June 2012

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

And much more...


World Collections report explores wider impact of museums' international activity

World Collections, a new paper by NMDC, illustrates the breadth of museums' international work and explores its wider impact. UK museums are able to build on long-standing international relationships and the stories which can be told by objects in their collections, to deliver work which has an impact on every region of the world. This ranges from sell-out touring exhibitions to ground-breaking scientific research, staff exchange programmes and relationship-building in regions where government relations face challenges.  The paper looks at how there are positive consequences of this activity as it supports economic growth and investment, encourages cultural exchange, encourages the preservation of memory and exploration of identity, and can be a form of diplomacy.     Working internationally helps UK museums maintain their status as world class institutions, ensures the greatest public access to their collections and expertise, and enables them to deliver a relevant and vibrant public programme. UK museums are already responding to greater demand both for international touring exhibitions and skills sharing - fuelled by the development of new museums with large spaces for temporary exhibition,  particularly in Asia - and there is scope to do more.  The paper argues that long-term planning is critical, and that recent investment in specific geographic areas over a longer period of time by the World Collections Programme and Connections through Culture demonstrates the benefits of taking a more strategic approach. World Collections includes ten case studies describing programmes and partnerships around the world, and examples of many other projects.  Examples include:
  • Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives are working in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum to involve source communitis and young people in projects culminating in the 2012 exhibition Journeys in Beadwork at Shipley Art Gallery;
  • The loaned objects from the Science Museum, V&A and British Museum seen by 5.4 million people at the 2011 World Expo in Shanghai in an exhibition curated by the Shanghai Museum;
  • The National Media Museum work with recently arrived immigrants from Pakistan in locally-funded community projects in Bradford;
  • Tate’s Turbinegeneration education programme, which brings together 275 schools with artists and cultural institutions from 40 countries; and
  • National Museums Scotland, Royal Museums Greenwich, Tate, V&A and IWM work with counterparts in Russia on skills sharing and exhibition projects, including the forthcoming Peter the Great exhibition in Edinburgh and Catherine the Great in Greenwich.
Download the full report from the NMDC website Back to top


£76m Heritage Lottery Funding for major projects

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced initial support worth £76m for eight major projects in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  These include an award to the National Army Museum of £11.3m - including £350,000 of development funding -  for a complete refurbishment of the museum’s building including new galleries,  improved education facilities, and an extensive outreach programme which will establish a range of digital and off-site projects including touring exhibitions, volunteer and training opportunities.  V&A at Dundee has also been allocated £9.2million to create a signature building by Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma which will house long-term displays and major touring exhibitions of outstanding international design.  The other successful projects are:
  • The Royal Academy of Arts, London: £12.7m for development of its existing site;
  • Ditherington Flax Mill Maltings, Shropshire (£12.1m): for the creation of a learning, leisure, culture and enterprise centre;
  • Northumberland National Park (£6.3m): for the establishment of a new Landscape Discovery Centre and youth hostel;
  • The Maze Long Kesh, Lisburn (£6.4m): to help establish the new Peace-Building and Conflict Resolution Centre;
  • Knole, Kent (£7.5m): to support urgent repairs to this Tudor palace and help the National Trust create new studios to showcase the best of heritage conservation; and
  • Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire (£10.5m): to support urgent conservation.
A first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals.  Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage Lottery Fund invests further £13.6m in skills creating 788 placements

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has also announced a further investment of £13.6m in 51 skills projects through its Skills for the Future and Training Bursaries programmes.  This money will deliver 788 new placements providing paid training opportunities for people seeking a career in heritage.  This additional funding means the HLF will support 2,200 training places by 2015. £9.4m has been awarded to 43 organisations for Skills for the Future projects - including £498,600 to Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums - for a further 24 placements working with industrial exhibits in museums across the North East. The projects will support work-based training in a wide range of skills that are needed to look after buildings, landscapes, habitats, species, and museum and archive collections, as well as equipping people to lead education and outreach programmes, manage volunteers and use new technology.  £4m of additional funding has been awarded to eight projects through the Training Bursaries Programme.  Over the past 6 years this programmes has funded nearly 700 placements providing on-the-job accredited training over a range of 50 skill sets.  81% of those who have completed placements have gone on to secure jobs in the heritage sector.  Both the Skills for the Future and the Training Bursaries Programmes are now closed to new applications but new training placements will be created until 2015.  Following strong support for the skills agenda in their recent public consultation, HLF plans to launch a new open skills programme later in 2012.  Heritage Lottery Fund

Nine Museum Development providers for England announced

Arts Council England (ACE) announced the nine successful applicants to the Museum development fund on 10 May. Together, these nine museum development providers will receive almost £8.1m between August 2012 and March 2015 and will provide a national network of professional advice to all museums, particularly supporting smaller museums. The funds are intended toincrease the resilience and sustainability of these museums by supporting business planning, workforce development, attracting new audiences and organisational improvement.   The Museum development providers are:
  • Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery & Archives, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, and South West Federation of Museums & Galleries (£1.19m);
  • Herefordshire Heritage Service for The Marches Network  (£832,000);
  • Leicestershire County Council  (£719,887);
  • Manchester City Galleries, Manchester Museum; Whitworth Art Gallery, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Wordsworth Trust and Lakeland Arts Trust  (£880,000);
  • Museum of London  (£650,190);
  • Norfolk Museum & Archaeology Service  (£1.14m);
  • Royal Pavilion & Museums Service, Hampshire County Council Arts & Museums, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and Oxfordshire County Museums Service  (£1.4m);
  • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (£416,000); and
  • York Museums Trust  (£840,000).
Arts Council

Subject Specialist Network fund opens for applications

Arts Council England has also opened applications for the Subject specialist network fund on 10 May.  Through this £150,000 annual fund, ACE aims to support the sharing of knowledge and expertise about museum collections across the country.  New and existing groups of specialists are invited to apply for grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to support a range of activities including study days, conferences, the development of digital resources, training, fellowships or mentoring schemes, and travel bursaries.  The deadline for applications is Friday 8 JuneArts Council

First round of Catalyst funding announced

Arts Council England has announced the successful applicants to its £30 million Catalyst Arts: capacity building and match funding scheme. Grants of between £120,000 and £240,000 have been awarded to 173 organisations from over 350 applications. The Catalyst Arts scheme is a challenge fund that aims to make arts organisations more sustainable, resilient and innovative by increasing their fundraising potential and attracting new money to invest in additional artistic work. Organisations will use funds in the first year to gear up resources and build capacity. In the second and third years, funding will increasingly be used as match funding to incentivise donations. The grants include some for museums and galleries with £180,000 for NMDC member, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. Successful applicants to the £55 million Catalyst: endowments scheme will be announced jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), ACE and the HLF on 20 June 2012.  The Catalyst: endowments scheme offers match funding to arts organisations with a successful track record of fundraising to help them build endowments that provide an annual income. The final £7 million Catalyst programme to support arts organisations with little or no fundraising experience was initially due to be launched in April 2012.  ACE has announced that this will now be launched in autumn 2012 following a review of the experience and data from the earlier rounds of Catalyst funding bids.  ACE has also published a funding eligibility grid to clarify which of its programmes are open to museums now that it has taken on responsibility for museum development.  Museums and galleries should apply to the HLF for lottery-funded programmes including Catalyst unless they are seeking funding for an arts project, in which case they should apply to the Arts Council.  Arts Council


Art Fund Short list announced

The shortlist has been announced for the tenth year of the Art Fund Prize.  The museums and galleries contending for the £100,000 prize are:
  • The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire;
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter;
  • The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; and
  • Watts Gallery, Guildford.
The five projects shortlisted for the Clore Award for Museum Learning 2012 have also been announced. The initiatives in contention for the £10,000 award are:
  • Camden Arts Centre, Get The Message
  • Florence Nightingale Museum, Our Generation's Re-interpretation
  • Leicestershire County Council Heritage and Arts Service, Held in the Hand and Touch Tables
  • The Whitworth Art Gallery, The Manchester Early Years Partnership
  • Yorkshire Museum, Celebrating Severus
The winners of the Art Fund Prize and Clore Award will be announced on 19 June at the British Museum and live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row.  Art Fund 

Museum and Heritage Awards

The Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2012 were announced in London on 16 May. Twelve NMDC members were shortlisted across the thirteen award categories. National Museums Scotland was a joint winner of the Permanent Exhibition Award along with Holburne Museum. Science Museum Live on Tour was highly commended in the Educational Initiative Award, which was won by Historic Royal Palaces. The Natural History Museum's Sexual Nature exhibition won the best Temporary or Touring Exhibition Award, with the Museum of London and Derby Museums & Art Gallery both highly commended. The Heritage Lottery Fund also won the Outstanding Contribution to the Sector Award, the first time this award has been presented to an organisation rather than an individual.  Museums + Heritage

Nominations for Guardian Public Service Awards 2012

Nominations are open for the Guardian Public Services Awards 2012. The awards  are open to  all organisations involved in commissioning or delivering public services, whether from the public, private and voluntary sector.  There are a new set of categories for this year's awards, which aim to recognise innovative approaches that have been developed across public services and create a forum for sharing new ideas and best practice.  The categories are:
  • Financial initiative;
  • Digital innovation;
  • Partnership working;
  • Evidence-based policy making;
  • Communications project;
  • Community engagement project;
  • Public leader of the year; and
  • Society Guardian public servant of the year.
The deadline for nominations is 13 July.  Visit www.guardian.co.uk/publicservicesawards


Great North Museum: Hancock has won the Access for All Tourism award in the 2012 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.  The award for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism was won by The English Garden and the Lifetime Achievement Award given tothe Duke of Marlborough for his work to manage and improve the Blenheim Palace estate.  Visit England Back to top


Medieval Wenlok Jug stolen

The Wenlok Jug was stolen from Stockwood Discovery Centre, part of Luton Culture, over the weekend of 12-13 May. The medieval bronze jug, judged to be a cultural object of 'national significance',was subject to an export ban in 2005 after it was bought at Sotheby's by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  Luton Museums Service raised £750,000 to purchase it, including over £562,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £137,500 from the Art Fund as well as individual donations. The jug was on display in a high security display cabinet at Stockwood Discovery Centre at the time of the break in and theft. The Museum’s insurers, Zurich have offered a £25,000 reward for information leading to the jug’s recovery.  Luton Culture

Museums at Night 2012 was biggest yet

The biggest ever Museums at Night took place from 18-20 May. 416 venues put on 537 events. Culture24 are inviting anyone who organised a Museums at Night event to give their feedback in this short survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8QSNDNS The independent evaluation of the festival will be published in early August.    Future Museums at Night dates are:
  • Friday 17th – Sunday 19th May 2013
  • Friday 16th – Sunday 18th May 2014
  • Friday 15th – Sunday 17th May 2015.

Celebrating UK Culture Online

The Collections Trust has published Celebrating UK Culture Online, a new report that celebrates current innovative digital projects in museums, galleries, libraries and archives.  The report includes a number of  case studies which demonstrate ways in which UK organisations are delivering inspirational content, driving new research, promoting digital literacy, engaging new audiences and powering the Digital Economy. The report concludes that there is a great opportunity to bring "a new and compelling cultural offer to the ‘screens generation’ – delivering rich cross-platform experiences which combine exciting content with authoritative knowledge”.  Collections Link 

Collections Learning Hub

The Museums Association (MA) has published guidance, resources and case studies from the Effective Collections scheme which with the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, distributed over £1m between 2009 and 2012 to UK museums for projects making creative use of stored collections.  The Collections Learning Hub on the MA website, is designed to be an interactive resource to help museum practitioners share skills, knowledge and advice on getting better use out of collections.  Museums Association

Digital pioneer urges museums, archives and libraries to open up their collections

Museums, archives and libraries should join the digital revolution and open up their collections for reuse, according to Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Southampton University and Open Data advisor to the UK Government. Speaking to EU Culture Ministers at a Europeana Awareness event in Brussels, Professor Shadbolt said: “Museums, archives and libraries are sitting on a goldmine of content and knowledge. By publishing these resources as open data on the web, they can engage new audiences, build digital literacy and help drive the Digital Economy.”  Collections Link

Fire at new museum in Oslo

The new Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Norway will open as planned at the end of September despite a fire at the building last month. The Art Newspaper reports that staff and collections have not yet been moved into the building, designed by Renzo Piano, which will house a privately-owned collection of modern and contemporary art. Despite high winds, the fire was contained to the office area on the top floor and the building was not damaged by the material used for fighting the fire.  Art Newspaper

Murder at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has launched its first mobile detective game. The game guides users of smartphones and tablets through the galleries of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts to solve a murder mystery with a fictional plot revolving around John Singer Sargent's painting Madame XMore

New Music Plus programme

Expressions of interest are being sought for New Music Plus… (NMP) - a two year, UK-wide programme which supports the development of independent music producers and arts organisations who want to strengthen their approaches to programming new music and engaging new audiences. The programme aims to:
  • Strengthen leadership skills and cross art-form learning amongst organisations and independent producers who have not previously worked together
  • Establish a UK wide network of producers and organisations which supports exchange of expertise and opportunities to co-commission or tour new work
  • Support the artistic and professional development of all who take part.
New Music Plus… builds on two successful pilot programmes in London and the North West, which supported emerging producers to work with organisations from across the performing, visual arts and museum sectors.  Over the course of 2013 and into early 2014, 12 independent producers from across the UK (8 in England, 2 in Scotland and 1 each in Wales and Northern Ireland) will work with 12 arts organisations (the “host” organisation) to co-produce a series of new music events.  For further details contact Nicole McNeilly.  The deadline for expressions of interest is 25 JuneNew Music Plus


After a first gig packed with the cream of London's museum talent, both on stage and in the audience, Museums Showoff is back for a second go on 27 June.  Museums Showoff is an open mic night featuring curators, conservators, librarians, collectors, Museum Studies students, archaeologists, social historians, educators, multimedia developers, explainers, visitors, theorists and everyone else associated with museums and library special collections. It brings together people from different areas of the museum world, and gives them a chance to show off their skills, knowledge and passions.  Museums Showoff London Museums Group's latest blog includes a detailed look at a skill sharing scheme created by the Natural History Museum and the Hunterian Museum.  London Museums Group blog The Art Guide app created by the Art Fund is now available on Android phones.  Art Guide is the UK's most comprehensive exhibitions and museum listings app, enabling users to search for 600 museums and galleries using postcode, location or free text search, and to create a wishlist of favourite exhibitions and places to visit with a reminder before exhibitions close. www.artfund.org Back to top


Commission recommends change of law to convert possession to ownership

The Scottish Law Commission has recommended changes to Scottish law to allow a person or organisation that possesses an item for many years to become the legal owner. The Commission said that the changes could assist museums and galleries in cataloguing and managing their collections, and would bring Scotland into line with most other countries.   The Commission recommends two new rules which would convert possession to ownership:
  • The first would apply where the person possessing the object reasonably believes that he or she is the owner, but turns out not to be – usually because the person from whom the object was bought was not the true owner.  Provided that the possessor is in good faith (and does not, for instance, have reason to believe that the object was stolen), he or she would become owner after possessing the object for a continuous period of 20 years;
  • The second rule applies to lent or deposited property where the owner can no longer be traced.  Under the new rule, the holder of the object would be able to claim ownership if the owner had not been in contact for 50 years and could not be traced using reasonable diligence.  This measure is particularly aimed to help museums and galleries but would have general application. Scottish Law Commission

London borough aims to puts culture at heart of planning process

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London plans to become the first council in the UK to use the planning process to put cultural commerce and the creative industries at the heart of its future economic development.  The Council’s new cultural placemaking proposals, developed in partnership with Futurecity and BOP Consulting, call on developers seeking to work in the Royal Borough to embed culture and the creative industries into their thinking right from the start of the development process.  Developers would also be encouraged to be active in forming creative and long-term partnerships with the Royal Borough’s diverse communities, local and international cultural providers and the creative industries to influence development. FutureCity and BOP have also develped a new Creative District Profiler to help developers identify the potential of a proposed site to become a creative district. The borough, which is home to the V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum, has 4,000 creative businesses and attracts more than 13m visits a year. Over 15% of employment in the borough is in the creative and cultural sector, while over 30% of the borough’s business units house creative and cultural businesses.  The proposals aim to spark debate and stimulate ideas from across the development, planning, cultural and creative sectors.  Press release Cultural Placemaking proposal

Measuring economic benefits of arts and culture

Arts Council England have published Measuring the economic benefits of arts and culture, a report by BOP Consulting which aims to provide arts and cultural organisations with guidance about undertaking or commissioning studies into the economic benefits of their work.  The report examines four methods for measuring value of cultural organisations: economic impact, economic footprint analysis, contingent valuation and social return on investment; and provides a decision tree to help identify which is appropriate for different organisations.  A series of case studies explores the relative merits of each of the four approaches, and the report identifies useful toolkits which cultural organisations can use, as well as providing a helpful glossary.  Arts Council Meanwhile, a blog on the DCMS website is seeking to stimulate discussion across the cultural sector on the very idea of measuring cultural value.  Dr Claire Donovan is an academic working at DCMS on this issue, and she is asking for views on whether “the value of culture be measured by Government in monetary (or other) terms, or is it ‘priceless’?” DCMS

Intercultural Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland launched the first ever Intercultural Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland on 16 May.  The strategy recognises the changing face of society in Northern Ireland and its increasing cultural diversity, as well as the need to promote cultural pluralism, develop good relations and tackle racism within and between communities and their cultures. The Arts Council plans to introduce a new £300,000 funding programme this autumn which will concentrate on strengthening the minority ethnic arts infrastructure across Northern Ireland.  Arts Council Northern Ireland

Forth Bridge and Gorham’s Cave proposed as UK’s next World Heritage Sites

Heritage Minister John Penrose MP has announced that the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh will go forward as the UK’s next World Heritage nomination in 2014.  Gorham’s Cave Complex in Gibraltar will go forward for a nomination in 2015.   Following formal nominations, the sites undergo an 18 month process of scrutiny and evaluation by UNESCO and its advisory body, the International Council on Monuments and Sites. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is expected to take the final decision on the Forth Bridge in June 2015 and on Gorham’s Cave Complex in 2016. The UK currently has 28 World Heritage sites, spread across all four nations of the UK and a number of UK Overseas Territories. Eleven other sites have been identified on the UK’s current Tentative List of future world heritage nominations.  They will be eligible to take part in the next round of Technical Evaluations beginning in autumn of 2013.  DCMS

New loan scheme for cultural and creative businesses

Arts Council England has launched Creative Industry Finance - a new scheme for cultural and creative enterprises, offering small loans and practical business advice and support.  The initial one-year pilot of the scheme is taking place in London with an investment of £200,000. Working in partnership with the East London Small Business Centre, ACE are offering creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply for loans of £5,000 - £25,000 and receive practical business development support. A second pilot area will be announced soon.  Arts Council England Back to top


Changes to export licencing to cut administrative burden and close loop-hole

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a consultation on changes to the export licensing system to reduce the administrative burden and to close a loophole that leads to the long-term or indefinite loss to the UK of cultural goods of ‘outstanding national importance’.  The Government proposes to amend the Open General Export Licence (Objects of Cultural Interest) (OGEL) to remove the need for exporters to apply for an individual UK licence for cultural objects which are i) not in free circulation or ii) have been recommended by the Spoliation Advisory Panel to be returned to the claimant.  The changes are intended to reduce the burden on exporters and the administrative burden of the Export Licensing Unit and bring the UK export licensing regime for cultural objects closer in line with the EU licensing regime. The consultation also proposes that a temporary licence will be issued for a maximum of three years, with the possibility of only one extension to an existing licence. The current lack of a consistent policy on this is said by the DCMS to have led to temporary licences being issued for varying periods and applications for extensions to temporary licences being repeatedly granted.  The Government suggests that this has in effect allowed exporters to use temporary licences to keep cultural objects outside the UK long term or even indefinitely, thus undermining the purpose of the export licensing system. The Government also proposes to introduce a separate policy for cultural objects for which a permanent licence has been refused, as a result of the owner refusing a valid matching offer from a UK purchaser or indicating their intention to do so.  As we reported in January, the Reviewing Committee on Export of Works of Art recommended that owners pay compensation to public institutions if they withdraw licence applications after an institution has raised funds to purchase the object and despite a written undertaking to sell given by the applicant. The consultation runs until 1 August.  DCMS

Assembly Members call for Westminster to reverse charity tax measures

In the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 April, Peter Weir MLA of the DUP encouraged the assembly to issue "a clarion call" to the Government in London to withdraw its plans to limit tax relief on large tax donations.  Mr Weir questioned the figures the UK Government had quoted regarding the potential effect on charitable giving. Willie Clarke MLA supported the motion on behalf of Sinn Fein. He observed that the message seemed to be that these charitable donations were "some sort of tax fiddle". Assembly Members from UUP, Alliance and SDLP also expressed concern that the change would disadvantage charities.  The motion was carried on an oral vote.   BBC News  

Lords say DCMS failing to lead heritage science community

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee called upon the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to provide adequate leadership for heritage science.  In its report Science and Heritage: a follow-up the Committee cites research that heritage tourism contributes £7.4 billion a year to the UK economy and supports 195,000 full time equivalent jobs. The Committee argues that sustaining that contribution requires the UK to have the heritage science capacity to maintain the UK’s movable and immovable heritage such as museum, library, archive and gallery collections and historic buildings, and that maintaining that capacity requires greater leadership by DCMS. Recommendations for Government include:
  • that DCMS should appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser without further delay. The post has been vacant since 2010 and failure to rectify this would, according to the Committee, amount to “negligent short-termism”; and
  • that DCMS should set Departmental objectives for heritage science related to its Departmental responsibility to “protect our national cultural heritage”, and DCMS arm’s length bodies (such as the national museums and galleries, and English Heritage) should set out how they will help achieve these objectives.
The report welcomes the improvements that have been made in response to the Committee’s first report on heritage science (published in 2006), including the joint Science and Heritage Programme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the National Heritage Science Strategy and appointment of a National Heritage Science Forum.   The Committee however heard concerns that senior heritage scientist posts are being lost and that the sustainability of UK heritage science capacity is at risk. It recommends that the AHRC and National Heritage Science Forum should together measure capacity and address any issues arising.  UK Parliament Back to top


New Director of Museum of London

Sharon Ament has been appointed as the new Director of the Museum of London.  Sharon is currently Director of Public Engagement at the Natural History Museum, responsible for the Museum’s visitor services, learning, communications, interactive media, exhibitions, public programmes and fundraising. Before joining the Museum in 2000, she was Head of Marketing and PR at London Zoo.  Sharon will become a member of NMDC when she takes up her new post in September 2012. Museum of London  

New Director of Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Christopher Baker has been appointed as the new Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  Christopher, who has been Deputy Director of the Scottish National Gallery since 2003, was appointed following an international search led by the recruitment company Odgers Berndtson. He has organised some of the Scottish National Gallery’s most successful exhibitions, including The Discovery of Spain and Turner and Italy (both 2009). Beginning his career at the National Gallery, Christopher was also Curator, Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford from 1997-2003 He will take up his position at the Portrait Gallery on 1 August.  National Galleries of Scotland


Martin E. Sullivan, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has stepped down due to health reasons. He will take on the new role as senior scholar at the Smithsonian this month.  Wendy Wick Reaves, curator of prints and drawings, will serve as Acting Director until a new Director is recruited.  More Back to top


Ashmolean launches public appeal for £1m to acquire Manet painting

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced its lead support of the Ashmolean Museum’s campaign to save Manet’s Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus (1868) for the public with a major grant of £5.9 million. Since launching the campaign in February, the Ashmolean has also been awarded a grant of £750,000 from The Art Fund along with £200,000 of gifts from individuals and The Friends of the Ashmolean.  The Ashmolean has until 7 August 2012, before the export bar ends, to raise the remaining £980,000 to acquire the painting. The painting has been sold to a foreign buyer for £28.35 million but, under a private treaty sale, with tax remission it can be purchased by an approved UK public collection at the greatly reduced price of £7.83 million.  The work is currently on display in the Museum’s Impressionist Gallery having previously been exhibited only once since it was painted.  Ashmolean   

Science Museum and Nesta call for 21st Century Computer Literacy Project

A new report from Nesta and the Science Museum, The Legacy of the BBC Micro, shows how the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project of the 1980s, which created the BBC Micro computer, inspired a generation of computer programmers and produced significant economic benefits. The report calls for a new push to inspire the next generation of computer programmers and recommends a new 21st Century Computer Literacy Project.  The report recommends that such a project would require a strong vision for computer literacy, leadership to coordinate activities, a desire to create change in the home as well as schools, to listen to the needs of teachers and learners, technical solutions that aim to be interoperable, supporting resources developed for independent learners, and an active ambition to create economic benefits.  The Science Museum surveyed nearly 400 contemporary creative technologists to capture their experiences of 1980s computing, the Computer Literacy Project and the impact it had on their subsequent careers. 86.6% had used a BBC Micro, with almost all of them using it to write programmes.  Science Museum

Tate raises £45m for Tate Britain Millbank Project and receives major art donations

Tate has achieved its £45m fundraising target for the Tate Britain Millbank Project.  The scheme - to conserve and upgrade a number of Tate Britain’s galleries, open up the Millbank atrium spaces, and create a new Archive gallery and learning spaces - has been made possible with a grant of £4.9m from the HLF, a significant donation of £1m from Tate Members and through the generosity of private individuals and foundations.  The newly refurbished galleries will open with a new chronological presentation of the Collection in the BP British Art Displays in May 2013. The new visitor facilities and learning spaces will open in autumn 2013. Tate Tate has also announced two major donations of art and photographs.  Mercedes and Ian Stoutzker are making a major gift of pre-eminent British works from their collection, which is one of the leading collections of British Art.  The nine works, including pieces by Epstein, Freud, Hockney and Whiteread, will significantly enhance key areas in the representation of twentieth-century British art and will go on show at Tate Britain later this year.  A major photographic collection assembled by Eric and Louise Franck has been promised as a donation to Tate.  The collection contains around 1400 photographs of London by 120 photographers including iconic works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Irving Penn.  The estimated value of the gift to Tate is over £1million and comprises more than two thirds of the entire collection – the largest gift of photography ever made to Tate. The remaining work in the collection will be acquired on a purchase basis.  Stoutzker gift  Franck gift

Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation donation to Scottish National Portrait Gallery

National Galleries of Scotland has announced that The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation has made a major donation to the new Photography Gallery in the recently refurbished Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.  The Foundation is giving a total of $300,000 over the next three years, which will be used to support innovative displays, exhibitions, research and related publications in the new space. The Photography Gallery, which is the first purpose-built photography space of its kind in a major museum in Scotland, will now be called The Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery.  National Galleries of Scotland


The National Slate Museum, part of Amgueddfa Cymru National Museum Wales, celebrated its 40th birthday last month. Over 2.6m people have visited the site of the former Dinorwig Slate Quarry since the museum opened in 1972. The museum now has free entry, but back in 1972 admission cost 10p for adults and 5p for children. More Scientists at the Natural History Museum have identified the smallest mammoth known to have ever lived.  Mammuthus creticus was around 1m tall, about the size of a modern baby African or Asian elephant, and round half the size of the previous known smallest mammoth species. The Museum's fossil mammal experts, Dr Victoria Herridge and Dr Adrian Lister, made the discovery by re-examining fossils which had been unearthed in Crete in 1904. More  Sir Thomas Lawrence’s 1803 work, Portrait of the Hon. Emily Mary Lamb (1787–1869) , has been allocated to the National Gallery by Arts Council England under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows donors to leave major works of art to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax.  The picture has never previously been on public display.   National Gallery Back to top

Over 2,400 jobs at leading museums around the UK have been advertised on NMDC’s job site www.nationalmuseumjobs.org.uk over the past four years.  Current vacancies include:
  • Commercial Director, Science Museum Group
  • Conservation Technician, National Galleries Scotland
  • Collections Knowledge Officer, The National Archives
  • Ship-Keeper, Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Major Gifts Manager (Campaigns), Ashmolean
  • Archivist (Maternity cover), V&A
  • New Media Manager, National Portrait Gallery
  • Activity Coordinator - Development Project, National Army Museum
For details of these jobs and many more visit www.nationalmuseumjobs.org.uk


Football crazy?

Museums’ annual reviews are not usually packed with puns but this year National Museums Liverpool has presented their review of its 2011 ‘season’ as a football fanzine complete with David Fleming in a sheepskin coat as a football manager, Museum of Liverpool as a star-signing and a transfer list of acquisitions and loans.  More Back to top

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