2022 Working Internationally Conference: Cynefin - Museum Practice for Future Generations
Cynefin (ku-nev-in), the evocative Welsh word, describes our relationship to the environment in which we live. The 2022 Working Internationally Conference connects pioneering Welsh museum practice with international museums on the challenges of climate change, ageing and bridging community divides. Over two days, the online conference will explore successful and award-winning museum projects designed to build better for future generations. Session topics include:
Climate change and a focus on the practical steps museums can take to reduce the impact of their operations and thus carbon emissions, and how to change the conversation through exhibitions and online content.
New thinking around museum programming for people living with dementia that draws on policies such as the Welsh Dementia Action Plan, Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 and international initiatives regarding living and ageing well.
How museums work with and about refugees, exploring the increasing participation of museums in safeguarding human rights.
How ICOM UK Grant Programmes have helped UK museums to meet their ambitions for working with museums and collections internationally.
A conversation on the challenges and psychological discrepancies many students and emerging professionals face when they first enter the cultural sector, and how obstacles can be turned into opportunities.
Telling stories of identity in indigenous language.
Bridging community divides.
Agents of change within the cultural sector.
The conference is organised by ICOM UK in partnership with NMDC and the Federation of Museums & Art Galleries of Wales, with support from the British Council and Barker Langham. It is part funded by Welsh Government. It takes place on 7th – 8th April online. Tickets are £10 (students and some volunteers), £25 (including for NMDC members), £50 (standard entry), ranging up to £100 for institutional tickets for multiple staff. ICOM (full programme, speakers and booking),
Watch by Livestream: Museums and Galleries responding to the Climate and Ecological Crisis Conference
We are pleased to announce that NMDC’s sold-out conference ‘Museums and Galleries responding to the Climate and Ecological Crisis’ will now be available to watch as a livestream. Hosted at Whitworth Manchester, it will ask how museums and galleries can fulfil their long-term mission to preserve collections and stories for the future in the face of an existential threat, and seeks to answer two questions: ‘What can museums do to reduce their environmental impact?’ and ‘How can museums inspire positive action?’. Speakers include Zehra Ahmed & Jenny Newell of the Australian Museum – which has one of the most advanced sustainability action plans among museums, Professor Carly McLachlan of Tyndall Manchester and Heath Lowndes of Galleries Climate Coalition. Speakers from several museums including NHM, Horniman, Climate Museum, Manchester Museum, Design Museum and York Museums Trust will also take part, alongside Opera North. The social media hashtag is #GreenConf. The event takes place on 7th and 8th March, and the livestream is free. NMDC, NMDC (Green Museums report), LIVESTREAM (Whitworth YouTube channel)
National Gallery X project seeks to close the ‘values gap’ and encourage climate action in the home
National Gallery X, a collaboration between the National Gallery and King’s College London has announced the creatives for its new Home-Zero project, which will encourage the public to think about the link between household emissions and climate change. Supported by Nesta, as part of its plan to ‘significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2030’, the work will aim to close the ‘values gap’ which currently means that while 85% of the public think climate is one of the most important issues to address, only 35% have adopted energy efficiency measures. Musician Love Ssega will work with the Shadwell Ensemble to create an immersive musical piece on sustainable social housing for the gallery. He said “we have to tackle both climate change and generation rent, and that can only best be done by bringing diverse voices into the conversation. The National Gallery is such a beautiful setting so I’m excited to share this experience with as many young people of colour and from marginalised backgrounds as possible.” Meanwhile Makers of Imaginary Worlds, a Nottingham based installation studio and performing arts company will focus on choices families can make in their homes. King’s College London
Stephen Hawking’s Cambridge office now on display at the Science Museum
Professor Stephen Hawking’s Cambridge office has gone on display at the Science Museum, after being acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme last year. It includes a blackboard covered in scribbles and in-jokes from a Superspace and Supergravity conference held in 1980. Exhibition curator Juan-Andres Leon comments “now that it’s in the museum, we hope some of the scientists who wrote on it will swing by and help us understand what it means.” Other items on display include Hawking’s motorised wheelchair, his PhD thesis and a bet that information swallowed by a black hole is lost forever. Over 700 items were acquired by the museum in total: these will be described and displayed online over time. Guardian, Telegraph
British Museum makes major plans to modernise 170 year old fabric
The British Museum is creating a Masterplan, ‘the Rosetta Project’ for a major overhaul of the fabric of its 170 year old building, alongside work to rethink its galleries. A new curator is already leading work on ‘Reimagining the British Museum’, looking at how to give prominence to under-displayed subjects, including the Africa, Oceania and South America collections. The museum will also replace its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems over the next few years to improve environmental sustainability. The British Museum’s new Chairman, George Osbourne will be leading on a strategy to fund the major works. A museum spokesperson said that the Rosetta Project is in an early stage of development, with plans for a mix of private and public funding, adding “[the masterplan] will involve actively renovating our historic buildings and estate including our infrastructure and galleries. We will improve our visitor experience and this work will provide the collection with a new and powerful presence so the British Museum can continue to tell the stories of the world well into the future.”Museums Journal
Manchester Museum to reopen in 2023, with Golden Mummies exhibition
Manchester Museum has announced that it will reopen in February 2023, after completing its £15m ‘hello fulture’ project. Changes include a two-storey extension adding 25% to the building’s size. It will open with the international ‘Golden Mummies of Egypt’ showing in its Exhibition Hall, and with new permanent galleries including one dedicated to the stories, experiences, and contributions of South Asian communities. There will also be a quiet space, prayer space, therapy space and picnic area alongside a new shop and café. M + H, Manchester Evening News
Also: The People’s Palace and Glasshouse in Glasgow reopened full time in late February for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, following essential repairs. M + H
Images this month: The Ryedale Hoard goes on display at the Yorkshire Museum
A new exhibition 'The Ryedale Hoard: A Roman mystery' will go on display at the Yorkshire Museum next month as it reopens for the first time since October 2021. The hoard is a collection of bronze objects found by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field near Ampleforth in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, in May 2020. They are all preserved in outstanding condition with no corrosion. The finds include an 1,800 year old bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and are described as being 'some of Yorkshire's most significant Roman objects.' Acquisition was made possible through American donor Richard Beleson, with additional support from the Art Fund and individuals. YMT
A trainline runs through it – Museum of London announces plans ahead of closure for move to new site
The Museum of London will close for four years from this December, as it begins preparations for its move to a new site at West Smithfield. From this summer, there will be a six month celebration of the museum’s 45 year history at London Wall, where it has welcomed 21 million visitors since 1976. Then in 2025, there will be a festival at the new site, ahead of reopening under its new name ‘The London Museum’. As well as displaying many more collections, the new museum will open early and close late, reflecting London as a 24 hour city. Thameslink trains will rush through the galleries every few minutes between King’s Cross and Blackfriars – making it the only museum in the world with a trainline running through its galleries. The ground floor will retain the atmosphere of the old Smithfield marketplace, and act as a civic space for the capital, with exhibitions and events curated by Londoners. Museum of London Director Sharon Ament said “this will be more than a museum, it will tell the story of all Londoners – past, present and future; it will be a new civic space for millions of visitors to enjoy, 24 hours a day, and it will be a living, breathing building that buzzes with the energy of Londoners. It will bring a new economy and foster a new relationship between people and the place in which they live, work or are visiting.”Evening Standard, Museum of London, Museums Journal
Figures from national museums show beginnings of long climb back to pre-pandemic visitors
DCMS has published figures for visitors to the museums and galleries that it sponsors through the last quarter of 2021. These reveal the beginnings of a recovery in visitor figures, but show that it will be a long climb back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Figures across all venues were 1.54m in September 2021, rising to 2.04m in October, and then dipping again in November (1.6m) and December (1.3m) as the omicron variant took hold.
These are much better figures than the autumn of the previous year, when there was a peak of 0.8m in October 2020, falling to 0.26m in December 2020.
However, there is still a considerable way to go before DCMS sponsored museums recover to early 2019 figures – which ranged from 3.48m in January 2019 and 4.29m in March 2019.
NB: these figures exclude the Museum of the Home until June 2021, and NPG from March 2020 onwards, as both were shut for refurbishment work during those periods.
For comparison, the Association of Danish Museums reports that in 2021, its visitor numbers had declined by 40% compared with 2019.
Predicted inbound tourism for 2022 down by over half compared to 2019 – but with recovery by year end
Visit Britain has published its revised inbound tourism forecast for 2022. It predicts that:
Inbound visits will increase to 21.1m, and spending to £16.9bn. These are 52% and 59% respectively of the visits and spend levels seen in 2019.
This is a downgrade of 2.9m visits and £2.3bn in spend compared to the forecast in mid-November 2021, as a result of the omicron variant.
Although visits fell sharply in January, there was a pickup of flights in late February, with predictions of 50% of normal volumes by summer, and two thirds by the end of the year. It is also estimated that visitor stays will be longer than pre-pandemic.
Regional detail is published from the Annual Museum Survey 2021
Following publication last month of the countrywide headlines of the Annual Museum Survey 2021 , Museum Development England has now released regional reports revealing the full impact of the pandemic right across the country. Figures show that:
London, with its twin reliance on tourism and public transport had a 93% fall in visitors, lower only than the North East at 94%. London also recorded the lowest number of opening hours.
The percentage of museums making redundancies was high across the country, including 24% in the North East, 17% in Yorkshire, 27% in the South East and 34% in London. Overall, the national average was 22%.
A significant number of museums did not open at all in 2020 – 21, with the East of England at 39%, West Midlands at 40% and London 45%, compared to only 13% not opening at all in the South East. Museums were more likely to close in the most deprived quintile than the least (48% vs 27%). Virtually all larger museums (99%) reopened during the year.
Volunteering suffered across the country with existing volunteers dropping off and new recruitment falling by 40 – 61% across the regions, with London seeing the highest deficit.
Looking at how to begin the recovery in the capital, Ben Travers of Museum Development London said “the progress made by museums with their digital reach and in capitalising on shifting audience behaviours is important, but will never on its own replace the financial losses incurred during Covid. Museums will need to adapt thinking on income generation, and look more to trust funding and individual giving, areas we’ll be supporting them with over the coming year.” The Museum of London is also running an online volunteer recruitment training event later this month. NMDC (Feb – headlines from national report), MDUK (maps by region, with link to each regional report), MDSW (national report)
Mayor announces £10m campaigns to encourage tourists back to London
Domestic and international tourism to London is still significantly down on pre-pandemic numbers, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced two tourism campaigns to address this:
There will be a further £3m investment in the already-successful ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, aimed at UK visitors.
A new £7m marketing campaign to attract international tourists will begin in the Spring.
Before the pandemic, London was the third most visited city on the planet, driven largely by cultural and visitor attractions. However in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, overnight stays had halved to £60.8m from £147.4m, and spend per head had decreased dramatically, with those visitors spending £3.8bn in 2021, compared to £18.8bn in 2019. Sadiq Khan said “there is no doubt that the return of international tourism will be central to London’s economic recovery”. Mayor of London
Solidarity with Ukraine, and practical action from museums as Russia invades
Museum and cultural bodies internationally have united to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since hostilities began a week ago. The International Council of Museums expressed concern for staff in the war zone, pointed to resources for protecting collections and condemned the ‘violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine’. The Getty Institute said that the ‘unfolding cultural catastrophe’ means that millions of artworks and monuments are at risk – pointing to the Ivankiv Museum, north of Kyiv which has already been ‘deliberately burned to the ground’. It had contained 25 works by the Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko, now reportedly destroyed. Early in the invasion, Oleksandra Kovalchuk, Acting Director of the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, told The Art Newspaper that with Russian troops landed in the port city, “museum staff did their best to protect the collection while risking their lives”. Recent accounts are also emerging from the heart of the crisis: Dr Fedir Androshchuk, Director of National Museum of Ukraine is currently guarding his collections from potential looting. He writes: “I am very proud of my colleagues. Many of them came to the museum and helped to dismantle the permanent exhibition, pack objects, and store them in the basement. After this, two archaeologists and two young historians, my young colleagues, headed straight to the front.”
Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, DG of the Mystetskyi Arsenal National Culture, Arts and Museum Complex has written a letter appealing to international partners to ‘publicly share any successful stories of co-operation with Ukraine’ in the cultural sphere, as well as displaying the Ukrainian flag colours as an expression of solidarity. Cultural organisations and museums across the world are taking up this symbolic approach – but a highly practical response has also begun, especially from museums in Eastern Europe, building on partnerships developed in peace time. ICOM Poland is working on a plan to evacuate museum employees, and is also discussing the evacuation of objects. The National Museum in Warsaw is co-ordinating work to welcome families of employees of the National Gallery of Art in Lviv, and other museums are working on refugee programmes, or sending supplies into Ukraine. In its statement, the MA also highlights that Ukrainian museum workers may be especially vulnerable: “many…have previously been involved in human rights movements and many museums provide space for the promotion and discussion of human rights. This puts museum workers at particular risk in the current situation.”
As international businesses from oil companies to Apple withdraw from Russia, it’s clear that the same will be true for art and museum connections: the German organiser of one pan-European touring exhibition ‘Diversity United’ currently showing at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow has called for it to be ‘closed immediately’. Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko is also calling for a ban on Russian artists at international events from the Venice Biennale to art fairs. The situation continues to change rapidly, but with Russia currently shifting to more indiscriminate bombing of non-military targets, civilians and cultural heritage are in the line of fire. The Auschwitz Memorial said “As we stand at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, it is impossible to remain silent while, once again, innocent people are being killed purely because of insane pseudo-imperial megalomania. We express our absolute solidarity with the citizens and residents of the free, independent and sovereign Ukraine and with all Russians who have the courage to oppose this war”.New York Times, Apollo, maxwell museums (press summary) Auschwitz Memorial Museum, ICOM (full statement), Wall Street Journal, Art Newspaper (full set of articles on Ukraine), Evening Standard, Art Newspaper, (appeal to international partners), Getty Institute, Art Newspaper (Ivankiv Museum), Los Angeles Times, Art Newspaper, (San Francisco projections), Museums Journal (practical action from museums in Eastern Europe), Art Newspaper (call for exhibition closure), Guardian (fear for art and monuments), Twitter (account from National Museum of Ukraine)
Museums That Make Us – new R4 series looks at the purpose of museums in 2022
Neil MacGregor is presenting a new Radio 4 series ‘The Museums That Make Us’ looking at museums across the UK in 20 x 15 minute episodes. The series will “try to understand the purpose of these cherished institutions in 2022 and the challenges their directors and curators face.” It will look at communities served by museums from Wales and Northern Ireland to Birmingham, and how institutions themselves are evolving in response to changing social and cultural landscapes. The first episode ‘Stow and the Temple of British Worthies’ broadcasts on 7th March at 1.45pm on Radio 4. M + H, BBC
Dismissal reported of Whitworth Art Gallery Director
There have been widespread reports that the Whitworth Art Gallery Director Alistair Hudson has been dismissed by the University of Manchester as part of a fall out from the Forensic Architecture Cloud Studies exhibition last year, which included a statement of solidarity with Palestine. After the show opened, UK Lawyers for Israel complained that it contained inaccuracies. To date, neither the University of Manchester or Alistair Hudson have commented. However, 20 artists have now withdrawn from British Art Show 9, due to be held in Manchester this spring, “in support of political freedom, and artistic expression in cultural institutions and universities across the UK”. Museums Journal, Art Newspaper, Guardian, Art Newspaper
The Art Fund is running its third annual survey of museum directors – to gauge how organisations are coping and to help shape future support programmes. Initiatives such as ‘Respond and Reimagine’ have been developed in response to previous surveys. This year’s should take ten minutes to complete and the deadline has been extended to Friday 11th March. Art Fund, (survey link), Art Fund (blog)
This year’s Creativity and Wellbeing week will take place from 16th – 22nd May with the theme ‘get creative, get outdoors’. Individuals and organisations including museums are invited to add their events focused around culture, arts and wellbeing, whether they are taking place online or in person. The week is organised by the London Arts in Health Forum, in partnership with the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance. Creativity and Wellbeing
Heritage Day 2022 – discussing big issues from climate to emerging from the pandemic
The Heritage Alliance is holding its Heritage Day 2022 as a hybrid event, with the first day online and the second in person at Christ Church, Spitalfields. Reflecting on priorities for the heritage sector over the year ahead, it will include a panel session on what the sector has learned from the pandemic and how it can develop resilience, another on what the next decade holds, and keynotes from Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society Minister Nigel Huddleston MP and NLHF Chair Dr Simon Thurley. The event takes place on 9th and 10th March. Tickets are £16 - £53. The Heritage Alliance (book)
Using your collections to address Sustainable Development Goals: ICCROM workshops
Museums and archives are invited to take part in a series of online workshops, to discover how to use collections in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – with outcomes ranging from environmental sustainability to good health and poverty reduction. Run by the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), it will demonstrate how to use the new ‘Our Collections Matter’ toolkit to find the support and information necessary to make practical changes at museums. 20 collections-based organisations of all sizes and from across the world will be selected to take part: the deadline for applications is 31st March. ICCROM
Rural Voices Seminar Series – from virtual volunteering to Traveller histories
The Rural Museums Network has launched its 2022 Rural Voices Seminar Series – including the opportunity to dig deeper into last year’s topics – rural LGBTQ+ lives and representing Gypsy, Roma, and Travelling Communities in rural museums. A session on Virtual Volunteering provides practical suggestions, and support to those who work with rural life collections. These monthly seminars run from March – May with expert speakers sharing how rural collections and rural sites can better include a wider range of voices in the stories they tell. Sessions are on the Zoom platform and are free for members (institutional and individual) and £5 for non-members. Rural Museums Network
A number of events are covering how the cultural sector and attractions industry can respond to the climate crisis. Options over the next couple of months include:
Greenloop 2022 brings together environmental initiatives from across the visitor attractions industry. The event takes place online from 19th – 20th April 2022. Blooloop
MuseumNext is holding its Green Museums Summit on 28th – 30th March. A global line up of speakers includes Elisabeth Fenig of Museums for Future Austria, Paul Brooks, Head of Estates at IWM and Leslie Tom, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History. March. Tickets are from £25 (students) to £240 (whole museum ticket). MuseumNext
The British Council is holding three Greening the Museums webinars, discussing best practice for lowering the carbon footprint of museums and cultural heritage sites, including the experience of Blenheim Palace in going carbon neutral. The events are free and take place from 14th – 16th March. Bookings close on 10th March. British Council
Although sold out as an in-person event, NMDC’s ‘Museums and Galleries Responding to the Climate and Ecological Crisis’ event will be available to watch as a livestream. It takes place on 7th – 8th March. NMDC
Kids in Museums invites museum directors to join Digital #TakeoverDay
Kids in Museums Digital Takeover Day takes place on 1st July, when young people take over the social media accounts of museums, galleries, archives, heritage sites and sector influencers. This year, museum directors and heritage leaders are invited to get involved and lend their account to a young person. In previous years Tristram Hunt and Ed Vaizey have got involved in this way – sign up either to ask for the project to find a digital takeover placement, or to let Kids in Museums know that you already have a young nominee. Kids in Museums, Kids in Museums (youth panel intro), Kids in Museums (signup)
The American Alliance of Museums is running an event on ‘Sustainability Officers: The Museum Context’, which discusses their role in museums, and in helping museums to ‘walk the talk’ and reach a wider public with climate messaging. Two people already in the role will bring their insights to the discussion: Nancy Bechtol, Director of Smithsonian Facilities and Chief Sustainability Officer and Jean Savitsky, Director of Real Estate and Sustainability, Museum of Modern Art New York. The event is free and takes place on 9th March at 12 – 1pm EST, 5pm – 6pm GMT. AAM
The Museum of London is holding a one-day volunteering conference, with three sessions covering: widening participation and reducing barriers to volunteering; retaining, valuing and developing volunteers; supporting volunteer wellbeing. Attendees are welcome to come to a single session or all three. The event takes place on Zoom on 23rd March and is free. Museum of London
Heritage digital leaders needed to contribute to Culture24 webinars
Culture24 is seeking digital leaders in the broadest sense (not just senior management) to contribute to six online seminars on digital leadership, whether through speaking or offering case studies. The seminars will be given as part of the NLHF’s 'Digital Skills for Heritage' programme. It is currently particularly seeking contributions on the topic of 'Digital skills, literacy and capacity' (deadline 18th March) - with further topics throughout the Spring. Culture24
Touring Exhibitions Group Marketplace 2022: a chance to reconnect
The Touring Exhibitions Group is holding its first in-person event since the pandemic – the TEG Marketplace. With a theme of ‘reconnect’ there will be speakers on topics including partnerships and the future landscape of touring, plus 1-2-1 surgery sessions with Art Fund, ACE and TEG, and facilitated networking sessions. The Marketplace itself offers a chance to chat with suppliers to help with sourcing new exhibitions, meeting new partners and service providers to help create excellent exhibitions. The Marketplace will be at the People’s History Museum, Manchester on 28th April. Tickets are £55 - £77, with lunch and refreshments included (plus some options up to £200 to have a stall at the event.) TEG (book)
Museum Futures Summit: for those in workforce development and new joiners to the sector
The British Museum is hosting a one-day Museum Futures online summit to celebrate and learn from ten years of Heritage Fund Skills for the Future programming. It will explore the impact of paid entry-level training programmes - including traineeships, apprenticeships, fellowships, and Kickstart placements - designed to increase representation and accessibility within the cultural heritage sector workforce. It welcomes both those involved in workforce development and diversity, and those at the entry point or early stages of their museum careers, who can discuss their experiences. The event takes place on 8th March via Zoom and is free. Museum Futures
Reconsidering displays in the light of empire and slavery
Tate Modern to commission a new work of art ‘in dialogue’ with 1927 mural with racist elements
Painted in 1927 on the walls of a large basement restaurant room at Tate Britain, Rex Whistler’s ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’ has attracted controversy in recent years for its racist imagery, including the kidnap of a Black child and caricatured Chinese figures. In 2018, Tate put up an explanatory text about the racist content, before deciding just before the pandemic that the room could no longer appropriately be used as a restaurant. As part of a Grade I listed building, the work of art cannot be removed or damaged. The approach to commission a new work of art was developed through a series of discussions held in 2021 which invited voices from outside Tate to explore possible options, including artists, art historians, cultural advisors, civic representatives and young creative practitioners. Co-chairs of the Rex Whistler Mural Discussions commented on the process: David Dibosa of University of the Arts London said “it takes enormous courage to face our faults and we need to make space for an open hearing. That’s why I have taken part in these discussions and, even though it has not been easy, I can attest to the integrity of the work that has been done.” University of Oxford Professor Amia Srinivasan said “conversations about the mural were open, rigorous, and filled with good-natured but deep disagreement”. Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain said: “the mural is part of our institutional and cultural history and we must take responsibility for it, but this new approach will also enable us to reflect the values and commitments we hold today and to bring new voices and ideas to the fore.” Tate
Report reveals charities more likely to speak out after being under fire in culture war debates
The annual campaigners' survey from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation suggests that charities and civil society organisations have become more likely to speak out on contentious topics, after culture war issues engulfed organisations which for many years were seen as relatively politically neutral, including the National Trust and the RNLI. 63% said their organisation was no more or less likely to speak out on topics that might attract disagreement, but 30% said they had become more forthright as a result of coverage in the past year. National Trust Director of Communications Celia Richardson said “public scrutiny and debate are part of everyday life in the nation's institutions and charities. It's part of why we exist and no-one would want that to change. But when we become lightning rods or are used as platforms it can get in the way of us doing our jobs. Our response is always to stick to our mission and remind people of what we're here for.” Museums Journal, Sheila McKechnie Foundation, Guardian
London Museum of Water & Steam offers workspace for new #FreelancerFridays
The London Museum of Water and Steam has launched a new #FreelancerFridays scheme, aimed at museum freelances and local people who want the opportunity to work from a social space. It is opening the doors of its Community Meeting Room each Friday, offering four workspaces, with a commitment to reviewing how it develops. Workspaces are free, although donations are welcome. This is one of the first museum schemes to emerge in response to changing patterns of hybrid working. Water and Steam
'Let’s Get Real' action research programme on hybrid working
There is still time to apply to the new eight month action research programme on hybrid working run by Culture24 and Birmingham Museums Trust. The programme will help 32 cultural organisations work through the challenges and opportunities of this new style of working that is here to stay. The deadline for applications is 7th March, with the programme itself running from April - November. Culture24 (signup), Culture24 (hybrid working survey results)
DCMS shifts some offices to Manchester and North-East as part of the Levelling Up agenda
DCMS has announced that it will create ‘hundreds of new jobs’ in Manchester, Darlington and the North East as it moves some of its offices to the region as part of the Levelling Up agenda, making sure that “decisions being made about the arts, culture, sport, media and heritage better reflect the communities they impact”. Its primary base will be a new hub in Marble Street, Manchester, for up to 400 staff, and there are also plans for posts in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and Loughborough. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said “our strength comes from our people and this will allow us to recruit the best, wherever they may be, to deliver the wide range of DCMS policies which drive growth and enrich lives all over the UK.” Leader of Manchester City Council, Bev Craig said “this is welcome news. Not only is it a reflection of Manchester’s role as a northern epicentre for culture, media and sport - and our thriving tech sector - it is also a move which should help stimulate further innovation and investment in the city and beyond.” Gov.uk, ITV
Art UK moves its English office to Stoke-on-Trent – and begins developing local partnerships
Art UK has relocated its only English office to Stoke-on-Trent and is now based within the Innovation Enterprise Zone at Staffordshire University. The organisation has always worked as a distributed team, with a third of staff in Scotland. However, working full time at home during the pandemic, the group realised it did not need a London office – but did need a place to meet for some in-person project work. Stoke on Trent is a usefully central location, and the new setting has already allowed it to develop local partnerships. Director of Art UK Andrew Ellis said “when we are recruiting future staff to Art UK, we will focus our recruitment in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area. We will also develop opportunities for placements for Staffordshire University students.” Art UK
Share your data to help create a map of museum apprenticeships
The MA is encouraging museums offering apprenticeships to complete a short survey, and help with mapping where these opportunities are available. Created by the Museum Trainers Network, the survey will help create an Apprenticeship Map where those looking for an apprenticeship in the sector will be able see what opportunities may be available to them. (Data is still welcome from museums that do not want to be added to the map). The deadline to complete the 10 minute survey is 8th March. Museums Journal
Two Ironbridge Museums flooded again after recent renovation
The Museum of the Gorge and Coalport China Museum, both part of Ironbridge Gorge Trust, have flooded again for the third year running during major storms in February. The museums had only recently completed work to recover from the last floods, and it will cost around £10k to dry out and biologically clean the sites. More fortunately, staff were able to remove collections, electrical items and retail stock before the flood water rose. Special Projects Director Rory Hunter said that the Trust is making plans to deal with more frequent flooding. “This is our normal now. It’s really important that we recognise that it is going to happen all the time – how do we respond? We need to look at all of the innovations that happened here and ask what we can do. It’s about that inventiveness and spirit of entrepreneurial ingenuity.”Museums Journal
Also: MuseumNext offers a short guide to simple green interventions that smaller museums can take to address their carbon footprint. MuseumNext
NPG joins Scottish Ballet in ending BP sponsorship
The National Portrait Gallery has announced that it will not continue to be sponsored by BP, ending a 30 year relationship. NPG Director Nicholas Cullinan said “The Gallery is hugely grateful to bp for its long-term support of the BP Portrait Award. Its funding for the Award has fostered creativity, encouraged portrait painting for over 30 years and given a platform to artists from around the world, as well as providing inspiration and enjoyment for audiences across the UK.” Scottish Ballet has also announced that it will not take further sponsorship from BP after a decade of support, saying that the oil company no longer ‘aligns with the company's green action plan - to be carbon neutral by 2030’. NPG, BBC (Scottish Ballet), ArtLyst, BBC (NPG), Art Newspaper
£5k grants to Scottish museums through Flexible Workforce Development Fund
Museums Galleries Scotland is partnering with City of Glasgow College to bring the benefits of the Scottish Government’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund to Scottish museums. Up to £5k is available for employers with less than 250 staff to upskill and reskill staff, to fill skills gaps in their workforces and become more productive. Applications are open until 31st July on first come first served basis. MGS
New round of AIM - Pilgrim Trust funding for collections care and conservation for small museums
AIM members can apply to the latest round of its Collections Care and Conservation Grants, funded by the Pilgrim Trust. Its Collections Care scheme allows small museums to assess how they can develop a more sustainable approach to maintaining collections. The Remedial Conservation Scheme offers up to £10k to small museums needing to conserve collection items. The deadline is 31st March. AIM
Art Fund travel bursaries for curators to visit London Gallery Weekend
The Art Fund is offering travel bursaries for curators working in regions and countries across the UK to visit London Gallery Weekend, which takes place on 13th – 15th May. London Gallery Weekend, which unites the galleries of the capital as they present exhibitions by major international artists and emerging artists, is partnering on the scheme. The event also offers an expanded public events programme, with performances, educational talks and activity packs for families. Curators at public museums and galleries which are open for at least half the week and six months of the year, can apply with a breakdown of travel costs and a 150 word statement. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 4th March. Art Fund
Also: The next round of Art Fund’s Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grants for travel in the UK and internationally is open until 16th March. Two categories of grant: £200 - £2k and over £2k are available for travel and other costs to enable collections and exhibitions research. Art Fund
Historic England opens grants scheme to celebrate working class histories
Historic England has opened a new strand of its Everyday Heritage Grants for projects celebrating working class histories. Funds up to £25k is available to community or heritage organisations to celebrate built or historic environments nearby. Applications up to £10k from smaller grassroots organisations are especially welcome. The deadline for proposals is 23rd May. Historic England, Museums Journal
ACE NPO funding: support shifts from London to Levelling Up areas
ACE has announced how recent Government instructions in support of Levelling Up will shape how it distributes its National Portfolio Organisation funds from 2023 – 26. A new memorandum says that London will see a cut of 15% to its previous budget, or around £70m over the whole period. Meanwhile an additional 2% uplift in ACE’s funds from DCMS will be spent in previously under-served areas. ACE has asked London NPOs to ‘give serious consideration’ to moving out of the capital by March 2025 – with some London-based companies likely to see a cut in funding, and others having NPO status removed to achieve the shift. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said "I know this will not be the right thing for every organisation, but I believe some culturally significant organisations should seize the opportunity to establish themselves in other parts of the country". Other facets of the amended guidance include:
109 ‘Levelling Up for Culture’ places which will be prioritised for reallocated funding – among them South Holland, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield, Solihull, Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Dover, Peterborough and Swindon.
ACE’s increase of 2% or £43.5m will be spent in previously under-served areas.
All organisations receiving more than £2m a year as NPOs will be required to increase their activity in Levelling Up for Culture Places by 15% by 31st March 2026, regardless of where they are based in England.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan objected to the plans, say that they “not only deliver a devastating blow to our city’s creative sector, but also damage the UK’s recovery from this pandemic. What it fails to acknowledge is that before the pandemic, London’s culture and creative sectors were generating billions for the economy, attracting tourists in their millions and supporting businesses across the country. London visitors go on to spend over £640 million in local economies outside of the capital.” However, Nic Millington, Chief Executive of Rural Media welcomed the news. He said “All too often the needs of rural communities, especially those most disadvantaged, are poorly understood and often overlooked. With ACE’s support arts organisations…have capacity to engage isolated and under-represented communities through participation, skills and audience development.” Gov.uk (Levelling Up Places), ACE (Addendum to NPO guidance), The Stage (Sadiq Khan), The Stage, ACE (Levelling Up for Culture Places), WhatsOnStage, Art Newspaper
Museum and Gallery Exhibition Tax Relief Support Service
ACE will shortly be launching a support service for those accessing the Museum and Gallery Exhibition Tax Relief (MGETR) or those who are interested in doing so. The service will help clarify misconceptions about claiming tax relief, with guidance, FAQs and a helpdesk delivered by tax specialists RSM. Using MGETR, organisations can claim up to 50% back on exhibition production costs. (We will provide links and more details as they become available.)
From art for children to Stephen Hawking’s office - Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu for 2020 - 21
ACE’s latest report on Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu shows that 36 cultural objects or collections were accepted in 2020 – 21, valued at £53.9m, settling £30.7m in tax. Collections acquired ranged from paintings and drawings to papers and furniture. They include the archives and office of Professor Stephen Hawking; the archives are now held at Cambridge University Library while objects from his office are newly on display at the Science Museum. A French Renaissance court album of 30 portraits is being temporarily held at the British Museum, and original artworks by Pat Hutchins, used to illustrate her children’s books, have been allocated to Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. Items acquired by Scottish institutions include paintings by William Dyce and Jean-François Millet sent to the National Galleries of Scotland, and a major Van Dyck portrait to Kelvingrove Art Gallery. ACE
Grant winners announced for Weston Loan programme with Art Fund
The Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund has announced the sixth round recipients of its awards supporting loans between UK museums. A total of £105.8k has been given in this round, bringing the total so far to almost £1m across 65 organisations since the scheme began in 2017. The six new recipients include:
Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham, North Wales, which will be holding the exhibition Tales from Terracottapolis from March – June with artefacts and artworks from Leeds Museums & Galleries, Kate MacGarry gallery and the Henry Moore Institute.
Wessex Museums Trust will present ‘Hardy’s Wessex’ from May to October, including loans from the British Library, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the V&A.
Other loans are on themes from Pre-Raphaelites to the Japanese potter Shōji Hamada. A further two rounds are planned in 2022 and 2023, with the next round opening for applications in June. Art Fund
MOLA uncovers largest mosaic found in 50 years – a time capsule of 3rd century London
Museum of London Archaeology has uncovered a huge late second or early third century mosaic floor during work close to London Bridge. The remarkably intact eight metre long mosaic was probably part of a dining area at a high end hotel on the edges of Roman Londinium. There are signs of a second, earlier mosaic underneath. The artefact will now be removed for conservation – plans are underway to display it locally. CNN, Guardian, Art Newspaper
‘Stay of execution’ as debate continues about the future of Stoke on Trent pottery museums
Following media coverage and a public petition, Stoke on Trent Council has revised its proposals for cuts to four museums in its care, with some concessions over museum opening hours and redundancies. The Stoke Sentinel reports that:
Plans to make two specialist ceramics curators redundant have been ‘paused’ to allow a revised curatorial staffing mode to be created. In earlier plans, several other roles had been earmarked for redundancy, instead creating a smaller number of new posts – it is not clear yet what the outcome will be for these roles.
Plans to close Gladstone Pottery Museum to profit from filming for five months over the winter each year, have been softened with openings at Christmas, February half term and potentially some weekends.
Council leader Abi Brown reiterates that the ‘core proposal’ to merge the teams that run Gladstone Pottery Museum and Potteries Museum & Art Gallery will be retained.
Two other museums, Ford Green Hall and Etruria Industrial Museum will retain their grant for another year, backtracking on plans to reduce it by £38k. Plans are underway for an eventual community takeover of the industrial museum. Welcoming plans to delay the cut at Ford Green Hall, trustee Neil Dawson warned against tapering off support in the future. He said “I think the council needs to be realistic. They seem to be under the illusion that charities are able to access whatever funding they need. The problem is that we can't get grant funding to meet our ongoing costs… Most of our income is raised by ourselves, and we work hard to put on events to bring in visitors.”
Overall, the revised plan equates to an annual cut in 2022 - 23 of £479k (reduced from £560k identified in the original proposal), and would still be a substantial cut to the museums service.
Council leader Abi Brown said that she would bring back a full revised proposal within a month or two, adding that new opportunities from the Government’s recent Levelling Up White Paper will also affect the outcome. However, there is substantial opposition to the revised plans as currently understood, both from the local Heritage Network and Opposition Labour Group leader Jane Ashworth. She said "it seems that most of the cuts have not been fundamentally altered. It's still a massive cut to the funding for museums. It's sad that it's taken international opposition to the budget cuts for the council to make these changes."Stoke Sentinel (Ford Green Hall), Stoke Sentinel (potteries museums), Heritage Network (consultation response), Museums Journal
In brief: Risks and saves for local museum services
In the face of tight council budgets for the coming year, many more local authorities are considering significant cuts to arts and culture – although strong public support has reversed some decisions. The Public Campaign for the Arts, which is monitoring the situation comments that “across England, local authority spending on cultural services has fallen from £118.93 per person in 2009-10 to £59.90 in 2020-21 – a cut of 50%. As councils across the country finalise their budgets for 2022-23, concern is growing about the risks of further cuts to a sector which has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”. Situations currently unfolding include:
In Bristol, the council is considering cutting funding by 10% over the next six years, or a total of £436k. A decision may be made in a council meeting on 2nd March.
Stoke on Trent Council has slightly revised its proposals (see article above) but still proposes cuts of £479k to museums.
There is better news in Maidenhead and Windsor where the local council has withdrawn plans for 100% cuts to the arts, following a public campaign and intervention by local MP Theresa May. However, support will still be reduced by 17% this year.
Swindon Museum & Art Gallery has now permanently closed at its old venue of Apsley House, despite a campaign last year by Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. A new permanent home for the collection is not expected until the end of the decade, but Swindon Council has now announced that a floor of its civic building will be used in the meantime. A spokeswoman said “there will be between 20 to 25% additional display space - with galleries covering our heritage and modern British art collections, as well as temporary exhibition spaces and a dedicated schools and family activities space. This will be along with better facilities for our staff and our stored collections. We expect the renewed Swindon MAG to operate as a fully functioning museum once open to the public.” However, the Council is currently seeking planning permission and it is not yet clear when the interim museum space will open: Councillor Robert Jandy says this will partly depend on specialist contractors 'in high demand now Covid restrictions have been lifted'. Swindon Advertiser, Public Campaign for the Arts (Maidenhead), Guardian (Maidenhead), Museums Journal (Bristol)
New website offers comprehensive guide to SEND in museums
A new website is offering guidance for museums on the inclusion of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Created by museum professional and SEND parent Sam Bowen, it is a growing resource which welcomes case studies. It offers a path to developing your programme for SEND, as well as covering practicalities – from cafes to toilets. SEND in Museums
New history curriculum to go beyond ‘Tudors and the Second World War’ to give global perspective
Schools Minister Robin Walker says that the Government intends to overhaul the school history curriculum, to offer a wider global perspective, cover migration and cultural change and avoid a situation where the same set of topics come up repeatedly. Currently, the minister says too many find the subject ‘boring’ and there has been a decline in those taking history at A level or as a degree. He said “this is about the range of opportunities there are within the curriculum to teach world history and the relevance of that to modern Britain. Do we want people to learn about the Tudors and the Second World War? Yes, absolutely. But we want to do it in a context of understanding the world and understanding Britain’s place in the world.” Walker also argued that the revisions would support the Government’s ‘retain and explain' approach to statues. He said “if there was more understanding you’re less likely to have people wanting to pull down statues and more people wanting to explain the background around them”. The new curriculum will be published in 2024, and will cover children aged 5 – 14, before they begin GCSEs. Times
Plan for post-18 education: from minimum entry requirements to lifelong learning fund
The Government has unveiled its plans for reforms to post-18 education in England. These include higher minimum entry qualifications, a requirement for Grade 4 GCSE passes in maths and English to get a student loan, and an extension of loan repayment from 30 to 40 years. There is also a consultation on a lifelong loan option of £37k for people to retrain at any point in their career. Responding to the reforms, Creative UK Chief Executive Caroline Norbury said “Government’s acknowledgement that the creative sector is a key future-facing industry that must be supported through reforms to higher education is a welcome shift in rhetoric.” However she opposed minimum entry requirements, saying it would bar some talented people from creative education. Guardian, Creative UK
Using creativity to support mental health – new CHWA and Baring Foundation report
The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance has produced a new report ‘From surviving to thriving - Building a model for sustainable practice in creativity and mental health’. Funded by the Baring Foundation, it is based on work with 150 practitioners to understand how to help more organisations using creativity to support mental health. It includes recommendations for commissioning organisations, as well as funders, practitioners and others. For those commissioning work in the field, it especially recommends co-production, making sure work matches actual need, supporting practitioners both through fair pay and giving them adequate moral support, rather than assuming they can handle things alone. It also recommends work that supports local ecologies and networks that cut across community, health and culture. CHWA