May 2012

NMDC Newsletter: May 2012
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NMDC Newsletter: May 2012
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Welcome to the monthly news update from the National Museum Directors’ Conference. In this issue:

And much more...


Tax relief on charitable giving 

The campaign to limit the impact of the proposed cap on income tax relief for charitable donations has accelerated over the past month and attracted considerable media attention.  As we reported in April, NMDC members are deeply concerned about the impact of the changes announced by the Chancellor in the 2012 Budget.  UK museums have been major beneficiaries of the generosity of wealthy individuals, particularly for capital development projects.  The proposed changes are particularly unfortunate at a time when museum budgets have been cut and philanthropic giving is more important than ever, and when museums are actively engaged in responding to the Government's encouragement of philanthropy.  Although it is hard to predict what the value of the impact of the cap will be on future giving to museums, any new restriction can only make it harder to generate such funding.    The Chairs of many NMDC member institutions have been signatories of a letter to the Chancellor, and NMDC Chair Dr Michael Dixon has also written to highlight members' concerns and urge a reconsideration of the proposed changes.  NMDC continues to liaise with Government officials and colleagues across the charitable sector to seek resolution on this issue.  HM Treasury   Charities Aid Foundation   Give it Back George campaign

Big Society Capital launched with £600m to invest in charities and social enterprises

The Prime Minister launched Big Society Capital, an independent financial institution with £600m to develop and shape the social investment market, on 4 April.  Big Society Capital will fund the development of socially orientated investment organisations that support charities and social enterprises that have the ability to repay an investment through the income they generate. Overseen by the Big Society Trust, the organisation is chaired by Sir Ronald Cohen, and decisions on investments will be made by an impartial investment committee. It will be capitalised with £400 million from dormant bank accounts and £200 million from the UK’s four largest high street banks Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC and RBS.  Big Society Capital

Arts Quarter Launches 2012 Philanthropy in the Arts Report

Arts Quarter has announced the findings from its survey of arts organisations, asking them to comment on the effectiveness of Government and various agencies in delivering on the Philanthropy in the Arts Agenda - a set of 10 landmark proposals launched in December 2010 by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to improve levels of private sector giving to the arts. In all, some 361 arts organisations of all scales, regions and art forms took part and shared their concerns via an online survey which was conducted from 20 February - 16 March.  Key findings include:
  • Arts organisations believe only 3 elements of the Philanthropy in the Arts Agenda have been delivered on any degree of scale likely to benefit the sector: building fundraising skills in the sector; promoting legacy giving; and defining and launching a matched funding programme;
  • Only 10% of respondents feel able to state that all of their Trustees play a role in approaching potential supporters.  27% of respondents reported some degree of giving by some of their Trustees;
  • 27% of respondents are aware of the Legacy10 Campaign which aims to promote higher levels of giving through gifts in wills. 28% of respondents reported actively promoting legacies to supporters, with 27% overall reporting receiving legacies in the last three years;
  • 30% of large arts organisations and 42% of those with a turnover of less than £0.5m do not have a coherent "Case for Support" underpinning all fundraising activities by staff to ensure that all involved in fundraising are able to speak with one voice.  Arts Quarter

Innovation in Giving Fund to back established charities

The Cabinet Office and Nesta announced the second round of the £10 million Innovation in Giving Fund on 23 April.  The Innovation Giving Fund aims to support innovative ideas for increasing levels of volunteering and charitable giving.  This second round will include support of £1.5m for around 10 medium and large established charities which want to use their expertise, networks, assets and capabilities to find new ways to engage people in giving.  Cabinet Office    Back to top


Arts Council announces Renaissance Major Partner Museum funding

Arts Council England announced on 2 April more investment than initially anticipated for the Renaissance Major Partner Museums. The 16 Major Partner Museums will share £62.6 million over a three year period from 2012-15.  The 16 successful applicants initially requested at total of £23.5 million a year against an annual budget of approximately £20 million.  The exact amounts of each Major Partner Museum's award have been negotiated on an individual basis. The amounts awarded over the three years range from over £5.2m for the Manchester Partnership to £2.5m for Beamish and Bowes Museum.  The 24 museum services which currently receive support from the MLA Renaissance programme but which will not become Major Partner Museums have been awarded approximately £8 million in transitional funds. Funding will also be allocated to the completion of the Stories of the World project for the Cultural Olympiad and the continuation of Museum development work until 31 July.  Arts Council England

Over 470 events planned for Museums at Night, 18-20 May

This year Museums at Night is even bigger than last year, with over 470 events taking place at 363 venues around the country over the weekend 18-20 May.  Last year, over 100,000 people participated in events and the programme attracted media coverage worth over £1.1m AVE.  There is still time to register an event for Museums at Night 2012 and download resources provided by Culture24 to assist in planning and promotion. Culture 24 is running a competition to win tickets to an exclusive Museums at Night tour through 80 years of literary history at the Faber Archive, which is not usually open to the public.  The competition closes on 9 May.  Museums at Night dates for the next 3 years have also been announced:
  • Friday 17th – Sunday 19th May 2013
  • Friday 16th – Sunday 18th May 2014
  • Friday 15th – Sunday 17th May 2015
Faber Archive competition   Museums at Night   Resources for venues

Collections Trust secures €8m investment to bring Collections online

The Collections Trust has secured major European Commission investment in projects worth a total of €8m to help museums, archives and libraries share their collections online safely and sustainably:
  • EUROPEANA INSIDE is a €3.8million research and development project in partnership with 10 leading Collections Management Software providers. The project will develop open-source tools, enabling cultural organisations to manage the sharing and re-use of their Collections online.
  • PARTAGE PLUS is a 24-month project worth €3m to digitise Art Nouveau objects, artworks, posters, and buildings to create around 75,000 items, including 2,000 3D models, of content for access through Europeana, the central channel for European culture online.
  • ENUMERATE is a networking project which aims to provide up-to-date and comprehensive intelligence about the costs, methods and impact of digitising collections in museums, archives and libraries. Coordinated by the Collections Trust, the ENUMERATE network includes national coordinators in all 36 Member States of the European Union.  Collections Trust

£2.2 million boost to Welsh libraries, archives and museums

Welsh Heritage Minister Huw Lewis has announced £2.3m funding to develop library, museum and archive services in Wales.  The funding will be used to improve services, encourage greater participation and learning, conserve important collections, and develop online information and resources that promote Wales’ culture and heritage.  Welsh Government

Thieves target Chinese artefacts in three museums  

Eighteen Chinese artworks, reported to be worth about £18m, were stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge on 13 April.  The items are mostly jade and part of the museum’s permanent collection. The raid took less than 10 minutes, with the criminals’ van pulling up outside the museum at 19.28 and recorded on CCTV as leaving the city at 19.38. A spokesperson for the Fitzwilliam Museum said: “These works are a highly important part of our collection and their loss is a great blow. We are working closely with the police to aid in their recovery. A thorough review of our security measures is also underway.” The Western Daily Press has also reported an attempted burglary at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath on 24 April, when three men dressed in white overalls and high-visibility tabards pushed past staff to get into the building. The men left when the alarms sounded and no objects were taken.  The Museum is closed to the public until further notice.   Meanwhile, Durham Constabulary has recovered a Chinese jade bowl and Qing Dynasty porcelain figurine, which were stolen from Durham University's Oriental Museum on 5 April. BBC News reports that the gang spent 40 minutes chiselling through the wall of the museum to get to two separate cabinets containing the artefacts. Five people arrested in connection with the theft have been released on bail.   The museum reopened to visitors on 16 April.  Cambridge University   Durham University  Western Daily Press

Museums Association launches survey on budget cuts

The Museums Association has launched its 2012 survey into the state of the sector and the impact of cuts on museum services across the UK. The data will be compared with the results from the MA's survey in 2011, providing an insight into year-on-year changes. The 2012 survey will also ask museums to look ahead to the coming year, and ask how the museum landscape is changing and how museums are planning to react to budgetary changes. The survey will remain online until 7 May and the results will be published in the July edition of Museums Journal.  Museums Association 

National Conservation Education & Skills Strategy

The Institute of Conservation (ICON) launched its National Conservation Education and Skills Strategy 2012-16 on 27 April.  The Strategy’s key purpose is to develop a successful learning and research environment in the UK to delivers the knowledge, skills and understanding that will be needed in the future.  It aims to foster a collective responsibility, building connections between the built and moveable heritage sectors, the crafts and the conservation profession.  ICON

MA publishes guidelines for internships

The Museums Association has published guidelines on internships.  The guidelines are based on best practice identified by Renaissance London and the Mayor of London, Arts Council England and Creative and Cultural Skills, and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).  The Museums Association will only advertise internships that meet the following criteria:
  • Pay reasonable work-related expenses and give interns reasonable access to staff benefits (such as free tickets to exhibitions or events);
  • Are planned and structured with a clear brief, specific job content and a named line manager or supervisor;
  • Give a clear outline of what is being offered to interns, and what is expected of the intern;
  • Offer an agreed training and development plan with the intern, setting out what learning opportunities will be offered;
  • Ensure that potential interns are told whether there is a realistic chance of the internship leading on to employment;
  • Last a minimum of eight weeks and a maximum 12 months (if paid) and a maximum of three months (if unpaid).
Museums Association

Internship scheme for arts graduates celebrates success

Ninety per cent of the arts graduates on the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme have secured jobs in the cultural and creative industries. The scheme, which was launched in 2010, offered talented arts graduates from less affluent backgrounds the opportunity to start a career in the arts, with bursaries to support placements in cultural organisations for up to 12 months. The scheme was funded by DCMS and Arts Council England, and managed by Jerwood Charitable Foundation.  A reception was held in March to mark the end of the pilot stage.  DCMS

Oil Painting Expert Network

The Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) hosted a conference at the National Gallery on 25 April bringing together collections, universities, auction houses, dealers and independent art historians to discuss the creation of an Oil Painting Expert Network (OPEN).  This would link the 3,000 collections that have participated in the PCF project to a network of pro bono experts using digital technology. Over the last nine years the PCF’s team of researchers has had unparalleled access to the nation’s oil painting collection, giving valuable insights into the state of painting catalogue records and the guardianship of these paintings.  PCF has found that the state of records varies greatly between collections and that there are significant gaps in knowledge about paintings’ artists, subjects and execution dates.  Only a fraction of the collections that have participated in the PCF project have staff with fine art expertise or other relevant knowledge and many of those collections without expertise often do not know where to turn for help. As a result of the conference, the PCF hopes to be in position to put in place a workable and fundable plan for the creation and operation of OPEN – a network that will deliver substantial benefit to the participating collections and the wider public.  The conference was supported by the National Gallery and Arts Council England.  Public Catalogue Foundation

Protection of cultural property in armed conflict

Leading cultural figures have signed a letter in The Independent calling on the UK Government to honour its commitment to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its protocols of 1954 and 1999. The Government announced its intention to ratify the Convention in May 2004.  Following the United States’ ratification in 2009, the letter asserts that the UK is the most significant military power, and “certainly the only power with extensive military involvements abroad”, not to have ratified it.  The letter's signatories include academics and the Chairs or Chief Executives of the Collections Trust, National Trust, ICOM UK, Society of Antiquaries, Museums Association and British Academy.  Independent

Happy Museum Symposium report published

The Happy Museum project has published a report of a symposium held earlier this year.  The Happy Museum Project looks at how the UK museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future by reimagining some key aspects of the role of museums.  Happy Museum Back to top


Spanish cultural budget cut by 15%, but Prado gets increase

The Spanish Government has announced a 15% cut in funding for culture in 2012.  Within this, the budget for museums and exhibitions has been reduced by 13.5% (from €209m in 2011 to €187.3m in 2012) but funding for the Prado Museum has increased slightly from €43.9m in 2011 to €44.7m this year.  The Art Newspaper reports that the Prado's recent increase in opening hours  generate €132m economic impact. The hardest hit parts of the Spanish culture budget are film and the performing arts which will have funding cut by 33% and 24% respectively this year. Heritage funding has been cut by 7.6%.  Ministry of Culture

MAXXI threatened with special administration

MAXXI, Rome’s £137m new contemporary art museum designed by Zaha Hadid which opened in May 2010, will be transferred to a government-appointed administrator following discovery of €700,000 hole in the 2011 accounts and concern that losses could reach €11m in the next three years.  The board of directors of the Fondazione Maxxi reacted to the announcement surprise and anger and issued a statement blaming a 43% cut in government funding for the financial problems facing MAXXI.  The Museum's operating costs are €10m a year, of which 68% (€7m) came from public funds in 2010.  This was cut to less than €4m in 2011.  The board argues that MAXXI has exceeded international levels of excellence by generating over 50% of its own income and that the Government's move jeopardises its potential for income-generation.  The board are proud that the museum has received 450,000 visits since it opened.  MAXXI

Italian museum burns art in protest at budget cuts

The Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts.  BBC News reports that the Director, Antonio Manfredi, set fire to the first painting, by French artist Severine Bourguignon on 17 April.  The artist was in favour of the protest and watched it online.  Mr Manfredi intends to burn three paintings a week, in a protest he has dubbed "Art War".  Artists from across Europe have lent their support, including the Welsh sculptor John Brown, who burnt one of his own works.  BBC News

Getty Museum cuts 34 posts to focus resources on core mission

The J. Paul Getty Trust has announced a Museum reorganisation designed to "focus its resources on its core mission, which includes building its collection, curatorial and conservation research, and broad public access." The Museum will lay off 10 staff, and has asked for volunteers for 24 additional positions that will be eliminated in the Museum’s Education, Exhibitions, and Imaging Services departments, and in the Visitor Services department.  In a statement, the Trust said the changes will not affect curatorial or conservation staff and will maintain the Museum’s public programming and exhibition schedule.  Getty Museum Back to top


UK and China launch 'cultural dialogue’

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP and Chinese State Councillor Liu Yandong met at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 16 April to launch a new cultural ‘dialogue’ between the UK and China. The exchanges, which will take place on an annual basis, are intended to provide an opportunity to develop closer ties in culture, the creative industries, science and education. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says that the initiative “marks an uplift of the UK’s bilateral relationship with China, making it the only country apart from the USA to have high level discussions on these issues. From now on it will form part of the wider cooperation that the two countries have, including an economic and financial dialogue, and a dialogue on human rights."  Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Increase in domestic and overseas tourism

Visits to the UK have risen by 4% in the past 12 months according to the latest data on travel and tourism released by the Office for National Statistics. This was due to visits from Europe increasing 3% (to 22.6 million); visits from North America increasing 5% (to 3.6 million); and visits from other parts of the world increasing 9% (to 4.8 million). Earnings from visits to the UK have grown by 7% over the past 12 months.  Meanwhile, VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales have released figures for domestic tourism in 2011, revealing a 9% increase in domestic overnight trips taken in Britain. In particular, holiday trips taken in Britain last year increased by 7% compared to 2010, representing 58 million trips. Holiday spend rose by 13%, totalling £13bn. This is the third consecutive year since 2009 that the number of domestic holiday trips has remained above pre-recession levels, which VisitEngland says indicates the ‘staycation’ trend is still holding strong.   James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland highlighted the challenges facing the industry, saying that the "double-digit growth in holiday spend... is part due to inflation, and increased operating costs."  Office of National Statistics   Visit England

London 2012 Festival programme announced

The full line-up for the London 2012 Festival has been announced 12,000 events & performances will feature over 25,000 artists from all 204 participating Olympic nations. The twelve week festival, running from 21 June - 9 September, will take place at 900 venues across and includes:
  • Extreme acrobatics in and around London landmarks;
  • Light pulses along 73 miles of Hadrian’s Wall;
  • Pop-up performances of Shakespeare sonnets by leading actors;
  • Jeremy Dellar's inflatable Stonehenge touring the country;
  • A new collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Tate;
  • Europe’s largest street art festival in Bristol; and
  • Martin Creed's All the Bells Work No. 1197, simultaneous, nationwide bell-ringing to celebrate the first day of London 2012.
The 140 page London 2012 Festival brochure will be distributed around the UK and is available to download from the London 2012 Festival website, where tickets can also be booked.  London 2012 Festival    

Evaluation of free theatre tickets pilot scheme

Arts Council England and DCMS published a report on A Night Less Ordinary, a pilot scheme to test whether theatre attendance by under 26s could be increased if free theatre tickets were offered to children and young people.  The key findings include:
  • The scheme gave away 396,687 free tickets from its target of around 500,000, with the average participant visiting 5 times;
  • 278,000 of free tickets given away were to young people who said they would probably not otherwise have visited the theatre and paid for a ticket;
  • 41 per cent of A Night Less Ordinary venues said the scheme had brought them commercial benefits. Revenue from tickets sold to people accompanying free ticket holders, and from additional merchandise, brought in between £2.82 and £4.85 million; and
  • 89 per cent of venues say that taking part in A Night Less Ordinary has left them in a better position to engage with young audiences.
A Night Less Ordinary was supported by £2.39m from DCMS through Arts Council England, who developed and managed the scheme. The pilot was launched in February 2009, and ended in March 2011.  More than 200 venues participated and it was the first time the theatre industry and the Arts Council had worked together on a single, nationwide audience development scheme.  Arts Council

The Space free digital arts service goes live

The Space, a new free digital arts service developed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC had a soft launch on 1 May.  The Space is based on a new commissioning model, enabling artists and organisations to film and make work specifically for the main digital platforms. Work from established organisations of world-renown will sit alongside innovative work from emerging artists.  The Space can be access at or by viewing on connected TV or The Space channel (Freeview HD channel 117).  Arts Council

All Our Stories HLF small grants programme

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has launched a new £1m small grant programme designed to help local communities answer questions about their past.  All Our Stories will make available grants ranging from £3,000 - £10,000. From researching local historic landmarks, learning more about customs and traditions to delving into archives and finding out the origins of street and place names - this new programme aims to give everyone the chance to explore their heritage and share what they learn with others.  HLF has developed All Our Stories in support of the BBC’s The Great British Story – A People’s HistoryAll Our Stories will also feature in five BBC Learning events run in tandem with the TV series.  HLF

VAT on listed building alterations - consultation extended

The consultation on the legislation to remove the VAT exemption on approved alterations to listed buildings has been extended until 18 May.  The consultation document VAT: Addressing borderline anomalies was published on 21 March following the Budget announcement of VAT changes.  HMRC Consultation

Part-time role models in the cultural sector?

Timewise, a new jobs website promoting part-time opportunities is looking for Britain's top 50 part-time leaders: successful men and women at the top of their game, who “give their all in fewer days”. Nominees must regularly work fewer than 5 days a week in a senior role.  Timewise


Arts Council England has published its 2011 Stakeholder research report. The aim of the research, undertaken by DHA Research between June and September 2011, is to explore levels of trust and confidence in the Arts Council, as well as perceptions of accountability.  77% of respondents said they have a good or fairly good working relationship with the Arts Council, but stakeholders voiced concerns about its capacity to maintain relationships and build new partnerships with the forthcoming reductions in administration costs.  Arts Council England  Back to top


DCMS Capability Self-Assessment

DCMS published its Capability Self-Assessment and Action Plan on 16 April. The report provides an assessment against a Civil Service model of the Department’s capability in the three key areasof leadership, strategy, delivery. The assessment identifies areas of strength for the Department, including “people’s enthusiasm for their work, internal communications improved understanding of its vision and purpose; and the Department’s ability to deliver results.” There are also areas earmarked for improvement, such as presenting a clear development offer for staff, embedding visible leadership; and implementing reforms to the Department’s delivery mechanisms. DCMS

Rumours of abolition of DCMS dismissed by Number 10

The free-market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has proposed closing the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and removing Government funding from national museums to fund tax cuts.  The IEA statement on 19 April quotes levels of grant-in-aid per visitor at a handful of national museums and suggests that the closure of DCMS, together with all its funded bodies, could allow a 3p cut in fuel tax.  In an article in the Telegraph, Ruth Porter, IEA Communications Director, proposes merging DCMS with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.  BBC News reported that a Downing Street spokesman had issued a strong denial, saying Number 10 "did not recognise" the reports. Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman MP wrote an article in the Evening Standard on 19 April calling on the Prime Minister to "give a categorical assurance that he will not abolish the DCMS". She argues that "DCMS gives the arts an important voice at the heart of government and a seat at the Cabinet table."   Institute of Economic Affairs   Evening Standard  Telegraph

Lords debate on status of national museums

The House of Lords had a short debate on the status of national museums in England following a question raised by Lord Sheldon on 24 April.  Baroness Rawlings, the Government’s culture spokesperson in the Lords, told Peers there are no plans to review the status of national museums.  Several Trustees and former Trustees, including Lord Faulkner of Worcester and Baroness Hooper spoke of the importance of maintaining free admission. Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked “what assessment have Her Majesty's Government made of the financial implications for our cherished national museums and galleries of the Government's plan to cap tax relief on charitable donations? Can the Minister comment on where this leaves the Secretary of State's 10-point plan, which I understand was intended to "catalyse and facilitate" individual and corporate giving?”  Baroness Rawlings said she was “not embarrassed by the many productive points established by DCMS” and referred to changes to Gift Aid and the reduction of Inheritance Tax for those who leave legacies to charities.  She said the Government's consultation on the detail of these policies and their implementation will be published in the summer.  UK Parliament


House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee heard evidence from Simon Cane, Head of Museum Operations, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; and Dr Siobhan Watts, Head of Conservation Science, National Museums Liverpool on 27 March.  The Committee is currently undertaking a short inquiry to follow-up of its Science and Heritage report published in 2006.  UK Parliament Back to top


Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

This month’s Museums Journal includes an article entitled ‘Sunderland Quits Tyne & Wear Museums’ (1 May 2012).  Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums have provided the following information to give wider context to this: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is a joint service of the five Tyne and Wear local authorities which provides joint museum and archive services. A review of the service is planned for 2012-13 and as part of this Sunderland City Council want to make some changes to service delivery in Sunderland. In order to do this, within the terms of the joint agreement between the five authorities, they have formally given notice of their intent to withdraw from the present joint agreement at 1 April 2013. TWAM and Sunderland City Council are confident that a new agreement will be delivered to ensure the continued provision beyond 2013 of high quality museums and archive services for the people of Sunderland as part of a partnership across Tyne and Wear. At its meeting on 29 March TWAM’s Joint Committee agreed that the Chief Executive of the Lead Authority (Newcastle City Council) and the Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums lead a review of TWAM with the intention of negotiating a new joint agreement to take effect from 1 April 2013.  TWAM

Record visitor numbers to national museums

Many of our national museums received their highest ever visitor numbers in the financial year April 2011-March 12.  The National Army Museum, Science Museum, National Portrait Gallery, V&A, Wallace Collection and National Museums Wales have all reported their most successful year to date.  As we reported last month, the seven national museums in Wales received 1.69 million visits in 2011-12 - the highest total ever recorded since free entry was introduced in April 2001.  For the National Army Museum, which received 270,000 visits last year, 2011-12 has marked a step change in the way the museum operates with two hugely popular temporary exhibitions and the relaunch of its Kids Zone. They also created the Museum masterplan which sets out the vision for the redisplay of the Chelsea site and the development of a national footprint.   Figures published by DCMS reveal record attendance levels at several of its funded museums.  The National Portrait Gallery reached 2m visits for the first time in its history on 27 March.  Director Sandy Nairne welcomed the two millionth visitors, the Cara family from Northampton and presented them with a year’s membership to the Gallery, a £100 voucher for the Portrait Restaurant and copies of the Gallery Guide and Highlights book.  V&A received more than 3.3m visits to its sites including 2.88 million visits to its South Kensington site, a 10% rise from last year.  The Wallace Collection received its highest number of visits for well over 100 years with 400,000 visits drawn in the main to the core Collection in a year without a large scale exhibition.  The National Portrait Gallery has also announced it will open until midnight from 24-26 May, in the lead up to the last day of the Lucian Freud exhibition, the most popular paid-for exhibition in the gallery’s history.  Since it opened on 9 February, Lucian Freud Portraits has attracted over 175, 000 visitors so far, overtaking its previous record-breaking paying exhibitions Mario Testino Portraits (2002), David Hockney Portraits (2006) and Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life (2008). National Portrait Gallery The Science Museum attracted 2.95 million visitors in 2011–12. This is the highest number of visits received since current records began in 1992 and was 6% up against 2010-11. Factors influencing the success included the ongoing events programme, an increased profile alongside a higher profile for science in the media in general, record breaking booked education group numbers and the benefit of increased overseas tourists to London. Meanwhile, Locomotion in Shildon had its most successful year to date with 210,000 visitors (6% up on 2010–11), and MOSI attracted record visitor numbers in 2011-12 with 839,000 visits. This was mainly the result of the £9m major refurbishment of the Great Western Warehouse, including the new Revolution Manchester and extended Experiment galleries, along with the benefits from winning Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2011. The record visitor numbers represents an increase of at 31% ahead of 2010–11, when significant parts of the Museum were closed for refurbishment. Monthly visitor figures for DCMS sponsored museums are published on the DCMS website.  DCMS  

Royal Museums Greenwich take over running Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper was reopened by Her Majesty The Queen on 25 April.  Trustees of Cutty Sark and the Trustees of Royal Museums Greenwich have announced that following her completion, the ship will come under the operational management of Royal Museums Greenwich.  The ship closed to visitors in 2006 for a conservation project and was badly damaged by fire in 2007. The project has preserved as much of the Cutty Sark’s original fabric as possible, introduced new interactive exhibitions below deck and raised the ship over 3 metres in the air enabling visitors to walk underneath.  Major funding for the £50m restoration project was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£25m) with an additional £5m from DCMS.  Royal Museums Greenwich

Science Museum wins £6 million Heritage Lottery Fund support

The Science Museum has been awarded £6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Making Modern Communications gallery.  The gallery, opening in autumn 2014, will tell the story of 200 years of innovation in communication technology. Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group said, “The project represents a step change for the Science Museum and the first step in the delivery of its Master Plan. The award of the grant underlines the essential role of the Science Museum in helping to inspire engagement, particularly amongst young people.”   Science Museum

The Ashmolean Museum's University Engagement Programme

The Ashmolean has received a grant of $1.1million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new University Engagement Programme, which will significantly expand the role of the Museum’s collections in teaching within the University of Oxford. The three and half year programme will proactively combine the University’s curriculum with the Museum’s collections and establish three Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship Teaching Curators to investigate and explore ways in which object-based teaching can be incorporated into current university teaching.  Ashmolean Museum

Imperial War Museums launch £35m fundraising campaign

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a reception at IWM London on 26 April to launch the £35m fundraising campaign for major new First World War Galleries at IWM London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war in 2014.  The Duke of Cambridge became Patron of the First World War Centenary Campaign in December 2010.  The event was hosted by Viscount Rothermere, Chairman of the IWM Foundation and great-grandson of the 1st Viscount Rothermere whose grief for the loss of two of his three sons in the First World War led him to donate the building which houses IWM London today.  Imperial War Museums

Tate Tanks will open in July

Tate Modern will open the Tanks on 18 July, the world’s first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works.  The Tanks were originally massive industrial chambers containing oil that fuelled the power station and have been unused since it was decommissioned in 1981.  The Tanks will be open for a fifteen-week festival from 18 July to 28 October, celebrating performance and installation art and the historical works that have shaped it.  The launch is part of the London 2012 Festival.   The opening of the Tanks is Phase 1 of the Tate Modern Project.  The new building will be completed by 2016 at the latest. The development, designed by architects, Herzog & de Meuron, will create a new building adjoining Tate Modern to the south, increasing Tate Modern's size by 60%. Tate has raised over three quarters of the total capital costs of £215m.  Tate

€300m spacecraft contract signed at Science Museum

A €300m contract for the building of a new spacecraft was signed at the Science Museum last month.  This is the largest contract placed by the European Space Agency with a UK-based company. Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable MP, Colin Paynter (CEO, Astrium), Dr Alvarro Gimenez (Director, Science and Exploration, European Space Agency) and Dr David Williams (CEO, UK Space Agency) signed the contract in front of delegates at a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Ariel 1, the world’s first international space mission.  The conference was organised by the Science Museum in collaboration with the UK Space Agency, and included 30 speakers and 300 delegates.  Science Museum

Guinness World Record for Museum of London

Guinness World Records has confirmed the Museum of London’s archaeological archive as the world’s largest. The archive, which contains over 5 million artefacts from nearly 8,500 London excavations, includes hidden treasures from London’s past including a 200 year-old set of false teeth, ‘witching bottles’ and exotic animals bones. The announcement was made as part of World Record London, a calendar of unique record-breaking events taking place in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  World Record London   Museum of London  


The storehouse and arsenal of the Tower of London reopened on Saturday 31 March following a major redisplay of galleries in the White Tower's basement by the Royal Armouries.  The Storehouse  redisplay is part of the Royal Armouries’ project to transform the White Tower in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.  Royal Armouries Imperial War Museums has announced details of a new permanent exhibition at IWM Duxford.  Historic Duxford will open next spring in the old Watch Office and will portray the history of Duxford during its time as an operational airfield from 1918 to 1961.The Museum is working with London-based MET Studio to design the exhibition and site trail., the website of the National Galleries of Scotland has won the Best of the Web award for Long-lived website at the Museums and the Web 2012 conference. The Long-lived category rewards a museum that has shown a long-term commitment to an excellent online presence and continues to deliver quality, be useful and serve the community.  National Galleries of Scotland Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Newcastle Libraries have launched a new free App, Hidden Newcastle, which reveals stories about historical characters who once lived and worked in the city. Each story in the app is linked to the location where it is said to have taken place and people can unlock more stories as they move around the city. Back to top

Huw Lewis AM, Heritage Minister for Wale, has announced the appointment of five board members to the Arts Council of Wales: Michael Griffiths, Educational consultant; Melanie Hawthorne, Creative Development Office for University of Glamorgan; Dr Lesley Hodgson, Co-Founder of Glamorgan GATES community arts project; Marian Wyn Jones, former Head of BBC in North Wales; and Andrew Miller, Head of Creative Programming, Royal Welsh College of Music.  Welsh Government Kim Streets has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Museums Sheffield.  She has been Director of Learning & Knowledge at Museums Sheffield since 2008 and first joined Museums Sheffield in 1991. Museums Sheffield    Julian Farrance has been appointed as Regimental Museums Liaison Officer at the National Army Museum.  This is a new post, established by the Museum to provide dedicated support and greater collaboration between the Museum, the country’s 136 Regimental Museums, the Ministry of Defence and the Army Museums Ogilby Trust. More

Over 2,300 jobs at leading museums around the UK have been advertised on NMDC’s job site over the past four years.  Current vacancies include:
  • Keeper, Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum
  • Digital Collections Programme Manager, Museum of London
  • Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool
  • Project Conservators, National Archive
  • Systems Development Manager, National Gallery
  • Senior Audience Advocate, Science Museum
  • Sponsorship and Patrons Manager, National Galleries of Scotland
  • Admission Sales Associate, National Maritime Museum
  • Senior Facilities Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery
For details of these jobs and many more visit


The VAT Ditty

As we reported last month, the Chancellor proposed the removal of the VAT exemption for alterations to listed buildings in the Budget. This has had an immediate impact on the renovation of Wakefield Cathedral, bringing work on the project to a halt.  Pamela Greener, the wife of the Dean of Wakefield, has responded in song and The VAT Ditty on YouTube has become an instant hit with charity tax aficionados.  You Tube Back to top

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