NMDC publishes new guide ‘Principles for Lending and Borrowing’
NMDC has published new ‘Principles for Lending and Borrowing’, to encourage the growth of lending between museums, and help them gain the benefits of reaching wider audiences and generating opportunities for new research and interpretation. The new guidance is based upon roundtable events that took place in 2019; as museums emerge from lockdown with reduced resources, NMDC believes it is even more important that lending is encouraged. NMDC members commit in the report to ‘lending unless there is a compelling reason not to’. The Principles are accompanied by a Guide to Borrowing, which gives a practical overview of the lending and borrowing process. This work updates practical guidelines last issued in 2003, and responds to more recent reports such as the Mendoza review, which called for national museums to provide a more supportive environment for lending and borrowing in the UK. NMDC
Art Fund offers support for borrowing in new round of the Weston Loan Fund
The Art Fund has opened the sixth round of its Weston Loan Fund, which offers funding and training for regional museums to borrow strategic loans from major UK collections. Previous rounds of the fund have supported hundreds of loans to 52 exhibitions, often giving the chance for high profile works to be seen in areas where there is a strong local connection. For example a portrait of Richard III has been loaned by the National Portrait Gallery to the Yorkshire Museum, where it goes on display from 9th October. The Weston Loan Fund offers £5k - £25k per project, but is open to hearing requests for more or less if there is a strong case to do so. Grants cover up to 100% of the costs of arranging and displaying a loan, including security reviews, insurance, transportation, conservation, installation and invigilation, audience engagement and marketing materials. The deadline for applications is 17th August. Art Fund (press release), Art Fund (apply), Yorkshire Museum
Also: The Art Fund has published its 20 – 21 Annual Report, detailing the £3.6m in grants and partnerships to help museums navigate the pandemic, and £2.8m committed to acquisitions. Art Fund
V&A East Director plans to cycle to 250 schools to spread word of the ‘youth focused’ venue
The opening of V&A East has been put back from 2023 to 2025, due to delays caused by the pandemic. However, its collections storage site, V&A East Storehouse is planned to open in 2024, and will be open to visits by the public. V&A East Director Gus Casely-Hayford says that when complete, V&A East will be quite different from a traditional London national, and will be youth-focused, champion under-represented movements, and highlight new forms of creative excellence that challenge the canon. Starting early next year, Casely-Hayford will be cycling to the 250 schools in the four boroughs surrounding the museum, to tell pupils about the space, and encourage them to make it their own. The museum has also launched a V&A East Youth Collective programme, offering six month paid opportunities to local 16 – 25 year olds to play a part in developing the museum. The site is hoping for 1m visitors per year when it opens, with a majority of domestic visitors rather than international tourists. Art Newspaper, Blooloop, Museums Journal, Guardian
NMS will use £1m grant for research and exhibition on the ‘significant shadow’ of the Cold War
National Museums Scotland has received a £1m grant from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to explore how the Cold War features in museums in the UK and Europe. Because the ‘war’ didn’t break out into violent conflict, it has been relatively harder to tell its story, but it can be manifested through peace and protest material, civil defence collections, and by exploring the material legacies of the relationship between society, technology, and the military. ‘Materialising the Cold War’ will be researched over three years in a team led by NMS’s Dr Sam Alberti and the University of Stirling’s Holger Nehring. It will culminate in a major exhibition on Scotland and the Cold War, accompanied by schools programming, publications and events. NMS Director Dr Chris Breward said “the Cold War casts a significant shadow over the second half of the 20th century, yet the intangible nature of this period of geopolitical tension makes it difficult to convey in museums. This generous grant from the AHRC will allow us to work with partners across the UK and Europe to conduct in-depth research into the representation of the Cold War in museum collections”NMS
The Museum of the Home has reopened in East London following an £18.1m redevelopment. It has refreshed its Rooms Through Time and Gardens Through Time which show changing fashions through history, has created 80% more exhibition space, improved accessibility and moved the café to an adjacent former Victorian pub. Director Sonia Solicari says “we had rising visitor figures, which was a great problem to have, but there were huge bottlenecks in certain parts of the 18th-century buildings and it was really difficult to get wheelchairs and buggies in, so making the site more accessible was a key driver as was giving visitors more choice on their visitor journey.” New Home Galleries, in a newly-excavated lower ground level ‘reset the curatorial vision for the whole site’ and address social issues including faith, taste, gender, migration and homelessness. Press coverage has captured the ongoing disputes about how histories of slavery and empire are portrayed, with The Telegraph criticising the references to slavery in gallery interpretation, which it regards as over-emphatic, and The Guardian pointing to local opposition to retaining the statue of Robert Geffrye on what is now its rear façade. Museums Journal, Museum of the Home, Telegraph, Ian Visits, Art Newspaper, Guardian
Manchester Museum puts out call for comics artists to contribute to new Belonging gallery
Manchester Museum is seeking comics artists to commission for work to appear in its new Belonging gallery. The gallery will explore how humans, plants and animals can create a sense of belonging in a place, and will represent the emotional realities of belonging across different places and times. Themes include deterritorialisation and human movement, repatriation and relationships, and homemaking and mark-making. The museum is seeking a diverse group of comics artists to produce one to two pages each in response to a script, with the opportunity to co-design the display of their work in the gallery if they wish. The deadline to apply with examples of previous work is 12th July. Manchester Museum
SMG’s vast National Collections Centre complete and ready to receive 300,000 objects
Science Museum Group’s 300m long new National Collections Centre in Swindon is now complete and ready receive 300,000 objects on miles of open shelves, or (for larger objects) placed on colour coded open flooring. Curator Laura Humphreys told Museums Journal “we’ll be able to see the collections together in a way we haven’t before. We can walk down and just make those visual connections. We’ll able to browse. That’s a really big deal.” Visitors and school groups will be welcomed into the space, something not possible when stored at Blythe House. The building is also sustainable, with insulation that means that it does not need heating, and energy generated from solar panels on the roof. Museums Journal
The Welsh Government continues to pause the move from Level 2 to Level 1 coronavirus restrictions and will next review its plans on 15th. It is also offering between £1k - £25k per applicant in further support for businesses including those in the tourism sector, that have lost 60% or more of turnover compared to 2019 as a result of the pandemic. Welsh Government, Welsh Government (business support)
Current levels of restrictions will remain in place in Scotland until July 19th, when it is hoped it will move to Level 0. Theatres in the country are expected to open with no restrictions from August 9th. The Stage
The UK Government has announced that it will end all restrictions in England after 19th July, with no social distancing or limits on gatherings, and mask wearing becoming a personal choice. uk
Northern Ireland will be making decisions about any further reduction in restrictions next week.
ALVA publishes guidance for when restrictions end later in July
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has published its guidance to help museums and other sites decide how to respond after Covid-19 social distancing and mask wearing rules end on 19th July. Its view is shaped by its own ongoing visitor sentiment research which shows that 75% of visitors surveyed from 17th – 22nd June were not ready for social distancing and related measures to be lifted. ALVA therefore suggests:
Maintaining reduced capacity to avoid crowds.
Maintaining visitor booking especially at weekends, while saving some spots for walk-up visitors.
Maintaining social distancing, although at one metre not two metres.
Retaining the requirement for face masks indoors unless visitors are exempt.
ALVA emphasises that this is guidance, not a requirement, and that venues should make plans based on their own experience and circumstances. It adds that attractions, like all businesses, have the right to refuse entry or service, as long as refusal is not based on discrimination. Meanwhile, polling by YouGov on 5th July echoed ALVA’s survey findings, with 46% of people saying they would feel ‘much less safe’ in a crowded unventilated area where people were not wearing face masks, and 24% ‘a bit less safe’. 71% want face masks to be mandatory on public transport for some time after restrictions are lifted. M + H, YouGov, YouGov
Audiences still cautious about live events – but many see museums as essential to wellbeing
The Audience Agency has been tracking how visitors are feeling about returning to cultural venues, against a background where visitor numbers remain low across many museum types (see articles below). It found that:
Audience reactions to returning have barely shifted since February, with only 29% saying they are ‘happy to attend’ a cultural event, and 30% saying they would ‘consider it with reservations’.
53% agree or strongly agree that they are concerned about catching Covid-19, and 63% are concerned about others catching it.
65% of previous live event attenders have no plans to attend in the immediate future.
However, there’s a strong link between visiting museums or heritage sites and wellbeing, with 45% agreeing that indoor sites are ‘important for my wellbeing’, rising to 53% for outdoor parks and heritage places.
34% say they will be more likely to visit more local museums and heritage sites in future, with 42% with no view, and only 25% disagreeing.
36% said they were interested in how digital could enhance live museum and gallery visits, and 29% said they would spend more for this sort of event.
The report also looks at August visitors, and finds this is the one month in the year where the highest motive for attendance is to ‘spend time with friends and family’ at 20%. Summer visitors are also twice as likely to be attending for the first time. Audience Agency (returning visitors), Audience Agency (August visitors)
Events Research Programme: Government publishes findings on first phase – but with few audience members returning PCR tests
The Government has published findings from the first phase of the Events Research Programme – looking at the effects of holding high density events at theatres, music venues and football grounds – all typically more crowded than museums. Although detected cases of coronavirus were low – 28 across all events, this is against a background of only 15% of PCR tests being returned pre- and post-event. Although outdoor and well-ventilated spaces are safer, CO2 levels remained within acceptable levels, comparable with those of schools and offices. Audiences were mostly compliant with guidance at events (e.g. mask wearing) but the report notes the moments where compliance declined e.g. in food and drink areas and in the areas nearest the band in music venues. Gov.uk
Culture24 report finds Lates can attract a wider audience as museums reopen
Culture24 has published a new report ‘Rap under the Rubens’ which looks at how out of hours events can break down barriers to participation in museums. Figures show that:
16 – 34 year olds are slightly under-represented among museum audiences at 25%, though they form 29.8% of the population in England, but flocked in large numbers to pre-pandemic Lates, where they form 50 – 79% of the audience out of hours.
There’s a much more significant gap between visits to museums by Black British people (28%) and white people (53%).
Data from Lates from London nationals in 2019, including Tate, V&A and Culture24’s wider Emerge Festival showed a greater ability to attract younger and under-served audiences.
Wider benefits include helping people to see museums in a new light as a more relaxed setting, attracting first-time visitors, and offering opportunities for new kinds of programming with new partners.
Research also indicates that free events are no more successful than charged-for events at attracting working class audiences: and therefore the nature of the offer is crucial, rather than cost.
These findings dovetail with a recent report from the Mayor of London’s office, which suggested that out of hours events at museums should be explored as one strand of drawing people back to the capital, especially as numbers commuting into London are likely to stay lower than their pre-pandemic level. Blooloop, Culture24
Welsh Government five year programme includes new museums
The Welsh Government has published its ‘Programme for government’ for 2021 – 26, with several commitments for the culture sector including:
Investment in theatres and museums, including establishing the Football Museum and National Contemporary Art Gallery.
Developing plans for a Museum of North Wales.
An application to make the slate landscape of North West Wales an UNESCO heritage site.
Ensuring the history and culture of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are properly represented through investment in culture and museums.
There are also plans for a Transport Strategy, including freezing all new road building schemes and setting a new target of 45% of journeys by sustainable transport by 2040, as well as legislation to abolish more commonly littered single use plastics, and embedding a response to the climate emergency across all activity. A related document lists ten wellbeing objectives, including enabling tourism, sports and arts to thrive. Welsh Government (full programme), Welsh Government (press release), Guardian (roads), Welsh Government (wellbeing objectives), Museums Journal
The Challenge of Touch – and other Covid-19 investigations at Northern Irish museums
Ulster University is hosting a UKRI funded research project on ‘Museums, Crisis and Covid-19’, tracking the effects of the pandemic. Among the first outputs are a series of blogs on issues including how far we can still encourage audiences to touch some objects, new experiments with interactive platforms, and museums as places of community healing. Ulster University
New route into museums through Museum and Gallery Technician Apprenticeship
From September, Creative & Cultural Skills will be launching a new level 3 Museum and Gallery Technician Apprenticeship. It is designed to help fill the skills gap for museum tasks including creating exhibitions, collections management, administrative work and addressing health and safety, while also creating new routes into the sector regardless of previous educational background, where people can ‘earn while they learn’. Several museums chaired by University of Cambridge Museums have helped develop the new apprenticeship. Museums Journal, C&CS
Art Fund Diversity and Inclusion Research in partnership with Museum X
The Art Fund has launched a survey in partnership with Museum X to discover how effective diversity programmes have been over the past decade, to form a baseline for future work. They are seeking experiences of curators and those working in collection care and exhibitions to inform a research report, which will also draw from a literature review and interviews with stakeholders. Museum X is a Community Interest Company with a mission to develop a museum celebrating Black British history and culture. Art Fund, Museum X
The pandemic has prevented DCMS from carrying out face-to-face fieldwork in 2020 -21 for its long-running Taking Part survey on cultural participation, creating a break in data during its 16th year. For 2021 – 22 DCMS has commissioned an interim push-to-web survey from Kantar, with the option of extending the format for a further two years. The content of the interim survey is now being prepared, and DCMS welcomes views on its design, including on geographic granularity and digital exclusion considerations. Write to [email protected] by 12th July to give feedback. Gov.uk
Charter for Change: questionnaire for Front of House staff
Front of House Museums and the Museums Association are developing a Charter for Change which captures the role as undertaken today, and seeks change from a situation where many feel less valued and heard in these roles. They are now running a questionnaire for front of house staff to inform this work. It should take 15 – 20 minutes to complete, with a deadline of midnight on 26th July. Museums Association
M + H launches summer series of practical advice, from fundraising to making meaningful change
Museums + Heritage will be holding 12 online events over two days featuring learning from some of the best learning and projects from the past year, and how to apply them now. Topics include ‘Smashing the Silo’ – redefining ways of working post-Covid, turning commitments into meaningful change, developing staff skills, maintaining values on social media, fundraising, wellbeing, and finding the right balance between on and offline offerings. The events take place online from 14th – 15th July, on a pay what you can basis. M + H
The Museum of Youth Culture – building a people’s museum, plus opportunities to collaborate
The Museum of Youth Culture is an emerging museum with plans for collecting and telling stories about youth movements, scenes, styles and sounds from across Britain, covering movements and eras up until the present. It is being championed by Museums Galleries Scotland, which invites all interested UK museum professionals to take part in an event, looking at youth culture in collections, how stories are told, and opportunities to collaborate with the Museum of Youth Culture project. The event takes place on 10th August from 10.30am – 12.30pm and is free. MGS (overview), MGS (booking)
Museums, lidos, lighthouses: Rebuilding Heritage 1-2-1 consultancy on comms, fundraising, wellbeing and leadership
Rebuilding Heritage, the consultancy and training programme for museums and heritage sites, run by the Heritage Alliance and funded by NLHF, is offering a final round of specialist advice by application. Topics include communications, leading through change, fundraising and wellbeing, with one to one advice available from the Media Trust and Chartered Institute of Fundraising and group sessions with Clore Leadership and Creative United. It welcomes applications from freelancers and heritage and museum sites in the broadest sense – with those running lidos, lighthouses, historic ships and heritage landscapes also welcomed to apply. The deadline is 11pm on 27th July. There are two 30 minute Q&A sessions for applicants on 12th, 14th and 22nd July. Rebuilding Heritage (July standalone events), Rebuilding Heritage (apply for tailored consultancy advice, plus links to Q&A signups)
Clore Leadership: Voices from the Gallery: Engagement & Audiences
Clore Leadership and Art Fund are partnering on new work around change making and leadership in museums and galleries. The work begins with a webinar ‘Voices from the Gallery: Engagement & Audiences’, with topics including community co-working, pivoting to digital and hybrid models and permanent changes to audience engagement. Speakers include Robyn Kazozi (Migration Museum), Ian Read (Lakeland Arts) and Jen Ridding (Barber Institute of Fine Arts). The event takes place on 9th July from 2pm and is free. Clore Leadership
Focus on sustainable materials for fourth [re]Framing the Arts event
The fourth event in the series [re]Framing the Arts: A Sustainable Shift focuses on the topic of new materials and new uses of known materials. It includes case studies from a database assessing the life-cycle of materials, plus learning from fields beyond the arts sector. There will be international speakers, with moderation from Annemartine van Kesteren, Curator Contemporary Design at Museum Booijmans van Beuningen. Tickets range from free to €32.66. The event takes place on 9th July from 3pm. Art/Switch
Unlocking our Sound Heritage: resources and events for non-specialists to prevent obsolescence
It is common to find small quantities of tapes, discs and other formats in collections, without staff with the specialist knowledge to care for and make use of them. Many are endangered because of the approaching unavailability of playback equipment, giving only a few years to address the problem. The UK-wide Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project is seeking to address this, with new introductory guides for non-specialists on caring for audio collections, complemented by a series of training events running to September.
Guides cover topics including long term storage, identifying and caring for sound formats, getting digitised and demystifying rights.
The event programme includes ‘Cataloguing Audio’ (6th July, 10.30am) and an introductory event (7th July, 10am), with a dozen more events running to September.
Additionally, an Unlocking Your Sound Heritage poster outlining simple, realistic steps towards successfully managing sound collections will be sent free of charge to any UK collection holder on request. Contact [email protected].
Cultural heritage for the social inclusion of migrants and refugees
The People’s History Museum is hosting an online workshop looking at how cultural heritage can be used in social inclusion projects, especially those focused on work with migrants and refugees. Speakers come from across Europe, including Finland, Italy and Greece as well as the UK. The event takes place on 7th July and is free. People’s History Museum
Getting on Board: changing the face of trusteeship
Getting on Board offers resources and events to encourage more people to become charity trustees, particularly those from under-represented groups. It is running two events ‘how to diversify your trustee board’ and ‘how to recruit trustees for your charity board’ both on multiple dates until the autumn, with tickets at £10. Getting on Board, Getting on Board (events)
Art UK online talks series gives an opportunity to showcase collections in depth
Art UK, which showcases art and sculpture in public collections, has launched a new online talks strand, Art Unlocked, supported by its partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies. Each week, a collection holder will deliver a 30 minute talk on five or six artworks in the collection to engage audiences in greater depth. Imogen Gibbon of the National Galleries of Scotland will be speaking on 21st July from 5.30pm. Art UK
Industrial Museums Scotland struggle as visitors and retail down by half
The group Industrial Museums Scotland, which represents 15 organisations, says that its members are increasingly concerned about future sustainability. Two thirds have so far reopened, but compared to 2019 figures, visitors are down by 47%, retail by 48% and catering by 44%. Although there was a similar situation in 2020, emergency grants and the Job Retention Scheme kept sites afloat. Many are concerned that they will be left in an unsustainable situation as coronavirus support decreases, and more than 60% say they will need further core funding to remain viable. Museums Journal
University museums see visitors falling to 25%, and a need to further develop digital skills
The University Museums Group has published a new report ‘Covid-19 Beyond the Crisis?’ based on a survey assessing how its members are managing as the country emerges from the pandemic. It represents the experiences of 28 museums and galleries with 676 FTE employees and 4.03m visitors. It found that:
In April 2021, museums visits were at 25% of pre-pandemic levels.
Income from UKRI has stayed steady at £8m per year, but there has been a decline across other public funds, trusts and foundations. Grant funding over the past three years was therefore £39.2m in 2018 – 19, £37.5m in 2019 – 20 and £35.4m in 2020 – 21.
Continuing difficulties with physical access mean that conservation, building works, capital projects, research and teaching have all been disrupted.
There have been some positive outcomes through the development of digital programmes, including reaching more people than galleries could accommodate live. Some staff learned new digital skills ‘on the job’ especially in devising outreach to schools.
68% of respondents were using the Job Retention Scheme in April 2021, with learning, visitor services, buildings and collections staff most likely to be on furlough.
The greatest concerns for the future at university museums are the impact of Covid on future funding, rebuilding visitor numbers, the need for greater digital literacy for staff, and concern for wellbeing as staff deal with ‘the long tail of lockdown impact’. Museums Journal, University Museums Group
MA estimates that 8% of museum jobs have been lost during the pandemic
The Museums Association, which has been tracking job losses in museums throughout the pandemic, estimates that 8% of jobs in the sector have been lost. This includes 1,850 proposed and 2,250 confirmed redundancies across all job types and types of employment up until 28th April 2021. Of 70 organisations reporting redundancies, 12 were nationals, hit by loss of earned income and international visitors, and 36 independent museums, at risk from smaller reserves and a greater reliance on earned income. MA Director Sharon Heal said “we are concerned about the loss of expertise that this represents across a range of areas from learning and engagement to curatorial and front of house. What’s even more concerning is that behind the data there are thousands of individuals whose career and livelihood have been interrupted. The MA will do our upmost to support anyone who has been made redundant.”Museums Journal
Also: Research from the Centre for Cultural Value suggests that workers in the creative industries are ‘upskilling rather than reskilling’ – that is, extending their skillset through further education, rather than moving to new professions. However it adds that this option is not available to all, and risks exacerbating existing inequalities in who is able to remain in the sector. Culture Hive
In brief: Manchester Jewish Museum and Petersfield Museum reopen
Manchester Jewish Museum has reopened after a £6m makeover to its 1874 synagogue building, which has now doubled in size with a new extension. Telling the story of Jewish people in Manchester from the 1780s onwards, it covers stories from working in the waterproof garment industries, to those who arrived in the city after escaping from Nazism. A time capsule from 1873, discovered in the redevelopment work has not yet been opened. Guardian, Manchester Jewish Museum, M + H
Petersfield Museum, Hampshire has reopened after a four year, £4m redevelopment. It includes the town’s Victorian former police station and court room, plus galleries telling a history going back to the Palaeolithic. Museums Journal
Also: the Savings Bank Museum in Ruthwell, Scotland has been saved from closure by its owner, the Trustee Savings Bank, after a local campaign. The museum and its collections will now pass into the ownership of a local community organisation. Museums Journal
Support for the Scottish Crannog Centre as its Iron Age style building is gutted in a major fire
A wooden roundhouse, which stood on stilts in Loch Tay and was a central part of the Scottish Crannog Centre was destroyed in a fire on the evening of 11th June. The roundhouse offered a picture of Scotland’s Iron Age history, as well as supporting vocational learning among young people. Museums Galleries Scotland is working closely with the centre’s team, and is encouraging the public to contribute to a fundraiser. CEO Lucy Casot said “the Crannog team worked so hard to continue their vocational learning opportunities with young people during the pandemic and welcome visitors back once it was safe to do so. Our hearts went out to the team when we heard about the fire and the immense loss of the iconic crannog reconstruction will be felt by many.” Director Mike Benson told Museums Journal it has been ‘absolutely inundated’ with offers of support since the fire, including local tradespeople and carpenters offering their skills. The centre is going ahead with pre-existing plans to create three new crannogs and an Iron Age village and has already reopened to the public. MGS, Just Giving (donations), Museums Journal
St Mungos Museum of Religious Life and Art at risk
St Mungos Museum of Religious Life and Art has been closed for the past year and will remain so for the foreseeable future, as Glasgow Life, which runs the venue, says its £100m budget is already fully committed to opening 90 other venues across the city. It says “given the current climate, it is unrealistic to expect that we can raise significant additional funding this year that will support the reopening of venues beyond those we have already announced.” Interfaith Glasgow has launched a campaign to save the museum. Museums Journal
‘Roots and Branches’ project aims to extend carbon literacy to 1,500 museum workers
A new project, ‘Root and Branches’ has received £136.7k from ACE to train 1,500 museum workers and volunteers to become carbon literate over the next two years, and speed up sector’s response to the climate emergency. The work is being led by Manchester Museum, Museums Development North West and the Carbon Literacy Trust, and will be rolled out across the whole of England. Launching at the same time as COP26 in Glasgow this November, strands of the work will include:
A co-working hub at Manchester Museum bringing together museum staff, educators, environmentalists, artists, researchers, third sector organisations and students.
Online Carbon Literacy workshops for people who govern, work and volunteer in museums.
Toolkits for museums to roll out training with staff at their own sites, and more in-depth training through Museum Development Organisations for those who want to explore further.
A related social media campaign for museums to share their work.
Director of Manchester Museum Esme Ward said “this project will be pivotal in developing museum practice further, transforming our sector’s capacity to support ecological thinking and action to build a sustainable future and inspire post-pandemic green recovery.” Manchester Museum (press release)
Seven Scottish regional partnerships have been announced which will be ‘Climate Beacons’ in the run up to COP26. Funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Change and Culture Divisions, Creative Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland, the groups will generate public engagement ahead of the event in Glasgow this November. In Midlothian, a partnership of the National Mining Museum with the British Geological Survey will tell a story of the past legacy of fossil fuels to a decarbonised future, encompassing art and science. In Tayside, V&A Dundee is part of a group using design-led thinking to explore issues across the region. Scottish Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said “this pioneering work…ahead of Cop26 makes a powerful link between culture and climate action. Climate Beacons will play an important role in ensuring that the history-making Cop26 negotiations are not only felt in Glasgow but across the country.”Museums Journal, Creative Carbon Scotland
A very simple guide to making a meaningful environment plan
Guidance for environmental change can often either deal with peripherals, or present as a dauntingly huge and technical task. Julie’s Bicycle has now produced simple, seven page ‘Environmental policy and action plan guidelines’ giving a comprehensive but achievable place to start for cultural organisations making a first plan. Culture Hive
Also: A case study from the International Institute for Conservation describes how Dutch museums have been using reuseable ‘turtle’ packaging, based on surfboard design, to transport paintings, instead of one-use wooden crates. IIC, IIC
MGS launches new #COP26Conversations Fund offering £1k grants to museums
Museums Galleries Scotland has launched a #COP26Conversations Fund in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Libraries Information Council. It will help cultural and historic environment organisations to raise their profile as spaces for communities to engage with the climate challenge and explore positive actions. The fund will offer grants of up to £1,000 to museums, libraries and historic environment organisations to host community focused events before and during COP26 in November. Applications close at 5pm on July 30th. MGS
Tourism Recovery Plan includes rail pass and voucher schemes to encourage domestic travel
The Government has published its Tourism Recovery Plan, aimed to restore the sector, which has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. A report from Oxford Economics estimates that the sector will not recover to 2019 levels until 2025; the Government’s plan is aimed to speed up that process, recovering domestic tourism by 2022 and international tourism by 2023. It acknowledges that the latter will be dependent on external factors, such as vaccine rollout internationally. Planned initiatives include:
A £10m voucher scheme open to National Lottery players from the autumn. The vouchers will be redeemable at tourist attractions across the UK in from September 2021 – March 2022, encouraging trips beyond the summer season.
A rail pass for domestic tourists, to be launched later in the year, will make it easier and more sustainable to travel around the country. It will be based on the BritRail pass previously sold to international tourists by VisitBritain.
There will be a particular focus on ‘gateway’ cities such as Manchester, Edinburgh and London which suffered some of the steepest losses in tourists, compared to some seaside towns in Cumbria and Cornwall which achieved high occupancy rates in summer 2020, albeit with some limits to visitor numbers because of pandemic measures.
The Government also plans to collect tourism data at the border, to better inform tourism strategy.
A Sustainable Tourism Plan will be published later in the year, laying out an approach to balance the impact of tourism on the environment with its economic benefits.
Also: VisitScotland has launched a £3m package to help Scottish tourism bodies market the country as a year-round destination, with three tiers of funding including £10 - £20 to Local Destination Organisations. Experience UK
ACE has published its evaluation of the Cultural Destinations Fund programme, which ran for three years, giving between £128k and £500k to 18 consortiums across the country. It was aimed to spread tourism beyond heavily visited areas, and develop new regional markets. The report found that the projects increased partnerships between tourism and cultural bodies, with just under half of respondents saying these would continue despite the end of the project. One success was 30 knight sculptures displayed across Lincoln to mark the 800th anniversary of the battle of Lincoln, estimated to have increased visitor spend by £1.75m, with 70% of visitors saying they would return. The greatest barrier has been that cultural organisations are often small with a high staff turnover, making continuity more difficult. Nevertheless, there is some evidence of having grown audiences, including four projects which reported greater visitor spend and length of stay. Paul Bristow, Director of Strategic Partnerships said that in a year likely to be shaped by staycations “partnership between the tourism and cultural sectors will help our destinations to recover, while giving more people, in more places, more opportunities for great cultural experiences”. ACE (evaluation), ACE (blog)
The British Museum and Marsh Christian Trust have opened applications for their 13th Volunteers for Museum Learning Award. It is open to individuals or groups who have made a difference to museum or heritage sites during 2020, whether remotely or in person. 12 regional awards of £500 will be given, and an additional overall prize of £2k. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 30th July. British Museum
The winners of the Museums + Heritage Awards 2021 have been announced across 17 categories. They include:
Beamish won the Pandemic Pivot Award for larger museums, for a programme that ranged from Beamish from Home online sessions to bakery deliveries. Beamish
Leeds Museums and Galleries won the Learning Outreach Award for its ‘Closing the Covid gap’ project with local schools. Leeds Council
The National Museum of the Royal Navy was joint winner of Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year, for restoring the sole surviving Landing Craft Tank from D-Day. It shares the prize with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings for its Old House Project. NMRN
The Tank Museum won Shop of the Year Tank Museum (shop)
Jubilee Pool Penzance, the first geothermal heated pool in the UK won in the NLHF sponsored Sustainable Project category. Jubilee Pool
Exhibitions of the Year went to the Garden Museum for ‘Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon’. Garden Museum
Third round of the Cultural Recovery Fund is launched to distribute £300m
The third round of the Cultural Recovery Fund has launched to distribute a further £300m to the sector, with a focus on supporting reopening, and helping organisations ‘at imminent risk of failure’. The funding will be offered in a number of streams:
£218.5m through a Continuity Support Programme, for successful recipients in previous rounds and Emergency Resource Support for those who haven’t received previous funds and are at risk of imminent failure.
An additional £35m for the Heritage Stimulus Fund.
£20m to the National Heritage Memorial Fund (see article below for details).
A remaining £42.5m for contingency and administration.
New £40m NHMF Covid 19 Response Fund to protect ‘nationally important heritage assets’
The National Heritage Memorial Fund has opened a new £40m fund to save nationally important heritage assets at risk from the impacts of the pandemic. The fund has two £20m strands which will both be distributed over two years, one covering the whole of the UK and a second £20m Cultural Assets Fund made available by DCMS and covering England. The fund is open to charities, not for profits and public sector organisations caring for heritage assets at risk, when all other options for funding have been explored. Eligible heritage assets include fine art, museum collections, archives, manuscripts, historic buildings and land as well as industrial, transport and maritime heritage. A range of costs associated with preserving heritage assets – from transport to conservation and ownership transition costs are also covered. Rolling applications will be accepted until the fund closes at the end of April 2023. NHMF, NHMF, (press release)
IWM opens £2m 14 – 18 NOW Legacy Fund to support more than 20 art commissions
Imperial War Museums has opened its £2m 14 – 18 NOW Legacy fund for a first round of art commissions. The fund is supported by IWM’s share of the royalties from Peter Jackson’s colourised FWW film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’. The fund is available to artists and cultural organisations, and around 15 out of the 20 first round commissions will be chosen in partnership with members of IWM’s War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network. Proposals should be focused around the heritage of conflict from the First World War to present day, and awards are likely to be around £20k per project. Expressions of interest should come from organisations – the fund is not looking for direct submissions from artists – and the deadline is 5pm on 30th August. There will be a second round of the fund in 2022. IWM, IWM (guidelines), Museums Journal
Second round of ‘Steps to Sustainability’ offers up to £10k to develop a business idea
The second round of the Steps to Sustainability programme has opened, offering small to medium heritage sites up to £10k and a 15 month support programme to help them develop half-formed business ideas into a successful revenue-generating activity. Participants will gain a network of peers and become more comfortable with commercial aspects of running a heritage site. Sectors particularly encouraged to apply in this round include those working in community heritage, culture and memories, industrial, maritime and transport – and landscapes parks and nature. The deadline for applications is 23rd July, with the programme beginning in September. Social Enterprise Academy
New Stories, New Audiences funding available to small independent museums
The Association of Independent Museums is opening a new funding strand for its smaller AIM member museums, which currently have audiences up to 20,000. The scheme offers up to £15k each to help museums develop new narratives which in turn will allow them to reach new audiences. Projects might include a new exhibition, new collecting, creating artworks, improving a digital offer, developing a tour or creating new volunteering opportunities. The deadline for applications is 31st October. AIM
Infrastructure Fund gives £60m to 20 museums for essential maintenance work
18 museums and two other cultural institutions in England will share £60m from the Government’s Infrastructure Fund, which will support often ‘unglamorous’ work to make buildings and collections safe, and make changes to increase accessibility and environmental sustainability. Recipients include:
Imperial War Museums receives £3.85m to remove fossil-fuelled heating across its estates, which will be replaced by electric boilers run on renewable energy.
The Natural History Museum receives £4.6m to restore its Waterhouse Wing, and towards helping it hit net zero targets.
V&A receives £1m to preserve the terracotta façade of its courtyard garden building
The British Museum receives £9.8m of which £2.7m goes to maintaining the fabric and roofs of galleries.
Royal Armouries in Leeds and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford will both be investing in works to improve accessibility to their sites.
The National Coal Mining museum receives £1m
IWM’s Director General Diane Lees commented “these important changes may not be visible to our visitors, but they are crucial to us being able to care for our sites and collections sustainably.”Gov.uk
Grants announced from £600k Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund
14 museums and cultural organisations share £600k from the new Digital Innovation and Engagement Fund, administered by the MA and run in partnership with AHRC and UKRI. The funding is aimed to help museums either kick start, scale up or evaluate digital innovations which they first experimented with in response to the pandemic. Recipients include:
A ‘Street Museum’ run by Durham University, transforming the streets of low engagement neighbourhoods in Durham into museums over a six month period.
The Foundling Museum is running a creative portal for people aged 18 - 30 with an experience of care, with activities including films, podcasts and an artists’ virtual workshop.
Hastings Contemporary will expand its telepresence robots scheme, which has allowed marginalised audiences to virtually roam its galleries in real time by giving them power to remotely control a robot.
Novium Museum, Chichester will be expanding its ‘virtual field trips’ bringing high quality museum learning into the classroom for children disadvantaged by the pandemic.
Director Sharon Heal said that the new fundraising stream will be ‘ground-breaking’ for the sector, adding that the MA looks forward to continuing the partnership. Museums Journal, UKRI
ACE research ‘Giving Needs of the Future Wealthy’ looks in depth at millennial giving
Beacon Collaborative has produced a report for ACE ‘Giving Needs of the Future Wealthy’ which looks in depth at the giving patterns and attitudes of 27 millennials with investable assets of over £250k, who generally give between £500 - £5k annually. The report began with the assumption that this group of millennials ‘care more’ are interested in systemic change, are very online, and that catching their attention is the key issue. It found a rather different picture in reality, in particular:
Wealthy millennials interviewed did not connect their giving with systemic change. Instead, gifts often went to local, personal and small scale issues, more aimed at changing an individual life.
Technology is an enabler, but not in itself a driver to giving among this group.
Donating can be impulsive and in the moment, and not linked with a plan for deeper engagement – many don’t have giving as a part of their current identity, and see it as something for later in life.
Millennials can often be uninformed about the mechanics and culture of how charity-supported sectors work.
However, volunteering encourages more committed giving, and they also take routes to giving offered to them through the workplace and business networks.
These findings are set against a background where £5.5 trillion will transfer between generations in the UK by 2022 and where social values are a high motivator among under 35s. Recently, fewer people have reported that they give to charity, but those who do are giving higher amounts. Beacon Collaborative, ACE, (twitter thread with further insights and resources)
King’s culture war research finds four groups, not two warring tribes – with ‘Moderates’ the largest fraction
The Policy Institute King’s College London has published the second half of its research into public views on the culture war. It found that although progressives and traditionalists took up most of the bandwidth in debates, about half of the country fell into neither group. King’s identifies four broad types of people:
Traditionalists form 26% of the sample. Mostly over 55, this is the only group with a male majority at 61%. 97% think political correctness has gone too far, 79% are proud of their country, 71% are proud of empire and 61% want the country as it used to be. This is the only group with a majority (56%) opposing Black Lives Matter.
The Disengaged (18%) have the highest proportion of women at 58%, and the lowest number of degree holders (14%). They are neutrals on politics and Brexit. They are most likely to say they don’t know both on culture war issues, and on whether rights for various groups have ‘gone far enough’.
Progressives (23%) are the youngest, most educated and ethnically diverse of the four groups, and 94% are Remainers. 59% are likely to be ashamed of the British Empire – triple the figure for the next most ashamed group.
Moderates (32%) are the second most highly educated, older than Progressives and the most politically diverse. They are proud of the UK, but tend not to be nostalgic for the past. They have a mix of beliefs drawn from both Traditionalists and Progressives. The report argues that whether this group shifts ground, and in which direction, may shape the future balance of politics on culture wars issues.
There are some shared beliefs between the four groups – for instance majorities in all think there is unfairness between rich and poor, and all believe that social division exists, but with 89% of Traditionalists and 62% of Progressives agreeing that these divisions are exaggerated by the media. Policy Institute Director Bobby Duffy comments “at least half the public take a more nuanced and variable position, or don’t really engage much at all in these debates. The extremes on either side get a lot of attention, but they are too small to form political or social majorities…The real task is not to focus on or play to the edges, but to find the mix of messages and actions that bring more of us together.”NMDC (summary of findings published last month), King’s College (new data) King’s College (twitter summary)
FT looks at how Government view on ‘retain and explain’ for statues is shaping museum boards
The Financial Times has published a long article on tensions around retaining or removing statues, with a particular focus on the relationship between Government and museum boards. It argues that while ‘cultural boards have long been a home for patronage’, current practice is more interventionist and seeks to make museums more explicitly enact Government policy. Artist Sir Antony Gormley is among those objecting: “art spent a century liberating itself from the duties of serving power, either political or financial. If now the Government — for whatever its reasons — is trying to somehow restrict or corral, this is a really serious sickness. It is none of their business.” Earlier this year Sir Charles Dunstone resigned as Chair of RMG after trustee Aminul Hoque was denied a second term, and Dr Sarah Dry, a historian of science, resigned from the Science Museum board after being asked to specifically endorse Government policy on retain and explain. She argues “what is really coming under attack is the idea that experts can serve the public, it’s the language about experts as elites who are the enemy of the people, rather than people with specialist knowledge of a particular subject. The public suffers because the quality of museum work suffers, when the space for independent expertise gets squeezed.” By contrast, Mercy Muroki, appointed to the Board of the Museum of the Home says that the public has been forced to conform to ideas that they do not really subscribe to “It is possible that ‘retain and explain’ might entail the relocation of an object. But what I’m worried about is this mob rule. I don’t want roads renamed or statues brought down because they offend a small number of people. I’m naturally a ‘small c’ conservative and believe it is best to take things gradually and bring people along.” The intensity of the dispute has meant that some academics have been at the receiving end of pile ons, notably the University of Leicester's Professor Corinne Fowler during her work for the National Trust. By contrast, the Welsh and Scottish Governments have moved a few statues closely related to slavery (notably Thomas Picton in Cardiff) with little fuss. One Trustee comments “it is really interesting that this is really an English phenomenon, not a UK phenomenon — it is very different in Scotland and Wales.”FT (paywall), The Times (Dunstone/Hoque)
V&A Director says museum must ‘explain the nature of our collections’ to modern, multicultural Britain
Following a Freedom of Information request, The Guardian has obtained letters written to Culture Minister Oliver Dowden by museum directors in response to his stance on ‘retain and explain’. V&A Director Tristram Hunt told Dowden that the V&A has not removed any items of ‘contested heritage’ as a result of external pressure, adding that the museum has a responsibility to give an accurate account of the nature of collections, including that some had been looted by British forces. Hunt writes “Our view is that it is both impossible and ahistorical to seek to ‘decolonise’ a museum like the V&A given its foundational connection to the history of British imperialism. Instead, our responsibility is to ensure that we explain the nature of our collections, with historical rigour and accuracy, in a manner which speaks to modern, multicultural Britain and the global audience we serve in South Kensington and online.” Guardian
Also: Staff from MShed spoke to Museums Journal about the experience of facilitating community discussion about what should happen to the toppled statue of Edward Colston. The display and consultation continues to 5th September. MShed, Museums Journal
In brief: snapshots of political pressures and pragmatism
Meanwhile The Guardian charted reactions as residents, 76% of whom are from Black or Asian households, chose a new name for Cecil Rhodes House in Camden. They rejected a shortlist of eminent Black and Asian names, instead choosing ‘Park View House’. One resident comments ‘we said we would rather it was neutral and not a person’, an attitude shaped in part by proposals decades ago to rename the building after Robert Mugabe. A majority of those living in the flats didn’t know who Rhodes was before a council presentation; quotes from many show a mixture of unfussed attitudes and a reluctance to be drawn into a culture war. One councillor commented “We realised that people are voting with their pockets….My view is it was market-driven; naming it after some random person you’ve never heard of probably wouldn’t do much for your property value.”Guardian
Arts Industry’s Simon Tait argues that centenary celebrations of the creation of Northern Ireland were low-key because of ongoing political tensions around the creation of the country, and says that they missed an opportunity to celebrate its significant cultural contribution ‘from C S Lewis to Snow Patrol and The Undertones’. Similarly, he argues that England’s sense of heritage should move away from battlegrounds around Churchill and country houses, and embrace its ‘real past…and contemporary cultural output’. Arts Industry
Consortium including NLS seeks to buy £15m Honresfield Library, with works by Austen, Scott and the Brontës
Friends of National Libraries, a consortium including the National Library of Scotland, British Library and Brontë Parsonage, is seeking to raise £15m to save the Honresfield Library for the nation. The privately owned collection of manuscripts, gathered by 19th century Rochdale mill owner William Law, includes work by Walter Scott, two Jane Austen letters and ‘little books’ from the Brontë sisters, as well as Emily’s holograph notebook of 31 poems, once believed lost. Sotheby’s had intended to auction the first part of the library in July, but has delayed the sale to allow the library to be sold to the nation as one collection, and shared between UK institutions. NLS Chief Executive John Scally said ''once in a generation, a collection of books and manuscripts appears from almost nowhere that is met with a mixture of awe and stunned silence, followed by concerted action to bring it into public ownership. The UK-wide consortium is determined to raise the funds to ensure we can save the Honresfield Library for everyone to share and enjoy."Art Newspaper, National Library of Scotland, Guardian, Museums Journal
Export bars include books of bird watercolours that shaped theory of evolution
Recent export bars include:
A Renaissance brass roundel, depicting Venus, created by at least two unknown sculptors of ‘significant talent’. It is valued at £17m, with its licence deferred until 27th September, with a possible extension to March.
Two volumes of watercolours by the ornithologist John Gould, whose work helped form Darwin’s theory of evolution, have received an export bar. They are valued at £1.28m +VAT, with the license deferred until 24th September, with a possible extension to January.
Interpol has launched a new app, ID-Art to help law enforcers recognise stolen art, drawing from a database of 52,000 works registered as taken on its database. Pilots in Italy and Spain have already led to successful recoveries, including three Roman gold coins stolen a decade ago. It is planned to be a resource for museums, which can make inventories of their collections, and then submit records to Interpol in case of theft. Meanwhile collectors are downloading the app from Google and Apple stores, to check that art has not been stolen when considering a purchase. Art Newspaper
‘Highly munchable’ – new film gives short introduction to Integrated Pest Management
South West Museums Development has produced a short film introduction to The Museum Life of Pests, with support from Art Fund. It explains why a few traps and pesticides are not enough, and what to consider in creating Integrated Pest Management, including training all paid and volunteer staff, planning ahead, regular building maintenance and good house-keeping. SWMD (twitter), SWMD (film), SWMD (Pest Partners project)
Beamish launches wholesale business for its traditional homemade sweets
Beamish Living Museum of the North has been making sweets in demonstrations in its Jubilee Confectioners sweet shop for some years, and selling the product to visitors. Now it is branching out and selling the sweets wholesale to businesses beyond the museum, with traditional options including pear drops, rhubarb and custards, raspberry drops, sarsaparilla and Beamish Mix. A dozen shops and cafes across the North East are already carrying the sweets, supporting the museum’s finances as it emerges from the pandemic. Owner of Knitsley Farm Shop Rachael Jewson says “we are always looking for great, new local products to support our own homemade produce and felt the connection with Beamish was a perfect opportunity for both businesses to benefit. It offered us a brilliant new product with great local heritage links.” Beamish
Museum of London grows its online shop sales by 144%
A case study of work by Digital Culture Network describes how the Museum of London grew its profits from its online shop by 144%. Central to the success was adding shop items to the museum’s wider communications, discount experiments and technical innovations to make buying a fast, intuitive experience. DCN
Conflict of interest: IWM turns academic research into public engagement with in-depth podcasting
Imperial War Museums’ innovation hub, the IWM Institute has launched a new public-facing podcast series ‘Conflict of Interest’ which looks in greater depth at the complexity often underpinning the way societies unravel into division and war, with early episodes looking at 1990s Yugoslavia, then Afghanistan and Iraq. Weaving in objects from IWM’s collections, it offers a greater depth than can easily be conveyed in an exhibition – especially in wars with dozens of factions and interest groups. The series is one of the first major outputs of the IWM Institute’s aim to bridge the gap between academic research and public engagement. IWM, IWM Institute
Ed Vaizey’s podcast discusses the future evolution of museums
The latest episode of the Vaizey View podcast, hosted by former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey features a discussion with Natural History Museum Director Doug Gurr about how museums should evolve. The Vaizey View
‘Build Back Fairer’ – Creative & Cultural Skills launches new podcast
Creative & Cultural Skills, the organisation working for fair and inclusive opportunities for young people in the cultural sector, has launched a new podcast. The first series has the theme ‘Build Back Fairer’, with episodes so far asking whether the pandemic has made class prejudice worse, and whether freelancers will suffer or thrive in a sector under pressure. C&CS
Podcasting for connection at the Smithsonian: a how-to guide
Hannah Hethemon, producer at Better Lemon Creative Audio, and author of a huge global list of museum podcasts, has spoken to Culture Hive about the process of making a good cultural sector podcast. She especially focuses on her work for the Smithsonian, where she turned 100s of audio stories about water into a coherent podcast connected to the travelling exhibition Water/Ways. She describes which low cost tools and techniques can form the basis of a good podcast. Culture Hive
NML’s first podcast looks at how the present is informed by the past
National Museums Liverpool has launched its first ever podcast: ‘Re:PRESENT (Regarding the Present)’ – which looks at how stories today are reflected in museum collections and in communities. Each episode is based around a loose theme - Love, Work, Resilience, Movement, Isolation and Protest. For example, the episode on work looks at unemployment on Merseyside in the 80s, the barriers faced as a woman by Elisabetta Sirani as a 17th century Baroque artist, and the contemporary experience of Detective Sergeant Christian Owens, the first person to transition while working for Merseyside Police. NML
Also: more podcast options feature in the latest edition of the Maxwell Museums newsletter, and among this month’s new resources on Culture Hive. Topics include beginning a career in the arts, TikTok and engaging Gen Z and LGBTQ+ museum tours. Maxwell Museums, Culture Hive
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