Manchester Museum to reopen in February – with co-curated South Asian Gallery and flourishing vivarium
Manchester Museum will be reopening in February 2023, after a £15m redevelopment to transform it into a ‘more inclusive, imaginative and caring’ place. It will redisplay a collection that ranges from a million preserved animals to Egyptian mummies and an internationally important vivarium where variable harlequin toads have been breeding during lockdown in their only location outside Panama. The museum will be hosting a third floor HQ for environmental action in UK museums, connected to the Roots and Branches project. It has also developed a new South Asian gallery, co-curated with 31 people from diaspora communities in the city. Director Esme Ward says “It is co-curation on an epic scale … it is their lived experience and the collections coming together and we hope it will be like alchemy. You will essentially have a sense of diaspora and experience and contribution that you won’t find in any other museum.”Museums Journal, Guardian
Also: As planned, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is again closing from 13th November until 2024 for essential work, including to the roof. Museums Journal
NGS site Modern Two closes until 2023 due to funding crisis
Modern Two in Edinburgh, one of the sites of the National Galleries of Scotland, has closed until next year because of a funding crisis. In the meantime the site will only be accessible to the public by appointment. Last month NGS DG Sir John Leighton told MSPs at a committee session that the galleries faced “a funding challenge the like of which I have never before witnessed or, indeed, imagined”. 40 staff have already left through voluntary exit schemes, and the galleries are facing reduced programming, different opening hours and partial site closures. Leighton said that the crisis had been caused by the ‘layering’ effect of the pandemic, inflation and possible seven figure energy costs. He said that a model where virtually everything but staff costs was covered by commercial income had broken during the pandemic. He added “it would be no exaggeration to say that, as I look to next year and beyond, I am thinking that this is about how we protect the collection, keep the lights on and doors open.” NGS is not the only cultural body to be struggling: Creative Scotland, which funds 120 arts bodies in the country said that it would put off funding decisions to 2024, as it does not have ‘clarity or confidence’ about its own future finances. Times, Scottish Parliament, The Scotsman
Also: The Museum of London continues to make innovative plans for its new West Smithfield site, opening in 2024. It has announced that fabric will become the ‘world’s first’ nightclub in residence at the museum, alongside an exhibition looking at the club’s impact. Mixmag
Images this month: new displays at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History has unveiled the first major changes to its displays in over 20 years, as a second phase of its ‘Life as we Know it’ masterplan. Involving the movement and conservation of thousands of specimens over the past two years, the displays reflect the biodiversity and history of the earth – with collections ranging from a gigantic Japanese Spider Crab to meteorites as old as the solar system. OUMNH,
Last month we reported on an article from Bloomberg, stating that the Rijksmuseum was taking remedial action to prevent it from sinking due to climate change. The museum has now strongly denied the story, saying that although ‘fungi rotting wooden [foundation] poles’ is a problem elsewhere in Amsterdam, its foundations have been sound since 2013. Art Newspaper
ACE announces NPO decisions, including expanded support for regional museums
Arts Council England has announced the recipients of National Portfolio Funding for the period 2023–26. 990 organisations share an annual sum of £443m, with 276 joining the portfolio for the first time. Figures include:
All NMDC's member museums have had their NPO status renewed. Some have seen increases, including Derby Museums Trust with a rise from £400k to £550k. Others have declines in funding, with University of Cambridge Museums group seeing a drop by 50% to £600k and York Museums Trust losing 22% (although figures for some museums have changed as they no longer include Museum Development grants).
Overall investment in museums increased by £6.4m to just over £37.6m each year. 26 museums have been added to the portfolio for the first time – including the National Football Museum, Bradford Museums & Galleries, St Albans Museums, the Postal Museum and the Garden Museum – as well as two new museum support organisations, GEM and the Touring Exhibitions Group.
However, in line with Government guidance to ACE to redirect 16% in funds from London to the regions, there have also been some major removals from the portfolio: the English National Opera is losing its £12.5m subsidy and is moving its HQ out of London, though it will still maintain its London Coliseum site. 24 other organisations have been given money by ACE to relocate outside the capital by 2024. Some major theatres, including Donmar Warehouse have also lost all NPO funding.
ACE says its portfolio is now more diverse and representative, with 8.4% of the portfolio 51%+ Black, Asian and ethnically diverse led, and 32 organisations (2%) are 51%+ disability led. 20% more organisations are funded to deliver work for young people.
In an interview with The Times ACE Chair Sir Nicholas Serota said that it had taken the 'horrible' decision to remove NPO funding from some London arts organisations altogether rather than 'spreading the misery' across all. He said “none of the organisations from which we’re taking away money have failed. They’re all in business, they’re attracting audiences, they’re doing good work. These organisations are part of their community, they are employing people, they’re giving pleasure.” Nevertheless, he supports the uplift to the regions, including a 95% uplift to some targeted areas. He said “I don’t think London has had too much money but if we’ve got a finite sum, I think it’s right that more should be spent elsewhere. The arts don’t stand stand still. We want to look at new things, we want to be in new places.”. ACE, Museums Journal, Twitter (ACE funding by percentage loss), Art Newspaper, Guardian, BBC
In response to the announcements NMDC Chair Maria Balshaw said: “On behalf of all our members we are delighted that all of NMDC’s NPO museum members were successful in securing incredibly well-deserved funding for the next three years, and offer our warmest congratulations to them all.
Museums are a key part of our national cultural infrastructure and it’s fantastic to see Arts Council recognition of this with an additional £6.4m of funding per year for the sector. The 26 new museums joining the NPO portfolio also mean that Arts Council’s investment in museums will reach more people in more places than ever before.
In a challenging operating environment and at a time when museums are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, NPO funding is more vital than ever. We recognise the difficult decisions that the Arts Council has had to make and are grateful for the ongoing commitment to funding our amazing museums that will enable them to continue delivering positive benefits for communities across the country. We note with concern the significant reduction in funding to University of Cambridge museums and hope that further support for their vital community and research-supporting work may be found.”
MGS pauses usual funding streams to open new Resilience Fund, prioritising energy efficiency
Museums Galleries Scotland has paused its usual funding streams and has replaced them with a Resilience Fund to address the significant financial challenge now facing museums. Both the Small Grants Fund and Museum Development Fund are suspended, and MGS is inviting Accredited museums to apply to the new single funding stream. The new fund will offer grants between £1.5k and £50k for projects that directly increase resilience by helping to reduce costs, increase income and support communities. Applications that will help implement energy efficiency measures will be prioritised. The deadline for first round Expressions of Interest is 5pm on 17th November, and 5pm on 28th November for full applications. There will be a second round in January 2023. MGS is also encouraging all museums to keep it informed of their financial situations and concerns, so that it can continue to advocate to the Scottish Government on their behalf. MGS, Museums Journal
Green Transition Ecosystems (GTEs) major £19m funding open to IROs in January
From January, The Arts and Humanities Research Council is opening a new Green Transition Ecosystems (GTE) fund, which is open to UK research organisations (IROs). GTEs capitalise on clusters of design excellence to turn design-led research into real world benefit, aimed at addressing the climate emergency. Up to £4.6m per project will be available from a total pot of £19m, linked to the ‘Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme’ which has major involvement by the Design Museum. AHRC
New Association of Science and Discovery Centres capacity building grants
The Association of Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) is offering a new funding stream ‘Bold Futures’ to support values-led work with under-represented audiences. Applicants should explore how work with these groups can affect future purpose and financial sustainability. Grants from £10k - £25k are available to around 10 science and discovery centres and museums. This work is part of a wider collaboration through the ‘Mindsets + Missions for Museums and Science Centres of the Future’ programme, in partnership with the MA and The Liminal Space, backed by £750k from UKRI. The deadline for applications is noon on 14th November. ASDC, Museums Journal, Museums Journal
NAO to investigate value for money of the Unboxed festival
The National Audit Office (NAO) is to investigate whether the Unboxed festival represented value for money after it spent £120m on countrywide events claimed by some to have attracted only 240,000 visitors despite a ‘stretch target’ of 66 million. The festival was first announced by Theresa May’s government in 2018, and was repeatedly tagged as a ‘Festival of Brexit’ by the press, a politicisation which organiser Martin Green said did not help the event’s prospects. However, organisers also deny that the reported visitor figures were so low, telling the BBC "the numbers reported misrepresent the public engagement with Unboxed, and reflect attendance at only eight of the 107 physical locations from within the programme". DCMS says engagement with Unboxed is around the four million mark. NAO’s investigation was prompted by scepticism from the DCMS Parliamentary Select Committee and its Chair Conservative MP Julian Knight. Knight welcomed the plan saying "The NAO's investigation will bring welcome and thorough scrutiny and help get to the bottom of how so much taxpayer money could be frittered away for so little return." Meanwhile DCMS itself does not have the same perspective on the success of the festival, saying "we do not agree with the select committee's views." The current outcome is that NAO will now publish a “short, focused report on Unboxed which could act as the basis for future questioning during a committee session with DCMS” which is expected by the end of the year. BBC, Arts Industry, Guardian, Guardian
Cost of living – impacts on museums and their visitors
VisitBritain domestic travel sentiment tracker: 75% of adults ‘cautious’ or already hard hit by cost of living
VisitBritain has published its latest visitor sentiment tracker, covering the period 3rd – 9th October. Figures show:
79% think the worst is still to come in the cost of living crisis, very high, but down 1% since September.
Confidence in taking an overnight trip in the last quarter of this year is slightly up by low single digits, although lowest for December at 1%. Figures are now 71% (October), 66% (November) and 64% (December).The net proportion of UK trips compared to pre-pandemic is down to -11%.
The majority of UK adults are either ‘being very cautious’ in the face of cost of living (54%) or already hard hit (21%) with only 23% in comfortable categories.
Reactions to Covid have stabilised with 80% thinking the worst has passed or things will stay the same – and a willingness to attend public events is also steady at 3.2 out of a possible 4.
The top three barriers to overnight trips in the UK at present are rising cost of living (42% citing this reason), rising cost of holidays and leisure (31%) and personal finances (30%). Rising cost of living is a barrier across all life stages, although cited by 31% of retirees, compared to 44 – 47% among other age groups.
32% are looking for ‘free things to do’ on an overnight trip.
ALVA figures show cost of living crisis is deterring day trips for lower income families
Meanwhile ALVA’s public sentiment research, collected in late September, shows a similar picture for day trips, with the cost of living crisis eroding decisions to visit. Figures show that:
Compared to a year ago (September 2021) 57% are visiting museums and art galleries the same amount, 22% a bit more and 6% much more. However, a small but significant number are visiting a little (9%) or a lot (6%) less often.
This slowing of the recovery is driven by the cost of living crisis with 24% expressing financial concerns, especially those with children. Meanwhile concerns about Covid are down since June (from 22% to 14%) but 9% still say this will prevent visits.
32% say they are a little worse off than a year ago, and 15% a lot worse off. As a result, 49% of those on less than £20k and 41% of those on £20k - £40k say they are forced to cut back on day trips.
Figures for reduced day trips are notably higher for those with children in their household – at 49% compared to 34% with no children.
Among those who are less well off financially, 18% say they are a little or a lot less likely to visit museums and galleries this year compared to last.
However, there are also signs that among the better off, short domestic breaks may be sacrificed to afford international travel during the winter, now that pandemic restrictions have largely lifted.
11% also spontaneously expressed the idea that attractions are becoming unaffordable: one typical respondent said “don't mind visiting, but admission prices are dear and you get ripped off with prices for refreshments once inside.” This may mean that there is scope for free and well priced attractions to emphasise their affordability. ALVA
MA publishes revised salary guidelines, and calls for pay at least at Real Living Wage
The Museums Association has published its revised salary research and recommendations, offering data on current pay levels in the museum sector, in its first update since 2017. The report covers both support and specialist jobs, staff benefits and management pay. It recommends all employers should pay at least the Real Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation, and that employers use upper quartile figures to set salaries. MA Director Sharon Heal said “this research demonstrates that years of pay freezes and budget cuts have had a severe impact on the living standards of museum workers… as a historically underpaid sector we are falling further behind as inflation hits double digits and the cost of essentials soars.” However, the report has received some criticism from unions for not including its perspectives. Museums Journal
Also: Data from ArtsPay also shows younger arts workers being ‘priced out of London’ as slightly higher wages do not keep pace with the costs of living in the capital. Arts Professional
CILIP publishes guidance for organisations setting up community warm spaces
CILIP, the library and information association, has published ‘A Warm Welcome. Setting up a warm space in your community’, offering guidance to public libraries and other sites interested in offering places to stay warm as the cost of heating increases. Funded by money saving expert Martin Lewis, it offers practical advice on how to calculate costs of heating a warm space, how many people can be accommodated and health and safety factors to consider. It also points to sources of funding, advice on promoting spaces and make sure that journeys to warm spaces are affordable. CILIP
European museums turn down the heating and look to renewables ahead of a cold winter
Winter is predicted to be especially dry and cold across mainland Europe, exacerbating energy shortages as countries reduce their gas supplies from Russia from 40% to 9% in just a year. Bills for museums are also sharply increasing, with the Uffizi in Florence up by 185% and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam facing tripled costs. Institutions across the continent are responding by turning heating down: Paris Musées did not switch heating on until 24th October and is now restricting office spaces to a maximum of 18°C in the day; German public buildings are limited to a maximum of 19°C. Museum staff says these limits are not affecting climate control for collections, but that more than two or three degrees would become an issue. Museums are also conscious that visitors – whose numbers are back at pre-pandemic levels at some sites including the Uffizi – need to know ‘they can come somewhere where it’s not totally freezing’. Some museums are also urgently investing in energy efficiency. Paris Musées is looking for structural changes it can make across its 22 buildings, while Rijksmuseum has connected its offices and conservation studio to the underground thermal energy storage system of the main building. Apollo magazine, Art Newspaper
DCMS committee calls for action on ‘existential threat’ to culture from cost of living crisis
A new report from the cross party DCMS Committee has called for urgent financial support and new regional funding for culture. It finds that as high streets have declined, cultural placemaking is more important than ever, supporting agendas from education to economic growth to health, but that it is often thwarted in practice, with funding for culture falling over many years.
Compared with other European nations, only Greece (0.1%) spends less as a percentage of GDP than the UK (0.2%) on culture, with only Cyprus and Ireland also on 0.2%.
This lack of support varies by region, but a redistributive model may not work by itself – first because creative industries develop in clusters, and secondly because redistribution has been built around metropolitan models, itself shutting out more rural locations.
The report also found that the lack of long term sustainable funding makes it difficult for cultural organisations to ‘develop, grow, experiment and innovate’. In its evidence to the committee, AIM highlighted research showing that most cultural activity does not regularly access public funding, and that additional money made available tends to land within existing infrastructure, rather than developing where new provision is needed.
Chair of the Committee Julian Smith MP said “local museums, galleries and theatres have a huge role to play in regenerating high streets and town centres away from the big cities, but they run up against pervasive and persistent barriers to their success. With spiralling energy bills exacerbating the scars inflicted by the pandemic, the Government must come forward with targeted support to ensure local organisations are not hit by a wave of closures at a time when art and culture is more important than ever…” He added that mechanisms should be put in place to prevent ‘cash for culture being hoovered up by all the big players’ and giving space for grassroots organisations to develop for regional audiences. Parliament UK, Museums Journal
Arts campaigning bodies merge to form new Campaign for the Arts
The National Campaign for the Arts and the Public Campaign for the Arts have merged, and have relaunched as Campaign for the Arts. With a combined supporter group of around 250,000 people, it aims to defend and expand access to the arts for the public. Alongside new initiatives, the new group will continue the Hearts for the Arts awards, which have recognised exceptional arts initiatives in local government since 2017, and the Arts Index, which has analysed the health of the nation’s arts and culture since 2011. Samuel West, formerly Chair of the NCA, becomes a Trustee of Campaign for the Arts; Jack Gamble, formerly Director of the PCA, becomes the new CEO. The group is now seeking new people to join its Board of Trustees. Campaign for the Arts, NCA/PCA, (press release)
MGS immersive report in words and film looks back on ten years
Museums Galleries Scotland has produced an immersive report in words and film, looking back on the last decade of work in museums. ‘Celebrating Ten Years of Going Further’ uses the online storytelling platform ‘Shorthand’ to convey how it has supported change in the museum sector. Focuses of its work have included maximising the potential of collections for future generations, including the opening of the National Museums Collections centre and other storage and conservation facilities; work to enhance wellbeing with groups from the NHS to young people in deprived areas; workforce training including apprenticeships and routes into the sector for non-graduates; financial and environmental sustainability and developing a global perspective on Scotland’s collections – including issues from restitution to reappraising slavery and empire. MGS’s next National Strategy will be launched in early 2023 – with the need to address the climate emergency and include diverse perspectives as central issues. Matthew Bellhouse Moran, Director of HMS Unicorn comments "I'm really looking forward to museums taking more of an active social role. The strong theme of social responsibility that comes through museum work now is a good thing, and can only be a good thing."MGS
AGM results in election of National Trust’s preferred candidates despite Restore Trust campaign
The National Trust has elected all seven of its recommended candidates to its Council, at its latest AGM, despite a widely publicised campaign by the group Restore Trust, which criticised the NT’s perceived ‘woke agenda’ and accused it of not fulfilling its charitable objectives. Resolutions opposing rewilding and NT’s involvement in Pride events were also not carried. Restore Trust’s paid for social media campaign was met with newspaper articles and counter-campaigning, warning that the fact that only a tiny percentage of the Trust’s five million members vote at AGMs left it vulnerable to well organised action by those with a specific view. NT’s Director of Communications Celia Richardson said that member turnout had been very high this year, adding that “paid-for canvassing for Council seats has been unsuccessful. This is important for the UK voluntary sector.”Twitter (Celia Richardson), National Trust, (AGM results), inews, Byline Times, Guardian, Evening Standard
DCMS findings on measuring Culture & Heritage Capital includes call for new research
DCMS has published the ‘Scoping culture and heritage capital report’ co-funded with AHRC to begin to explore how the value of culture and heritage can be expressed as economic benefit. This approach was first applied to nature, and is now being used in other fields to ensure that the current and future benefits of an asset are not overlooked because they sit outside of the financial system. This should have benefits in ascribing greater value to culture and heritage and improving decision making. The scoping study found that there will need to be further research and refinement of methods, and cross-disciplinary work. Areas of study include: working out what services and benefits arise from Culture and Heritage Capital (CHC), developing a taxonomy of CHC services and related benefits, exploring the link between the reasons why people value the arts, culture and heritage and how this relates to their monetary expressions, as well as non-monetary expressions where relevant. The team behind the scoping study now recommend building a pipeline of future talent in cultural economics through training grants, sponsored PhDs and summer schools. The long term aim will be to make arts, culture and heritage an integral part of capital wealth accounts and, therefore, essential to understanding prosperity and wellbeing. Gov.uk
Frances Morris has announced that she will step down as Director of Tate Modern in April next year after seven years in post. Art Newspaper
Frances Jeens is leaving the Jewish Museum after a decade, with three years spent as Director, to take up a new post at the Houses of Parliament, leading on education and engagement. Museums Journal, Twitter
Kathryn Blacker will be the next Chief Executive of York Museums Trust after Reyahn King moved to the National Trust for Scotland. Blacker is currently chapter steward at York Minster Cathedral. Museums Journal (from fourth paragraph)
Following Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Prime Minister, there has been a new reshuffle at DCMS:
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay has been reappointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DCMS, a role he held in the Johnson government. He is representing DCMS in the House of Lords and is responsible for arts and libraries, museums, heritage (including cultural diplomacy), National Archives and appointments. Gov.uk
Paul Scully was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Tech and the Digital Economy. Gov.uk
Stuart Andrew was reappointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, and is now responsible for sport, tourism, civil society, youth, ceremonials, events, and arts and heritage in the Commons. He balances this role with his new brief as Minister for Equalities. Gov.uk, TTG Media
Lord Kamall has left DCMS having been a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DCMS from September - October 2022. Damian Collins has returned to the back benches having been a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DCMS from July – October 2022. Gov.ukGov.uk
The UK Commission on Covid Commemoration has launched a consultation seeking views on how people think the pandemic should be remembered. Possibilities include the adoption of a Remembrance Sunday-style symbol, dedicated memorials and reflective spaces. The Commission is also seeking suggestions on a suitable date for a national day of Remembrance. The deadline for responses is 5th December. Gov.uk
ACE consults ahead of UK wide scheme to improve access to venues for disabled people
Many creative and cultural venues across the UK offer schemes to improve disabled access, but they contain a patchwork of approaches that would benefit from a more joined up approach. Therefore ACE is now working with other UK nation bodies to create a more coherent approach. Ideas that have emerged in consultation with d/Deaf and disabled people include ticketing systems that apply access needs at the point of booking, a single digital membership scheme and a website of accessible places and events. ACE is now seeking views from venues in a survey open until 30th November. ACE (survey), ACE (overview)
Take part in Museum Shop Sunday with a competition, tasting, craft fair or book signing
Museums are invited to sign up to participate in Museum Shop Sunday on 27th November with an event or promotion. Organised by the Association of Cultural Enterprises, the day highlights the role of retail in helping cultural venues to flourish, and aims particularly to promote original goods, shopping with a conscience and creating a meaningful experience (‘the opposite of Black Friday’). Events might include food or drink tastings, craft fairs, book signings, product launches, competitions or gift wrapping. DCN, Association of Cultural Enterprises, AofCE (event signup)
Engage, the charity which develops the gallery education sector, has opened applications for its Extend Leadership programme for 2022 – 23. The course supports mid-career professionals across all art forms and including those working in community settings or museums, libraries, archives and heritage settings. Freelancers are welcome. The course runs from January to March 2023 online, based around a coaching approach. Participants will contribute £200, but the course is also heavily subsidised by support bodies from the four UK nations. The deadline for applications is 28th November at 10am. Engage
Brave Futures: support for making radical changes to cultural sector business plans in England
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy has launched its new ‘Bold Futures’ programme for cultural sector organisations in England that need to make significant changes in the medium term. Topics covered include reviewing business models, building dynamic future plans and making difficult decisions.Radical options considered might include merging, changing operating model or winding up altogether. The course will offer an experienced, confidential sounding board as organisations work through scenarios and likely outcomes. Support covers December 2022 – June 2023. Expressions of Interest can be three pages long, or take the form of a five minute film. The deadline is noon on 25th November. The support is 50% subsidised by ACE with a cost to organisations of £2.5k + VAT. Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy
Mapping museums talk: The UK Museums Boom (and what happened next)
The Mapping Museums project is holding a talk ‘The UK Museums Boom (and what happened next)’ to mark the end of its six year project. The talk will look at the significant rise in the creation of museums in the late 20th century, which was for a long time under-explored. Project Director Professor Fiona Candlin will describe what was learned as the project analysed data from 4000 museums and interviewed many founders. The event will be chaired by ACE’s Isabel Wilson, with a response from AIM Director Lisa Ollerhead. It takes place at 6pm on 17th November at the Clore Management Centre in London WC1 and is followed by a drinks reception. Tickets are free. Mapping Museums
Full programme for hybrid Museums + Tech conference 2022: Turning it off and on again
Museums Computer Group has published the full programme for its hybrid Museums + Tech conference 2022, with the theme of rebooting digital in the sector: ‘Turning it off and on again’. Sessions cover the trauma of surviving a heritage cyber attack, to what makes a successful funded digital project. There are also talks on QR codes, environmental sustainability, AI and museum collections, digital mentoring programmes and more. Tickets are £109, or £55 for students and unwaged. A new option to watch via livestream for £40 has recently been released. MCG (programme), MCG, (booking)
Culture24 digital leadership series: watch again on YouTube
Earlier this year Culture24 ran a series of events on digital leadership, with subtopics ranging from the climate crisis to skills, literacy and capacity and infrastructure and processes. These are particularly aimed at midsized museum and cultural organisations. The whole series is now available to watch again on Culture24’s YouTube channel. Culture24
The Cultural Sector FM Hub is holding a webinar on Saving Energy in the Cultural Sector. It will bring together a panel of five experts to discuss energy saving in cultural and heritage buildings of all types and sizes, especially where heritage fabric, collections and visitors need to be considered. Speakers include Ben Melham of Mortice Consulting and Mike Figg with the case study of Somerset House. It takes place from 12 – 1.30pm on 18th November and is free. Cultural Sector FM, Cultural Sector FM (event signup)
Heritage in crisis: Ukraine series begins with ‘looting and the loss of expertise’
ICOM UK is holding a new series of talks on heritage in crisis with a focus on Ukraine. The first ‘Looting of Ukrainian cultural heritage and the loss of expertise’ takes place on 9th November from 12.30pm, with further events in December. Each will focus on how UK heritage professionals can help with the ongoing situation. ICOM UK
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy offers in depth business planning programme
Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy is offering an in depth training programme for small and medium sized museum and heritage organisations in England. Taking around 10 – 12 days of commitment it covers business planning, audience and stakeholder development, plus leadership and change management. The programme is free, and elements are tailored to the needs of each organisation, with contributions from partners Creative United and the Arts Marketing Association. The deadline for applications is 2nd December. Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy
BICIL short course on International Cultural Heritage Law
The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) is offering its short course on International Cultural Heritage Law for a second year. It will include discussions of the primary threats to cultural heritage, including trafficking, armed conflicts, and development. In doing so, it will also cover international instruments that have been adopted over the past decades to protect cultural heritage. There will also be a special session on restitution, considering past return processes and what can be learnt from them. The course costs £275 per person, including VAT. It takes place over five two hour sessions from 1 – 3pm on 14th – 18th November. BICIL
Cultural Heritage Data School brings together the GLAM sector with academics
Cambridge Digital Humanities is offering a Cultural Heritage Data School which brings together the GLAM sector with academia to explore methods to create, visualise and analyse digital archives and collections. The online intensive teaching programme is structured around the digital collections pipeline. No previous experience of coding is required and there are no specific academic requirements, however the course content is broadly suitable for those with an undergraduate degree or equivalent professional experience. Sessions are not recorded, so live attendance in slots from 11am – 4pm is needed. Fees for the school are £245 standard, or £45 concessions, with a small number of bursaries. The event takes place from 12th – 16th December, with a deadline for applications of 13th November. Cambridge Digital Humanities, Cambridge Digital Humanities
Family Learning in the Early Years: First Steps to a Fairer Future
The Campaign for Learning is holding a Family Learning in the Early Years conference. The programme will focus on the impact of Covid and how to address the inequalities it caused; effective early years initiatives to engage new learners and tips for expanding programmes and learning offers to support local families. The event takes place online on 24th November from 9.30am – 2pm. Tickets are £75 +VAT. GEM, Campaign for Learning
Also: The Campaign for Learning is also offering a free event, funded by the Royal Society for Chemistry on ‘Delivering ChemiStories for Families’. The event takes place on 15th November from 9.30am – 12.30pm online. Campaign for Learning
Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries series begins with Richard Benjamin talk
Research Libraries UK is launching a new ‘Inclusive Collections, Inclusive Libraries’ series of talks. The first is ‘Museums & the Making of Us: In the Footsteps of Giants’ from Richard Benjamin Visiting Professor in Slavery and Public Engagement at the University of Liverpool, on secondment from his role as Head of the International Slavery Museum. It explores the role museums play in realigning and reflecting society. The event takes place on 29th November from 2pm and is free. RLUK
Heritage Alliance debate - Heritage in 20 Years: what will matter most?
The Heritage Alliance is holding its annual debate on the topic of what will matter most to the sector in 2042, 20 years from now. The panel will be speaking for five different aspects: community value, inherent value, business, the climate crisis and skills and workforce. The event takes place online from 5- 7pm on 24th November. Tickets are free to Heritage Alliance members, £7 for others and £5 concessions. Heritage Alliance
Arts&Heritage symposium: The Art of Remembering - Research, Action, Healing
Arts&Heritage, the organisation that embeds contemporary art in heritage settings is holding a one day symposium ‘The Art of Remembering - Research, Action, Healing’. It explores how museums and heritage sites, artists, curators, academics and communities have responded to both commemorated and suppressed historic events, and how they forge new social, cultural and artistic alliances, connecting past conflicts with today’s movements for human rights. Speakers include Linda Norris Director of International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. The event takes place on 14th November at Newcastle University. The event is free, but pre-booking is essential – RSVP to [email protected]. Lunch is provided. Arts&Heritage
Hope Evolves - A Guide to Youth-Led Change in Heritage
Curious Minds and its project partners are hosting an event as a culmination of its five year project ‘Hope Streets’ which explored youth-led change in heritage. As well as case studies there will be opportunities for discussion with those involved in youth led heritage projects, and a look at how five museums in the North West worked in new ways with young people. The event should be most useful for staff from heritage organisations, looking to develop work with young people. The event takes place on 23rd November at the Pyramid Arts Centre Warrington and is free. Curious Minds
Julie’s Bicycle environmental events – energy impacts webinar and more
Julie’s Bicycle is running a one hour Energy Impacts webinar looking at how culture can respond to the energy crisis and help towards a clean energy transition. The event is free on 24th November at 10am. Julie’s Bicycle
Those who missed the Julie’s Bicycle ‘We Make Tomorrow’ conference live can watch all the sessions online for £10. It covers leadership and innovation in climate action and justice. Julie’s Bicycle
The Colour Green Lab is an introductory environmental knowledge and skills programme empowering cultural practitioners and artists of colour to participate in, and lead on, environmental action in the UK. It runs for eight weeks on zoom from January – March 2023. Apply by 5pm 25th Julie’s Bicycle
Ki Culture and the Gallery Climate Coalition are jointly holding an International Climate Control Conference. It will highlight the issues and solutions for climate control in the sector, showcasing latest research and scientific data, and highlighting best practice. The event takes place online on 1st and 2nd December. Gallery Climate Coalition
Next stages of Roots & Branches: Seeds for Action Sharing
The Roots & Branches programme, which has rolled out carbon literacy training across England is holding an event to review what has been achieved and announce next steps. These include Museum Development England’s new Seeds for Action Programme, including a series of live online workshops and networking sessions, plus digital resources. There will also be an update on Manchester Museum’s new third floor environmental action hub. The event takes place on 14th November from 1.30pm – 3.30pm and is free. Roots & Branches
Gulbenkian opens third year of its £150k civic arts award
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has opened the third year of its Award for Civic Arts Organisations. With a theme of ‘co-creating the future’ the award will recognise arts organisations which are helping unlock creativity in their communities. The overall winner will receive £100k, with two runners up receiving £25k. The deadline for entries is 1pm on 25th November. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
The MA has announced winners of its annual Museums Change Lives Awards:
Best Museums Change Lives project goes to The Whitworth for Still Parents: Life after Baby Loss.
Best Small Museum Project is the new LGBTQ+ museum at King’s Cross Queer Britain for its first exhibition ‘We Are Queer Britain!’
Reimagining the Museum Award goes to The Hunterian for Curating Discomfort, a project looking offering ‘discomforting provocations’ looking at how museums have perpetuated the primacy of white western ideas.
The Radical Changemaker Award goes to Elma Glasgow of Aspire Black Suffolk. Elma put together the ‘Power of Stories’, a touring exhibition and events programme celebrating African and Caribbean heritages in Suffolk.
Shortlist announced for Achates Philanthropy Prize
A six strong shortlist has been announced for the 2022 Achates Philanthropy Prize, which rewards first time philanthropists and the organisations they support. Two museums and their philanthropists are on the shortlist: Manchester Art Gallery & new donors to the Manchester Contemporary Art Fund and the Museum of the Home & Will Hanway and Luise Luetcke. The winner will be announced on 9th November. Achates Philanthropy Prize
Also: VisitBritain has announced 97 winners of its Visitor Attraction Accolades for 2021 – 22. Dozens of museum winners include Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery and Thackray Medical Museum, both for Best Told Story, plus a Gold Award for the Royal Airforce Museum Cosford. VisitBritain
National Emergency Services Museum is Family Friendly Museum of the Year
The National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield has won first prize as the Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum of the Year, as well as Best Small Museum. The independent museum based in an Old Police and Firestation celebrates the heroic history of the emergency services. Judges were impressed by its hands on approach including fire engine rides, driving simulators, dressing-up, climbing walls and interactive galleries, with topics from the Great Fire of London to modern fire safety. There is also excellent SEND provision from chill out spaces, to Makaton signage and sensory backpacks. In a tweet, the museum said “we are shocked, delighted, proud, overwhelmed, weepy, excited and just about any other emotion you can imagine…We’re sure it will sink in eventually. For now, we just want to say a massive thank you to all our visitors.… And now for the celebrations which, knowing us, will involve indescribably large amounts of cake.” Winners in other categories were:
Also: International visitor attractions news website blooloop has announced its 50 museum influencers list for 2022. Its choices include Tony Butler, Director of Derby Museums Trust and Alison Criddle, Carbon Literacy Officer for Museums Development North West. blooloop
VocalEyes Heritage Access report 2022 includes new benchmarking tool
VocalEyes has published its Heritage Access report 2022, measuring how far museums and heritage sites have come in offering useful online access information to disabled people since a previous study in 2018. The report is the result of six months work by 61 volunteer digital researchers, many with personal experience of access barriers, checking 2257 venues. Findings include:
There has been a significant increase in access information online since 2018.
However, there is a persistent 19% of museums and heritage sites who carry no online access information, unchanged since 2018.
Across all venues there is still far less information available to blind and visually impaired people, D/deaf and neurodivergent people than there is for physical access barriers. All of these groups have been under-recognised historically as needing accessibility provision. For example, the number of venues with provision for d/Deaf people is only at the 4 – 7% mark, except for induction loops at 29%.
The report also includes a new benchmarking interactive, ranking all 2257 venues – and allowing venues to see how they are performing compared to the sector as a whole.
The report also offers a very detailed guide to the sorts of information that venues could provide for a variety of impairments, with examples of existing good practice, ranging from the Science Museum’s Sensory Map, to the Tate’s Communication Cards for nonverbal interaction, to Penlee Museum and Art Gallery’s Easy Read guide. There are also programming ideas such as the relaxed events at the Postal Museum. In total around 14.6 million people in the UK are disabled, or about 22% of the population. 92% seek access information before a museum or gallery visit – and are likely to make other plans if they can’t find information. It therefore makes good business sense and helps increase reputation where museums take steps to serve these audiences. VocalEyes (overview), VocalEyes (report), VocalEyes, (benchmarking tool), Museums Journal,
Kids in Museums publishes new guide to LGBTQ+ heritage for young people and families
ONS data shows that the number of same sex couple families has grown by 50% since 2015, making it one of the fastest growing UK family types in the UK. Kids in Museums has therefore published a guide to representing and including queer communities in museum work – including resources aimed at children. Topics include thinking about language in signage and feedback forms, working with community groups when planning an LGBTQ+ exhibition and reinterpreting collection items to surface queer links. It also points to museum good practice, ranging from the Royal Museums Greenwich LGBTQ+ family network, to Tate’s short film for children on LGBTQ+ artists. Culture Hive
COP27 opens in Egypt – with warnings of landmark heritage losses within a century
COP27 has opened in Egypt, with Zahi Hawass, the country’s former Minister of State for antiquities affairs warning about the sheer extent of heritage loss without radical action on the climate emergency. He said that virtually all outdoor sites in Egypt are at risk and that “In my view, in 100 years, all these antiquities will be gone because of climate change.” Rodney Harrison, Professor of Heritage Studies at UCL is among growing voices putting the issue similarly starkly: “museums could play a leading role in these transformations, but they can only do so if they make significant changes to the way they operate and communicate.” The Climate Heritage Network, which has a global membership including many cultural bodies in the UK, has launched Culture at COP27 platform to promote the power of arts and culture to accelerate climate action – follow #CultureAtCOP27 on social media for a snapshot of its work. Art Newspaper, Culture at COP27
Sunflowers in tomato soup: Just Stop Oil targets Van Gogh’s masterpiece at the National Gallery
There have been further attacks on the glass and frames of well-known paintings across European museums in the past month, by the environmental action group Just Stop Oli. Notably, in mid October, two activists threw cans of tomato soup over Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in the National Gallery, before glueing their hands to the wall below. The room was then cleared by gallery staff and both campaigners were arrested by the police. The gallery says that the picture itself, which is glazed, was not harmed, with only minor damage to the frame. Since then there has been widespread debate, with many strongly deploring the action. Dr Chris Garrard of Culture Unstained, which has organised many museum protests against oil sponsorship pointed to the impact on Front of House staff, and the risk of breaking down allyship. However, the perpetrators have appeared across UK and global media to argue that the international attention justifies the action. Just Stop Oil spokesperson Emma Brown gave an interview to The Art Newspaper about the group’s thinking. She said “we started to target artworks back in the summer. They have been surprisingly valuable to us as a campaign. Because of the value we place on artworks as a society, and the touchiness of our sensitivities towards these precious objects they have acted as a vehicle for the outrage. A lot of us are not sitting with the reality of what is happening to us, we are in a stage of soft denial where we can know intellectually what’s happening, but we’re not feeling it…. If you empathise with the people in the Global South suffering with starvation… then a bit of soup thrown at a painting completely bears into insignificance.” She added that long-used activist tactics of glueing and locking on were now being used for the first time in cities (rather than more remote natural sites at risk) because ‘we can’t waste our time any more’ with actions that could be more easily overlooked. Just Stop Oil is ultimately funded by the Los Angeles based Climate Emergency Fund, created by three millionaires in 2019 to support environmental activism. One of their number is Aileen Getty, herself an heiress to the Getty oil fortune (though the family sold the business 40 years ago). She says that she supports the action as ‘disruptive activism is the fastest route to transformative change’. Art Newspaper, BBC, NPG, Museums Journal, Times, Twitter, (Kalmus), Guardian, Art Newspaper (podcast), Art Newspaper (Aileen Getty), Guardian (Getty), Sky (Monet attack in Germany), Guardian (Monbiot),
Julie’s Bicycle and Creative PEC publish joint report on the Creative Industries and climate emergency
Ahead of COP27 the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has published a sector-by-sector guide to creative industries work towards net zero. Produced in partnership with BOP Consulting and Julie’s Bicycle, it encompasses areas from film to fashion highlighting success but also blocks to action. There is a detailed section on visual arts, drawing from a report last year, but no new detail specifically on museums. The report found that there is widespread commitment from businesses of all sizes, but macro-level guidelines, investment and partnership are needed, and there is currently a lack of tax breaks for R&D. Creative PEC, Arts Industry
A temporary export bar has been placed on The Cricketers (Ralph Izard & Friends) by Benjamin West. It shows five wealthy Americans playing cricket in the mid 18th century, and is evidence for the game’s evolution from a rustic sport in the 1720s to one taken up by the aristocracy. The painting is valued at £1,215,000 and the first deferral period runs to 13th April 2023. Gov.uk
The Pre-Raphelite painting ‘A Young Teacher’ but Rebecca Solomon has received an export bar. Solomon was a pioneering Jewish painter who campaigned for women artists. The asking price for the work is £314,880 with an initial deferral until 1st February 2023. Gov.uk
A Victoria Cross awarded to RAF Squadron Leader A.S.K. Scarf, valued at £660k has received an export bar, with the deferral running to 27th January 2023. Gov.uk
Treasure Finds figures published for 2020 and 2021
DCMS has published figures for Treasure Finds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for 2020, and provisional figures for 2021. Figures show that:
In 2020, there were 1071 finds, down from 1,303 the previous year, with 23% found in the East of England. 97% of all finds were discovered through metal detecting. These resulted in 304 objects being acquired by museums.
In 2021 there is a provisional figure of 1079 objects, with the South East as the region with most finds at 25% of the total.
Mary Rose creates 4D experience of diving the wreck of the ship in 1982
The Mary Rose Trust has announced that it will create a 4D theatre experience ‘1982 – Dive the Mary Rose’ opening in Spring 2023. Visitors will be given 3D glasses, and discover what it was like to dive and recover the wreck four decades ago through a mixture of CGI, unseen footage and recreated sounds, smells and movement from its rediscovery. The lifting of the wreck involved hundreds of people and remains the world’s largest excavation and recovery. The ‘state-of-the-art technological innovation’ will be created in partnership with digital media company Figment Productions. Its CEO Simon Reveley said “this immersive cinema experience will use sensory effects, 3D visuals and most importantly, an authentic, gripping, heart-pounding true story. We’ll offer guests a whole new perspective of the Mary Rose”.National Historic Ships, Museums Journal, Portsmouth News
National Heritage Act is debated in the House of Lords – but Government has no plans to change it
A debate took place in the House of Lords on 13th October to discuss whether the National Heritage Act (1983) should be reformed to allow national museums to deaccession works from their collections for the purpose of restitution. The discussion was initiated by Lord Ed Vaizey who said “in 1983, what was not accounted for or considered were restitution requests and the idea that trustees might want, to put it bluntly, to do the right thing and return artefacts to their place of origin.” Vaizey also favours returning the Parthenon Marbles (see article below). However Lord Kamall, who was briefly Heritage Minister during the Truss administration, said that the Government has ‘no current plans to amend this Act’. Art Newspaper
Ed Vaizey chairs new Parthenon Project group aimed at returning marbles to Greece
The launch of a new group, the Parthenon Project, has been announced which aims to bring about the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Chaired by former Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, other participants include two Conservative peers Lord Dobbs and Baroness Meyer, journalist Sarah Baxter and Stephen Fry. The project has also commissioned a poll to demonstrate its public support. This shows that 16% of the public think the marbles should stay in Britain while 54% think they should be returned. Even among 2019 Conservative voters, there is no majority for keeping the marbles with 44% in favour of return and 28% who do not mind either way. Earlier this year, British Museum Chairman George Osborne said that there was a ‘deal to be done’ over the marbles. In a statement DCMS said "The British Museum is prevented by law from removing objects from its collections, except in some narrow circumstances. The government has no plans to change this act."BBC
Government will defer legal provisions which would allow deaccessioning from national museums on moral grounds
Prior to being reshuffled out of DCMS, Heritage Minister Lord Kamall confirmed that the Government will defer the provisions of the Charities Act 2022 which may have enabled national museums in England and Wales to deaccession items on moral grounds, paving the way for restitution. Lord Kamall said that ‘no such intent was considered, nor agreed on’ when the Bill was debated in the House of Commons, and that Government needs more time to consider the implicatons of those provisions. Museums Journal
Royal Cornwall Museum saved for two years by transitional funding
Earlier this year, the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro was at risk of closure after Cornwall Council announced that it would end its annual funding of around £79.5k. The Council has now agreed to provide transitional support of £100k to maintain it over two years, while the museum reviews its business plan and applies for funding from new partners. In particular RCM has been working with Cornwall Culture Investment Board and Cornwall Museums Partnership to find solutions to keep it open to the public. The museum’s CEO Jonathan Morton said "the offer of this transitional support puts us in a really positive position to continue our work and to build a longer-term funding solution, one that will still require a huge amount of effort and will mean we continue to need the support of everyone in Cornwall."Cornwall Live, BBC, Museums Journal
Chiltern Open Air Museum in dispute with developer, risking its business model
Chiltern Open Air Museum says that its future is in jeopardy following a dispute with the property developer that currently owns its freehold, Comer Homes. The museum, which cares for 36 buildings telling the story of the Chilterns relies on various live events including weddings, parties and filming for its business model. It has previously been a film location for Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Horrible Histories. However, claiming unreasonable noise, Comer Homes has threatened legal action and blocked its overspill car park, making its planned major Halloween Spectacular unviable. The developer acquired the freehold of the museum site in 2011, and was granted the right to build luxury homes on condition that it transferred the freehold to the museum for £1: this has still not happened. Meanwhile, a campaign group Save Chiltern Open Air Museum (Scoam) has formed to protect the future of the museum. A mediation meeting between the two parties and local council took place in late October. Museums Journal, Guardian, Bucks Free Press
Government Art Collection opens its first public Viewing Space from 2023
The Government Art Collection is opening its first viewing space at its new headquarters in the Old Admiralty Building. Currently accessible only to invited guests, it will be open to the public next year. GAC will now be able to show a changing selection from the 15,000 works in its collection, which range from Gainsborough to Lowry and Tracey Emin. The room currently features GAC’s latest commission ‘Bubble’ by Rachel Whiteread, a print reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Viewing Room is part of a wider project to engage non-government audiences with the collection. This includes work with the charity Artists in Residence, which will connect artists commissioned by GAC with schools across the UK. Art Newspaper, Museums Journal
The NMDC team is incredibly sad to announce that former NMDC Administrator Christine Toogood has passed away. Christine worked at NMDC from 2008 until her retirement in 2018. Her enthusiasm, professionalism and infectiously cheerful nature are fondly remembered by everyone who was lucky enough to work with her.
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