September 2010

NMDC Newsletter: September 2010
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NMDC Newsletter: September 2010
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Welcome to NMDC’s monthly news update...
In this issue:

and much more…


New research measures cultural impact of museums

A new paper by Professor Sara Selwood – Making a difference: the cultural impact of museums – explores the wide range of impact and influence NMDC members and their projects have on reflecting, exploring and defining cultural heritage and cultural values in the UK.  

The essay aims to provoke thinking about museums’ cultural impact and how to describe it.  It focuses on museums’ contribution to sustaining and changing British national and regional identities, and how museums have, and are, reflecting the changing face of British communities.  It attempts to demonstrate the differences that museum collections, exhibitions, displays and other programmes make to people: how they affect their understanding of the world and how people respond to their museum experiences.

Read more on the NMDC website.

NMDC’s Head of Strategy and Delivery

Lizzie Glithero-West will be NMDC’s new Head of Strategy and Delivery and will take up the role later this month.  Lizzie will be joining NMDC on secondment from DCMS where most recently she has been Private Secretary to Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary of the Department.  

Since 2003 Lizzie has undertaken a number of Civil Service Fast Stream jobs within DCMS and the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.  In 2007/8 she was seconded to English Heritage as Head of Heritage Protection Research Policy.  On her return to DCMS she took on the role of Deputy Head of the Public Engagement Unit, before taking on her most recent role just over a year ago.  Lizzie has an MA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Oxford University and an MA in the History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London.  Lizzie will be starting at NMDC on 5th October.


Prime Minister says tourism is "fundamental" to UK’s economic strategy

As a new VisitBritain report showed that Britain's major museums and galleries earned the country £1 billion in revenue from overseas tourists last year (see below), the Prime Minister underlined the "fundamental" economic importance of the tourism industry in a speech to industry leaders at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

Mr Cameron said that tourism is the UK's third highest export earner behind chemicals and financial services, contributing in total £115 billion to the UK economy every year, and employing nearly 10% of the national workforce.  His list of what he loved about the UK included "our museums – including three of the five most visited art museums in the world right here in London – the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate Modern."

Mr Cameron said he wanted to see the UK in the top five destinations in the world.  Last year, the UK has fell from 6th to 11th place in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness.  In particular, the Prime Minister wants the country to attract more Chinese tourists: "currently we only have 0.5 per cent of the market share of Chinese tourists.  If we could increase that to just 2.5 per cent this could add over half a billion pounds of spending to our economy and some sources suggest this could mean as many as 10,000 new jobs."

Mr Cameron described tourism as "one of the missing pieces in the UK’s economic strategy", and acknowledged that a successful tourism policy required active and engaged Government.  He said that Ministers would “work with you day in and day out to develop a tourism strategy by the end of this year that brings together the best of the ideas you have (and) that ensures London 2012 provides the best economic and tourism legacy that any Olympic host city has ever done".  The Prime Minister identified four components to the strategy: what government does nationally; the role of local government and the support of the local area; how we stimulate the private sector in tourism and how we make policy in other areas that will impact the tourism industry (such as visas and transport infrastructure).

Tourism Minister John Penrose has begun work on increasing domestic tourism, aiming to raise the amount British people spend on holidays in the UK, saying that "reaping the gains of local tourism" was "one of the great economic tests of the Big Society".  Number 10 website   DCMS statement

Overseas visitors to Britain’s museums and galleries generate £1bn for the UK

New data published by VisitBritain on 20 August showed that Britain's major museums and galleries earned the country £1 billion in revenue from overseas tourists last year. 

VisitBritain sponsored a question in the International Passenger Survey asking about a range of activities that visitors undertook during their stay.  Among the 30 million inbound visits in 2009 7.7 million included visiting a museum and 4.2 million included visiting an art gallery.  51% of visitors to London visit a museum or an art gallery.

The survey data also provides a breakdown by country of origin.  Almost 960,000 French people and 956,000 Americans visit the UK's museums each year, and 500,000 Americans visit our art galleries.  Nearly two-thirds of Brazilians and Argentineans who visited the UK had made a visit to a museum or gallery.  The longer the duration of the stay, the more likely a tourist will visit museums and art galleries: 42% of people who stay for more than 15 nights will spend time at museums and 26% in art galleries.

VisitBritain estimates that, in all, culture and heritage attracts £4.5 billion worth of spending by inbound visitors and underpins more than 100,000 British jobs. VisitBritain

Fall in overseas visits to UK but holiday visits increase

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics on 12 August show that overseas visits to the UK were 3% lower in April-June 2010 than during the same period last year.  During the 12 months to June 2010, the number of visits by overseas residents to the UK decreased by 4% when compared with the 12 months to June 2009, from 30.4 million to 29.4 million.  However, the fall was caused by a drop in visits for business reasons and visits to friends and relatives, while visits for holiday increased by 2%.  Office of National Statistics

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46.7% of adults visited a museum or gallery in the last year

The latest data from the Government’s survey of participation in culture, leisure and sport was reveals that 46.7% of adults in England visited a museum or gallery in the last year.  This is continues a steady rise in museum participation over the past 4 years, with an increase of 5.2% since 2006/07.  Other findings include:

  • 68.8% of children have visited a museum in the last 12 months.  70% of children aged 5-10 have visited a museum in the last 12 months outside of school visits.  Since 2006/07 there has been an increase in the proportion of 11-15 year olds who have visited a museum, gallery or archive in the last year (from 54.7% in 2006/07 to 66.8% in 2009/10).Museum visits are highest in London (55.5%), South East (51%) and North East (49.4%) and lowest in the East Midlands (39.5%). 
  • 33.5% of adults in lower socio-economic group (NS-SEC) visited a museum, compared to 55.7% of adults in the NS-SEC upper socio-economic group.
  • The biggest “drop off” in engagement happens between ages 11-15 and 16-24 - in 2009/10, 66.8 per cent of 11-15 year olds had visited a museum or gallery compared with 36.7 per cent of 16-24 year olds.  This happens to varying degrees across all the culture and sport sectors analysed in the report.

Library visits continue to fall and heritage remains steady

  • Visits to libraries have been declining steadily since 2005/06 in all areas except the North East and the East Midlands, where library use has remained stable.  39.4% of adults visited a public library at least once in the past 12 months, compared to 48.2% in 2005/6. 
  • 70.4% of adults visited a heritage site in the last year; ranging from 59.8% in London to 81.0% in the South East.  The percentage of adults and children visiting heritage sites has remained steady since 2005/6.

Taking Part: The National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport is commissioned by DCMS in partnership with Arts Council England, English Heritage, Sport England, and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.  The data released on 19 August covers the period April 2009 – April 2010.  DCMS website

Welsh Assembly Government’s £1m funding boost for national museum

Welsh Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones AM has announced £1m of new funding for St Fagans: National History Museum.  The funding, following on from £400,000 last year from the Welsh Assembly Government, will enable the museum to carry out essential maintenance and crucial modernisation works across the site, such as upgrading electrical and water capacity.  This work will also lay the foundations for a proposed £20.75m redevelopment of the museum by ensuring the site is able to support new galleries and visitor services which are planned.  St Fagans is Wales’s most popular visitor attraction and the second most visited open-air museum in Europe, attracting over 600,000 visits a year.  The Minister said that it was "vital that this much cherished national institution is upgraded and improved in order to present a modern, confident and diverse image of Wales to visitors." Welsh Assembly Government

Funding for museums in Scotland

Seven Scottish museums whose collections are of National Significance have been awarded funding of up to £40,000 for projects to enhance access to their collections including the creation of a filmed oral history archive, improvements to security, new displays and community engagement projects and collections research.  Scottish Government

Museums "will take their share of the pain"

In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey MPs says. "There will be cuts to the arts and museums. They will not be singled out as easy to cut, but neither will they be overly protected. They will take their share of the pain."  The Art Newspaper

Smarter loans: reviewing the key principles of loans between UK museums

The Museums Association (MA) has published draft principles for loans which emphasise the public benefit of lending collections.  The principles call on lenders to manage the risks involved in loans proportionately, accepting that some risk is justified because of the public benefits that derive from lending They also propose a refusal to benefit financially from loans within the UK and a commitment to minimise the cost of loans.  The guidance also reflects NMDC members’ commitment to refuse to lend items to any exhibition that is likely to include illicitly traded or spoliated items.  

The principles build on NMDC's 2003 standards for loans between national and non-national museums, as well as work by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Touring Exhibitions Group, the Bizot Group of international museum and gallery Directors and the EU’s Mobility of Collections working group.  Following this round of consultation, a working group will be formed to refine the key principles and draft guidance on what the principles mean in practice.  Comments on the draft proposals and expressions of interest in joining the working group are invited via the MA website.  The deadline for responses at this stage of Smarter Loans is 17 September 2010.  Museums Association

Museums tops Twitter discussions worldwide on Ask a Curator day

Museums around the world dominated discussions on the social media forum Twitter on 1 September in the first international Ask a Curator day.  "Friendly curators" from museums in 23 countries answered questions from all over the world, with 84 UK museums and galleries participating.  Enquiries ranged across all areas of museum activity, with questions on how exhibitions are made, museums’ work with homeless people, copyright, and which item a museum would sell if forced.  By 11am on 1 September, the hashtag #askacurator had become the number one "trend" - the most discussed topic on the networking site - in the world.

Created by marketing expert Jim Richardson, Managing Director of Sumo, Ask a Curator day was intended to promote museums and give "the public unprecedented access to the passionate and enthusiastic individuals who work in museums and galleries, and also break down barriers within these institutions, where all too often social media is still the remit of the marketing department." Ask a Curator website   Background: Jim Richardson’s MuseumNext blog

Museums, libraries and archives and lifelong learning

NIACE (the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) has published How museums, libraries and archives contribute to lifelong learning - a supplementary paper to the independent Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning.  The paper, by Natasha Innocent, MLA Senior Policy Adviser on Learning & Skills, outlines how museums, libraries and archives have widened participation in recent years and how they have brought people together and bridged gaps between generations.  However, the publication recognises that more can be done to get even more people learning in local communities and examines key recommendations of the Inquiry's final report - Learning Through Life – such as opening up existing spaces and resources in new ways, and working more closely with other partners.  NIACE

MLA update on transition arrangements

MLA reaffirmed its commitment on 3 September to a smooth transition to future arrangements following the Government’s decision to wind up the organisation by April 2012. In a statement MLA Chief Executive, Roy Clare indicated support for the inclusion of museums, libraries and archives within the remit of a larger cultural body:  He said: “If those responsible for services on the ground, especially local councils, can work with one government agency to help achieve improved museum, library, archive and other cultural services, rather than several, then the advantages are obvious”.  The MLA Board is “determined to communicate the benefits of a coherent and integrated approach to the development and improvement of the sector within a wider cultural framework”MLA

Fears for museums services in Wales

The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales has issued a statement saying the abolition of MLA could "spell disaster" for museums in Wales.  Many of MLA's schemes are UK-wide, including acceptance in lieu, accreditation, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (administered by the British Museum) and the Purchase Grant Fund (administered by the V&A).  The Federation fears that the loss of the MLA may have bigger consequences for Welsh Museums than their English counterparts if the transition arrangements for these schemes do not apply in Wales.  Federation statement

125 organisations selected for the Big Arts Give

Arts & Business has announced the 125 organisations that have been selected as participants for the Big Arts Give.  The "crowd funding initiative" aims to re-animate individual cultural philanthropy online and generate £1 million of private pledges by Christmas.  The programme is supported by a challenge fund of more than £500,000 created by philanthropist Alec Reed and Arts & Business in April.  NMDC members on the list of participants include Tate and the Sir John Soane's Museum.  Arts and Business

Story of London Festival

The Story of London Festival (1-10 October) aims to offer new experiences and insights into the capital, historically, culturally and socially.  Initiated by the Mayor of London and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Renaissance London, this year's programme includes over 100 events across the city.  Story of London


Two-thirds of people agree with the Government's stance on cutting arts funding and increasing reliance on private cash, a survey has suggested.  The poll of 2,022 British adults was commissioned by organisers of The Threadneedle visual arts prize.  BBC News

Over 20,000 people work as volunteers in museums in England.  MLA statistics


Culture Grid opens up UK collections online

Over one million objects from collections from museums, galleries, libraries and archives from across the UK are now accessible together online for the first time through the Culture Grid, a new initiative from the Collections Trust. The Culture Grid works by drawing together information from thousands of museum, archive and library websites and databases and feeding it to mainstream media partners such as Google, Flickr, the BBC, and Wikipedia, which increases the information's profile and enables more people to access it.

Culture Grid is managed by the Collections Trust and funded by MLA and the European Commission, and supported by Museums Galleries Scotland.  

People’s Collection Wales aims to capture a nation in a website

Welsh Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones AM has launched a new website,People’s Collection Wales / Casgliad y Werin Cymru, that uses pioneering technology to tell the story of Wales through the eyes of its people.  The website brings together archive material from many cultural organisations and enables users to upload content and create personal collections.  GPS technology allows the viewer to travel over the landscape of Wales and travel back and forth in time, while viewing artefacts in 3D.

The site has been developed by Welsh company Sequence in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government, with involvement from Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, the National Library of Wales, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, the BBC and Llafur: The Welsh People’s History Society.  As well as being of interest to the people of Wales, the site is expected to prove a valuable tool for the tourism industry in Wales and as a source of learning for schools and colleges.

BBC launches Hands On History

The BBC has launched Hands On History, a two-year BBC Learning campaign offering audiences inspiring opportunities to take the next step from watching programmes to discovering history around them.  The first part of the campaign accompanies the BBC’s Norman Season.  The BBC is working in partnership with more than 20 heritage and history organisations to offer a range of Hands on History events and activities as part of the Norman Season.  Hands on History  Extra information

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Consultation on new policy direction for Big Lottery Fund

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is seeking views on the proposed wording of a new policy direction for the Big Lottery Fund.  The choice of wording will determine whether the Fund is restricted to community and voluntary sector projects - which might exclude bids from local authorities and statutory bodies including museums - or open more widely to projects that benefit people and local communities served by the voluntary and community sector.  There are two alternative policy directions proposed:
1) “The need to ensure that money is distributed to projects that benefit people and local communities served by the voluntary and community sector”; or
2) “The need to ensure that money is distributed to projects in the voluntary and community sector in order to benefit the people and local communities in that sector.

Launching the consultation, Heritage Minister John Penrose MP said his preference was for the flexibility offered by option 1.  The Government's intention is that social enterprises and joint ventures between the voluntary and community sector and local authorities would still be eligible for funding.  The new policy direction would not apply to the Big Lottery’s devolved expenditure in respect of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for which policy directions are given by the devolved administrations.  The consultation closes on 29 October. DCMS website

£200m Big Local funding stream

The Big Lottery Fund in England is investing up to £200 million in 100-150 urban and rural neighbourhoods that have been overlooked for funding.  The funding is to set up an independent charitable trust that will support local funding schemes in the targeted neighbourhoods over the next 10 years.  Last month the first 50 areas that will each to benefit from at least £1 million of good cause Lottery funding through the BIG Local Trust were announced.  A further 50 areas in England will be announced over the next 18 months.  Big Lottery Fund

Future Libraries Programme pilots community run libraries

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP has announced 10 Phase One areas for the Future Libraries Programme.  The programme, "formed by national and local government, and driven by councils", aims to spread learning between library authorities to achieve cost savings, new partnerships and governance models, and to take advantage of digital opportunities.  Over 100 local authorities applied to be part of the programme.  The 10 areas include a partnership between Oxfordshire and Kent looking at library provision in rural areas; a project which aims to enable community groups to take control of running libraries in Suffolk; and a feasibility study to identify business models for a collaborative approach to library services for the Greater Manchester Region. DCMS statement

Scottish Government invests in creative industries

The Scottish Government has provided £150,000 funding for creative entrepreneurs.  The 27 businesses to receive funding under the Starter for 6scheme range from software developers to architecture, fashion, graphic and product design companies.  Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop MSP said: "The creative industries make a valuable contribution to Scotland's economy, generating an annual turnover of £5.2 billion and supporting 60,000 jobs.  That is why - during the current financial downturn - we are committed to supporting innovation so that the sector can realise its full economic potential."  Scottish Government

Cultural Learning Alliance launches The Big Link-Up

From 1-5 November, the Cultural Learning Alliance will be leading The Big Link-Up – a nationwide event that aims to connect children and young people, cultural practitioners, teachers and policy-makers to celebrate and “ignite debate about cultural learning”.  The Big Link Up will include a national event on 3 November with concurrent events in local areas and a programme of assembly events organised by schools across the country.

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Professor Clive Gamble has been appointed as a Trustee of the BritishMuseum by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on the nomination of the Society of Antiquaries of London.  He is the UK’s foremost archaeologist investigating our earliest ancestors.  British Museum

Gavin Delahunty has been appointed as Head of Exhibitions and Displays atTate Liverpool. He is currently Curator at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) and succeeds Peter Gorschlüter, who has taken up the position of Deputy Director at MMK (Museum für Moderne Kunst) in Frankfurt. Tate

Vanessa Trevelyan, Head of Service at Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service will take over as President of the Museums Association in October.  In other changes to the MA Council, Stephen Allen, National Museums Scotland has been elected as National Museum Institutional Councillor.  Changes to the Museums Association’s governance will be proposed at the AGM on 5 October.  If the measures are passed, an election will be held in November 2010 to recruit members to the new Board, and existing Council members, other than the President, will step down by 31 March 2011. Museums Association

Griff Rhys Jones has been named as the first President of Civic Voice, the new national charity for civic societies and local communities. Mr Rhys Jones has announced a national Civic Day on Saturday 25 June 2011, when civic societies across England will invite people to celebrate their area and discover more about where they live. More

Paul Greenhalgh has been appointed the new Director of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia.  He is currently Director and President of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design in Washington DC, and was previously Head of Research at the V&A.  He replaces Nichola Johnson, who is retiring this autumn. More

Government appointments on Efficiency and Procurement

Sir Philip Green, owner of the clothing retailer Arcadia Group, has been asked by the Prime Minister to lead an external Efficiency Review into Government spending. Sir Philip’s remit is to scrutinise Government spending in the last three years to identify inefficiencies and potential savings, and to look at where lessons can be learned for the future. He will report back before the end of the Spending Review. More

John Collington, the Home Office’s Group Commercial Director, has been appointed as the Head of Procurement within the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office. He will spearhead a new cross-Government approach to procurement "giving a really big push to centralisation of [Government's] procurement mandate."  More


Endowments flourish in France

The Art Newspaper has a report on the success of new governmental finance provision, fonds de dotation, which is helping museums to raise funds privately.  The fonds de dotation, introduced in 2008, are described as a rough equivalent in France of the US endowment fund.  The Art Newspaper

Nazi era looted art

In California a bill to extend the time period in which people can sue museums to try to recover what they believe are stolen works of art has received final approval from lawmakers.  A spokesman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he had not decided whether to sign the bill, which would give people six years to file a claim, instead of the current three.  The California Association of Museums has described the bill as "unnecessary, unfair, unconstitutional, and disruptive" of property rights.  New York Times

An appeals court in Louisiana has ruled that a painting by Oskar Kokoschka belongs to its current owner, dismissing a Nazi loot claim.  The court rejected the claimant's argument that Louisiana law should be disregarded in light of the Terezin Declaration, a document promulgated at the Prague Holocaust Assets Conference of June 2009, which recommends removing time limits on such claims.  The Art Newspaper

A federal court in California ruled on 12 August that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation and the Kingdom of Spain may be sued for the return of a painting by Pissarro, even if they took no part in the alleged Nazi looting of the work.  The Art Newspaper reports that the question involved a determination of when a foreign nation is immune from suit in the US.  The Art Newspaper

The Museum Wiesbaden in Germany has returned a 17th-century painting confiscated by Nazis in the 1930s to the heirs of its rightful owners.  The Art Newspaper reports that the Double Portrait of a Young Couple by Dutch painter Pieter de Grebber (1600-1653) once belonged to the Jewish art dealer Jakob Oppenheimer and his wife Rosa.  The Art Newspaper

New York's anti-deaccessioning legislation falls

The New York Times reports that a bill to prohibit cultural institutions from selling pieces from their collections to cover operating costs is unlikely to proceed in the New York State Legislature.  The bill has faced opposition from major cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the withdrawal of support from the bill’s Senate sponsor.  New York Times

The museum is watching you

On 18 August, the Wall Street Journal published a long article on visitor studies research to examine how visitors use spaces in art galleries.  Wall Street Journal

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Imperial War Museum voted most popular free attraction

On 11 August, the travel review website Trip Advisor published a list of the UK's top ten free attractions as ranked by travellers through the site's Popularity Index.  The Imperial War Museum in London topped the list, which included five other NMDC member museums:

  1. Imperial War Museum, London
  2. National Gallery
  3. Giant's Causeway
  4. The Wallace Collection
  5. British Museum
  6. Borough Market, London
  7. Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford
  8. Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
  9. St James's Park, London
  10. St Fagan's National History Museum, Cardiff

Trip advisor

Open Museum, Glasgow Museum’s outreach service is hosting a two-day ideas exchange on 14-15 September, a participatory event to explore how museums, arts and heritage organisations are responding to the unexpected contexts, challenges and opportunities created by changes in the world around us. Out There: Contemporary Contexts for Museums, has in impressive line up of speakers from around the world who are all innovators in community engagement.  The event is open to individuals in museum, cultural, health and community related fields. More

The National Slate Museum Llanberis hosted performances of a specially commissioned drama last month to help bring its quarrymen’s houses to life.  The performances by the drama company SHIMLI took place inside two of the museum's houses built in 1901 and 1969.  More

Ulster Museum has received more than 500,000 visitors in the first nine months since it re-opened. The latest figures also show that July was the busiest month so far with 67,000 visitors.  More

More than 140,000 people have seen Titian's Diana and Actaeon since the painting's tour of Scotland commenced in May this year.  Diana and Actaeon was acquired for the nation by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery in London in February 2009. The painting has already been on display in Glasgow and Aberdeen and is currently at the recently refurbished The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum, where it was viewed by almost 2,500 people during the exhibition's opening weekend.  More

Later this month, the National Gallery will be displaying work by London primary school children inspired by the Gallery's collection through two education projects: "Into the Frame" and "Out of Art into Storytelling." Over 1,200 children participated in the projects and the work on show will include a selection of oral storytelling, animation, writing and mixed-media artwork from participating schools.  More 

National Galleries of Scotland has launched its first iPhone app to accompany its major exhibition, Impressionist Gardens. The interactive app includes audio and video and an interactive map of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Later this month, the Gallery will launch its Another World app to complement the Surrealism exhibition at the Dean Gallery.  More

The National Portrait Gallery has launched an interactive audio-visual guide for families using touchscreen technology.  Following a ‘treasure hunt’ format, interactive maps enable young people to find their way around the galleries without looking for numbers or logos on labels.  The guide is available as group package for 2-5 players, and also includes over 300 illustrated audio tracks on works in the Collection and short films made by the Gallery's curators.  More

Building work has started on the £3.5m project to transform the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson. The project – part funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £2m – will see the Victorian Fort refurbished to provide a new 355 sq m visitor centre, a new 450 sq m entrance gallery, and state-of-the art education facilities with a 'classroom of the future'.  More

Scientists at the Natural History Museum were part of an international team which conducted award-winning research into why a group of deep sea fishes have a gap between their skull and spine. The research, published in the Journal of Morphology, received the Reinhard Rieger Award for outstanding research in the field of zoomorphology.  More

The Science Museum extended its opening hours to 7pm during August and launched Fly Zone, its new flight simulator area featuring 3D films from RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team.  More

A grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation has allowed the National Maritime Museum to make part of its considerable collection of prints and drawings available online for the first time. The NMM’s collections comprise over 70,000 prints and drawings, including a large number of little-known sketchbooks and albums. The newly digitized drawings were mainly produced by Royal Navy officers in the 18th and 19th centuries, not merely as a pastime but also a means of intelligence gathering. More

Documents in the Tate Archive, which this year celebrates its 40th Anniversary, may hold a clue to the original inspiration for Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo, the central character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The hand-written autobiography of nineteenth-century British sculptor, Henry Sibson describes his employment by a sculptor with a hunchback who was working at the Cathedral at the time Victor Hugo was writing.  More

Tate Britain’s Clore Galleries have re-opened to the public following a major re-hang. Romantics, part of the BP British Art Displays, features over 170 key paintings, prints and photographs spread over nine thematic rooms exploring the origins, inspirations and legacies of British Romantic art. More

The British Library is to make its extensive collections of bibliographic records available for free to researchers and other libraries. Access to the 14 million records will reduce the effort involved for other libraries in cataloguing their own holdings and enable organisations and individuals to make new uses of the vast dataset.  More

Justice Minister Lord McNally toured the National Archives’ deep collections store in July: 150m underground at Winsford Rock Salt Mine in Cheshire. The mine is the size of 700 football pitches, and is used to store 31km of documents from the National Archives in perfect atmospheric conditions.  The National Archives is an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Justice.  More


Our jobs website,, has details of over 25 current vacancies at leading museums around the UK including:

For details of these jobs and many more visit

And finally...

Clash of the Titians?

National museums are going head to head on the football pitch to raise money for the charity Breast Cancer Campaign.  The National Galleries team (featuring the cream of talent from the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery) meet the National Maritime Museum’s team at 6.30pm on Wednesday 15 September at the Royal Household's pitch at Kensington Palace.  The pink themed event will include 'fun fair' games, competitions and a raffle.  To come and join the fun contact Claire Zammit for tickets: [email protected]  More

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