All parties have now published their manifestos for the General Election on December 12th. Larger parties have committed to maintaining free entry to national museums and galleries. The Heritage Alliance has published a helpful Venn diagram, showing where policy pledges overlap. Major promises relating to culture are as follows:
The Conservative manifesto points to its recently announced commitment to deliver a £250m cultural capital programme, including funding for libraries and museums.
It will maintain support for creative sector tax relief.
The 2022 Festival of Great Britain will also receive £120m, and will “encourage our leading arts and cultural organisations, universities, research institutes and businesses to come together to inspire the next generation in British innovation and creativity”
There will be a £109m for an ‘arts premium’ for secondary school children to participate in ‘enriching’ activities.
Labour has published a ‘Charter for the Arts’ as part of its manifesto. It promises to:
Invest £1bn in libraries, museums and galleries, pointing to the number of libraries closed since 2010 and adding that ‘cultural institutions outside the capital are being particularly badly neglected’.
‘end cuts to the Arts Council’, create more multi-year funding awards to increase stability, and spend more lottery money on projects in communities where the tickets are purchased.
£160m arts pupil premium for primary schools, with a view to creating a creative talent pipeline for the creative industries. A £1bn investment in youth services will also have creative and cultural elements.
Free full-fibre broadband for all by 2030.
A Town of Culture scheme would seek to bring the benefits of the Capital of Culture model to smaller urban areas.
Create a National Education Service to promote lifelong learning, and broadening the school curriculum to give enough space for ‘modern languages, arts and music, or technical and engineering skills’. It also plans an Emancipation Educational Trust to educate around migration, colonialism and the legacy of slavery.
The Green Party said that it would give an additional £10bn to local councils, to be used in part to support culture and keep museums and libraries ‘open and thriving’. It would also seek to reduce VAT on a number of cultural goods including tickets for museum and gallery exhibitions. The Green Party
Plaid Cymru makes a general pledge to embed ‘art, language and culture’ cross-sectorally from local government to health, and notes its good effect on wellbeing and community cohesion. It comments that ‘creativity, innovation and a sense of place will be critical to the success of any economy in the 21st century’. Plaid Cymru
The SNP says it will continue to support tax incentives for creative industries, and work to increase inclusion and diversity in the sector. It calls for an end to austerity and streamlined visas for international artists if Brexit takes place. SNP
Among the cultural commentators providing a side-by-side comparison of the manifestos The Art Newspaper argues that apart from size of budget (with Labour promising four times more than the Conservatives) promises on culture from the major political parties are very similar. Nesta offers a focus on the amount of investment each party offers for innovation, particularly highlighting the Liberal Democrats. The Heritage Alliance and MA have also compared the cultural content of each offer. Art Newspaper, Heritage Alliance (side by side manifesto comparison by topic), Museums Journal (overview of all manifestos)
Art Fund and MA issue advocacy points ahead of the General Election
Ahead of publication of the party manifestos, the Art Fund and Museums Association have published a concise list of requests for the next Government to better support the museum sector. The Art Fund says it has also been talking to representatives of political parties about these issues. There is a large degree of overlap between the two manifestos, which highlight:
The need for funds for maintenance and repair to museums after a decade of cuts. Art Fund welcomed £125m announced last month for the Cultural Investment Fund but said it would take sustained investment over a longer period. The MA called for increased investment across all four UK nations.
Art Fund also said that museums make a strong contribution to community cohesion and should be able to make bids to the Future High Streets and Stronger Towns funds.
Both call for a simplification of tax reliefs and removal of the sunset clause from the Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief. Art Fund would like to see investment in regional awareness so more museums can grow collections through the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes.
Both call for the continued participation by UK museums in European programmes, including Horizon 2020 and Creative Europe, arguing it would damage museums’ reputations as ‘world-leading institutions’ if they were unable to do so.
Art Fund continued to advocate for the reform of the UK’s Export Licensing System to create a more predictable process for acquiring nationally significant works of art.
From gallstones to MRI scanners: Science Museum opens its new Medicine galleries
The Science Museum has opened ‘Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries’, after a £24m project to display 3,000 medical objects and artworks across five gallery spaces. It explores social responses to medicine – from religious deities to good luck amulets; attempts to better understand the human body through time and star objects in the history of medicine, including Edward Jenner’s lancets, the first stethoscope and an early 2.5 tonne MRI scanner. Immersive digital elements have been added to a Victorian pharmacy and interactive games include one which looks at how to treat a critically ill patient. There are also four specially commissioned artworks and film and audio of those with experience of the UK’s mental health services, as well as individuals affected by how medicine defines ‘normal’. Evening Standard, Science Museum, ALVA, Londonist
BMT signs Armed Forces Covenant to support serving military and reservists
Birmingham Museums Trust has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, which gives a number of pledges in support of serving military and their families. These include supporting reservists who may need leave for training, support for the employment of service spouses and partners, and helping to create opportunities for veterans. It will also offer free admission on Armed Forces Day, plus discounts on this day for BMT membership. BMT has also received a Bronze Award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. Director Dr Ellen McAdam said “as part of our inclusive approach to audiences we will do all that we can to ensure that serving personnel, veterans and their families have every chance to participate in the services we provide. We look forward to working with partners to create new programmes for this special audience and promote our support for them publicly. My father and his two brothers served in the RAMC, RAF and Royal Navy during and after WWII, so this is a cause that is particularly close to my heart.” BMT, M + H, Armed Forces Covenant
Royal Pavilion Gardens to be restored to offer museum programme and horticultural therapy
The Royal Pavilion Gardens adjacent to Brighton Museum has received initial National Lottery support of £214k towards a larger bid to gain £3.4m for a transformation of the space. Designed by architect John Nash in the 1820s to complement the Pavilion and other surrounding buildings, in recent years there have been concerns about overuse and deterioration of its history. It was added to the Historic England At Risk register in October 2017. Plans for the garden include an outdoor learning space, better disabled access, secure boundaries and lighting to prevent anti-social behaviour as well as conservation and restoration for flowerbed, paths and lawns. There will also be apprenticeships based around horticultural therapy and a larger museum programme in the space. Brighton Council will be submitting a full bid for the project in March 2021. Brighton Museums
Images this month come from Glasgow Riverside Museum's new display 'Going Green - the drive for energy efficiency'. 200 years after James Watt's birth, the museum is considering his pioneering legacy in a modern day context, as society seeks to be more climate conscious and energy efficient. The display features a Tesla Model SP85+, believed to be the first Tesla acquired by a public museum in Scotland and a Honda Insight Mk1 from 2000. Other images are from the Museum of London's 'London Calling' display, celebrating the eponymous album by The Clash, described as 'a compelling melting pot of musical styles, driven by a passion for action and a fierce desire for social justice.' Museum of London
Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund to extend its programme with £810k new funding
The Art Fund and Garfield Weston Foundation have announced that they will extend their partnership to support museum loans for another three years, with the Foundation contributing a further £810k to the work. The programme, which first opened in 2017 has already invested £750k in assisting regional and smaller local authority museums to borrow major works of art from national collections. To date, 26 museums and 123 curators have taken part, with footfall on average rising by 40% in response to programmes built around star objects, from the 12th century Becket Casket to works by artists from Laura Knight to Eric Ravilious, Rembrandt and Stubbs. Lynda Powell, Director of Green Howards Museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire said “The Weston Loan with Art Fund has enabled our museum to loan objects from nationals for the first time. Our team has developed new skills in the management of loans and just as importantly new multi-disciplinary collaborative ways of working.” Sophia Weston, a Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation said “when we first set out to create this programme, we had no idea it would be so successful or capture so many people’s imagination. We were determined that it should continue so that many more regional museums and communities across the UK could continue to benefit.” Art Fund, Green Howards Museum, Arts Industry
Paul Hamlyn Foundation ‘Backbone’ fund supports MA with £200k
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is supporting the Museums Association over the next five years with £200k from its invitation-only Backbone Fund. This helps charitable and voluntary organisations to get the breathing space they need to plan strategically. The money will support core posts and activity free from political cycles. MA’s Sharon Heal said “this funding will enable the MA to support transformational work in museums and galleries throughout the UK.”Museums Journal, PHF
DCMS figures on revenue sources for its direct-funded bodies 2018 – 19
DCMS has published 2018 - 19 figures for the mix of revenue streams for all the bodies which it directly funds, including 15 largely national museums and sector bodies including ACE and Historic England. Figures show that:
For every £1 in Grant in Aid given in year, organisations raised 44.6p in fundraising income.
Collectively, these organisations raised £2.2bn through other activities, a decline of 4.6% on the previous year.
At institutional level, this proportion is heavily affected by function: For example, Historic England raises only 0.1% of its income through its own activities; conversely some organisations like the National Gallery have a high ratio of fundraised income (43.3%) if fundraising in year for a specific high value object.
Major foundations sign up to a joint commitment to help transition to a post-carbon society
A number of large cultural funders including the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation have signed up to a Funder Commitment on climate. This includes undertakings to commit resources to tackling the climate emergency, use their investments to transition to a post-carbon society, to educate, decarbonise their own operations and report on progress. Foundations give £4bn each year to UK charitable causes – the signatories say that this work is threatened by the climate, and that it is therefore essential to ‘sharply reduce emissions [and create] new jobs, a cleaner environment and improved wellbeing.’ Funder Commitment
Rethinking how to fund: academia explores ‘randomised’ and ‘egalitarian’ approaches to remove bias
Research suggests that current funding mechanisms for academia and from government bodies can be biased against radical thinking, with the peer review process favouring mainstream ideas. Nesta reports that new approaches to resource allocation may help outlier proposals get a fair hearing. One approach is ‘randomised’ funding where, after a first sift to remove very weak projects, funding is given by lottery. ‘Egalitarian’ funding distributes money evenly in a qualified group, which is cheaper to administer and removes the stress of constant competition. These methods also save time: in 2005 – 6 UK research councils spent a combined 192 years appraising proposals. These new ways of backing innovation acknowledge that current decision making processes may not be as evidence-based as they appear, and that a random element helps evade issues such as tribalism and marking down projects which are remote from a reviewer’s own field. Nesta
Also: The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter has received £94.8k in lottery funding for work to strengthen its fundraising capacity. The 20 month project will include recruitment to two new specialist roles. RAMM
Gus Casely-Hayford has been appointed as Director of V&A East, and will take up the post in Spring 2020. He is currently Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. Art Newspaper, Arts Industry
Professor Christopher Breward has been appointed as Director of National Museums Scotland, succeeding Dr Gordon Rintoul who will step down in March 2020. He is currently Director of Collection and Research at the National Galleries of Scotland and will take up the post in April 2020.
Museums and resilient leadership programme 2020 – 21
The Museums and resilient leadership programme has opened for applications for 2020 – 21. It offers an in-depth consideration of leadership in the cultural, political and commercial spheres. It is aimed, broadly speaking, at mid-career professionals working in museums, galleries and the heritage sector in England. ACE covers £7.5k of costs, with participants contributing £795 + VAT for a year-long programme of eight workshops, two residentials and an overseas study visit. The deadline for applications is 31st January. Museum Resilience
Brent 2020 cultural programme includes ‘Museum of All Brent Life’
In 2020, Brent will be the second London borough to take the ‘Borough of Culture’ designation. It has published the first events in its cultural programme, including the ‘Museum of All Brent Life’ – an artist-led event taking place across 10 libraries, each of which will celebrate famous people and things associated with the area. Brent 2020
Meeting Point: learn more about the programme to bring contemporary artists into historic settings
Meeting Point is an ACE-funded programme which supports contemporary artists to create site-specific work at museums and heritage sites. It is aimed at institutions of any size with little or no previous experience of this sort of commissioning. A new round of the programme is opening soon with applications welcome from Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight. Selected venues will receive £11k for an artist, plus a wider package of support and a marketing budget. There is an event at God’s House Tower, Southampton on 20th January at 12.30pm for those interested in applying to the scheme. Arts & Heritage (event booking), Arts & Heritage (overview)
MA to offer free places on many of its events, and new online courses for members
The MA has announced that it will offer 100 free places at its events over the next year for individual members who face barriers due to ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or socio-economic background. These include ten places at each of its one day conferences. It has also launched a series of free online courses for its members, beginning with ‘Working Ethically’ and ‘Working with Collections’. Museums Journal (free places), Museums Journal (online courses)
Museum of London ‘Digital Futures’ training, from rights management to digital storytelling
The Museum of London has announced the latest dates in its Digital Futures training programme, which offers 12 courses each year until at least 2022 to upskill the sector. Upcoming events include an Introduction to rights management on 14th January, Understanding online audiences on 7th February and Digital storytelling with a collections focus on 14th February. These courses are regionally funded and offered free to museum staff in London. If places remain a fortnight before any course, they are available to all for £50. Museum of London
It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! Creating Immersive Games in Your Museum
The Museum of London is also hosting a study day on how to build and play escape rooms created for a museum setting. The course is led by Sacha Coward who has previously created escape rooms for clients including The National Trust, Cambridge Genome Campus and Bletchley Park. The hands on day will teach how to create ‘fun, frightening, thrilling and meaningful’ experiences in museums of all sizes. The event takes place on 31st March 2020; tickets are £177 including lunch. Museum Id
To mark the opening of the Science Museum’s new Medicine Galleries, it will be holding a two day conference, discussing medical collections, museums of medicine and the topic’s broader history. The keynote will be given by Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture & Society at Wellcome Trust. Discussion will also cover highlighting underrepresented voices, exhibiting unfinished biomedical science, incorporating art and a look behind the scenes of the medicine galleries project. The event takes place on 23 – 24 January in the Smith Centre at the Science Museum; booking is necessary but places are free. Science Museum
Heritage Day, the annual policy event from the Heritage Alliance has been postponed until 26th February 2020, in the light of the General Election. A full programme is to be announced, but the Alliance hopes to include speakers from the new Government. The event takes place at the Tower of London and tickets are £27 – £74. Heritage Day
Save the date: The first Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance conference ‘A Culture of Care’ will take place at Derby Museums on 19th – 20th March 2020. A programme will be published shortly. CHWA
Digital Cultural Network offers filmed case studies, from absolute units to art e-commerce
ACE’s new Digital Cultural Network is producing a series of short films on leveraging digital for culture. Topics so far include social media, livestreaming and ecommerce. The latest film features Art UK and Manchester Art Gallery, and discusses generating online shop revenue through collections. Charles McKenzie, Head of Commercial at Manchester Art Gallery says “people’s motivations to buy online are very different to their motivations to buy in the store. When we have people coming through the gift shop we sell a lot of souvenir products, related to what people have just seen… online, we don’t sell a lot of branded gallery products, but we do sell designwares and homewares…and we sell a lot of catalogues online which are very popular with international buyers.” Digital Culture Network
Also: The Space has published a series of essays ‘My Audience is Global – Digital and the global opportunity for arts organisations’. A recurring theme is how fragmented audiences have become - from boomers to Gen Z, and the importance of selecting platforms for a particular purpose, rather than attempting to spread thinly (and badly) across a whole raft of social and broadcast platforms. The Space (overview), The Space (essays)
From Valentines to spacesuits: how digitised collections can drive donations
A new generation of potential donors and philanthropists are moving online and are increasingly likely to give through crowdfunding or donation buttons. In a report and talk for the Smithsonian, Romilly Beard describes how digitising collections can be a driver for donations, and discusses considerations when deciding what to digitise through a fundraising lens in the UK and US. The report notes that:
In 2018, although 13% of all fundraising was driven by email, overall rates of opens and revenue raising fell. Meanwhile Facebook’s share of online giving continued to grow.
Social media, and peer-to-peer message spreading is seen as a way of building audiences, but is equally an under-explored route to finding and encouraging donors.
Collection images can be a powerful draw in storytelling, with people’s recall of information rising from 10% to 65% after three days if strong visuals are included.
Smithsonian has made various experiments in this area. For Valentine’s Day 2017, web users selected an image from historic Valentine’s cards to send digitally, and gave a donation in return. $6k was raised on the first day, 60% from first time donors. Half of all those giving had never visited the Smithsonian. A 2015 Kickstarter campaign ‘Reboot the Suit: Bring Back Neil Armstrong’s Space Suit’ raised $500k in nine days from 9,000 supporters. They paid not just for the physical conservation of the suit itself, but to create a 3D scan now being used to give global access. Smithsonian Learning Lab (slides and film), Smithsonian Learning Lab (report)
Emotive: digital apps, AR and 3D to create more emotionally resonant storytelling in museums
Emotive is an EU funded partnership bringing together digital agencies and universities across Europe to offer new digital tools, allowing immersive storytelling in museum spaces, harnessing collections and emphasising creating an emotional as well as intellectual understanding. The Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (which reopens in 2021) is an early adopter and has created ‘Ebutius’s Dilemma’ - a story about an Antonine Wall soldier deciding what to save when faced with the imminent destruction of his fort. Visitors use a mobile app in the gallery which mixes storytelling with 3D imagery. As they make choices within the game, they also react to collection items as well-loved possessions in an ancient world life. The technology has also been used in York Minster to bring together small groups of visitors with opposing views in constructive dialogue and at the UNESCO Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük where pairs of people use VR to enact forms of care, from home repair to burial customs. Emotive, Emotive (Ebutius’s Dilemma), University of York
Also: A recent discussion paper from the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre reviews research findings on the use of immersive experiences in museums and at heritage sites. It covers issues including the ethics and authenticity of re-creating past spaces, the potential to create ‘full body experiences’, opportunities for social interaction through new technology and the effects on emotional engagement. Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre
In brief: museums internationally from the Berlin Wall to Venice floods
November marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and The Art Newspaper has published a series of articles on how it shaped art in the city. Now that remains of the wall are far less visible, a virtual reality version has been launched in Berlin. Organisers talk about the importance of informing a new generation through an immersive view of their city from the 60s to 80s, but also about not using its most tragic aspects as entertainment. The Art Newspaper, de
Floods in Venice during November reached the highest point in 50 years, covered 85% of the city and filled many historic buildings. Two died, and although collections were not damaged, many structures will need repair. Guardian, The Art Newspaper
A huge €250m New National Gallery planned for Budapest is at the centre of a dispute: the newly elected centre-left mayor Gergely Karácsony wants to rethink the project because it builds on one of the city’s ‘few and very precious green areas’ – it is in discussion with Orbán’s government, which disputes the anti-environmental impact. The Art Newspaper
England and Wales not to take part in the Pisa creative thinking measure
Last month, the Durham Commission on Education recommended that England should participate in the new PISA creative thinking measure, which will be introduced from 2021. It will sit alongside other PISA measures which use the assessment of 15 year olds to rank education internationally. However, the Department for Education has now announced that England will not take part. Professor Bill Lucas who co-chairs the PISA advisory group for creative thinking said “there is a growing amount of research showing that if you embed creativity rigorously, standards in other subjects also go up. It saddens me to see the emotional-political gut reaction that got us to this temporary ‘we are not going to opt in’ moment.” Wales has also opted out, but there is scope for countries to change their mind and participate ‘well into next year’. TES, NMDC (Durham Commission)
‘Older and wiser?’ King’s College looks at a decade of creativity with older people
There are more than 12 million people of pensionable age in the UK, with the number expected to grow to 16 million by 2041, including over three million over 85. A new report from King’s College London, ‘Older and wiser? Creative Ageing in the UK 2010 – 19’ has reviewed the growing movement to create programmes proactively designed for and with older people. It describes how retired people are both at greater risk of loneliness and disconnection, but also able to rediscover artistic abilities in later life. Age UK research found that creative projects made the highest contribution to quality of life in this group. Work has gathered pace over the last decade and the report highlights several exemplary museum projects, both as standalone programmes and cross-sectoral work. Much of this has been driven by substantial funding from the Baring Foundation, which has also filled a gap by helping create a countrywide strategy. Some highlighted projects include:
Not So Grim Up North – a programme involving TWAM, Manchester Museum, The Whitworth and University College London to explore the effect of museum programming for those living with the effects of stroke, dementia and mental health issues.
The British Museum established the Age Collective in 2012 – 13, which eventually expanded into the Age Friendly Museums Network, now with 500 members.
The City of Manchester has created a strategy for creative ageing in response to disproportionately high levels of pensioner poverty, loneliness, ill health and disability and the second lowest male life expectancy in England. 40 cultural organisations have developed partnerships to ‘rewrite the story of old age’.
Projects have reflected the growing diversity of older people, for example the Malcolm X Elders Forum in Bristol, work by Creative Scotland with LGBT people and a post at Manchester Museum partly focused on developing work with BAME communities. The report also addresses the development of older people as artists, and conversely points to low pay among artists working with older people as one of the limits to developing the field. With £250k from the Baring Foundation, Manchester Museum will be leading a sector support body in creative ageing over the next three years. KCL, Manchester University (Age Friendly Manchester), Arts Health & Wellbeing (Not So Grim Up North report)
Beaker pottery and Bronze Age weapons become part of Scotland’s 50th Nationally Significant Collection
Kilmartin Museum’s Prehistoric Collection has become the 50th Scottish Nationally Significant Collection. It was chosen by the Recognition Scheme run by Museums Galleries Scotland, which highlights remarkable collections beyond Scottish national museums. Many of the objects in Kilmartin’s collections are from Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the glen surrounding the museum and tell a story going back 12,000 years. Dr Katie Stevenson of the Recognition Committee said “the Collection is wide-ranging, and includes very early examples of 4000-year-old decorated Beaker pottery, and a hoard of 3000-year-old Bronze Age metal weapons, which had been ceremonially placed in a bog on the Isle of Coll. Set in the context of its landscape, the Prehistoric Collection at Kilmartin Museum is a remarkable jewel in the crown of Scottish museum collections.” The museum is currently being transformed and will open with a visitor centre and new galleries in 2022. MGS (twitter), MGS (press release), MGS blog (Recognition Scheme explained), Kilmartin Museum, M + H
The Portable Antiquities Scheme has published figures for Treasure finds for 2017, and provisional figures for 2018. It found that:
There were 1,266 finds in 2017 and 1,096 in 2018. In 2017, 82% were objects and 18% coins.
In both years, the highest number of finds was in Norfolk (9.6% and 9.4%), followed by Essex in 2017 (9%) and Lincolnshire in 2018 (8%)
96% of finds were through metal detecting, a hobby which 1.5% of adults in the UK have participated in in the past 12 months. The remainder were archaeological finds or discovered by field or foreshore walking.
In 2017, 399 treasure cases were acquired by museums, with 7% going to Dorset County Museum and 6% to the British Museum.
Metal detectorists facing jail after concealing 9th century hoard
Metal detectorists have been jailed after failing to declare the discovery of a Viking hoard worth around £3m. 31 coins and some jewellery have been recovered after being traced to private collectors by police, but the majority is still missing. The recovered coins give evidence of alliances between the Kings of Wessex and Mercia not previously known to exist. Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum said "these coins enable us to re-interpret our history at a key moment in the creation of England as a single kingdom."BBC
Dulwich Picture Gallery foils attempted theft from Rembrandt exhibition
‘Robust security, the immediate intervention of security staff’ and the ‘swift response of the Metropolitan Police’ prevented the theft of two Rembrandt paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery during their display as part of the ‘Rembrandt’s Light’ exhibition. The attempted theft during the night of 12th November led to the gallery being closed for almost two weeks for investigation. The thief was spotted, but managed to escape: the two paintings targeted for theft were recovered from the grounds and have not been put back on display. BBC, Dulwich Picture Gallery, The Art Newspaper, BBC, Telegraph
Diamond-encrusted objects stolen from museums probably targeted to be recut
The theft of diamond-studded objects from the Green Vaults Museum in Dresden during November bears some similarities to a theft from Welbeck Abbey country house in 2018: in each case the diamonds stolen that can easily be recut to launder for resale, and there is a possibility that the raids are connected. Commenting to Museums Journal ACE’s national security advisor William Brown gave headline advice for museums, including regular checks on security procedures and keeping a close eye on incidents where security alarms go off apparently by accident. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal
Also: In the past few days, thieves have also taken jewellery and medals from Berlin’s Stasi Museum. Director, Jörg Drieselmann said “a break-in is always painful because it disturbs your sense of security, but in terms of the value of the stolen items, you can almost lean back and relax. We are not looking at great treasures here, we are a historical museum and don’t expect break-ins. We are not the Green Vaults.” Guardian
National Gallery opens £2m public appeal to acquire Orazio Gentileschi’s ‘Finding of Moses’
The National Gallery has launched a five week £2m public fundraising campaign to acquire Orazio Gentileschi’s ‘The Finding of Moses’. 90% of the sum needed to buy the £19.5m painting is already in place, with help from the American Friends of the National Gallery which provided £8.5m. The National Gallery previously missed being able to purchase the picture in 1995, but it has been on loan to the gallery since 2002, where it is currently on display. Art Newspaper, National Gallery, M + H
Also: As reported last month, the Wallace Collection has begun to lend works for the first time in its history. Its first loan will be Titian’s ‘Perseus and Andromeda’, which will appear at the National Gallery’s ‘Love, Desire, Death’ exhibition which opens in March. Arts Industry
The Government has placed an export bar on ‘The Temptation of Mary Magdalene’ by Johann Liss (c. 1595-1631). It has been valued at £5.6m, was not known to scholars until 1994 and has never been publicly exhibited in the UK although it has been in the country for 250 years. The bar runs to 24th February 2020, with a possible extension to 24th August. A 17th century £1.2m statue of Apollo by François Girardon in the Baroque style has also received an export bar until 24th February, with a possible extension to 24th June. Gov.uk (Girardon), Gov.uk (Liss)
Liquidators seek buyers for Egyptian statue and other items belonging to Thomas Cook
A 19th dynasty Egyptian statue, glass panels commissioned for the Côte d’Azur Pullman Express and a Louis Vuitton travel trunk are among the items on sale by liquidators of the travel firm Thomas Cook, which went bankrupt in September. Most items have a connection with the firm’s 178 year history; interested parties should contact the liquidators directly. Museums Journal, NMDC (October newsletter article on business archives), Telegraph
Roundhouse publishes a guide to the recruitment of young trustees
The Roundhouse arts venue in Camden has published an ACE-supported guide to recruiting young trustees to the board of creative organisations. It has itself recruited 18 – 25 year olds to its Board since 2005, and says they are invaluable for finding and understanding new cultural movements and for reaching a young audience, as well as helping make the governing body more diverse. Currently this age group makes up 12% of the population, but only 0.5% of all trustees. The guide covers topics including persuading a Board to seek younger members, preparing it for change, recruitment, supporting young trustees and additionally creating youth advisory panels. It argues that appointees do not have to be highly academic or widely experienced but that “the most important thing is having the right temperament and the right level of commitment. Young trustees need to be able to hold their own in a meeting, but not in a bolshie kind of way; they have to be diplomatic too.” Former Roundhouse young trustee Elise Cobain writes “the youth of Britain are shouting loud and clear about what they enjoy and what things inspire them to be creative, develop and produce; it’s just a case of having that platform to be heard on a level playing field by those in positions of power.” Roundhouse
Achates Philanthropy Prize – winners announced for 2019
Winners have been announced for the 2019 Achates Philanthropy Prize, which promotes first time philanthropists. This year the individual winner was Nick Thomlinson for his work with the music charity World Heart Beat including a £37k donation. A partnership award also went to clothing company ASOS and Candoco Dance Company, which together created a two week intensive training programme for disabled and non-disabled dancers. Prize Founder Caroline McCormick said “we saw a 65% increase in nominations this year – covering every art form, organisational scale and geographical region – but most importantly we saw the highest quality of nominations to date.”UK Fundraising, Arts Industry
National Galleries Scotland to end BP sponsorship as debate on corporate giving continues
National Galleries Scotland has announced that it will be hosting the BP Portrait Award for the last time in its current form, because of the continued debate over sponsorship by oil firms. The current show opens on 7th December and runs to 22nd March 2020. In a statement, the gallery said “at the National Galleries of Scotland we recognise that we have a responsibility to do all we can to address the climate emergency. For many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds with that aim. Therefore, after due consideration, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have decided that this will be the last time that the galleries will host this exhibition in its present form.” During October, the Royal Shakespeare Company also withdrew from BP funding, citing pressure from young people threatening to boycott its work as a critical factor in its decision making. By contrast, the manager of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Christine Rew told Museums + Heritage that considerations stack up differently in a city where BP is one of the largest employers. BP gave £1m towards the gallery’s refurbishment ahead of its reopening last month. BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz comments on the tightening cultural sponsorship options in a landscape where “typically, sport takes the lion's share…with arts organisations feeding off any scraps of company cash that might be left over.There is not a history of companies queuing around the block to financially support exhibitions and gallery refurbishments. It is a small pool in which fundraisers have to fish, and it's now in danger of evaporating altogether.” He adds that cultural institutions increasingly have to carry out due diligence which goes beyond the business practices of companies themselves - including social media posts and the values of those who run companies. He points to Turner Contemporary’s withdrawal from Stagecoach funding as one recent upset. Arts Industry, M + H, NGS (Portrait Award statement), Guardian (RSC), Art Newspaper, Guardian, BBC, Times
Geffrye Museum to reopen as ‘Museum of the Home’ and a closer look at contemporary life
The Geffrye Museum in East London will be renamed as the ‘Museum of the Home’ when it reopens in summer 2020 following a £18m redevelopment. Director Sonia Solicari said that as Robert Geffrye, the wealthy merchant who built the almshouses which form the heart of the site, did not found the museum or create its collection, it was easier to change the name to something that makes the museum’s purpose easier to grasp. On reopening, the museum hopes to grow its annual visits from 120,000 to 170,000. Features include new exhibition spaces in the lower ground floors, with 500 more objects on display. There will also be more emphasis on the contemporary home, with an annually refreshed ‘room of now’ created by artists and curators, plus stories capturing issues such as housing insecurity and independent living for disabled people. The museum has also added to its outdoor Gardens through Time, which run from the Tudor to the Edwardian period, with a 21st century green roof arrayed with drought resistant plants. Guardian, Museum of the Home, Museum of the Home (green roof), Museums Journal
Mayflower 400 events include £45m reopening of ‘The Box’ and input from the Wampanoag
Mayflower 400 commemorations begin in 2020, marking the moment in September 1620 when just over 100 emigres sailed from Plymouth for the new world. Events will link Plymouth with the Midlands towns from which many of the emigrants came, and with sites and peoples in the US. As Simon Tait explains for Arts Industry, the commemoration includes input from the Wampanoag Advisory Committee: descendants of the people who first reluctantly helped the Pilgrim Fathers, and then were virtually wiped out by settlers over the next 50 years. The committee comments “exhibits, events and activities produced by the Wampanoag or developed under our guidance will challenge what you may think you know about colonisation in a very authentic, and we hope thought-provoking way. But the biggest takeaway we hope you discover is that we are still here.” The commemoration has also been a driver for upgrades to Plymouth’s cultural infrastructure. These include:
The Box, a £45m reinvention of the city’s culture assets which opens in the spring, housing a museum, contemporary art exhibitions, city archives and a study centre.
A £5m transformation of the Grade II listed Devonport Market Hall into a digital arts centre.
The restoration of The Elizabethan House and a street theatre event, including 30 Wampanoags, 70 Plymothians and Theatre Royal Plymouth.
New report explores difficult histories and positive identities
Drawing on case studies from the UK and wider world, a new report ‘Difficult Histories and Positive Identities’ uses examples from academic studies, museums and education to explore how societies address contested, overlooked and difficult issues which continue to shape contemporary values and national identity. In communicating difficult histories, it points to the risk both that some learners will reject new knowledge that is perceived as a threat, and conversely that those shut out by prevailing national stories will feel cynical. It discusses how curriculums are chosen for the classroom and how ‘challenging’ and ‘comforting’ histories are balanced against each other; and whether narratives that children hear on trips to museums necessarily line up with what they learn in school. It also points to how histories are contested in public: from the #RhodesMustFall campaign to the repeated vandalisation of the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Hyde Park. Colonial histories and commemoration of wars have the capacity to be flashpoints, where symbols used for patriotic or remembrance purposes, may sit uneasily with the questioning approach of education. The report points to varying approaches internationally: from Germany, where the evidence of past wrong is deliberately kept in sight: known as ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung’, or ‘coming to terms/coping with the past’, to Changi Prisoner of War Camp in Singapore, which was demolished in 2004, in part because of a decision to ‘forget’ rather than ‘regret’. The report argues that the UK has softballed some of its difficult history in the past: for example, in commemorating the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807, but concentrating on emancipation as a positive national story rather than the centuries of the slave trade. It concludes with a number of recommendations to address difficult histories well. These include creating safe spaces for cross-sectoral discussion, and creating high profile public platforms that allow for a ‘deep dive’ into difficult pasts, rather than tied to memorialisation or pubic apologies. Above all, it argues that history should be used as a ‘dynamic discipline, capable of eliciting diverse perspectives, and of determining truth’ to allow for good decision-making in addressing buried and still-contentious topics. Cumberland Lodge
Discussing repatriation: resources and recent developments
Last month, Manchester Museum repatriated a number of ‘secret and sacred’ objects to Aboriginal communities in Australia. Now its Director Esme Ward has written about the experience, describing how Manchester’s work takes the issue forward. She says that previous repatriations have happened ‘behind closed doors’ and that there is value in transparency. It has also opened up new dialogues: as part of the process, older people from Manchester met with Aboriginal elders for an ‘extraordinary meeting filled with curiosity, empathy and friendship’. The museum’s own relationship with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies will continue for at least five years backed with an MoU. A film is available of Manchester Museum’s related repatriation conference, which discusses these issues in more detail. Elsewhere:
The state of Saxony has performed a second repatriation of human remains to Australia from Germany this year. This follows an agreement in March between culture ministers from Germany’s 16 states for the repatriation of objects in public collections taken ‘in ways that are legally or morally unjustifiable today’, prioritising human remains.
Jesus College Cambridge has decided to return a statue of a cockerel, which was looted during a British punitive expedition to Benin in 1897, after an investigation by the College’s Legacy of Slavery Working Group confirmed its history. It is not yet certain when and how the statue will be returned.
France has symbolically returned a sword to Senegal as a sign of intent, though it is described as ‘not strictly a restitution’, and nothing has yet been returned following France’s commitment to return African cultural heritage. The sword once belonged to Omar Saïdou Tall, who fought the French in the 1850s.