Reboot Cornwall: museums reopen with AR programme, recreating 19th century port and prison
Museums across Cornwall have reopened with a new programme featuring AI, machine learning and immersive technologies embedded into traditional exhibitions or outdoor walks, modelling the future for museum programming. Brought together in the ‘Reboot Cornwall’ programme, led by Cornwall Museums Partnership, there are a dozen options, including a walking app for the Isles of Scilly Museum, which connects visitors to shipwreck history as they walk along the coastline, from rescues to slave-trading. As part of a £40m redevelopment of Bodmin Jail, there is a ‘Dark Walk’ state-of-the-art augmented reality experience, exploring penal life in the Victorian period. VR technology transforms the beach outside St Agnes Museum from a pile of rocks into the thriving port with goods, sailors and locals as it was at the height of its involvement in mining. There is commitment to developing this strand across Cornwall: a recent survey shows that 79% of Cornish museums are looking at how technology can futureproof their offering, and 89% said the pandemic has increased the need to innovate. CMP’s CEO Emmie Kell says "attitudes around heritage, new technology and the role of museums as important hubs in their local communities are evolving very rapidly in Cornwall and it's exciting to see our museums leading the way for both innovation and greater inclusivity.”CMP (Reboot Cornwall), CMP (Coastal Timetripping launch film), Museums Journal
IWM’S Holocaust and WW2 galleries open in the autumn: with Belsen survivor’s wedding dress and V1 flying bomb
IWM has announced that it will open its renewed Holocaust and Second World War galleries in the autumn. The galleries will be next to each other over two floors, to help visitors understand genocide and ‘the most devastating conflict in human history’. Displays include a segment of a concentration camp barrack from Velten, a 783kg V-1 flying bomb, Gena Turgel’s wedding dress, worn a few months after her liberation from Belsen and wreckage from the USS Arizona. IWM’s Director General Diane Lees said “though this conflict will soon pass out of living memory, leaving us without the first-hand testimony of its veterans, eyewitnesses and survivors, IWM will ensure that the experiences of those generations are never forgotten through our incredible new galleries, which have been almost seven years in the making.”Museums Journal, IWM
NMRN broadcasts internationally in ‘World of Warships – Longest Night of Museums’
The National Museum of the Royal Navy participated in the 17-hour international marathon streamed event ‘World of Warships – Longest Night of Museum’, alongside 15 other museums from Australia to Hawaii. NMRN Head of Collections and Research Nick Hewitt presented from First World War survivor HMS M.33 in a 45-minute-long walk through and Q&A session live streamed on YouTube and Twitch. NMRN’s fundraiser, Stephen Roberts-Pratt says: “World of Warships has a huge, often really informed audience, including young people and academics. As an authoritative voice of naval history, we wanted to be part of the event. We also wanted a platform to test run our new digital donation platform, GoDonate.” The museum is now considering the use of Twitch/YouTube gaming platforms on site as part of the visitor experience. NMRN
Derby Silk Mill has opened after an £18m decade-long restoration project which has led to all 30,000 of its objects being on display, in sometimes revolutionary ways – on the second floor ‘artefacts are piled high on storage racks, free for visitors to rummage’. The Guardian adds that “the overall tone has shifted from the familiar industrial museums of yore [and is] keen to counter the usual narrative of British exceptionalism and the lone-inventor genius.” It covers the contributions of Swiss and Huguenot immigrants to industrial success, as well as looking at the darker side of industrialisation linked to child labour, slavery and environmental destruction. Derby Museums Trust is now in the early stages of considering the development of Derby Museum & Art Gallery. Guardian, NMDC (more on collections), Derby Silk Mill (project website), Museums Journal, Derby Telegraph (museum in pictures – from a waterwheel to model railway)
Cultural institutions oppose cuts to university arts education
Leading arts institutions and creative industries bodies are among those opposing Education Minister Gavin Williamson’s proposal to cut Office for Students funding for university arts teaching by 50%. This would reduce funding per student from £243 to £121.50 for subjects including performing and creative arts, media studies and archaeology. Williamson told Conservative Home : “The record number of people taking up science and engineering demonstrates that many are already starting to pivot away from dead-end courses that leave young people with nothing but debt.” An open letter opposing the cuts and this view has been organised by the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), with signatories including Tate Director Maria Balshaw, the Art Fund and Creative Industries Federation.
Describing the decision as a ‘strategic mis-step’ it, the letter says: “the current proposal may limit the availability and accessibility of places on arts courses and result in fewer courses being offered. This will have a detrimental impact on our ability to retain our world leading position, attract inward investment through our cultural capital and our share of the global art market….If you believe that innovation is a strategic priority, you will not cut higher education funding to the arts – but better recognise our value as integral to the fourth Industrial Revolution.” A spokesperson for OfS responded that the changes only equated to 1% of overall funding for arts courses, adding “alongside this we plan to maintain funds to support disadvantaged students, and to boost funding for specialist institutions by £10m.” The Government will be finalising its decision in mid-June. Arts Industry, Office for Students, Guardian, Society of Antiquaries, The Times, Art Newspaper, Museums Journal
The Art Fund is keen to work with teachers over the next school year to research how to create effective programmes of support which use museums and galleries as a teaching resource. Therefore, it is offering 1,000 free Teacher Art Passes (usually £73) to those working for schools with 16% or more of children receiving free school meals, and recipients are invited to participate in Art Fund’s R&D if they wish. Topics under discussion will include CPD resources on using museum and gallery collections in teaching, local curriculum planning with museums, and a national online listing of support for schools. The passes are valid until the end of July 2022. Art Fund
Durham Commission’s second report focuses on the uses and limits of digital technology
The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education has produced its second report, particularly focusing on the effects of Covid-19 on the educational landscape, and the new primacy of digital. It says that digital can be used for creative purposes, but not replace face-to-face interactivity. It also has risks for digital excluded young learners: “if we do not ensure equality of access and teach young people how to use and control technology rather than be used by it, the virtual world will simply magnify the disparities of the physical world, and we will have missed a great opportunity for positive change.” Practical action on the Commission’s report had already begun, including:
The online forum Creativity Exchange, launched in January in partnership with ACE, to help schools share ideas around teaching for creativity.
Applications are now open for a three year pilot, Creativity Collaboratives, which will bring together schools to trial practices which develop creativity in young people. The programme will target children facing the most societal disadvantage.
ACE will work with schools to ensure that arts and cultural activities are core to the ‘recovery curriculum’, reflecting the fact that children have missed this aspect of their education, and its capacity to help with the mental health effects of the pandemic.
The report adds that young people should engage ‘critically and creatively’ with the digital world, and the Commission has asked DfE for additional funds to support training teachers in this area.
There are also recommendations for a focus on early years learning, out of school activities and for the world of work.
NMDC’s Good Practice Guidelines for reopening for museums in England have been updated twice in the last month – to reflect new guidance for Step 3 and new social distancing information. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a note of recent changes. AIM’s Guidelines were also updated with new guidance in early May. NMDC, AIM
On 17th May, the Welsh Government updated its resource for tourism and hospitality businesses, describing how to keep visitors safe. It has also asked visitors to pack lateral flow tests if holidaying in Wales and has advised Welsh citizens against visiting areas of England with high levels of the India/Delta variant, unless unavoidable. Wales will take a decision on whether to continue relaxing restrictions on 3rd June. Welsh Government (tests), Welsh Government (new variant advice), Welsh Government (tourism advice)
There are some areas of concern in Scotland, including Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Clackmannanshire. However, Glasgow will move to Level 2 from 5th June if indicators remain stable or fall. Scottish Government
In England Step 4, the lifting of all restrictions, will go ahead no earlier than 21st June, with no final announcement of whether this date will be pushed back in the light of new outbreaks in some areas of England. gov.uk
The Association of Independent Museums is among those promoting a new Government awareness campaign, advising people that opening windows to let in fresh air, and meeting outdoors, reduces the risk of spreading Covid-19 as the country reopens. AIM
Survey finds a third of Scottish museums reopened by mid-May
Museums in Scotland have been permitted to open since late April and a survey by Museums Galleries Scotland finds that 153 museums, or around a third of the sector had reopened by mid-May. It also found that:
75% of respondents to the survey said that they had already reopened, or expected to do so by August.
Only 3% of museums do not expect to open at all in 2021.
By contrast, only a minority of museums were able to open between lockdowns in 2020, with a peak of 160 out of 429 in October.
MGS is running a Google map of all open Scottish museums as part of its #MuseumsAreGo reopening campaign. MGS, MGS (Google map of open Scottish museums), Museums Journal
Also: Research from Glasgow Caledonian University shows that visits to Scottish tourist attractions dropped by 34 million or 63.2% in 2020, with many of the largest museums in Edinburgh and Glasgow losing around 80% of visitors. Museums Journal
Only 15 Covid cases in trials for reopening large-scale events
Government trials of opening large scale events, including at football stadiums and nightclubs have led to only 15 cases of Covid-19, despite combined crowds of 58,000. This indicates that large events can avoid spreading the virus if pre and post event testing and good ventilation are in place. Telegraph
DCMS sector economic estimates show growth, but at 14% below early 2020 levels
The latest DCMS sector economic estimates (excluding civil society) show that there has been 1.7% month-on-month growth in March 2021, however this is still 14% below the level in February 2020. The cultural sector, which hovered around £2.8 - £2.9bn throughout 2019, fell precipitously to £1.8bn in April 2020 and is now at £2.4bn in the most recent March figures – the best result since last October. Gov.uk
‘Let’s Do London’ launches, as the capital’s largest ever domestic tourism campaign
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced ‘Let’s Do London’ – the city’s largest ever domestic tourism campaign, aimed at fully reopening the city post-pandemic. He said that the campaign would “champion our businesses, cultural institutions and attractions that have suffered so much during the pandemic. This is about getting the message out to Londoners and people across the country that our capital stands ready to entertain, inspire and enthral once again.” The cultural offer includes a partnership with Royal Academy artists to turn street furniture into art, a Hockney commission for Piccadilly Circus, the Southbank Centre ‘summer reunion’ programme of indoor and outdoor programming over 15 weekends and London Lates during the summer, as well as multiple museum exhibition openings. Khan also wants the city to revive in a greener form. He said “we want to avoid at all costs a car-led recovery, because we don’t want London to be gridlocked. Having more walking and cycling is also good for business. We’re very good at public spaces in London, and how we use them. So what you’ll see across London is displays of public art; not hidden away in the lobbies of buildings.”Museums Journal, Mayor of London, Yorkshire Post, Guardian, Southbank Centre, NME, Time Out
Expressions of interest now open to host City of Culture 2025
DCMS has opened Expressions of Interest to become City of Culture 2025. This will be the next City of Culture designation following Coventry’s holding of the title from 2021 – 22. The deadline is 19th July, with a longlist to be announced in early September. Gov.uk, Gov.uk (press release)
‘Familiarity conquers fear’: sentiment trackers for tourism and planning tools in brief
The VisitBritain tourism forecast for 2021 was updated in early May, and now suggests international visitors at 28% of the 2019 level, a slight downgrade from January estimates. It anticipates that European markets will recover first, but unevenly. VisitBritain
VisitBritain’s figures for domestic tourism suggest an almost 50% drop from a £96.1bn spend in 2019 to £51.4bn in 2021. However, the BBC adds “despite the gloomy forecasts for this year, tourism analysts have predicted that demand for UK holidays is likely to outstrip supply this summer, with many holidaymakers unable or unwilling to brave foreign travel amid continuing restrictions.”BBC,
Research into city breaks suggest that ‘familiarity conquers fear’ and that people are likely to return to places they have visited before. Conscious of damage to businesses, interviewees were also largely accepting of price rises. VisitBritain
Latest statistics from the VisitBritain domestic sentiment tracker (covering 17th – 21st May) show that there has been a 10% decline since the previous wave in those believing ‘the worst has passed’ from 48% to 39%. However 25% of the population say they have planned their next overnight trip. VisitBritain, VisitBritain (latest international inbound)
Reimagining transport to accommodate a new group of ‘occasional commuters’ and cultural visitors
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced a new public body ‘Great British Railways’ to offer a less fragmented and complicated rail offer, including flexible season tickets and more pay as you go, to fit new patterns of travel. Campaign for Better Transport’s Paul Tuohy gave the announcement a cautious welcome, asking for better access for ‘disconnected communities’; and a decent discount on flexible tickets. Meanwhile, a report from London First, a group set up by business leaders, explores the future of London public transport, identifying new post-pandemic types of travellers – including occasional commuters, coming into the capital more rarely for work or leisure. It argues that there needs to be a new model for funding TfL, less reliant on ticket revenues, and allowing the travelling public to buy more flexible tickets to fit around their lives. It adds that spontaneous day trippers will be deterred by high turn-up and go fares, and that culture is an essential part of encouraging now more occasional travellers (including ‘Long Haulers’ and ‘Village Dwellers’) that it is worth visiting central London. London First, Independent, Gov.uk (GBR), Times
Vista-AR offers use of free use of visitor intelligence tools for rest of 2021
The not-for-profit new technology platform Vista-AR is offering the use of its visitor intelligence tools to 50 small cultural sites for the rest of 2021. Tools include visitor feedback analysis, and visitor journey analysis – showing how visitors move around sites, where they spend time, and where there are queues or bottlenecks. Vista-AR, Vista-AR (newsletter with project examples)
Townscapes report argues museums and libraries are a vital part of reviving ‘left behind’ places
A new report ‘Townscapes: The Value of Social Infrastructure’ argues that places where people can mix and engage are just as vital as physical infrastructure for ‘left behind’ towns – and that museums, libraries and other cultural spaces are a crucial in giving social opportunities and ‘pride in place’. Produced by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, it says there is an ‘ingrained assumption within government’ that large physical infrastructure – from roads to railways and digital are the crucial nuts and bolts of economic and social flourishing. It argues that a community’s social amenities need greater policy attention, and reviews disparate literature to begin to measure the value of social infrastructure. During Covid, towns like Tavistock, Truro and Mold, which have higher levels of ‘social infrastructure’ also generated a greater number of mutual aid groups to weather the crisis – a correlation that can be mapped across hundreds of towns. For example, the culture and community centre @TheGrange in Blackpool switched during lockdown to providing food parcels, growing kits and check-ins with vulnerable residents. Heritage can also generate ‘pride in place’ and social bonds – for example in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire where residents drew from Ramsey Rural Museum, a Victorian walled garden and remains of a WW2 training camp to revitalise the area. The authors propose a data repository, to help policymakers see the impact of ‘soft infrastructure’ more clearly, and understand how to make good interventions in ‘left-behind’ places. University of Cambridge
Work begins to transform closed Jewry Wall Museum into major visitor destination
Work is beginning on a £2.9m Roman history tourist attraction in Leicester, which will merge the Jewry Wall Museum, which closed in 2017, with a former college building and new development. The site will showcase Leicester’s Roman collections with immersive technology to create a picture of life Ratae Corieltauvorum two millennia ago. The City Council hopes it will bring millions in tourist revenue when it opens in 2023. Experience UK
The Eden Project is making moves to open another of its sites at a former Dundee gasworks, with the development including walled gardens and a focus on the history of Dundee's Nine Incorporated Trades. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said "alongside the iconic V&A, Eden is another game-changing draw to the city and the surrounding area and will play a key role in Dundee's strategic economic recovery from Covid."BBC
Bow Street police station, which closed in 1992, has reopened as a museum. It tells the story of the Bow Street Runners, London’s first professional police force, and those who appeared before the adjacent Magistrate’s Court including Oscar Wilde, the Kray twins and suffragettes Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst Express and Star, Bow Street Police Museum
Also: The Munch Museum, on the waterfront in Oslo is to open this October after an 18 month delay. Forbes
Thackray Museum of Medicine reopens after use as a vaccination centre
The Thackray Museum of Medicine has reopened after its closure for a £4m renovation was extended by the pandemic. In the past year it has been used as a vaccination centre – now exhibits include a recreation of Victorian Leeds, a 70s style sexual health clinic and displays on how well the world responds in a crisis. Thackray Museum, Thackray Museum (twitter), Yorkshire Post (paywall)
…and an insight into permanent museum closures in 2020
Research from the Mapping Museums project shows that only nine museums closed in the past year (far fewer than the 26 in 2017 and 16 in 2018). Typically, these museums were very small and closed either due to the owner retiring or loss of premises. Only one, the widely criticised Jack the Ripper museum, which ‘suffered from a lack of local trust’ was made finally unviable by the pandemic. Mapping Museums
15% of V&A staff face job loss as it is compelled to save £10m each year
V&A will reduce its staffing by 15% through redundancies, retirements and redeployments as the museum seeks to save £10m a year because of its pandemic-driven financial situation and the likely ongoing collapse in tourism, especially from international visitors. The museum will be open for five instead of seven each week, at least in the immediate future. V&A has also confirmed that its collections will be organised by material specialisms following a consultation process on restructuring. Its four new departments will now be Sculpture & Applied Arts; Furniture, Fashion & Textiles, Theatre & Performance; Graphic Art & Design, Photography & Architecture; and Asia. Art Newspaper, Evening Standard, The Stage
Resources for employers to help address loneliness
DCMS has published guidance on for employers on loneliness in the context of working lives, as part of its wider ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign. It invites employers to consider issues such as workplace culture; support and guidance from management including having a ‘champion’ for the issue; building staff networks and considering how to increasing home working can be balanced by programmes of support. Meanwhile 840 charities, community groups and grassroots organisations are sharing £4m for micro local work to address loneliness, with grants from £300 - £2.5k. Gov.uk (community group funding), Gov.uk (guidance for employers)
Policy briefing on cultural freelancers calls for Freelance Commissioner
The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has brought together a short policy briefing on ‘Freelancers in the Creative Industries’. Freelancing in the sector is double the national average (32% vs 16%), but freelancers lost out on skills policy, immigration issues and emergency support during Covid-19. The report argues for the creation of a Freelance Commissioner to bring greater resilience to this group. Creative Industries PEC
‘Healthier mind, healthier business’ – balance resources for creatives
A ‘Balance toolkit’ including films, short reads and audio content has been launched for creatives and freelancers. It aims to simultaneously support people towards good mental health and a sound balance sheet. The resource was created by thehub in partnership with ACE, the Creative Industries Federation and mindapples. Hub Balance
A desert with hot springs – review of Scottish fossils gives a clearer picture of the country’s deep past
Scotland’s museums hold around 250,000 fossils from the geologically varied country, giving a vital picture of the development of life on earth. Now a new report from National Museums Scotland, funded by the John Ellerman Foundation has made it easier for scientists and the public to access this data, as part of the larger Natural Science Collections Across Scotland project. Examples of the geology of the deep past include the 410 million-year-old Rhynie Chert of Aberdeenshire which preserves the earliest known terrestrial ecosystem on Earth – a desert with hot springs – which has produced fossils now in four collections, including at Perth Museum. Fossil fish from the Middle Devonian are world famous with most collections in Scotland holding a few examples. Dr Nick Fraser, Keeper of Natural Sciences at NMS said “expert assessments like this review set museums up to be able to start sorting and properly documenting the nation's natural science assets. This benefits the museum sector generally and each of the individual museums as it gives those that need it the power to unlock these collections to make them more accessible for people, whether scientific researchers or the wider museum-visiting public."NMS (full report), NMS (blog), NMS (Natural Science Collections Across Scotland)
‘A small half burnt coal’ – Winchcombe meteorite goes on display at NHM
In February a carbonaceous chondrite meteorite fell on a farm in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, the first meteorite to be recovered in the UK for 30 years, and of particular interest to scientists as it holds chemistry from the formation of the solar system 4.6bn years ago. Victoria Bond describes how it was discovered after intense search on her land - "they were moving like zombies, pacing back and forth in a line, looking for the meteorite, and as I left that morning in my car, I could see them jumping for joy.” Now, although much of the find is being studied, one 100g chunk, resembling a ‘small half burnt coal’ is going on display at the Natural History Museum. NHM, BBC
Science Museum acquires Stephen Hawking’s Cambridge office
The family of physicist Professor Stephen Hawking has donated his Cambridge office to the Science Museum, with objects including his modified wheelchair that allowed him to talk and write despite the effects of motor neurone disease, scientific bets signed with his thumbprint, and letters written to popes and presidents. Keeper of Science Dr Ali Boyle said “the bigger project is to catalogue the entire office, recreate [it] as an artist’s studio essentially and then we hope to put that on display in a permanent gallery but that will take us a couple more years to do that”.Sky, Evening Standard
Government Art Collection acquires 90 pieces by 45 contemporary artists
The Government Art Collection has spent £230k on a collecting project throughout the pandemic, acquiring 90 pieces by 45 artists which celebrate ‘diversity of creativity’ and will now be shown in Government buildings nationally and internationally. Gov.uk
New culture team in Scottish Government Cabinet reshuffle
Fiona Hyslop has stepped down as Scotland’s Culture Minister, a post which she has held since 2009, following a Cabinet reshuffle. Angus Robertson is taking up the culture brief as Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, with Jenny Gilruth as Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. The Scotsman, BBC, Scottish Government (full cabinet list), Museums Journal
Victoria Pomery has been appointed CEO of The Box, Plymouth’s new £47m museum and gallery. She was previously founding Director of Turner Contemporary. Arts Industry, Museums Journal
Tony Hall has resigned as Chair of the National Gallery over his handling of an investigation into the journalist Martin Bashir while Hall was Director-General of the BBC. Art Newspaper, Maxwell Museums, Museums Journal
Horniman Director Nick Merriman will succeed Dr Stella Butler in the summer as Chair of Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme Panel. (Also see ACE’s call for new members for its Designation Panel, as well as for its Acceptance in Lieu scheme) ACE, ACE (apply for panel membership)
Marilyn Scott is stepping down as Director of The Lightbox, Woking, where she has been in post for 20 years. Museums Journal
RLUK survey: Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces
Research Libraries UK is conducting a major international survey of the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Room (VRR) and Virtual Teaching Space (VTS) services in libraries, archives, museums and galleries. It is particularly interested in new innovations, many of which will have developed during the pandemic. The deadline for responses is 11th June. RLUK (survey), IIC (overview)
Museum Week takes place online this year from 7th – 13th June, with participants from across the world. Creative organisations are invited to participate using seven hashtags throughout the week (including #BehindTheScenesMW and #CaptionThisMW), across six social media platforms. Museum Week
Practical ways to use Sustainable Development Goals in museum planning and programming
GEM is running a second workshop ‘Transforming our Practice, Transforming our World’ led by Henry McGhie, which describes how to use the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in museum planning and programming. It will look at how to take big issues such as COP26 and biodiversity, and localise these for museum audiences. Participants do not need to have any prior knowledge or experience of working with sustainable development, and representatives from small and large museums are equally welcome. The event takes place on 14th July. Tickets are £5 or free to GEM members. GEM
Upcoming one-off events in the Rebuilding Heritage programme include ‘Managing Organisational Change’ on 24th June from 2pm, and ‘Wellbeing Gym 2’ on 5th July at 5pm. Previous webinars ‘Ways out of Crisis’ and ‘Finding Time’ are also now available to watch again. Rebuilding Heritage
The annual ‘Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities’ conference for libraries, archives and museums, will look at how the pandemic has effected working practices, collections and audience engagement – and how turbulence has created new opportunities for research and collaboration. The event takes place online from 28th June – 2nd July. Tickets are £45 - £54. DCDC21
The Museum of London, Brunel University and UCL Urban Laboratory are collaborating on a symposium ‘Museums, Cities, Cultural Power’. It will look at the role of museums in a post-Covid world, including the impact of large-scale cultural developments on neighbourhoods, how museums can enter into conversation with surrounding communities, respond to BLM and become part of the fabric of urban life with all its paradoxes. An international mix of speakers includes Hannah Ishmael (Black Cultural Archives), Yves Goldstein (KANAL Pompidou, Brussels), Sharon Ament (Museum of London), Chrischené Julius (District Six Museum, Cape Town), Hilary Jennings (Happy Museum) and many more. The event is free as part of London Festival of Architecture, and takes place from 24th – 25th June. Sensory Smithfield, Julie’s Bicycle (Future Museums and Local Histories session)
This VisitBritain event will look at how technology can be used to continue to develop virtual tours, as well as how to create hybrid models for a post-pandemic world. The event is free and takes place on 8th June at 11am. VisitBritain
Collaborating on urban interventions beyond museum walls
‘New places, new spaces, new audiences’ is a webinar inviting museums, businesses and urban planners to think about how to better collaborate beyond museum walls, seeking common ground between arts, commerce and community. It asks “might we for once forget about target or traditional audiences – and draw everyone in together? How can we truly listen and co-curate? And why not come to the people instead of trying to get them to come to you?” It is co-hosted by Netherlands-based NorthernLight and The Revels Office. The event takes place at noon on 24th June. NorthernLight
Recovery and renewal: creative approaches to the Covid crisis
The Centre for Cultural Value is holding a second event, describing its in-depth research into how cultural organisations have had to innovate, upskill and adapt in order to survive. There will be two case studies, from Africa in Motion and Theatre Absolute. The event takes place from 2pm on 18th June and is free. Centre for Cultural Value
Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) launched
ACE has opened the new Museum Estate Development Fund for applications, with £18.8m available for 2021 – 22. It offers capital grants of £50k - £5m for vital infrastructure works and urgent maintenance backlogs. The fund is open to non-national Accredited museums based in England, and/or local authorities based in England responsible for maintaining of non-national Accredited museum buildings. As well as reducing immediate risks to visitors and buildings, works are expected to make museums more financially resilient, with improved environmental performance reducing carbon emissions, better access for disabled people and a stronger contribution to the local community. ACE is holding an event at 10am on 7th June offering guidance to potential applicants. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 5th July, with the application stage beginning on 2nd August. ACE, ACE (introduction to MEND webinar), ACE (blog), Museums Journal
Art Fund opens new £2m ‘Reimagine’ grant scheme – to support new ideas post-pandemic
The Art Fund has opened a new £2m scheme to help museums reimagine their activities after the pandemic. Projects must fall into at least one of the Art Fund’s priority areas of collections, digital, engagement and workforce. They should also have an element of experimentation rooted in the current context of your organisation, include meaningful engagement with diverse audiences and create greater expertise in the sector. There are two levels of funding: small grants of £5 - £15k and larger grants of £15 - £50k. The deadline for round one applications is 5th July. Art Fund, Museums Journal
Art Fund adds £280k to Museum Development Recovery Grants
The Art Fund has contributed £280k to Museum Development Recovery Grant programmes, with applications now open to:
UK museums which have not so far received emergency public funding and
smaller museums fulfilling specific cultural and local needs.
The funding will prioritise museums in areas of low cultural engagement where they are the main cultural offer in the locality, or those in urban areas with niche collections outside of major institutions. Applications are through the regional Museum Development bodies which will match fund the Art Fund contribution with £200k. Art Fund, Museum Development UK
New round opens of Headley Fellowships with Art Fund
The latest round of the Headley Fellowships with Art Fund has now opened, offering support up to £20.5k to backfill a curator’s post for six months while they carry out a specialist project or research, and a further £7k to support research and the creation of related exhibitions. The deadline for applications is 30th July. Art Fund
Second round of ACE’s Cultural Development Fund now open
The second round of the Cultural Development Fund is now open for applications by partnerships led by a local authority, Local Enterprise Partnerships or other appropriate body, in England outside London. It is aimed to “unlock local growth and productivity, promote economic and social recovery from the impact of Covid-19, and regenerate communities through capital investment in place-based creative and cultural initiatives”. £18.5m is available in this financial year, with £2m - £5m available per bid. The majority must be spent on a capital asset, with a maximum of £700k for supporting activity in the total budget. Partnerships must show a commitment to culture-led growth in their area, which needs investment in physical or digital infrastructure to develop. ACE is holding a guidance webinar for applicants on 10th June at 2pm. The deadline for application is noon on 23rd July. ACE, ACE (webinar)
Grants to support funding training for groups and networks
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy is offering up to £2.5k for any network or group that would like to invest in fundraising training for its members. It is especially seeking proposals that embed inclusion and diversity, develop arts fundraisers and support fundraising from new groups and communities. The deadline for applications is noon on 17th June. Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy
Scottish National Funding for Acquisitions opens new 100% funding strand
The National Fund for Acquisitions, which helps museums, galleries, libraries and archives to acquire new collection items, has opened a new Special Funding Scheme for 2021 – 22, offering 100% of the acquisition cost for organisations struggling to find match funding. There are no deadlines, and each application will be considered on a case by case basis. The ordinary scheme also continues, offering up to 50% of the costs of acquiring new collection items. National Museums Scotland
Scottish Summer Programme Fund offers £266k for 'summer of play'
MGS has opened a new £266k Summer Programme Fund which will support of 'summer of play' for children and young people across Scottish museums. It is particularly keen to see bids that will support learning through play, activity encouraging people to spend time outdoors and aimed at those particularly impacted by the pandemic. It will cover new play equipment, upgrades to existing equipment, fees for artists and performers and additional staff time. £5k - £50k is available to support activity in June, July and August, with an applications deadline of 5pm on 21st June. MGS
The Space offers £9k grants for new digital commissions
The Space, which offers support for the cultural sector to reach new audiences through digital work is offering digital R&D grants of up to £9k for projects from cultural organisations in England – including museums and libraries. The deadline for applications is noon on 8th July. The Space
Contribute to a new collaborative book: ‘Perspectives on Crowdsourcing in Cultural Heritage’
‘The Collective Wisdom Handbook: Perspectives on Crowdsourcing in Cultural Heritage’ currently exists as a draft online, written by 16 collaborators from the UK and US in two week long book sprints. The authors are now seeking responses and proposed edits from the wider sector – both to broaden case studies and gauge reactions. Co-ordinated by British Library staff, the draft is open on the PubPub site until 9th August for contributions. Contact [email protected] with any questions, especially if you are interested in discussing a peer review model or more substantial involvement. British Library (draft book)
Also: A feature from MuseumNext gives an overview of three strategies for digital fundraising with virtual events, highlighting museums which have successfully used each approach. MuseumNext
Roundtables between culture and corporates to help recovery from Covid-19
DCMS is convening a series of roundtables between cultural and corporate leaders to discuss innovative model for post-pandemic recovery. The talks will be led by Lord Neil Mendoza, the Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal and the consultancy Boster Group. Gov.uk
Public enthusiasm for contactless donations post-pandemic
Two articles from MuseumNext make the case that contactless payment is an increasingly good option for encouraging visitors to give post-pandemic. 69% of adults now use contactless, with no age group falling below 58% usage – and Covid-19 has increased its popularity. Sarah Miguel, fundraiser for the People’s History Museum, which introduced contactless donation boxes in 2019, says that despite only 25% of the footfall “during those brief stints of opening in 2020, we were still able to accumulate the same level of donations as pre-pandemic. People were increasingly generous – perhaps because they had been able to save during the pandemic or just because of the convenience of being able to use a card rather than rummage around for change.” MuseumNext (PHM), MuseumNext
Contemporary Art Society raises funds through new pop-up selling gallery model
The Contemporary Art Society, a charity which donates art to museums, is raising funds for its work through a pop-up selling gallery open from June – August in Mount Street, Mayfair. The space is being donated, but artists keep their usual cut of the sales. CAS Director Caroline Douglas says “it does feel like quite a new model of operation, bringing private philanthropy, commercial galleries, an auction house and a transporter together with a charity… The impetus behind this whole proposition was to do something that would really support the sector." Art Newspaper, CAS
£6m grants announced for more than 60 High Street Action Zones
Historic England has announced a round of cultural projects which share £6m for work in more than 60 High Street Action Zones. Interventions include public art works, creative workshops and storytelling drawn from local histories and local residents memories. Towns and cities taking part include Grantham, Middlesbrough, Wigan and Bedford. Historic England (full list of awards), Historic England (High Street Culture project)
Also: The Government has announced a further 57 high street areas which will share £830m to transform under-used spaces, build homes and improve transport links including Derby, March and Yarmouth. Gov.uk
Museums among recipients of Windrush Day grant scheme
Birmingham Museums Trust, London Transport Museum and the National Maritime Museum were among 41 organisations receiving grants from the Windrush Day Grant Scheme 2021, to celebrate the day with projects including arts events, digital history resources and reminiscence events. Gov.uk (full list of grants), Gov.uk (Windrush Day)
Also: The EU has almost doubled its funding for the cultural and creative sectors, from €1.4bn to €2.5bn for the next funding period of 2021 – 27. Culture and Education Committee Chair Sabine Verheyen said "this significantly better funded programme recognises the added value of culture to our European way of life and is a first step towards helping it stand up to the challenges of globalisation and digitalisation."Arts Professional
EMYA winners for 2020 and 2021 - preserving nature and confronting fakes
The European Museum of the Year prize has announced the winners for both 2020 and 2021.
Stapferhaus in Lenzburg, Switzerland won the 2020 prize. It is a museum which chooses themes based ‘not on a collection, but based on what is important to its communities… which most museums would not dream of addressing’. Recent exhibitions include ‘Fake: the Whole Truth’ and ‘Gender and Sex: Discover Now’. It moved into a permanent home at Lenzberg railway station in 2018, offering exhibitions and events alongside office space.
Naturalis Biodiversity Center wins the 2021 prize. Based on an older museum with a 200 year history, it has just completed a decade-long makeover including a new building. It has become an ‘ambassador for nature’s preservation’ as the world addresses climate issues. Other 2021 winners include the Gulag History Museum in Moscow, which wins the Council of Europe Museum Prize.
M + H shortlist celebrates sector ingenuity in the pandemic year
The shortlist for the annual Museums + Heritage Awards has been announced – with its 17 categories reflecting an extraordinary and difficult year. The shortlist includes:
Two ‘pandemic pivot’ awards (for organisations with under, or over 20 FTE staff). Shortlisted projects include SW Museum Development’s Pest Partners project, the Thelma Hulbert Gallery’s Creative Cabin sending art and nature on tour and IWM’s Victory 75 WW2 project.
Exhibition of the Year includes the Garden Museum’s Derek Jarman exhibition, ‘My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon’ and the Horniman’s ‘From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories’.
There is also a Covid Special Recognition Award for individuals with the shortlist including ALVA’s Bernard Donoghue, Florence Nightingale Museum Director David Green and Rachel Mackay's Recovery Room, as well as IWM’s Ngaire Bushell, who wrote a 12 part web series on conflict, aimed at schoolchildren, on a borrowed iPhone on her wifi-less narrowboat.
NLHF has sponsored a Sustainable Project of the Year category for a second time – detail in the article below.
M + H Director Anna Preedy said “the work of the museums sector didn’t grind to a halt – quite the reverse, and it is truly inspiring to see what a difference so many of our shortlistees have made to their local communities during the most challenging of times.” Winners will be revealed in an online ceremony on 1st July. M + H, M + H
Sustainable project of the year: geothermic swimming – and urban T.O.A.D.S
The shortlist for the Museums + Heritage Awards Sustainable Project of the Year gives a snapshot of some of the innovation in this field. The shortlisted projects are:
GRAFT, a community growing garden outside the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, which offers talks and events on the environment, and teaches permaculture as well as donating fruit and veg to locals and hosting several hives of bees.
Leeds Art Gallery’s ‘Natural Encounters’, which showed artistic responses to nature in a 100% sustainable exhibition.
The newly opened Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, which has incorporated recycled bricks, LED lighting and photovoltaics in its environmentally-sustainable design.
London T.O.A.D (Tails of Amphibian Discovery) – a project to improve aquatic and land habitats and create ponds across 3.72 hectares of the capital.
The 85 year old Art Deco Jubilee Pool in Penzance has been refurbished with a new geothermic heating system, drawing from a nearby 410m warm geothermic well.
Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award – open for entries
Now in its second year, the Art Explora European Award is open to all public and private European museums and art centres. Organisers would like to hear about projects designed to reach wider audiences, including digital innovations, off-site activities, inclusion of disabled people and work with young people. There are three €50k prizes for small, medium and large institutions and one €10k audience choice prize. Applications are welcome from UK institutions (The National Gallery was among the three 2020 winners). Arts Explora, Arts Explora (2020 winners and shortlist)
The carbon footprint of the visual arts (and how to fix it)
The culture and environment group Julie’s Bicycle has published a report measuring the global carbon footprint of the visual arts sector, encompassing both the commercial and public art world, and over 300,000 businesses employing 3 million people. It estimates a total footprint of 70 million tonnes CO2e each year – consisting of building energy use, transporting artwork and people and procuring and selling goods and services. It would currently take 22 million hectares of trees to offset the footprint of the sector. Figures show that:
74% of the footprint is the result of visitor travel, especially through long-haul flights.
When visitor travel is included, public art galleries form 11% of emissions, commercial galleries 5%, artist studios 7%, art shipment 2% and business travel 1%.
Visual arts workers are often part of the highly mobile 1% of the world population responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, art dealers averaged 12 work-related flights each year.
Sending artwork in a container ship is the most efficient method – with a carbon footprint 50 times smaller than by aeroplane.
Digital art trading does not have to result in high greenhouse gas emissions, but some platforms are big emitters – Bitcoin’s electricity consumption is 0.55% of the global total: the equivalent to the Netherlands and Norway combined.
The report says there are ‘pockets of excellence’ in addressing the size of the problem, but that some businesses have not even begun to think about the issues. It recommends standardised reporting, with more than the current handful of art fairs, artists and galleries reporting their footprint. Artists are making an outsized contribution in highlighting climate in their work, and should be supported to do so by the sector. It also offers a run-down of how to reduce carbon for each area of work. To address the huge visitor footprint, it recommends a new model more focused on regional touring, that does not rely on long-distance visitor travel – which would represent a major shift for many large museums. Julie’s Bicycle
Also: Julie’s Bicycle has also calculated a carbon footprint for a single touring exhibition – Olafur Eliasson’s Earth Speakr, which is also a useful guide to estimating the footprint of touring exhibitions more generally. Julie’s Bicycle
CultureHive suggests 17 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of websites
Websites can vary in carbon footprint depending on a number of factors, including picture size, the use of static pages or CMS, and how close servers are to the majority of users. CultureHive features a short guide to reducing energy use. CultureHive
Art Fund survey: onsite work only one strand in new museum models
A new Art Fund survey reveals that many museum directors are envisaging a new model of work, where the museum site no longer has automatic primacy, but is instead part of a three-pronged model alongside online and community work are equally important. Many are also deciding that ‘a continual growth model is untenable’ and are exploring how to make more sustainable plans. Based on 316 survey responses, interviews and two focus groups, the in-depth study also found that:
The Cultural Recovery Fund staved off disaster for many museums, but the situation remains fragile – with 55% concerned about survival, 8% very concerned, 21% neutral and only 28% not concerned. Local authority and independent museums are the most worried about the future.
15% of museums remained closed all year, 70% reopened when allowed to do so – but on average, visitor numbers were down 75%. Independents were more able to hang onto visitor numbers than London nationals, and those with outdoor spaces generally coped better.
32% of museums will have a financial deficit in 21 – 22, 37% are not sure and only 31% definitely expect to be in profit.
Earned income shortfall is the most cited challenge for the coming year, with more than half saying it is the main challenge.
A focus on staff welfare is an increasing priority, with furloughed staff feeling disconnected and those who worked through the pandemic ‘worn thin’.
Discussion of a hybrid offer is common, as insurance against future lockdowns, but with questions about who the audience is and how to monetise content. Organisations in Wales are particularly likely to cite working out a digital offer as a challenge.
‘Not bouncing back’ – lasting damage as the cultural sector reopens, but hybridity is here to stay
Newspapers have been assessing the damage to the performing arts and museums as they reopen. The Guardian points to smaller casts and orchestras for shows in financially damaged theatres, a slower return to commissioning for artists and shrinking retail and café trade for the commercial arms of cultural organisations. Artistic Director of High Tide Theatre, Suba Das says that the increased precarity also risks decreased diversity: “disabled people, people of colour, those from socially deprived backgrounds – it is these people who are stepping away from the precarious business of working in culture.” Cultural organisations are often also working against a backdrop of visibly less buoyant town centres. Derby Museums Director Tony Butler says “50% of shops that closed during Covid won’t reopen…Derby is not the place it used to be”. The Art Newspaper adds that museum visitors are returning cautiously, with numbers unlikely to recover until 2025, and NMDC Chair and Tate Director Maria Balshaw told The Telegraph that she expects recovery to take five years as she concentrates on attracting “lots of different people who haven’t felt that they were welcome”. Potentially more positively, ‘hybridity’ – combining on and offline audiences - is here to stay, partly as a response to the climate crisis, but also as many festivals and events seek to retain global audiences gained in the pandemic year that would never visit in person. Nick Barley of the Edinburgh International Book Festival says “it is about making the festival accessible to people who can’t come whether because they are in prison, or for health reasons, or for neurodiversity reasons, or for geographical reasons”. Making this model succeed for some organisations, alongside culture-led recovery of town centres in others, may be crucial for cultural sector and its wider ecosystem to slowly return to a more secure footing. Guardian, Telegraph, Art Newspaper
From the universal to the cosmopolitan museum: restitution and change
Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge has written for The Art Newspaper on the future evolution of museums, especially in relation to restitution. He says that museums have ‘in fits and starts’ embraced public participation and democratisation over the past 50 years, including curatorial labels written by elders, the return of human remains and sometimes co-stewardship arrangements. Part of that shift has meant that “the august notion of the universal museum is past its sell-by date, tarnished by its deployment by museum leaders to categorically oppose the return of cultural heritage”. He says this model should be replaced by the emerging ‘cosmopolitan museum’, adding that - “great museums of art and civilisation are post-migrant, permanently reconstituted by movements of people. They urgently need to be more representative, and cosmopolitan in the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah’s ethical sense.” He argues that this aim is not helped by presuming that all museum artefacts collected from beyond the West have a ‘toxic’ legacy, seeing museums only as a source of violence, or by rejecting progress made by the Benin Dialogue Group and others. He adds that as museums reopen they “must continue to be open to suggestion and challenge, and to ways of working that they have not yet seen the need for”. Art Newspaper
A museum presence is rapidly evolving on TikTok with the recent #MuseumMoment event attracting major institutions. The BM’s Maxwell Blowfield argues that this a good moment for museums to invest time in a TikTok account – especially as reach is not dependent on existing follower numbers as it is on other platforms. Blooloop
Colston statue to go on display at MShed as public are asked for their views on its future
The statue of Edward Colston which was thrown into Bristol harbour by protesters a year ago, will go on display at M Shed, Bristol from 4th June. It will be part of a temporary display alongside Black Lives Matter placards and a timeline of events. A survey drafted by the We Are Bristol History Commission has also been launched to ask citizens for their views about the future of the statue. Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said he hoped that the exhibition would ‘start a conversation about our history’. He added “the future of the statue must be decided by the people of Bristol and so I urge everyone to take the opportunity to share their views and help inform future decisions by taking part in the survey.” The conservation team at M Shed has cleaned the statue and stabilised the spray paint graffiti to prevent flaking. The bike tyre that emerged from the water with the statue will also form part of the display. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal, Bristol Museums
Culture Secretary announces new culture board on ‘retain and explain’
Writing for The Telegraph Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced that he has convened a new culture board to discuss how heritage organisations could put ‘retain and explain’ into practice. Former EHRC Director Trevor Philips, historian Robert Tombs and Museum of the Home Chair Dr Samir Shah are among the panel members. Dowden said that he wanted more statues erected to create ‘more chapters added to our national narrative’. He argued that “museums and other bodies need to have genuine curatorial independence. But independence cuts both ways. Heritage organisations should be free from government meddling, but the people who run them also need the courage to stand up to the political fads and noisy movements of the moment.” There has been no further official announcement beyond TheTelegraph article to date. Analysing the article, British Future Director Sunder Katwala also reviews a complex picture of public opinion on issues around statues, with four in ten white Britons and a quarter of ethnic minorities believing that no statues should be removed. 53% in a YouGov poll agreed with the removal of the statue of Colston, but only 13% approved of the way that it was done. Telegraph, Art Newspaper, British Future (Twitter), Guardian,
King’s College London report measures the nuances of the ‘culture wars’
New research by the Policy Institute at King’s College London ‘Culture wars in the UK: division and connection’ measures how far the public has absorbed the idea of a ‘culture war’. Underpinned by Ipsos MORI polling, further research is being published until mid-June. Statistics show that:
Asked to describe in their own words what issues the term ‘culture wars’ bring to mind, 43% said they could not think of anything. Racism was the next most cited at 14%, followed by religion at 11%. Under 1% make a link to the controversial removal of statues.
46% believe there is a ‘culture war’, 37% neither agree or disagree, with 8% thinking there is not.
However 77% strongly or tend to agree that the media makes the country look more divided than it is, with 44% believing politicians exaggerate culture wars as a tactic, with 36% not sure.
28% agree that they would ‘like my country to be the way it used to be’ and 35% believe ‘the culture of the UK is changing too fast’. Leavers, Conservatives, older people, lower earners and those without degrees are most concerned about the pace of change.
53% believe ‘too many people run our country down’.
Only a minority think enough has been done for women’s rights (18%) or those of ethnic minorities (24%).
Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI said “our research shows that in fact the public have a much less clear understanding of what ‘culture wars’ mean, and which side they are supposed to be on. That doesn’t mean there aren’t meaningful differences along the spectrum, as seen in the different reactions towards being ‘woke’ by young and old, Labour and Conservative voters, Remain and Leave.”King’s College, Times, King’s College (press release)
The Church of England has produced new guidance to help for parishes and cathedral chapters assess what heritage it has relating to ‘contested’ histories of slavery and colonialism, with ‘demonstrable negative impact on the mission and ministry of the church’ as the central factor in considering removal or modification. The Church sees ‘retain and explain’ as a strong option, but has also removed a very small number of memorials - for example Bristol Cathedral has taken out a dedication to Edward Colston in a stained glass window. In June 2020, at St Margaret’s church in Rottingdean, Sussex two 20th century memorials to ‘blackface’ performers were taken down for racist terms to be removed. Guardian, BBC (June 2020), The Argus (June 2020), Church of England (press release), Church of England (full guidance)
Rhodes Must Face the Wall? – Oriel announces that it will retain statue
Oriel College Oxford has announced that it will not ‘begin the legal process’ to move its statue of Cecil Rhodes due to ‘regulatory and financial challenges’, a U-turn on the vote last June to remove it. It will instead commission a virtual exhibition on his legacy, and fundraise for scholarship for students from Southern Africa. Reactions have included a letter calling for the statue's removal from 350 Oxford academics, and historian David Olusoga saying that contextualisation work ‘could have been addressed years ago’. Sculptor Anthony Gormley has suggested to the FT that “Rhodes should remain in his niche. If we need to redress our relationship to him, I would just simply turn him to face the wall rather than facing outwards…an acknowledgement of collective shame.” He added that he is sceptical of moving statues to museums in case it feeds ‘collective amnesia’. Sir John Hayes of the Common Sense Group of MPs objected to the idea of turning the statue calling it ‘completely wacky’. FT (paywall), Art Newspaper, Art Newspaper (letter from academics) Guardian
Nero turns into Vespasian – the long view of statues from the Art UK sculpture conference
Films from Art UK’s recent conference on sculpture are now online, with Professor Mary Beard offering the very long view as she describes how the ancient world dealt with its statuary in the face of changing politics. Peripheral parts of the empire would often relabel existing statues of ‘the Emperor’ rather than commissioning a fresh image for a new ruler. Other artefacts show one Emperor’s statue being recycled to receive the face of another, for example from Nero to Vespasian. Art UK
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