New appointments at NMDC: Deputy Chair and Public Affairs Officer
Andrew Lovett, Director of the Black Country Living Museum and Chair of AIM, has been appointed to the new role of NMDC Deputy Chair. Andrew has been a member of the NMDC Executive Committee since 2019, and will support NMDC Chair Maria Balshaw and the staff team and lead some of NMDC’s work strands.
Aoife O Callaghan-White has been appointed as NMDC's new Public Affairs Officer. Aoife was previously working in a similar role at the Irish Embassy in London, and has a background in the charity and heritage sectors and a passion for history and the arts. Aoife was appointed following the departure of Bethany Reynard, who has left NMDC to take up post as Policy and Public Affairs Manager at VisitBritain.
Cézanne blockbuster exhibition marks the end of an era, as Tate responds to climate and costs
Tate Modern’s Paul Cézanne exhibition, which opens in the autumn, took four years to plan and will feature 80 works from Europe, Asia and North America including 20 not previously seen in the UK. However, Tate Modern Director Frances Morris says blockbuster shows of this kind will become much rarer in future – partly because of the high carbon footprint and the climate emergency, and partly for financial reasons. Overseas visitors, once 50% of Tate’s audience, are unlikely to return in the same numbers, at least for a few years. Morris says that Tate is now ‘reshaping’ its exhibition policy so that “we will continue to do exhibitions of this type but in a very selective way. And only ever in partnership and only when we can consolidate loans to minimise impact on carbon emissions in terms of transport.”Times, Guardian
Black Country Living Museum seeks Babycham (and other 60s drinks for its pub building)
The Black Country Living Museum is asking the public to donate bottles from pub drinks dating from the 1960s. They will be used to decorate its recreation of the Elephant and Castle pub which once stood in Wolverhampton. The original building was demolished suddenly in 2001, but the museum is aiming for an authentic reproduction, based in part on local memories and oral histories. As the setting will represent a period when women were beginning to visit pubs in much larger numbers, it is especially looking for Babycham, Cherry B and Golden Godwin, and other brands which were aimed at the female market. Museum Deputy Chair Jonathan Badyal said that the new building will be ‘game changing’ for the 26 acre site. Guardian
BMAG partially reopens for the Commonwealth Games and Birmingham 2022 festival
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which was closed first by the pandemic, then urgent building repairs, is partially reopening for the Commonwealth Games and Birmingham 2022 Festival. Its Round Room has been transformed with ‘We Are Birmingham’, an exhibition reflecting the modern city, created by a collaboration of the Don’t Settle group of young people of colour alongside the Birmingham Festival. Cold War Steve’s ‘Bennie’s Babies' now sits alongside Sir Jacob Epstein’s ‘Lucifer’, ‘The Wall’ by Anwar Shezma and ‘The Past is Now’ by Sarah Maple, as well as work by celebrated photographers Vanley Burke and Pogus Caesar. Gallery 10 is also open with ‘Unprecedented Times’ – old and new art reflecting on the pandemic. The reopening shows the first programme under new co-Directors Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, aimed at making the museum more representative of the people of the city. Birmingham Mail
Images this month: IWM programme, from the Platinum Jubilee to Falklands 40
Images this month come from IWM’s spring and summer programme across multiple sites, and include an exhibition on the Falklands War 40th anniversary at IWM North, its programme for the Platinum Jubilee, the Duxford flying season and family half term activities at HMS Belfast. The Conflict of Interest podcast has also returned for a second series, this time looking at the impact of the Cold War and decline of the British Empire, with guests - beginning with Russell Tovey - unpacking complex events with an IWM curator. IWM
V&A attracts audiences back with campaign built around creativity and its own collections
Meanwhile, the V&A has also launched a new campaign to attract back audiences after the pandemic. Centred around the idea that ‘creativity is what makes us human’ it will be used to promote the V&A’s permanent collection and encourage people to explore its events programme. It has also developed a high production values film, which imagines dancing mannequins awaking in the museum on a stormy night. AdWeek, V&A, V&A (press release), V&A (short film)
Government distributes £4.6m to support volunteering, including to TWAM consortium
160 community organisations are sharing £4.6m to support 7,800 volunteering opportunities through the Government’s Volunteering Futures Fund. ACE has distributed the funding to organisations in arts, culture, sport, civil society, youth and heritage sectors. The programme especially aims to attract young people, disabled people, those experiencing loneliness or with other barriers to participation. One beneficiary is a consortium led by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, which has received £400k to bring a diverse volunteer base to nine cultural venues, and evolve inclusive volunteering practice, with some digital opportunities. The partners also include the BALTIC, Sage Gateshead, Norther Stage, and the Life Science Centre. TWAM Director Keith Merrin said “volunteering is essential to museums, galleries and cultural venues. We currently have many valued volunteers that support TWAM with a wide range of tasks from assisting at events to driving and maintaining our steam trains. In turn volunteers get a variety of benefits from the experience, from skills development to increased confidence to meeting new people. This project is particularly about reaching new people – those who don’t traditionally engage with museums, galleries or theatres.”Gov.uk, TWAM
The MA has published a Front of House ‘Charter for Change’ outlining good practice in creating good jobs for Front of House staff. Its recommendations include predictable shifts, payment in line with the Real Living Wage, opportunities for training during working hours, an adequate induction process, and transparency about career paths, with options to progress. In its introduction, the MA says “if museums adopt the Charter for Change principles, front-of-house colleagues feel it will have a positive impact on their sense of belonging, performance and loyalty, and as such there are clear ethical and business cases for creating a positive experience of work for all.”Museums Journal
ACE launches FREELANCE: FUTURES, a summer of events to create ‘more equitable’ conditions
ACE has launched FREELANCE: FUTURES, a summer of learning and action to create more equitable conditions for the many freelancers working in the culture sector. The nine week programme includes a virtual gathering from 13th – 17th June, as well as free resources, workshops, panel discussions and self-organising spaces. It is hoped this will develop sector organising, freelancer rights and resources, organisational transformation and policy-making. All events are free, and additionally there are 40 x £250 attendance bursaries to pay for time spent taking part. In a blog introducing the initiative, ACE CEO Darren Henley said “In a sector where 49% of the workforce are freelance, it’s vital then that it is both a viable and an attractive proposition for people choosing this career pathway. One where, if you work freelance, you are well paid and well valued for your contribution, where you’re able to invest in your creative and professional development, and where you have a seat at the same table as organisations when it comes to debating and setting the agenda for the future of creativity and culture in our country.” Freelance Futures, ACE (blog)
MGS seeks museums to host a Museums and Galleries Technician Modern Apprentice
Museums Galleries Scotland is seeking organisations in Scotland wishing to employ a Museums and Galleries Technician Modern Apprentice – either by taking on a new employee, or progressing someone already in post. The postholder will complete an SVQ in Museums and Galleries Practice over 12 to 18 months, funded by Skills Development Scotland. MGS
New round of Oxford Cultural Leaders programme focuses on economic and post-pandemic challenges
The eighth year of the Oxford Cultural Leaders training programme has opened for applications from those at senior management and director level wishing to develop their skills. This year the programme will focus on leadership in a challenging environment – addressing the cost of living crisis, thin funding opportunities and the aftermath of the pandemic. The residential programme in Oxford runs from 18th – 23rd September and is designed and delivered by Oxford University's Gardens, Libraries & Museums in partnership with the Saïd Business School. The fee for attending ranges from £3.1k to £5k depending on organisation size and not for profit status. The deadline for applications is 27th June. Alternatively, there is an online course option in 2023. Oxford Gardens, Libraries and Museums
Rebuilding Heritage toolkits and resources – from strategy to crisis comms and hybrid working
Rebuilding Heritage, the business support programme which offered training from the early months of the pandemic onwards, has completed its first phase and published resources and toolkits. Its evaluation found that many smaller museums and heritage organisations had been operating without fairly basic planning – such as a business or communications plan – well before the pandemic, and needed help to create these resources for the first time. Others developed skills in more flexible approaches to running a heritage charity or business. Resources now available are designed for the post-pandemic landscape, and cover topics including managing organisational change, why it is crucial to prepare a crisis communications plan in advance, hybrid teams, updating or creating a business plan in uncertain times, fundraising for what you really want to achieve (not deviating from your primary aims to get funding), EDI and the ‘workplace passport’ – and many other topics. Rebuilding Heritage
Museum of the Year shortlist champions education and co-creation, from Derby to Wrexham
Art Fund has announced the shortlist for Museum of the Year 2022, which offers £100k to the winner and £15k each to runners up. The five finalists are:
The Museum of Making in Derby, which aims to help create a future workforce of creative, multi-disciplined young people, as well as offering events and exhibitions and a strong emphasis on co-creation with local people.
Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, which has been leading the way on addressing ecology and nature in the sector, as well as championing local music and reaching a diverse audience.
The People’s History Museum in Manchester, which tells the story of democracy in Britain while actively campaigning for social and political change, most recently with Together with Refugees against the Nationality and Borders Bill.
The Story Museum, Oxford champions storytelling and reading for all ages, and particularly finds ways to reach and serve the 26% of children in Oxford who live below the poverty line to improve literacy and independent reading.
Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham, Wales is a museum of the local area housed inside a market alongside makers and traders. It created a new space in 2021 for community conversations, play and performance.
Discussing the shortlist with The Times, Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman said that as a museum addressing democracy, the political positioning of the People’s History Museum is appropriate: “The PHM has gone from being a museum about campaigns to becoming a campaigning museum. Our view is that this is perfectly appropriate. We have total belief in the independence of museums. They shouldn’t be interfered with by us or by politicians.” Waldman also pointed to commonalities in the shortlist – a commitment to young people and education at a time of redundancies among learning staff and reduced school trips, plus encouraging participation in every age group as active, not passive museum visitors. The winner will be announced on 14th July. Times, Art Fund (short film), Art Fund (finalist details), Art Fund (twitter)
Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award open for applications
Art Explora and Académie des beaux-arts have launched their joint European Award 2022. It is open to applications from museums and arts organisations which have created projects that develop new dialogues between culture and audiences. For example, last year’s winners included a multi-sensory display, opportunities to take art home for the weekend, and V&A’s competition for students to submit solutions to current societal issues. Art Explora is particularly seeking projects that can be shared and scaled across Europe, innovating with new engagement and participation, and crossing social, economic and geographic barriers. UK entries are welcome. There are three prizes of €50k each and one Audience Choice Award of €10k. The deadline for applications is 31st August. Contact [email protected] with any queries. Art Explora, Art Explora (previous winners and shortlisted projects)
Sporting Heritage has announced the nine winners of its first Sporting Heritage Awards, including The National Football Museum, National Paralympic Heritage Trust and Silverstone Interactive Museum. The award will be given annually, with a new round in January 2023. Sporting Heritage, Charity Today
The National Lottery Awards 2022 is open for nominations, and seeks to recognise exceptional projects which have taken place with help from Lottery funding. 16 projects will be shortlisted over six categories, including arts, culture and film, environment, heritage and young hero under 25. The deadline for nominations is midnight on 1st June. Lottery Good Causes
EMYA 2022 winners include Museum of the Mind and special prize for Pitt Rivers Director
Winners of the European Museum of the Year Awards have been announced for 2022 by the European Museum Forum.
The main winner is the Netherlands-based Museum of the Mind, described as covering “difficult personal and collective stories associated with people who have been stigmatized and excluded from society…It explores the nature of the human mind in a uniquely innovative way and epitomises the power of museums in the social fabric.”
The Council of Europe Prize went to Nano Nagle Place in Cork, Ireland for work upholding human rights, democratic citizenship and supporting intercultural dialogue.
Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum Professor Dr Laura Van Broekhoven is among four recipients of the 2022 Kenneth Hudson Award for Institutional Courage and Professional Integrity. It rewards courageous and sometimes controversial choices, which expand the perception of the role of museums in society.
Florence Nightingale Museum reopens – and seeks new home by 2026
The Florence Nightingale Museum is reopening for five days per week from 12th May, having been forced to close by financial pressures of the pandemic. It had been open just one day a month for school visits since May 2021. Director David Green said that after the museum’s closure “we had to accept the fact that ultimately, as a central London location very reliant on international tourists, that market had collapsed. But also, as the leading nursing museum in Europe, it also means we attract a lot of nurses and clearly they were just so busy with the pandemic, it meant they weren’t visiting us.” Successful fundraising and the return of tourists has now enabled the museum to reopen with confidence. However, its tenancy at St Thomas’ Hospital ends in 2026, as the hospital needs the space to improve patient services. The museum is therefore hunting for a new home, anywhere in the UK. Green says “we are open to offers! What is important is accessibility, connectivity and a mutually respectful relationship.”Evening Standard, Ian Visits, Florence Nightingale Museum, maxwell museums (scroll)
High Court rescinds planning permission for a Holocaust education centre next to Parliament
A High Court judgement has rescinded planning permission for a Holocaust education centre and memorial directly adjacent to Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens. The plans have been repeatedly opposed by groups including Save Victoria Tower Gardens and London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust who believe it is ‘the right idea in the wrong place’. The Holocaust Educational Trust expressed disappointment, and Government has now sought permission to appeal the ruling. Museums Journal, Telegraph, Architects’ Journal, Independent
St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life reopens after two years
Two years after closing because of the pandemic, St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life is reopening to the public. Part of Glasgow Life’s cultural offer, it was at one point feared that the institution, which is the only multi-faith museum in Britain, would close permanently. Now new staff members are being recruited and Glasgow City Council has earmarked £650k in its 2022-23 budget to fund reopening. Glasgow Life Head of Museums Duncan Dornan has said that there would now be a consultation on revamping the museum to better tell the story of the cathedral’s place in the city’s history, although campaigners also emphasise that the multi-faith aspect should be well represented. Art Newspaper, Glasgow Life
…’then two come along at once’: new LGBTQ+ museum and culture spaces open in London
The first dedicated LGBTQ+ museum has now opened on a floor of the Art Fund building at King’s Cross, London. The inaugural show is ‘Welcome to Queer Britain’ featuring photography from the museum’s growing collections. Meanwhile Queercircle is opening in the new Design District in Greenwich, described as ‘the first LGBTQ art space in the UK’ and including a gallery, library and project spaces. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal
Derbyshire mill museum ‘no longer financially viable’ and will close in September
Strutt’s North Mill Museum, part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site is to close as a museum from September as the museum’s Trust says it is ‘not able to run the museum on a financially viable basis’. The museum, which tells the story of Belper and mechanised cotton spinning, lost a £47.6k grant from Amber Valley Borough Council as of March, ending a 25 year association. However, the Trust is working with ACE to retain its current Accredited Museum status, in the hope of reopening the museum in the future. M + H, Derbyshire Times, BBC, Derbyshire Telegraph
Also: The art gallery Hastings Contemporary has been gifted to Hastings Borough Council by the Jerwood Foundation. BBC
Also: A new cross community museum is planned in County Down, Northern Ireland to tell the story of the Gaelic Games and British Army History. It will be based at the former site of Abercorn Barracks. Museums Journal
Pandemic recovery, returning visitors and levelling up: a snapshot from Tyne & Wear
Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, was among the speakers giving evidence to the DCMS Select Committee as it discussed ‘Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda’. He gave a snapshot of the challenges of the post-pandemic period, and made suggestions for practical policy approaches that will help the recovery:
TWAM had ‘brilliant’ visitor numbers of around two million across nine venues pre-Covid. Now they are around 50% of that, rising to 60 – 70% in school holidays. However, visits are now more likely to be centred around high profile events, which take relatively more expense and effort to create, rather than drop in. Local retailers also say that weekdays can be quieter because not everyone has returned to city centre offices. Merrin adds “I am not suggesting that everybody used to dive out in their lunch hour and come to our museums, but maybe they did.”
People are less interested in a ‘passive experience’ and are now more interested in co-designing and co-producing content – ‘This is a big change’.
Work with young people has been hampered by a larger collapse in youth services in the past decade. However, the gaming industry in the North East has been an ally – and working with it on exhibitions and events has drawn in the young.
Financially, Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief has been very helpful, but could be usefully extended to online work and TWAM’s extensive education offer. He says that not covering these costs ‘does not seem very sensible in the current environment’. Time spent in dispute with the Valuation Office over business rates could be avoided by a decision at a policy level. Additionally, the expense of rising utilities bills is currently a problem and a distraction from core work.
Workforces have ‘massively reduced’ and there is now significant competition for better paid jobs. This has not helped in diversifying staff – TWAM is reasonably strong for diversity of socioeconomic background, but “not so much in terms of ethnic background and perhaps other protected characteristics.”
Relatedly, TWAM has achieved widespread engagement with its audiences around climate change, but in practical terms a missing strand is ‘reliable, cheap public transport’ – crucial for both sustainable travel, and the talent pipeline of people being able to access workplaces.
Funding mechanisms which have institutions and regions pitching against each other disadvantage smaller organisations, who may be best placed to reach the most culturally and socially deprived areas. Identifying these organisations and offering direct funding would be a more effective way of levelling up.
MGS resources for environmental action: from the circular economy to carbon calculators
MGS has published signposting and resources for museums wanting to take action to reduce their carbon footprints. Material covers the circular economy and how to get involved, energy audits, using a carbon calculator and a case study from Dundee Museum of Transport. As post-pandemic audiences return, MGS also notes the rise in popularity of walking tours close to museums, which are healthy, environmentally friendly and a low risk for Covid-19 transmission. MGS (walking tours), MGS (using a carbon calculator), MGS (Dundee Museum of Transport), MGS (energy audits), MGS (circular economy)
Collaboration and doughnuts: more environment resources in brief
Supported by lottery funding, Climate Action Leeds has created a ‘Leeds Doughnut’ – a snapshot of the whole city looking at how its sectors, including museums and galleries, are progressing towards living within environmental boundaries, while making sure that citizens have the resources they need to thrive. The doughnut model, based on the work of economist Kate Raworth, has previously been adopted by the city government of Amsterdam to shape its strategy. This way of thinking encourages collaboration between institutions and across sectors, to help whole cities or region work towards addressing the climate emergency more effectively than they could alone. Leeds Doughnut, Doughnut Economics Lab (Leeds presentation event, 18th May)
Creative Scotland has announced that its future funding to arts organisations will be dependent on them taking action on the climate emergency, with a view to the sector reaching net zero by 2045. It aims to be carbon neutral in its own operations by the end of the decade. Arts Professional, Creative Scotland
Julie’s Bicycle has published the ACE Environmental Sustainability Report for 2020-21 – a period in which there were three pandemic lockdowns. Though energy use predictably fell in some sectors (e.g. theatres down 71%) in part due to closure, in others like the visual arts, with climate control needs and a lack of visitors to warm buildings, there was a slight increase in reliance on gas. Despite the pandemic, 88% made the same or increased progress on environmental plans. Case studies include SS Great Britain and Creative Kernow. Julie’s Bicycle
UKRI funds work to discover how mixing culture and nature can address health disparities
UKRI is funding 12 research projects which will use culture and nature to address health disparities. The programme is overseen by Professor Helen Chatterjee, who says it will take a place-based and social prescribing approach to address unequal health outcomes made visible by Covid-19. Projects include ‘Scaling up the Human Henge’ which makes use of ancient monuments and landscapes to enhance wellbeing in modern marginalised communities offering ‘meaning to the past but also hope for the future’. UKRI
Heritage railways face cutting services due to coal shortage
Heritage railways are already having to cut some services due to a shortage of coal, caused both by the closing of UK mines, and unavailability from further afield. Paul Lewin, of Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways said “UK coal for steam trains has now gone and our next supply source was to be Russia, which is now off the table for totally understandable reasons. We are in a very tricky position.” Steam trains need coal that burns at a ‘high calorific value’ and although smokeless alternatives have been created from anthracite, coal dust and molasses, this approach is still being tested, and may not provide enough energy for trains on mainline railways. Fewer trains with more carriages may be the immediate adaptation. Meanwhile at the National Railway Museum, carbon emissions associated with using coal for steam trains are only 0.2% of the Science Museum Group total, and decreased significantly following a pause on steam train rides in 2020-21. In addition, its trains The Flying Scotsman and Oliver Cromwell are undergoing an overhaul, meaning it does not face an immediate problem with supply. NRM Director Judith McNicol says “when they return to steam, we will work closely with our partners to closely monitor the situation regarding the availability of coal and trials with 'ecoal' alternatives”.Guardian
Historic England publishes Climate Change strategy – including filling the retrofitting skills gap
Historic England has published its Climate Change Strategy, outlining its plans for mitigating and managing risks. Its research is likely to develop data useful to those managing buildings and collections across the cultural sector. Strands include:
Focusing on the skills gap for retrofitting old buildings, and developing guidance and training for retrofitting by 2024.
Mapping climate-related hazards to identify vulnerabilities.
Developing a toolkit by 2025 for managing the loss or unavoidable transformative change to heritage because of the climate emergency.
This year it will publish a consultation draft of a Historic England Advice Note on climate change.
It will invest in research, including with universities, which it will share widely.
It plans that by 2040 historic buildings, places and landscapes will have led the way to a low-carbon future. By 2030, it plans for a 46% reduction in carbon emissions.
In its related carbon reduction plan, it will start collecting data on employee commuting for the first time.
LGA’s Commission on Culture and Local Government seeks case studies
The Local Government Association is running a commission until December to investigate the role of culture in the national recovery. Chaired by Baroness Lola Young, it covers four themes: economic recovery, social mobility, health inequalities and creating a sense of place. This month it is seeking case studies which demonstrate the role of council funded initiatives in supporting sustainable economic recovery. A template for submissions is available – submissions should be sent to [email protected]. LGA (template in footer)
The Network of European Museum Organisations is inviting museums to fill out its 15 minute survey on how museums are facing the climate emergency. It will use the data to advocate for the sector and help build a sustainable future. The deadline is 3rd June. NEMO
Meet Me at the Museum: with Isy Suttie, Brian Cox, Siobhan McSweeney, and more
The seventh series of Art Fund’s Meet Me at the Museum podcast has launched, with each episode centred around a celebrity introducing a friend to one of their favourite museums. The line up includes Brian Cox at the Scottish National Gallery, Isy Suttie at Creswell Crags, and Siobhan McSweeney at the Wellcome Collection. Art Fund
ACE National Security Adviser – retirement and interim arrangements
After 16 years William Brown is retiring as National Security Adviser (NSA) at ACE at the end of June. He has worked in security and community safety for almost 50 years. William will be working part time until retirement, but there will be continuity of service during the period. Subsequently, drawing on a report on the advice needs of the sector, ACE will recruit an FTE role to support the work of the National Security Advice team. There will also be an increase in online security guidance for stakeholders and new training and development opportunities. FAQs are currently being prepared – contact [email protected] with any questions or queries.
ICOM UK is hosting ‘Reimagining Museums for Climate Action Workshops’ during May. It asks how museums can act on the climate emergency and empower others to know, care and act. It also looks at tools, frameworks and opportunities available. Run by Henry McGhie of Curating Tomorrow, the event repeats on 17th and 30th May and is free. ICOM UK
Culture Connect masterclass: Navigating International Collaborations
Culture Connect is offering a half day masterclass to help cultural professionals run successful collaborative cross-cultural projects. It will offer advice in navigating the pandemic, climate emergency and technological advances to generate good cultural diplomacy. Post-event participants will receive a toolkit and an invitation to join the Culture Connect online community. There is a choice of two dates: 29th June from 1pm and 9th September from 9am. Tickets are £60 to £120, with an early bird offer running to 5th June. Culture Connect
Immers-Expo: immersive technology uses from education to cultural heritage
‘Immers-Expo: Immersive Research and the Metaverse’ is a talks and trade show event organised by the Oxford X-Reality Hub, to explore how these new technologies can be used over a range of disciplines, from science to education and cultural heritage. Speakers are academic and industry leaders including Giovanni Pala and Dr Lia Costiner from the Oxford History Faculty on immersive and 3D Tools for the study of Cultural Heritage. The event takes place at Jesus College Ship Street Centre, Oxford on 20th May from 12.30pm. Tickets are free. Immers-Expo
New AIM introduction to fundraising course – from psychology to strategy
AIM has launched a new introduction to fundraising course. Topics range from the psychology of giving to fundraising fitness, strategy and making the case for support. The event takes place over two two-hour sessions on 29th June and 6th July via zoom. Tickets are £150 for AIM members and £200 non-members. AIM
Taking ownership of cultural assets – and avoiding ‘Disneyfication’ through local placemaking
Nesta is holding a webinar on ‘Grassroots cultural placemaking’ looking at ways that relatively small scale community organisations, including small businesses, can take ownership of local cultural assets. In a related blog, Seva Phillips, Nesta’s Head of Arts & Culture Finance, explains how this action can avoid the ‘Disneyification’ of cultural assets, risking a gentrification that increases inequalities, and instead create culture that works for local people. The event takes place online on 17th May from 1–2pm and is free. Nesta (event), Nesta (blog)
DCDC 2022: digital creativity in archives, research libraries and beyond
The 2022 Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference run by the National Archives, Jisc and Research Libraries UK, will be on the theme of digital innovation and how it is transforming relationships with audiences. The event takes place online on 11th – 15th July and tickets are £45 to £54. Up to 50 attendance bursaries are also available. DCDC, DCDC (bursaries)
Who is the Audience for a 'virtual national collection'?
Towards a National Collection is running an event ‘Who is the audience for a virtual national collection?' with speakers from the Collections Trust and Audience Agency. It follows the publication of a recent report on the future of UK digital collections infrastructure (see synopsis in the digital section below). The event takes place online on 24th May from 2–3pm and is free. Other upcoming events include a webinar on findings from TaNC’s founding projects on 8th July. TaNC (booking), TaNC (all forthcoming events)
‘Same world, different ways’ – AMA inclusivity and audiences day
The Arts Marketing Association is holding an inclusivity and audiences day, to look at which demographics have been left out and how to take action on inequality. Topics include inclusivity as an opportunity to shift our language, audience development techniques post-Covid and support for building Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in internal cultures – including how to make informed choices on EDI. The event takes place online on 12th May. Tickets are £70 +VAT, or £45 +VAT for small organisations and freelancers. AMA
Digital Culture Network events: from the end of Universal Google Analytics to social media planning
The current version of Google Analytics will close in July 2023, and all data associated with it will be deleted from Google some time afterwards. A new webinar from the Digital Culture Network explains why it is important to take action – and what your options are, from a move to GA4, to alternative analytics packages. The event is free and takes place on 14th June from 2pm. Other upcoming events cover tips for success with Google Ads (8th June) and a beginner’s guide to social media strategy (11th May). DCN (Google Analytics), DCN (Google Ads), DCN, (social media)
Let’s Get Real: Building a thriving hybrid working environment
Culture24’s Let’s Get Real action learning strand is about to launch a programme to explore the ‘new normal’ of hybrid working – and how to respond to the challenges and opportunities it offers. The cohort of participants from up to 32 cultural organisations will work on a programme run in partnership with Birmingham Museums Trust. The programme runs for eight months from June 2022 – January 2023. The deadline for signing up is 10am on 20th May. Culture24, Culture24 (BMT Director Zak Mensah and others at a recent hybrid working seminar)
Strengthening the core: movement and resilience for fundraisers
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy is running a second round of its course ‘Strengthening the Core’ for arts and culture fundraisers who would like to increase their resilience. The course combines discussion, yoga and embodied movement to help address sources of exhaustion or overwhelm. It is held over eight weeks from 24th May – 19th July online. Tickets are £80 +VAT. Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy
Designing Museum Digital Experiences in the Digital Age – with National Gallery X
A study day ‘Designing Museum Experiences in the Digital Age’ looks at the new technologies that are going to redefine museum programming over the next decade. The day will help participants co-create future museum experiences and test them on real audiences. The workshop is led by Chris Michaels, Director of Digital, Communications and Technology at The National Gallery, who also founded National Gallery X, a creative R+D programme and innovation studio launched in 2019. The study day takes place at the National Gallery on 14th June. Tickets are available on a sliding scale from £137. Museum iD
Creativity and Wellbeing Week 2022 – including awards launch
The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance has published more details of its Creativity and Wellbeing Week, which runs from 16th to 22nd May. These include a session on greener digital work with Fast Familiar and Julie’s Bicycle, an APPG roundtable on young people and mental health, and the launch of CHWA’s annual awards. Museums with relevant events can upload them to the festival site and access a creative toolkit. CHWA, CHWA (Awards launch), CHWA (climate justice and health), Creativity and Wellbeing (curated events)
Touring Exhibitions Group is running an online ‘preparing to borrow’ workshop, which will help participants gain the knowledge and confidence to make an application to borrow an object or exhibition. Topics include research, making the case, talking to lenders, fees and contracts, transport, facilities reports, the Government Indemnity Scheme, security and emergency planning. The workshop is delivered by a TEG trainer, William Brown (National Security Advisor) and Carol Warner (Government Indemnity Scheme Manager) from ACE, Katie Lloyd (Grants Manager, Art Fund), who will introduce the Weston Loan Programme and Kathryn Simpson (Policy & Projects Manager, NMDC) who will talk about the Lending & Borrowing Principles & Guidelines. There are two opportunities to take part, both over two half days: the first on afternoons of 24th and 31st May is fully booked but operating a waitlist; the second is on mornings of 15th and 22nd June and is open for bookings. These events are free with Art Fund support. As places are limited, please only book if you are definitely able to attend. TEG (May, for waitlist), TEG (June bookings)
The MA’s Museum Tech 2022 event looks at issues around digital that have emerged since the pandemic, from digital literacy to digital poverty, and the environmental impact of digital work. It will also explore new innovations including immersive storytelling. The event takes place at the Museum of London on 30th June. Tickets are from £75 or £100 for MA members to £150 for non members. Museums Journal
Designing an escape room on a shoestring budget – and other skills for family learning
The Campaign for Learning is offering a course on creating an Escape Room on a shoestring budget to engage family learning audiences. It will offer case studies, including Storycircles, which can be used to create stories for in person and online events. The event takes place on 7th June from 2–4pm, with tickets from £72. Other upcoming events include ‘Design Thinking to Develop Your Family Offer’ on 14th June. Campaign for Learning (Escape Rooms for beginners), Campaign for Learning (upcoming programme)
Ukraine museums face stolen collections, kidnapped staff
Collections from Ukrainian museum collections have reportedly been looted by Russian forces in Mariupol and Melitopol, including a significant collection of Scythian gold. Using a slang reference to Russian troops, Melitopol’s Mayor Ivan Fyodorov said “the orcs have taken hold of our Scythian gold. This is one of the largest and most expensive collections in Ukraine, and today we don’t know where they took it.”The Art Newspaper reports that during the theft “a Russian-speaking man in a white lab coat had tried to force a museum staffer by gunpoint to lead them to the museum’s trove of Scythian gold, which had been hidden for safekeeping. She refused, but they found it nonetheless.” The curator concerned was subsequently kidnapped, released and kidnapped again and is currently missing. Videos from Russian official news agency later showed a man described as a ‘senior researcher’ showing off the collection. Meanwhile paintings, a sculpture and Christian icons have been taken from the art museum in Mariupol, a city now almost completely in ruins from Russian action.
There have been various estimates of the extent of the cultural damage so far: Ihor Poshyvailo, Director of the National Museum of Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum), said that 262 cultural locations had been damaged or destroyed including 94 places of worship, 12 museums, 16 libraries and four theatres. This is a considerable increase on the 53 sites known to be damaged in early April. Art Newspaper, New York Times, Museums Journal, Museums Journal (kidnap), Guardian
Also: Curator: The Museum Journal has released a special issue ‘Museum Response to War Crimes’ with a cover in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The issue is free to access. Wiley Online Library
New Digital Heritage Hub offers a ‘one stop expertise shop’ for the sector’s digital questions
A new Digital Heritage Hub has launched, bringing together expertise on major digital issues and aimed at small and medium sized heritage organisations. Presented as answers to 100 digital questions, it offers overviews for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. Topics include understanding jargon, getting collections online and generating revenue from them, data for strategic decision making, choosing the right digital channels for your organisation and reducing carbon footprints. The hub is funded by NLHF and managed by the Arts Marketing Association in partnership with the Heritage Digital Consortium and University of Leeds. AMA CEO Cath Hume said “a lot of small to medium organisations don’t have access to, or the means to access, professional expertise. The Digital Heritage Hub will be their free, one stop shop of the expertise they need to take the next step – or even the first step – in their digital journey.” 60 resources are already live, with more being added over coming months – sign up to the newsletter for information about events and new additions. NLHF, Culture Hive
Towards a National Collection – findings and feedback from initial roundtables and research
The Collections Trust recently carried out an audit of digital collections held by 230 UK cultural heritage institutions for the AHRC-funded research programme Towards a National Collection (TaNC). It is the most comprehensive attempt to date to survey the state of the nation’s digital collections. The work was also accompanied by round tables with museums of all sizes, to understand what will be most useful to the sector, and practical barriers to developing an online ‘national collection’. Findings include:
The total number of item-level digitised collections is about 146m, with around 37m having associated images – with the British Museum and one other IRO accounting for half of these.
Records are in general concentrated in a few places – 10% of organisations hold 80% of assets, both on and offline.
40 organisations only published through online aggregators, and 14 behind a paywall.
Findings from the round table discussions include:
With money scarcer than ever, documentation is low on ‘to do’ lists, with many staff struggling to access their own data on legacy content management systems.
However, practical help from organisations such as Art UK and The National Archive’s Manage Your Collections and the newish Ogilby Muster for regimental museums has been welcome – “the barriers to taking part are low and the incentive to do so is clear.”
Few institutions use Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) or even know what they are. The report comments “this situation should set alarm bells ringing, as there is a real risk that the millions of online records reported to this audit will, over time, turn into millions of broken links.” Adopting external identifiers is currently a low priority, even in large institutions.
There is the potential for a ‘quick win’ approach drawing together 20 of the largest collections – but with the risk that this could increase inequalities and cynicism in the sector and cause smaller museums to disengage. One participant said “I think academic researchers default to thinking that the significant collections are within national museums or large regional museums when actually there are significant collections in the tiniest of museums, tucked away.”
Collection managers in the smallest museums are most likely to be multi-tasking, and pressed for time and money. However, there is some appetite among them for high end technical solutions – for example AI to track down copyright owners, instead of staff spending potentially days tracking down a rights holder.
TaNC concludes that it needs to be mindful that the idea of a ‘national collection’ is problematic and that a sector-level strategy should be organised for PIDs, thus taking pressure away from individual institutions. It also recognises that organisations of all sizes will need to see practical benefits to sharing data, and that collection-level record sharing (perhaps in partnership with Subject Specialist Networks) would be a realistic starting point for many. TaNC (Digital Collections Audit)
Also: A new report commissioned by ACE and Historic England, recommends creating a National Collection of Archaeological Archives (NCAA). ACE
Also: TaNC’s Heritage Connector project has also published its final report, which looks in detail at how records can be connected together, from AI to linked open data. TaNC
‘What you expect to happen, probably won’t’ – five digital trends for 2022
Substrakt’s Katie Moffat has written for Culture Hive on the five trends most likely to be shaping digital in the cultural sector this year. Driven both by urgent calls from scientists and guidance from major funders like ACE, more museums are focusing on digital environmental sustainability. This might include factors such as understanding how much data you are requiring users to request, limiting videos and images, and not leaving ‘dead’ pages online. Similarly there’s growing commitment to improving accessibility, beyond a tick box exercise. Maximising revenue is an issue, both through a deep understanding of user paths to purchase and by partnership working (e.g. sharing recording equipment for high quality livestream between smaller organisations). Digital experiences to some extent sit on the ‘unsolved’ pile – there is some drop off in interest post-pandemic, and virtual events may not have reached new audiences as much as initially imagined and have only occasionally been significant revenue generators. But there is still the sense that interesting new forms may emerge in the space and, as Moffat comments: ‘what you expect to happen, probably won’t’. Culture Hive
Ofcom report on children’s media use and attitudes – with YouTube among the most popular
Ofcom has published a report for 2021–22 on the use of media, including digital, by children and parents. 99% of children went online in the period, with 72% having a mobile phone to do so. It found that a majority of under 13s have a social media profile, including a third of five to seven year olds. Video sharing platforms such as YouTube and TikTok are the most popular among under 17s. However, 36% of primary and 17% of secondary school pupils do not always have access to a device for online home learning. Children in Wales were more than twice as likely to identify the markers of online misinformation compared to those in England and Scotland. The report also offers a useful media use tracker from ages 3 to 17, showing typical media use at each life stage. Ofcom
Glasgow Museums agrees return of 49 looted objects to three countries
Glasgow City Council plans to return 49 items from its collections which had been looted from three countries during the 19th century. The items consist of:
17 Benin Bronze artefacts, which will have their legal title transferred to the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, although the details of transfer including covering the estimated £30k costs are to be arranged.
Seven items from India, of which six were stolen from Hindu temples and shrines during the 19th century.
Return has also been agreed for 25 Lakota items, taken after the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, in response to a request by descendants of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Glasgow Life’s Head of Museums and Collections Duncan Dornan said “the return of these objects from Glasgow Life Museums’ collection to their rightful owners represents the largest-ever repatriation of cultural artefacts from a Scottish museum and is a significant moment for our city; specifically, the repatriation of seven Indian antiquities is the first of its kind to India from a UK museum.” He added that he hopes the returns will help in evolving ‘positive and constructive relationships’ between the city and communities around the world. Meanwhile in the US, the Smithsonian has changed its rules so that its 21 constituent museums can return items from their collections that were looted or acquired unethically. This is a shift from the view that a legal right to own an object is sufficient justification to keep it. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal, New York Times, Museums Journal, (Smithsonian)
Also: Glasgow City Council has also published a report on its connections with the slave trade from 1603 to 1838, with museums and heritage featuring heavily. Author Stephen Mullen said that there had been ‘manufactured controversy’ around the few statues mentioned in the report, but that the report demonstrated that the effects of “Caribbean slavery and its commerce ran deep into Scottish society, and had a transformative effect on national development overall.” There will now be a public consultation into how to respond to the findings. Museums Journal
ACE opens second round of the MEND fund for non-nationals in England
The second round of the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) has opened for applications from non-national Accredited museums and local authorities based in England. It has an overall fund of £16.9m to cover vital infrastructure and urgent maintenance backlogs which are beyond the scope of day-to-day maintenance budgets. It offers grants between £50k and £5m. Museums unsuccessful in the first, heavily subscribed round of the fund will be able to apply again in this round. The deadline for expressions of interest is 17th June, with an application window from 18th July to 23rd September, and decisions by March next year. ACE, Museums Journal
DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund new round
The DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund has opened a new round which offers £4m over two years from 2022-24. Up to £300k is available per application for capital projects in museums and galleries in England with Designated collections, those which are or have been part of ACE development schemes (eg NPOs) and those sponsored by DCMS. Projects supported include improving display and interpretation of collections, enhancing disabled access or addressing environmental controls or collection storage. The deadline for applications is 1st August. Gov.uk
Third round of the Cultural Development Fund opens to local authority and LEP led consortiums
The third round of the Cultural Development Fund will open soon, offering £2m - £5m for cultural infrastructure. Museums cannot apply directly but may be part of consortiums led by a local authority or Local Enterprise Partnership in areas of England outside of London. Expressions of interest open on 6th June and close on 29th July. Full applications begin in September. ACE
Second round opens for 14 – 18 NOW Legacy Fund art commissions
IWM will shortly open the second round of the 14 – 18 NOW Legacy Fund, which invests its proceeds from Peter Jackson’s film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ in a series of art commissions. Proposals should explore an aspect of the heritage of conflict from the First World War to the present day and be for an original new artwork. They should be submitted by organisations which are members of the War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network, and primary partners should be in the UK. In the last round, each commission was funded at around £20k. The new round opens for Expressions of Interest on 17th May. IWM, IWM (sign up to join the War and Conflict SSN)
MGS opens Scottish museum funds for 2022-23 and offers grant surgeries
Museums Galleries Scotland opened two funding strands for 2022-23 on 2nd May. They are:
Small Grants, offering £300 - £15k to Accredited museums for work that will build operational resilience (including staff and volunteer training), re-engagement with communities, critical repairs and environmental sustainability. The first of three rounds this financial year closes on 1st July.
The Museum Development Fund offers £15k - £50k to help Accredited museums make strategic steps towards resilience. Organisations with Recognised Collections can apply for up to £60k. There are two rounds this financial year, with the first closing on 13th June.
Museums are strongly advised to talk to MGS before putting in an application. There are two telephone-based grant funding surgeries on 16th and 17th May. MGS (Small Grants), MGS (Museum Development), MGS (grant surgeries)
Changes to National Lottery Project Grants – expanded eligibility, quicker decisions
ACE would like to remind museums and galleries that it has expanded eligibility for its National Lottery Project Grants, in the hope of encouraging a wider range of applications. Museums no longer need to be Accredited or Working towards Accreditation to apply. There is also a fast track for smaller grants, with decisions in under eight weeks when applying for under £3k. ACE also offers case studies – from the Museum of Oxford’s ‘Young Voices’ programme which helped it to work more closely with local youth, to ‘Dinner with Dickens’, an interactive, family friendly exhibition from the Charles Dickens Museum. ACE (information sheet), ACE (museum case studies)
£1m awarded through the Museums Galleries Resilience Fund – with many turning to renewable energy
MGS has awarded £1m from the Museums Capital Resilience Fund to 39 museums and galleries across Scotland. Funded by the Scottish Government, it covers capital costs and builds back organisational resilience post-pandemic. Many museums have used the fund to reduce carbon emissions – including by installing renewable energy sources and improving building insultation. For example, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society) invested its £50.9k in external wall insulation, an air source heat pump and underfloor heating – meaning that the whole site is now powered by renewables. MGS, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Update on the gradual reopening of the Museum Accreditation scheme
ACE has published an update on the gradual reopening of its Museum Accreditation scheme in the post pandemic period. The programme is now open to:
New applicants applying for the first time and ready to send in an eligibility questionnaire.
New applicants who are confirmed as Working Towards Accreditation and applying for the first time or reapplying after a period of non-participation.
The ‘pipeline’ group – which consists of those holding a provisional award or those with Full Accreditation who applied before March 2020. This group are already in ACE’s system and will receive responses in September.
Other groups do not need to take any action yet. The new guidance also includes an interim schedule, covering what ACE expects to offer from December 2022 to 2023. ACE
Sign up for Cultural Property Listings Alerts – Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu
ACE is offering cultural property listings alerts – sign up to get a notification when a notice of sale is uploaded to ACE’s Private Treaty Sales page, or when items accepted through Acceptance in Lieu or the Cultural Gifts Scheme are available for allocation and organisations are invited to apply. ACE
An export bar has been placed on ‘View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi’ by Bernardo Bellotto, with an asking price of £11.24m. The mid 18th century painting has its export licence deferred to 3rd August, with a possible six month extension. Gov.uk
Draft guidelines on extended periods of protection for objects on loan
The Government is considering extending the period during which objects on loan to approved museums and galleries can be given immunity from seizure. The revised guidance is currently in draft, but suggests how in future museums and galleries can request an extension. Gov.uk (scroll for the immunity from seizure draft guidelines)
Potential EU ban on handling lead without a permit challenged by ICOSMOS and others
The European Chemicals Agency is considering adding lead to the list of substances that need special authorisation for production, processing and storage. This would mean that conservation, storage or presentation of lead-containing objects such as stained glass would become impossible in the EU without a special permit. The International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) is among those raising objections. Although the UK would not be directly affected, if the plan goes ahead, there are likely to be widespread consequences beyond the EU’s borders. Museums Journal
Stolen Darwin manuscripts returned to Cambridge University Library after 20 years
Two Charles Darwin manuscripts, stolen from Cambridge University Library in 2001, have been anonymously returned. The notebooks include Darwin’s 1837 seminal sketch of the Tree of Life. They were rediscovered in an area of the library not covered by CCTV, with a typed note wishing happy Easter to the librarian. The manuscripts worth millions of pounds were initially believed to have been mislaid when they disappeared, and it was only after a fingertip search of relevant areas of the library that they were finally reported to the police as stolen in 2020. There was then an international appeal for information. The Library has become significantly more secure since the theft, and a police investigation is ongoing. Director of Library Services Dr Jessica Gardner said “my sense of relief at the notebooks’ safe return is profound and almost impossible to adequately express. I, along with so many others, all across the world, was heartbroken to learn of their loss.”Guardian, ITV, BBC, Museums Journal
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