NMS and NMM lead £250k community-led research project to tell diaspora stories
A new pilot led by National Museums Scotland and the National Maritime Museum will enable organisations around the UK to create new research projects with South Asian, African and African-Caribbean diaspora community groups. Funded by £250k from AHRC, the project will be shaped by research questions posed by community groups, enabling them to challenge and expand on established representations of diaspora experiences. NMS and NMM will act as a hub, holding best practice guidelines, and the central fund which will be shared with partners around the UK. These include Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Glasgow Life and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Outputs will include new research into historic and contemporary meanings of objects, which will in turn inspire new projects, defined by communities, and based around partner collections. NMS Keeper of World Cultures, Dr John Giblin said “we want to support greater equality, diversity and inclusion within the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector in the UK. To do this we need to consider who is visiting our institutions and what they find there when they do. We need to invest more work in how histories of empire, migration and life in Britain are told from the perspective of diaspora communities.”NMS, Museums Journal
Also: Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland are running an £125k pilot to help community groups research trends across heritage and cultural sectors. Also funded by AHRC, Outreach to Ownership runs to 2022 and will support the work of eight partner organisations, developing greater engagement by communities in the design and delivery of cultural services. M + H
Manchester Museum staff will become social justice researchers as part of pilot project
15 staff members from Manchester Museum will become social justice researchers as they join a University of Manchester pilot project ‘Local Matters’, advocating for a new approach to children and families in poverty. Instead of a standardised ‘one size fits all’ approach, it aims to be more locally focused – exploring how the museum can respond to poverty through its programming and activities. Director Esme Ward said “Local Matters is a unique programme that will see museum staff become locally embedded social justice researchers and develop a better understanding of our communities. The aim is for future decision-making at the museum to be done through the lens of social justice, poverty and disadvantage.” Museum Next
Glasgow Life acquires its first Van Dyck, ‘Marchesa Lomellini’, through Acceptance in Lieu
Glasgow Life has acquired Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Marchesa Lomellini’ through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme. It is the first work by the painter to enter the city’s collections, and is now on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It came from the collection of Sir Ilay Mark Campbell, 7th Baronet of Succouth (1927-2017) and Lady Campbell. Meanwhile Ulster Museum has received James Joseph Tissot’s ‘Quiet’ – a painting of his lover Kathleen Kelly who he painted repeatedly until her early death at 28. Glasgow Life, NMNI
Images this month: Leeds Museums & Galleries turns 200
Images this month come from Leeds Museums & Galleries, which has turned 200, and is holding an exhibition to celebrate at Leeds City Museum co-produced with volunteers and partners from across the city. Meanwhile Leeds Art Gallery is currently showing ‘Radical Reel’, a group exhibition and season of screenings and events celebrating 40 years of moving image in the museum’s collections. Leeds Museums
New measures to address the Omicron variant – including face masks in many public spaces
The Government has announced new measures to address the emerging Omicron variant of Covid-19. Measures include:
Compulsory face coverings on public transport and in shops in England, including museum shops.
Those arriving in the UK must take a PCR test on day two after arrival and self-isolate until receiving a negative result.
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Face coverings are not mandatory in other areas of museums and all hospitality settings are also exempt. However, some museums including the Fitzwilliam are introducing mandatory face masks in all areas, and many continue to encourage all visitors to wear face masks.
New Government campaign focuses on the importance of ventilation
The Government has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of ventilation in preventing the spread of Covid-19, and encouraging people to open windows for ten minutes in every hour in spaces where people congregate. It also highlights new research which reveals that only a third of people understand how important ventilation is – perhaps because it began to be emphasised as an issue much later than surface cleaning and wearing face masks. Gov.uk
In brief: a snapshot of fluctuating visitor figures in the UK and globally
A batch of newly published visitor statistics, both recent and looking back to the beginning of the pandemic, show that although museums are not facing the dire levels of footfall of 2020, recovery will in general be slow.
In her opening speech at the MA conference, Director Sharon Heal said that visitors have come back, but not in the same numbers as before. Manchester Art Gallery announced in November that it had exceeded its pre-pandemic visitor figures, but this is the exception rather than the rule – typically, museums are seeing 40-50% of previous visitors. MA (paywall)
Figures for DCMS-sponsored museums for the period July-September 2021 show 5.1m visitors – more than triple the 1.4m for the same period in 2020, but down 64% compared to 2019. Gov.uk
The World Economic Forum reports that the 20 most visited museums in the world saw attendance drop by around 78% in 2020. The three most visited were The Louvre (2.7m), National Museum of China (1.7m) and Tate Modern (1.43m). World Economic Forum
In 2020-21 Tate Modern’s visitor figures fell from 5.7m to 361,000 – 7% of normal figures, while the National Gallery had 4% and British Museum and V&A had 3%. Art Newspaper
International tourism to the UK lower than in 2020, as school trips from EU also decline
New VisitBritain forecasts predict that the UK will have attracted fewer international visitors in 2021 than during the first flush of the pandemic in 2020. It found that:
In 2019, the UK received 40.9m visitors, dropping to 11.1m (27%) in 2020, and an estimated 7.7m in 2021 (19%).
The UK also performed poorly compared to nearby countries, including France – which grew its tourism by 34.9% between 2020 and 2021, and Greece, which achieved 86% of its pre-pandemic tourist numbers over the summer.
VisitBritain is estimating 2022 international visitor figures at 24 million, 59% of 2019 figures.
The Financial Times reports that school trips to the UK from Europe have ‘collapsed’ now that group passports are no longer valid, and non-EU students need expensive individual visas.
Industry insiders told CNN that a mixture of factors is driving lower visits, including growing Covid infections in the UK over the summer when they were declining elsewhere in Europe and inconsistent travel rules. Brexit is also a major factor for the 75% of EU citizens who don’t have passports, because they can travel within the EU on their ID cards. Now they would need to buy passports to enter the UK. CEO of EOTA Tom Jenkins said "for a family of four, the logistical and cost implications of traveling to the UK become really prohibitive.” Prior to new Omicron restrictions, widespread abandonment of facemasks in England may also have been deterring cautious tourists from countries where mask-wearing is common or mandatory. One previously regular Italian visitor told CNN "I miss the UK so much but it sounds a little scary." Deputy CEO of VisitBritain, Patricia Yates said “I think we have to make our message of reassurance explicit. I've been asked for my vaccination certificate going to theatres and events, but I'm not sure international visitors realise there are still requirements here. I'm not sure we're telling that story." Meanwhile journalist Rajan Datar says that international campaigns promoting Britain present a monoculture dotted by castles and palaces and give little sign that it is a multicultural society. CNN, Independent, VisitBritain, FT
Also: The Economist estimates that global cross-border travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or 2024, while up to half of business travel may be ‘gone for good’ in the long term. Economist
Design Museum and AHRC launch The Future Observatory
The Design Museum is part of a major new programme that will use design research to address pressing social problems, from the housing crisis to reaching net zero. Working in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in its first year it will host four design researchers in residence at the Design Museum, publish reports on regional design ecosystems, showcase design exchange between business and academia, hold net zero roundtables and host three public symposia. Collaborations with business will particularly focus on decarbonisation, waste reduction and circular economies. Design Museum Chair, Lord Mandelson said: “every part of our lives is going to be affected by the transformations underway and we have to design this future in order to get the maximum benefit for the greatest number of people and improvement to all our lives. The Future Observatory programme is about where science meets art. We do not predict the future we design and make it for ourselves and this starts with the transition to net zero.”AHRC, Design Museum
Creative UK launches with merger of Creative Industries Federation and Creative England
After working closely together for the past two years, the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England have announced their official merger, with a new name of Creative UK. The new organisation will continue to support creative people and businesses in all four UK nations. Creative UK (new website)
Creativity will be crucial as ‘half of all employees will need reskilling by 2025’
The Government has confirmed that it will not be spending £90m on an art premium for schools, offered in its election manifesto and March 2020 budget, because of new priorities post-pandemic. In a speech in the House of Lords, Baroness Featherstone criticised the Government for not committing to the creative industries pipeline through education and training. She pointed to a number of reports about how much the job market will shift over the next decade. For example, McKinsey’s ‘Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce’ says creativity and critical thinking will become central as routine tasks are automated; a World Economic Forum report from 2020 says that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, and creativity, originality and initiative are among the top ten skills needed. Cultural Learning Alliance
Global normalcy index shows some changes, including working from home, will become permanent
The Economist has created a ‘global normalcy index’, spanning 50 countries and assessing which activities will and will not bounce back post-pandemic. Globally, retail footfall and time spent outside the home is the same or higher than before Covid-19. However, some activities will decline, with cinema-going highlighted as staying at 80% of pre-pandemic levels. Working from home is also here to stay, and some museums may have to recalibrate to the fact of potential visitors being less likely to find themselves in urban centres during the week. Economist
What families want from museum shops – from sensory toys to sustainability
Kids in Museums has published a new report on how families with children view museum shops and what aspects could be improved for this audience. One aspect is affordability: two thirds of families say that the shop is an important part of a museum visit, but 76% said that they were only sometimes or rarely affordable. Favourite requests were pocket money priced toys (£3-£5), children’s books and art and craft supplies. However, some were also concerned about sustainability and the amount of plastic in products aimed at children – Manchester Museum is among those leading the way with a fair trade and planet-friendly offer. Sensory toys are important to SEND families in particular, and there were also calls for gender-neutral toys. Retaining cash payments is also important to families without bank cards, as well as enabling children to do simple maths and learning shopping skills. Kids in Museums
New Curriculum for Wales offers opportunities for museums and heritage sites
In 2022, the Welsh Government is rolling out a new Curriculum for Wales to primary and secondary schools, focused on skills development and sophistication of understanding, creativity and a sense of belonging, rather than covering an ever-growing body of content. The museum education charity GEM has been funded to provide training and support to Welsh museums to create useful learning opportunities within the new structure. The curriculum is built around four purposes, creating: ambitious, capable young people able to learn throughout their lives; enterprising, creative contributors at work; ethical, informed citizens and healthy, confident individuals. GEM (Welsh/English), Education Wales (introduction to the new curriculum)
Young people challenge on climate at first post-pandemic museum Takeover Day
70 museums took part in the annual Kids in Museums Takeover Day, which this year had a theme of acting on the climate emergency at around half of all venues. Programming included:
Primary school children took part in a live stream event hosted by the London Transport Museum to ask adults in the transport industry what actions they are taking to protect the environment for future generations.
At Perth Museum & Art Gallery young people curated a local photography exhibition illustrating factors affecting the local environment.
At the National Museum of Scotland, pupils attended a film screening of three short films they created on how museums can help tell the story of the climate emergency. They then discussed with senior leadership how the museum can better address the issue.
At the National Justice Museum, Nottingham young people helped to develop the new ‘Young People and Protest’ exhibition. They made their own protest placards, working with an artist, and debated climate change in one of the museum’s courtrooms.
The events also had a good presence on social media, reaching two million people on twitter. Dates for 2022 will be announced in the new year. Kids in Museums, Twitter, Instagram
New resources on culture and young people’s mental health
One in ten young people are estimated to be living with a mental health diagnosis in the UK. The Centre for Cultural Value has produced a new research digest, summarising the impact of arts and culture, ranging from distraction to coping with trauma and creating safe spaces. Particularly centred around music, literature and theatre, the overview gives case studies of current work. Culture Hive, CCV
Creative Access offers support for a wider group of candidates to join the creative industries
Creative Access is a scheme to help a wider group of people join the creative industries, including work in museums, and to flourish once appointed to an entry level job or internship. Its site lists opportunities available with partner employers, currently including Tate and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Those applying through Creative Access gain support including CV consultations, application assistance, a post-appointment entry level support programme and a development programme after a year in post. Creative Access
Museum Fellowships now open for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people
The Curating for Change programme, which is creating better employment pathways for d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people in museums, is now recruiting a first round of Curatorial Fellows. Each Fellow will receive on-the-job experience at one of nine museums in England, a salary of £18,750, flexible working options, mentoring and networking opportunities and the opportunity to make sure disabled people and their history are represented in museums through curating exhibitions or events. The deadline for applications is 10am on 10th January. Screen South
Royal Pavilion & Museums faces restructure to save £300k
The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust in Brighton and Hove is facing a restructure across its five museum sites to make savings of £300k after an ‘incredibly difficult 18 months for the culture sector due to Covid’. The changes will involve some redundancies as well as the creation of new income-generating roles. A consultation will be completed in January. Museums Journal
The Museum Freelance network will close after six years of supporting freelances through events, reports and advocacy, giving its organisers Marge Ainsley and Christina Lister more time for other commitments. Fair Museum Jobs will now house the resources developed by the network so they are not lost. Museums Journal, Museum Freelance, Museum Freelance
Emmie Kell has been appointed as Arts Council England’s new Museums and Cultural Property Director, moving on from her role as CEO of Cornwall Museums Partnership. Emmie will take up post at ACE in March 2022. ACE, Arts Industry, CMP
Eilish McGuinness has been appointed as new Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund, succeeding Ros Kerslake at the end of December. She is currently NLHF’s Executive Director of Business Delivery. NLHF, Museums Journal
Sir Peter Bazalgette has been appointed as the industry co-Chair of the Creative Industries Council, alongside Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. He succeeds BBC Director-General Tim Davie, from 1st December. Gov.uk
Paul Reid, former Director of Black Cultural Archives, has been appointed interim head of the International Slavery Museum, while Richard Benjamin is on a two year secondment to the University of Liverpool. Museums Journal
Lisa Anderson has been appointed as Interim Managing Director of Black Cultural Archives. Museums Journal
Following a reshuffle by the Labour Party, Lucy Powell is now Shadow Culture Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Labour Party
‘No more one-off surveys’ – NLHF invites participation in Heritage Pulse
NLHF is launching a new approach to finding out the views and needs of the heritage sector – including museums and galleries – called Heritage Pulse. It is seeking a diverse group of people who manage or support heritage work in the UK to give views on a quarterly basis. The longer term nature means that, unlike with one-off surveys, participants don’t have to keep repeating basic information about their organisations or roles. Instead, they can choose the subjects that most interest them to feed in, in a less time-consuming way. Initial topics are likely to include organisational resilience, financial health, public engagement, Covid-19 secure experience and diversity and inclusion. Participants will help NLHF to see what is needed by the sector over time, helping it to develop strategy and make the case for investing in heritage. In return, they will receive insights from the programme to inform their own strategies. The first survey runs in January, and organisations are encouraged to sign up by the end of the year to take part. NLHF (Heritage Pulse), NLHF (short film overview)
ACE has launched a new survey on Private Investment in Culture survey, the first in some time to gather this information. It covers the last three financial years, and will be the main source of data on the role that corporate partnerships, individual giving and grants from trusts and foundations play in supporting arts and culture. It will be central to understanding trends in cultural fundraising and enable better advocacy and support. It will also inform a wider study of private investment in culture in England, with a report due to be published in Spring 2022, building on previous research commissioned by ACE and exploring changes that may have occurred due to Covid-19. The deadline for participation is noon on 12th January. ACE
MGS seeks sector professionals to shape its national strategy after 2023
Museums Galleries Scotland is inviting people in all roles in Scottish museums and galleries to contribute to its second national strategy for the sector which will launch in 2023. For its initial discovery phase, MGS is holding a series of roundtables to discuss themes of society, economy and environment. The first on 6th December focuses on human rights and sustainable development goals, with further themed events running to February 2022. MGS
BEIS consultation: phasing out fossil fuel installations in public buildings
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is consulting on plans to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating systems in businesses and public buildings during the 2020s. It seeks views on:
using the natural replacement cycle to phase out fossil fuel based heating systems
prioritising the largest buildings first
choosing a heat pump first approach
plus views on costs and ability to pay.
It is keen to hear from non-domestic building owners and tenants. The deadline for responses is 11.45pm on 12th January. BEIS
New date for the BBC ‘Art That Made Us’ Festival – with opportunities for museums to take part
As first announced in October, the BBC has partnered with museums and galleries for a new ‘Art That Made Us’ Festival, which will now be taking place at a slightly later date of 1st-30th April 2022. Coinciding with an eight part series on BBC Two of the same name, it will spotlight examples of the creativity within UK collections, with programming including talks, displays, tours and workshops. Events will be promoted through the BBC’s networks, stations and digital platforms, to help cultural organisations draw in audiences, as well as on Culture24’s Museum Crush with BBC branding. All museums, galleries, libraries and archives are welcome as Festival Partners and no institution is too big or event too small, and it is hoped that the new dates will help museums to programme to coincide with their Easter holiday events. NMDC is among the stakeholders supporting the festival alongside Art UK, Art Fund, AIM, The Black Curriculum, Culture24, Libraries Connected, MA and the Scottish Libraries Information Council. The related ‘Art That Made Us’ television programme will be a new cultural history of the British Isles from the earliest recorded period to modern times, with each programme featuring eight to ten objects from museums and heritage sites that contribute to the narrative. BBC, BBC (sign up as Festival Partner)
AIM is offering a new event, ‘Introduction to government and museums’. Led by Lisa Ollerhead, AIM Director and former DCMS Head of Museums Policy, and featuring the current DCMS Head of Museums Policy, George Stanley-Jones, it will describe how what happens in government affects the day-to-day life running of museums. The event takes place on 8th December online from 11am-12.30pm. AIM
Charity Finance Group – risk management for charities
Charity Finance Group is holding ‘Risk 22’ – a conference outlining good risk management, including preparing for disaster recovery and identify emerging risks. The event takes place online on 27th January. Tickets are £160 for those not members of AIM or CFG. AIM, Charity Finance Group
Medicine, Myth and Memory: Trusted Voices in the Pandemic
The UK Medical Collections Group is holding an event ‘Medicine Myth and Memory: Trusted Voices in the Pandemic’. It will look at the role of medical museums and how they provide a crucial long view on medicine and health against the backdrop of the pandemic, as well as discussing the challenges and uncertain futures they now face. Case studies include sharing doctors’ voices on the pandemic at the Royal College of Physicians Museum, programming at Dr Jenner’s House and enhancing the Science Museum catalogue with volunteers from the Thalidomide Society. The event takes place online on 9th December 2021 from 10-3pm and is free (drop in for selected talks welcome for those who can’t make the whole day.) Thackray Museum
The latest event in the V&A’s Culture in Crisis events series is ‘Collaborate for Climate’ which looks at the role that heritage can play in developing strategies and practical frameworks to support the fight to protect the planet. It brings together three heritage specialists who describe how they are working to unite people and networks within and beyond the sector. The event takes place online on 6th December from 2-3pm and is free. V&A
Culture sector peer learning group for leaders working with young people
Cultural education charity A New Direction is offering a six month long peer learning group for leaders whose work focuses significantly on children and young people. It will particularly address themes of the future of freelancing, decentralising power and change models. There will be monthly two hour sessions beginning in January – the deadline for applications is 15th December. A New Direction
Doing the work: embedding anti-racism and decolonisation in museum practice
The Contemporary Art Society is running a new online workshop series ‘Doing the work: embedding anti-racism and decolonisation in museum practice’ running across six sessions from January to July 2022. Each will have a relatively small group of 25-30 participants, concentrating on real life examples, and practical implementation for ‘under pressure museum staff’ rather than the issues in theory. It is run by CAS’s Ilaria Puri Purini and Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton of the Decolonising Arts Institute and is open to CAS museum members and professionals. Contemporary Art Society
RLUK event series: the digital curation shift – and why digital strategies fail
Research Libraries UK has announced more webinars in its series charting the effects of the digital shift for collections, services and audiences, and running through to April next year. Upcoming events include:
‘The Digital Curation Shift’ – looking at the shift for libraries from predominantly analogue to mainly digital acquisitions. 8th December, from 2pm.
‘Technology is Not the Answer: Why “Digital” is Not the Most Important Aspect of Your Digital Strategy’. This event looks at research into why digital strategies succeed or fail, finding complex answers. 19th January, 2pm.
All events are free, and speakers have been announced through to April. RLUK
Museums Immersive Network: Sustainable Solutions and Creative Communities
Museums Immersive Network has announced its 2022 conference ‘Sustainable Solutions and Creative Communities’. It has two themes: firstly, exploring the ways that immersive and digital technology can be implemented in sustainable ways in the museums and heritage sector. Secondly, discovering immersive projects and programmes which have put communities at the centre of their development or impact. The event is on 2nd February 2022 and is free. MIN
Very short talks: Museum iD looks at transforming museum experience
Museum iD has published the very short talks from its 2021 conference ‘Transforming Museum Experience’. Typically five to ten minutes long, they look at the present situation of museums and the opportunities for change. Tony Butler’s talk ‘Within Limits’ argues that museums should think less about growth and more about preserving what we already have; People’s History Museum Director Katy Ashton discusses ‘The Campaigning Museum’ and National Museums Liverpool Director Laura Pye discusses ‘The Future of Museums: Life After Covid’. Museum iD (all talks), Museum iD (Butler), Museum iD (Ashton), Museum iD (Pye)
Paul Mellon Centre launches online archive of 100,000 photographs of art and architecture
The Paul Mellon Centre has launched an online archive of 100,000 reference photographs taken between 1964 and 69 of British paintings, sculpture, architecture and the decorative arts. More than 44,000 of the images are available with a Creative Commons licence for non-commercial purposes. There is also a collection of films and essays to give context to the materials – one looks at how the project addressed the use of offensive language in the collection, without erasing the history of use of those terms. The solution was to record and index both historic and modern titles for the material. Paul Mellon Centre, PMC (films), PMC, (addressing offensive language)
Conservation work reveals King Alfred statue is 50% upcycled Minerva
Conservation work on the statue of King Alfred in Trinity Church Square, Southwark, has revealed that it is both much older and younger than previous estimates, which had dated it as medieval. The upper half of the 9th century ruler is made from Coade Stone, not invented until the 1770s. However, the lower half is recycled from a colossal ancient monument probably of Minerva, with features typical of 2nd century styling. Roman sculpture expert Professor Martin Henig told The Telegraph“it is part of a cult statue of a goddess from a major temple area by Roman Watling Street, part of which was excavated at nearby Tabard Square. We think that this came from one of the largest temples on the site.” BBC, Telegraph, Londonist
Export bars for Sargent painting and Tipu Sultan throne finial
The Government has placed export bars on two objects of exceptional interest:
‘The Earl of Dalhousie’ by John Singer Sargent, dated to 1899 has been valued at £7.5m and has a bar extended to March 2022.
A finial, which was one of eight gold tiger heads that adorned the throne of Tipu Sultan, known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ has received an export bar until February 2022, with a possible extension to June. It is valued at £1.5m. However, some commentators say that it was looted in the 18th century.
ACE announces phased approach to reopening its Accreditation Scheme
ACE has announced a phased return to its Accreditation scheme, which will not fully reopen until 1st July at the earliest. Those who receive an invitation at that point will still have six months to prepare ahead of the deadline. The scheme is open now to four groups: museums applying for the first time and ready to send in an eligibility questionnaire; those with full accreditation who have submitted a return; those holding a provisional award; and new applicants. There will be a further update in January 2022. ACE
ACE pauses Designation Scheme until 2023 for many stage one applications
ACE has announced that it will pause stage one applications to its Designation Scheme for cultural collections of outstanding significance, except for those started before 8th September 2021. These can still be submitted up until 19th January 2022 for consideration in the spring. For other stage one applicants, the scheme will reopen in 2023; stage two applications will continue as normal. Contact [email protected] with any queries.
NMDC research on green initiatives – call for case studies
Following on from the recent advocacy report, Green Museums: Tackling the Climate Crisis, NMDC is undertaking some further research into the sector’s work on green initiatives. We are keen to hear about examples of best practice in four areas:
Museums which have moved away from air conditioning (or never had it and make a virtue of this), both for galleries and stores.
Couriering of loans, transport of exhibitions etc.
Exhibition production (e.g. re-using materials, sharing resources etc).
Museums which have developed a sustainable approach to collecting.
If you have examples from your museum which you'd be happy to share please get in touch with Beth Reynard, NMDC’s Public Affairs Officer, to discuss in more detail: [email protected]
The group Museums for Climate Action has launched a new toolkit to mobilise museums and help them respond to the climate challenge. With 64% of people across 50 countries in a huge poll agreeing that climate change is an emergency, there is also a clear public mandate for a comprehensive shift in practice. The toolkit offers a framework to think about how climate change will affect individual institutions, and how to embed climate action in everyone’s job on an everyday basis. It also offers a simple guide to understanding what your emissions are and how to reduce them – plus assessing risk, and how to be resilient to the inevitable changes to weather and climate in the coming decades. Museums for Climate Action
‘If the internet was a country, it would be the seventh largest polluter’ – improving your online footprint
A recent webinar ‘How to improve your website’s carbon footprint’ from the agency HdK outlines the huge amount of energy used by digital, and the new practices and innovations that will help to reduce it. Currently, the internet is on course to be responsible for 20% of all electricity consumption within three years. This is in part because even unvisited web pages are using up energy on a server somewhere simply by being online. Therefore removing unread content is a positive first step and also good for SEO. Film and image files take up the most space, but a new generation of image formats including WebP and image shrinkers such as Google’s Squoosh can help. Website carbon calculators can give you a picture in a single click of how well a website is currently performing. Email also contributes heavily to carbon footprints, so sending only necessary emails is also a good strategy. HdK (full webinar recording), Website carbon calculator, Squoosh
Also: A fifth of ACE’s National Portfolio Organisations have failed to consistently report on carbon emissions since 2012-13, with 46 failing to report more often than not over the five years to 2019-20. Mandatory reporting, suspended during the pandemic, will resume in 2022, and in general reporting has improved since 2015. Arts Professional
Julie’s Bicycle launches new policy portal on culture and climate
Culture and environment organisation Julie’s Bicycle has called on governments to make a greater use of culture in assisting the practical and cultural shift to a green future. It writes: “culture is vital to national economies, contributing creative skills and innovation, and influencing lifestyles, tastes and consumption.” It has also launched a policy portal, gathering together national and international examples of work in practice. Julie’s Bicycle
ACE announces ‘Unlocking Collections’ as a time-limited priority theme for new grants
ACE’s revised National Lottery Project Grants will include opportunities to apply around time-limited themes across the ten years of the Let’s Create strategy. From now until November 2022 museums are encouraged to apply around the theme of ‘Unlocking Collections’. ACE is seeking work which:
Reinterprets collections to reach a wider audience and better understand provenance.
Implements collections reviews improving the standard of storage and display.
Uses digital tools and mechanisms within museums, and to link across the sector.
ACE has ringfenced £4.7m for a new Volunteering Futures fund within its National Lottery Project Grants. Bids should be over £100k, with no upper limit. Projects should create better volunteering opportunities for young people, as well as those who experience loneliness, barriers to volunteering, or live in areas where there are fewer volunteering opportunities. Expressions of interest close for this fund on 7th December, before invitations to full application stage in January. ACE (twitter thread), ACE (apply), ACE (blog)
ACE opens second round of the Emergency Resource Support Fund
ACE has opened a second round of the Emergency Resource Support Fund, open to organisations that were financially sustainable before Covid-19 but are now at risk of failure within 12 weeks, having exhausted all other options for increasing their resilience. Grants will range from £25k-£3m, but with some limits if a Cultural Recovery Fund grant has been previously received. The programme is open to rolling applications from 29th November until 28th January. However, the last date for submitting a permission to apply request is noon on 11th January. Applicants will hear the outcome within six weeks. ACE
New Freelands Art Fund support offers up to £50k to acquire works by women
A new partnership between Freelands Foundation and Art Fund is offering grants for museums to acquire contemporary art by women artists in the UK and increase public access to their work. Up to £50k is available per artist collected. Fully or partially accredited museums, galleries, historic houses, libraries and archives based anywhere in the UK can apply to the fund. The first application deadline is 28th January, with decisions in the spring. Art Fund
Horizon Europe opens for applications from consortia early next year, with opportunities for UK museums
The UK remains part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation scheme on an equal footing with EU members, and museums are encouraged to join consortia of applicants. AHRC’s Jamie Davies said “we are at the start of the seven-year Horizon Europe funding period and we encourage the UK museum sector to consider applying for or being part of European research proposals within this period… UK expertise, close relationships with European colleagues and a desire to build new relationships means that these are opportunities not to be missed.” Calls for collaborative projects open on 20th January and close on 20th April 2022. Museums Journal, UKRI, (information for UK applicants), Gov.uk
Further £107m awarded in grants from the Cultural Recovery Fund
927 cultural organisations have shared £107m in the latest round of the Cultural Recovery Fund. This consists of:
£100m to 870 previous recipients of Cultural Recovery funding to help them survive and resume programmes and events.
£6.5m in emergency funding to 57 organisations in need of urgent financial support.
There were around 20 museum recipients including Tullie House (£154k), Norfolk Museums Service (£228k), Whitworth Gallery (£210k) and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (£87k). A new round of the Emergency Resource Fund has now opened – see under ‘Funds open for applications’ above. Gov.uk, Museums Journal
NLHF gives £1m support to 17 projects to support digital volunteering
NLHF has given £1m to 17 projects which support volunteers to contribute and develop digital skills in museum and heritage settings. The work is part of its Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, with opportunities both online and in person. Projects include:
Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust will train 50 new volunteers to help develop new digital experiences, alongside local partners including the University of Brighton. Volunteers will learn skills including narrative design, audio editing and interviewing, and will create a new audio guide for Preston Manor including its history and reputation as a haunted house and an AI-driven one minute storytelling app, based around museum objects.
At Manchester Museum volunteers will help develop a Multilingual Digital Platform to showcase Manchester’s linguistic diversity and foster pride in that heritage. It will pilot a new approach to remote volunteering, engaging volunteers from across the city and beyond to contribute digital content in multiple languages. Volunteers will acquire skills to digitise objects and collect interpretations and personal responses to collections. Digitising Multilingual Heritage will launch in early 2022, to find out more or register your interest please email [email protected].
Work by VocalEyes to train 30 to 50 d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people to ensure museum and heritage websites are accessible, including by benchmarking and running tests.
Art Fund seeks to raise £1m for programmes for young people in museums and galleries
The Art Fund is launching a new public fundraiser ‘Energise Young Minds’ to reach a target of £1m for programming for young people in museums and galleries. £550k is already earmarked from National Pass Holder donations and existing funds. Two thirds of museums told the Art Fund that reaching younger audiences is a top priority, but a third have no published programme for young people. Meanwhile, redundancies in learning and engagement teams have been widespread. Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman said, “There is an almost perfect storm brewing. During lockdown, school trips to museums and galleries were not possible – and it’s not clear that these will resume at previous levels.We cannot allow cultural poverty for kids and must act now to help young people, those with least access to experiencing the arts, have opportunities to enjoy all that the UK’s museums can offer.” Donations to the fund will be spent from 2022 onwards. Art Fund, M+H, Museums Journal, Arts Industry
Museums Change Lives – Scottish Crannog Centre and Mixed Museum among winners
The Museums Association has announced the winners in its annual Museums Change Lives Awards. They are:
Best Small Museum Project: Scottish Crannog Centre for its apprenticeship scheme offering training and work opportunities to five young people in rural Scotland.
Best Museums Change Lives Project: the National Justice Museum for its ‘workshop in an envelope’ project which was distributed to prisoners and the general public during the pandemic, with some resulting artworks collected for display. The vast majority of participants had not visited the museum.
Digital Engagement Award: the Mixed Museum for its Brown Babies digital exhibition on the experiences of 50 people born to Black GI fathers and white mothers during the Second World War.
The Radical Changemaker Award went to Sam Bowen for the SEND In Museums project. Since 2017, Sam has run projects across the South East linking museums with special needs learning groups.
Lewisham announces its plans as London Borough of Culture 2022
Lewisham has announced its outline programme, as it prepares to become London Borough of Culture 2022, with a mix of music, dance, debate, public art and more. It will focus on themes including the borough’s history of activism, diverse communities and action on the climate emergency. It launches with a whole-borough music and dance event on 28th January 2022. We Are Lewisham, Arts Industry
‘Start with your stories, not the tech’ – a beginner’s guide to immersive technology
Culture24 has published a short guide to immersive technology for museums – covering definitions of virtual, augmented and mixed reality approaches as well as haptics, with examples for each of the range of ways museums have deployed them in practice. It advises those thinking about trying immersive approaches to ‘start with your stories, not the tech’ – and to focus on which stories you can tell that would be difficult to convey through traditional displays. It also touches on audiences (younger people may be more familiar with the technology, but also have higher expectations) and how VR can assist accessibility. Building basic immersives in-house may be attainable through Facebook’s Spark AR, but for more complex work there is also a guide to how to find a reliable tech partner. Culture24
Also: the longlist has been published for the Digital Culture Awards, with examples of digital excellence around digital storytelling, digital inclusion, data, social, content generation, income generation and digital trailblazers. Digital Culture Network
MA publishes new guidance, Supporting Decolonisation in Museums
The MA has published new guidance, Supporting Decolonisation in Museums, which aims to empower more people to address the legacy of British colonialism and how it is implicit in museum collections and they way they are currently interpreted. It takes as a starting point that “despite the formal end of colonial rule, the legacies of empire remain with us in many current political struggles and everyday experiences… [decolonisation] aims to rebalance power and representation away from the coloniser narrative of history and society.” The ten central principles of the guidance include challenging the idea that current museum narratives are neutral, especially when they have gaps or are silent about underprivileged perspectives. It describes decolonisation as an active, long term project, and that sometimes ethical practice means moving away from what was previously regarded as best practice. It also calls for building relationships with communities under-represented in museums.
Meanwhile, curators have also spoken to Museums Journal about applying this work in military museums, which have loyal audiences wary of what decolonisation might entail. Curators at RAF Museum London, Bodmin Keep and the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent have emphasised that the work is not about taking things away, but telling a more rounded and complex history. The Royal Engineers Museum is running a project ‘Making African Connections’ with the local Sudanese community and the RAF Museum recently ran an event looking at those who fought for Britain while opposing British colonial rule in their home countries. Museums Journal (decolonisation report), Museums Journal, (military museums)
In brief: Western museums, Benin bronzes and restitution
Objects taken in the 1897 British looting of Benin’s royal palace were sold off and are now scattered in 160 collections around the world. Recently much of the international movement around restitution has centred around these collections.
Around a thousand Benin bronzes are held by museums in Germany. Many have collectively decided to start the process of returning them to Nigeria, with some expected to be transferred in 2022. However, The Economist writes that “privately, German officials and curators express concern at divisions within Nigeria between the Oba of Benin (the region’s traditional king) and the local state government, and frustration at delays in building a secure facility to house the bronzes in the country. A compromise seems likely: the physical return of a minority of the objects, plus the legal transfer of the remainder, which will stay in Germany for now.“
The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art in Washington has announced that it will take its Benin bronzes off display and intends to repatriate them.
The University of Oxford has listed 145 objects in its collections taken in the Benin raids and new guidelines for repatriation requests were written in July 2020, although no process is yet underway.
Cambridge University's Jesus College, which became the first institution in the world to return a bronze to Benin, is now seeking permission from the Church of England to relocate a memorial to Tobias Rustat, an investor with the Royal African Company from its college chapel. Objectors told The Times that his profits from slavery were only 1.3% of the wealth he gave away at the end of his life.
The Economist adds that there is concern that return processes are being defined by Europe, with little input from the societies that will receive them, but by contrast points to the opening of the John Randle Centre in Lagos in 2022. Named after one of the first Africans to qualify as a doctor in Britain, it will celebrate Yoruba culture and history and be 'full of the sounds and images of the marketplace and everyday culture', in contrast to many colonial-era museums. Economist, Art Newspaper, Art Newspaper (University of Oxford), Guardian (Jesus College), Times, John Randle Centre, British Museum (John Randle Centre)
National Gallery research reveals links with the slave trade – and ambivalent 19th century attitudes
The National Gallery has published a list of donors, sitters and artists who have connections to either slavery, abolition or both. To date, it has identified 67 figures with links to slavery, 27 connected to abolition, and a further 27 with a complex mixture of both. For example, William Wordsworth is referenced both for his abolitionist poem ‘To Thomas Clarkson. On the Final Passing of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade’ (1807) and for having elsewhere written that “slavery is not in itself and at all times and under all circumstances to be deplored”. These initial findings focus on the 19th century; further work is now looking at collectors from 1640 and trustees and donors from 1880 to 1920. Art Newspaper, National Gallery
Picton removed from display at National Museum Cardiff ahead of reinterpretation plans
National Museum Cardiff has taken a full length portrait of Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton off display for the first time in a century, so that it can spend a few months on reinterpretation, as part of the youth-led ‘Reframing Picton’ project. The museum said in a statement “[he] has previously been hailed as a public hero but is equally notorious for his cruel treatment of Black enslaved people and free people, and for sanctioning torture during his governance of Trinidad, from 1797 to 1803.” A statue of Picton, who was tried in 1806 for torture, was removed last year from the ‘Welsh heroes’ gallery of Cardiff City Hall where it had been displayed since 1916. Journalist Huw Edwards tweeted concern that the changes at National Museums Wales might amount to ‘censoring history’, and subsequently accepted NMW’s invitation to discuss the future of the portrait. The museum tweeted “we aren't getting rid of anything, just providing more information about the man in the portrait and putting the portrait back on display in the coming months.” In line with changes to the school curriculum in Wales in 2022, the museum will also be creating new educational resources on the history and achievements of communities experiencing racial inequality. Museums Journal, Telegraph, Art Newspaper, NMW, Blooloop, BBC (2020 – Cardiff City Hall)
From local to global: Scarborough Museum links history, race and environment
Scarborough Museums Trust is running a year long project ‘From Local to Global’ connecting communities in East Yorkshire with those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to reappraise a colonial collection held by SMT and start a conversation about race and the environment. The Harrison collection includes animal trophies hunted by Colonel James Harrison (1857-1923) in the Congo in 1904 and 1908, plus other artefacts including diaries, gramophone discs and photographs, forming a record of the colonial past. In 1904, Harrison also brought back six people from the Ituri Forest and toured them around the country in public exhibitions. SMT Chief Executive Andrew Clay said: "This project is really meaningful to us as it gives us the chance to sensitively reappraise a collection that has been hidden from view for a number of years. Visitors will be able to see the Harrison Collection and critically examine how Africa has been represented in ways that have not yet been addressed.” Gifty Burrows who will run the project adds "the project's design brings together many complex themes but with strands that are recognisable as contemporary issues such as the loss of species, our changing environment and the hidden aspect of forced labour in ways that link Yorkshire to the wider world."Scarborough Museums Trust
Major cultural funders support arm’s length principle ahead of new decolonisation skills programme
Four major cultural funders will be supporting a new Museums Association ‘Decolonisation Confidence and Skills’ programme, which launches in 2022. Ahead of this, Art Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, John Ellerman Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation have made a short statement in support of the sector telling ‘the UK’s complex history fully’, and upholding the arm’s length principle. The statement reads in part: “our support is underpinned by our belief in the importance of the independence of the charity sector, and those that fund them, and the arm’s-length principle, as well as academic freedom and freedom of expression. This independence is something to cherish as a marker of a democratically representative and healthy society. Without it, we risk only a partial retelling of our shared history and stories, something which could reinforce inequalities and power structures that have no place in a global UK.” Museums Journal
Museum of the Home lays plans to move and reinterpret statue of Robert Geffrye
The Museum of the Home has announced its wish to move the statue of Robert Geffrye, who gained a fortune through the slave trade, from the front of its Grade I listed building to a less prominent place. Removal had community support in July 2020, when there was a public consultation on the topic, but the statue was retained in situ after an intervention from then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in support of a ‘retain and explain’ approach. Since July, teachers from nearby London boroughs and campaign group Stand Up To Racism have called for a boycott of the museum until the statue is moved to ‘a more appropriate place’. Following the news, local MP Diane Abbott tweeted “good news that Museum of the Home wants to move statue of slave trader Sir Robert Geffrye from its position in pride of place at the front of the museum. A victory for the campaigners.” In its statement the Museum said “we feel that the statue of Robert Geffrye on the front of the Museum’s buildings does not promote the sense of belonging that is so important for our visitors, and fundamental to the Museum’s values. We believe there is potential to retain the statue on site but in an alternative and less prominent space, where we can better tell the full story of the history of the buildings and Robert Geffrye’s life, including his involvement in transatlantic slavery.” Changes to the Grade I listed building will need the involvement of stakeholders, including Listed Building Consent and anticipated guidance from DCMS. Museum of the Home, BBC, Evening Standard, The Art Newspaper, Museums Journal, Guardian
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