majority of which came from the digital and cultural industries sectors. Culture accounted for 3.2% of all UK service exports across all sectors.
DCMS sectors exported £28.1bn in goods in 2017, up 3.6%. This represents 8.2% of all UK exports.
Figures for both import and export of both goods and services (excluding tourism and civil society) show that over 40% of trade is with the EU, in both directions.
The report also calculated tourism spend in terms of import and export. Although spend by overseas tourists coming to the UK was down by 6% in 2018, the figure, £22.9bn, was still the second highest since 2010. Tourists from USA, Gulf States, Germany, France and Spain spent the most, with EU nations accounting for 43.3%.
Conversely, UK citizens spent the most in Spain, USA, France, Italy and Greece, and 60.5% of their world spend in the EU.
National Maritime Museum Cornwall reaches two million visitors
In late August the National Maritime Museum Cornwall welcomed its two millionth visitor since its opening in 2003. It averages 125,000 visitors each year, making it the most visited attraction in Cornwall and bringing millions into the local economy. Gurmit, Mansik and Narinder Gill from Nottingham, who were jointly deemed to be the symbolic two millionth visitor, received a free lunch, entry and boat ride from the museum. NMMC
V&A’s ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ which closed on 1st September following an extended seven month run, was the most visited temporary exhibition in the museum’s history. 594,994 visited in total, surpassing the 493,043 who visited ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’, although the latter exhibition ran for four months with a higher daily footfall. The Art Newspaper’s review said “overall the show leaves you with a warm, dream-like glow. And a desperate need to go buy something extravagant.”V&A
All hype and Instagram? Telegraph critiques museum shows and museum goers
New Telegraph art critic Alastair Sooke has criticised national museums for their choice of topics for blockbuster exhibitions. Acknowledging ‘we are spoiled with first rate exhibitions’ and that box office is crucial to museums at a time of declining funding and contested philanthropy, he argues that “risk-taking is in abeyance. Courage is in short supply… Ours is an age of 'woke' virtue-signalling for virtue-signalling’s sake.” He also argues that ‘pressure to be accessible’ may lead to exhibition going becoming a ‘lifestyle choice’ and a natural follow-up to a morning of noshing 'avocado toast'. He adds that the tendency for exhibitions to be captured on Instagram 'is part of a wider, more worrying shift: the destructive digitisation of art…' Claiming to have nothing against avocados, Instagram or accessibility, the millenial-trope-heavy article nevertheless sounds pretty unhappy about most modern museum developments. Underlying this though, is a call for greater range: “to paraphrase Michael Gove, we live in an era that no longer values expertise. There are lots of obvious things that museum directors should do: liberate unseen works from storage, and tour them around the country; shine light on permanent collections, which, too often, we take for granted; resist the undying orthodoxy of the white-cube display.” ACE Chair Nicholas Serota is quoted in the article as being more concerned about diversity than the issues raised by Sooke, adding “I don’t believe there was a golden age when scholarship ruled, and now it’s all very scholarship-lite,”. Telegraph
ACE interviews people and businesses for new report on place-shaping and culture
ACE has produced a new report ‘The Value of Arts and Culture in Place Shaping’, exploring the effectiveness of culture in attracting people to an area, compared against other ‘draw’ factors like salary levels and schools. It is based on data from the Ipsos Mori Active Lives survey taken in 2017 – 18 as well as focus groups with residents and interviews with business leaders and local councils in six towns and cities: Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Redruth, Southampton, Hastings and Halifax. The report found that:
Arts and culture were cited as an equal consideration with schools in people’s decision to move to, or remain in an area, both at around 43%. However, the most important drivers to remain in an area are amenities (such as healthcare and shops) at 73%, outdoor activities (62%) and a good job (55%).
There is an equal interest in culture from respondents in highly skilled or low skilled employment, suggesting that culture is an advantage for all kinds of employer.
However, business decisions are more likely to be influenced by infrastructure considerations such as transport, a skilled workforce and the proximity of higher education. Businesses in the retail sector were more likely to appreciate the use of arts and culture, which have also been connected to the regeneration of High Streets. The report cites some areas where Chambers of Commerce are talking to arts groups about partnership and sponsorship, and suggests this should happen more widely.
Across those surveyed, 65% agreed that ‘arts and culture are good for my wellbeing’, 55% wanted to see more in their area and 49% said going to arts events made them feel part of the community. Just over a third say that ‘arts and culture are essential to my life’. However, awareness of the cultural offer seemed concentrated among those already taking part.
City of London and Fabians launch new research into culture in communities
The Fabian Society is launching new research to understand the impact of cultural spending in local communities across the country, and to discover how every level of government can make best use of cultural funding. The work will be in partnership with the City of London Corporation, and focus on areas:
Economic growth, particularly how large scale events such as cities of culture can deliver long-term improvement.
Creating culture-led regeneration without that displacing poorer communities through gentrification.
Developing quality of life for locals as well as experiences for tourists.
Offering accessible arts that reach everybody, not just the most privileged.
It will also include in-depth studies of Hull’s 2017 City of Culture and Waltham Forest’s 2019 year as London Borough of Culture. The project will seek views from councillors, arts organisations and academics and particularly new voices offering a grassroots perspective. Contact [email protected] to express an interest in taking part. Fabian Society
Sadiq Khan supports Fabian Society call for a London slavery museum
A report by the Fabian Society ‘Capital Gains’ has called for the creation of a museum in Londo on the history of slavery. This has met with support from a number of leading cultural figures. London Mayor Sadiq Khan supported the idea on twitter, writing “learning more about the uncomfortable nature of our city and our nation’s role in the transatlantic slave trade can serve to deepen our understanding of the past and strengthen our commitment to fight racism and hatred in all its forms.” Meanwhile Laura Pye, Director of National Museums Liverpool which includes the International Slavery Museum, says she is in touch with the Mayor’s office to seek to work in collaboration. She said “the power of museums working together is immense. Together, we can do more, in areas that really matter during this critical time in our history, when many are deeply –and rightly – worried about the future of human rights.” Toyin Agbetu from the African rights organisation The Ligali told the BBC that he is in favour of a museum but ‘opposed to the idea of reducing the entirety of African history to a story of victimhood’. He points to repeated rebellions, resistance and the sugar boycotts as an essential part of teaching the subject. Arts Industry, The Art Newspaper, BBC, National Museums Liverpool, Fabian Society (buy whole report, not downloadable)
Paisley Museum’s £42m upgrade designed to make it a ‘leading European destination’
Architect AL_A has published first images of its planned £42m upgrade of Paisley Museum, designed to quadruple visitor figures and make it a leading destination. The brief was described by AL_A’s Principal Amanda Levete as ‘one of the most radical’ she had encountered. The new look includes a red glazed entrance hall, accessible new wing, outdoor garden and interactive weaving studio. It is planned to open in 2022. M+H, Renfrewshire Leisure, The Scotsman, ALVA
ICOM members decide to postpone vote on its new definition of a museum
Members of the International Council of Museums have voted by a 70% majority to delay the vote on its new definition of a museum after strong disagreement about the contents. A draft definition which was published last month, met with strong reactions – with one drafting committee member, François Mairesse, having already resigned in July saying that the definition was not ‘simple and precise’ adding ‘this is not a definition but a statement of fashionable values’. Meanwhile head of Icom Germany, Klaus Staubermann said that the absence of the words ‘education’ and ‘institution’ might not be compatible with German legislation. After the delay was agreed, ICOM President Suay Aksoy said “This has been one of the most democratic processes in the history of ICOM. The discussion continues, and MDPP will continue its work… This is not the end, this is just another beginning in this process of redefinition.”Museums Journal, NMDC (last month’s article), ICOM, The Art Newspaper, Arts Industry
Primary school links poor vocabulary with ‘poverty of experience’ – and increases museum visits
There is a difference in literacy and numeracy levels between children raised in poverty and their peers, which by age five is calculated at around 13 months in terms of vocabulary. Gordon Mcintyre, Headmaster at Clermiston Primary School in Edinburgh was struck by research showing that this gap is partly to do with experiences - for example, it's harder to describe a barbeque if you have never been to one. The school has used the Pupil Equity Premium, which gives extra support to children in poverty, to provide a number of experiences, including visiting National Museum Scotland, spotting Edinburgh landmarks and going to a beach. As well as learning at attractions and heritage sites themselves, pupils also pick up life skills such as navigating public transport and orienting themselves over a wider swathe of their city. This is the first year of the project and effects on literacy will be tracked over time.
Meanwhile, disagreement has broken out in education circles about whether Ofsted’s plan to inspect ‘cultural capital’ in schools for the first time further disenfranchises disadvantaged children, with some claiming the plans are ‘elitist’ and others that they are so far too vaguely expressed to be analysed. My School is at the Museum, Guardian (cultural capital debate)
Art Fund supports university students to form RAMM’s first youth panel
The Art Fund recently announced a new scheme to offer paid work experience in the art world. Now it is supporting the Royal Albert Memorial Museum to employ 12 university students, each for one day every month, to form the museum’s first youth panel. The group, aged 18 – 25 will assist in tasks such as exhibition planning, youth-focused events and a museum trail as well as receiving training. Each will receive £7.70 an hour for their time. Students are encouraged to apply before 7th October. The Art Fund (includes application form), RAMM
Also: Ofqual statistics show that although in 2019, entries to Arts & Design subjects have increased by 2.2% since 2014, all other creative subjects are down, representing a decline of 27% overall. In an open letter to Gavin Williamson MP, the Creative Industries Federation said that while other UK countries support creative subjects, they have been sidelined in England by the EBacc. However, parents would prefer their children to study core subjects CIF (letter to Gavin Williamson, CIF (arts GCSE statistics), The Stage
Bristol Museum places shrouds over endangered wildlife in ‘Extinction Voices’ intervention
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery has partially concealed 32 animals in its natural history displays with black shrouds, to indicate those facing extinction or already extinct. Natural sciences curator Rhian Rownson said that idea for the ‘Extinction Voices’ intervention came from “read[ing] the shocking IPBES report stating one million species are at risk of extinction because of humans. Thirty-two animals in our World Wildlife Gallery are threatened with high to extreme risk of extinction. What could we do to convey this in a powerful, quick and meaningful way?” The reinterpretation also tracks the stories of some of the exhibits in new ways, including a tiger in the collection which was one of 39 shot by George V’s party in Nepal over ten days in 1911 and received gratefully by the museum at the time. Today, only 4,000 tigers remain, compared to 100,000 a century ago. Rownson adds “acknowledging the past is vital to understanding what is happening today.” Other shrouded specimens include kakapo, aye aye, okapi and pangolin as well as already-extinct species like its thylacine. Bristol Post, Guardian, Bristol Museum, BBC Radio Bristol (short film)
Climate in brief: shrinking fauna and turning ‘emergency’ into practice
160 councils across the UK have declared climate emergency, but what does this mean in practice? The Design Museum is holding an event bringing together place shapers, politicians and environmentalists to discuss what is being trialled now and what should happen next across local authority services. Design Museum
National Museums Liverpool becomes the latest to declare climate emergency and will be embedding actions in its plans within the next 12 months. Director Laura Pye said that climate change is the biggest risk to Liverpool’s century-old museums over the coming 100 years NML, Twitter
Scientist Rebecca Wilson has blogged about how her team used butterfly specimens from NHM to track whether the size of fauna is likely to shrink with climate change. She predicts that a mix of mass photography of collections and machine learning will make future research much faster, accurate and based on larger data sets. Ecology and Evolution blog, Digitising the NHM
Towner Art Gallery invites Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to curate new exhibition
The Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas has been invited by the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne to curate a new exhibition from its collection, with a ‘free rein’ to reflect her interests ranging from environmentalism to landscape and a love of Sussex. She has so far chosen works from Eric Ravilious and Tizrah Garwood as well as work by Victor Pasmore which shows how the landscape has changed over the last century. The Art Newspaper
Culture Minister Rebecca Pow has placed an export bar on John Everett Millais’ early Pre-Raphaelite work ‘Ferdinand lured by Ariel’. Reviewing Committee member Peter Barber described it as “a novel interpretation of an episode from Shakespeare, it is set in a minutely observed English garden in the summer. The more one looks, the more one sees.” The asking price is £9.5m and the export bar runs to 15th November, with a possible extension to 15th May 2020. Claude Monet’s 1908 Venetian painting ‘Le Palais Ducal’ has also received an export bar. It is valued at more than £28m, but offers from public bodies at less than the recommended price may also be considered. The bar runs to 8th November, with a possible extension to 8th May 2020. Gov.uk (Millais), Gov.uk (Monet)
IWM receives £105k to create a digital legacy for the FWW centenary projects
DCMS has awarded IWM £105k to create a digital portal into all the projects and commissions created for the centenary of the First World War. A report on the 14-18 NOW strand comments that the period “is now the most digitally documented… in history, thanks not least to the vast amount of material on community projects’ websites, but it is not clear that this material will be discoverable or usable by anyone in five, let alone 50 or 100, years’ time”. The report also recommended that accessible digital preservation should be built into future major projects. Museums Journal
In brief: encouraging Open Data in the cultural sector
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has joined more than 100 other organisations in publishing its data on the platform 360Giving GrantNav for anyone to analyse. The first tranche of data covers £2.2bn in grants given from 2013 – 2019. M+H
The British Library is hosting its ‘Open and Engaged’ event for a second year, exploring how cultural heritage and higher education bodies can work together towards an open access culture. The event takes place on 22nd October and is free. British Library
The Museums Computer Group annual conference will also focus on issues of Open Access this year, and has now published its full programme. It includes two talks on opening up information at the National Gallery, plus a look at new approaches from the National Archives, National Library of Wales and Rijksmuseum. The keynote speaker will be Loic Tallon, former Chief Digital Officer at The Met. MCG, MCG (keynote)
By contrast, two writers celebrate the right to be forgotten. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger argues for the positive side of some information becoming forgotten and lost as websites go offline, saying that this may help people and even organisations to move on. In The New Yorker Nausicaa Renner argues that narratives on social media accentuate the positive and so give an inaccurate view of the past. JSTOR Daily, The New Yorker
Podcasts are proliferating in sectors from politics to tech and museums, with an engaged younger audience, but the form has lacked ‘discoverability’. Now Google has decided to change its search results so that individual podcast episodes can be found, and drive traffic towards podcasts with relatively niche topics. This is likely to be good news for museums seeking to develop a podcast audience. The Verge
Also: Hannah Hethmon is offering a half day workshop on museum podcasting. The event takes place on 24th October in Amsterdam as a prequel to the MuseumNext conference. Tickets are €130 + tax. MuseumNext
Indistinguishable digital? computer voices take a step closer to sounding like people
Companies producing audiobooks are creating more lifelike voices for stories which are actually being read by a computer. Online examples created to mimic Donald Trump and Barack Obama by the company Lyrebird are still distinguishable from real speech, but have a far more natural tone. This may have applications across immersive experiences, and could be used to give a voice to historical figures. BBC, Lyrebird
First, capture your dinosaur: four days of 3D scanning at NHM
National Geographic has described in depth how the Natural History Museum has 3D scanned its 130 million year old Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis skeleton, which was first discovered in the cliffs of the Isle of Wight in 1914. As a holotype, scientists are keen to study it, which is not possible while it is on display. The scanning, which took place over four days and two nights, allows teams globally to explore topics such as comparative anatomy. National Geographic
Also: From November, the National Gallery will be offering an immersive presentation, which looks into the layers of the painting ‘The Virgin on the Rocks’ which was altered for around 20 years at the turn of the 16th century. Director of Collections, Caroline Campbell says ‘much of our research takes place in closed studios, laboratories and libraries’ and that this project will make discoveries visible to the public. The Art Newspaper