April 2013

NMDC newsletter: April 2013
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NMDC newsletter: April 2013
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  NMDC news

New NMDC Chair and office move

Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums, formally took over as NMDC Chair from Dr. Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, on 1st April.  The NMDC staff team office has now relocated to Imperial War Museum London - see our website for new contact details (email addresses are unchanged).

NMDC welcomes scheme for museums to benefit from lifetime giving incentives

The new Cultural Gifts Scheme, which allows donors to give works of art and historical objects to the nation in lieu of tax, has been launched by the government.  It operates alongside the Acceptance In Lieu scheme which only allows the offset of objects against tax after death. NMDC has long campaigned for the introduction of a lifetime giving scheme.  Together the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts schemes will have an annual ceiling of £30m, with works, where accepted, being taken on a first come, first served basis. Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said “I am delighted that the Treasury and HMRC have been able to support the development of this scheme as part of our package of major reforms to support philanthropy through the tax system.”  New ACE Chair Peter Bazalgette also welcomed the scheme, emphasising the importance of making sure that the opportunity is widely known.  Gov.uk, Arts Council, NMDC philanthropy page Back to top

  Museums and tourism

National Museum of Scotland makes visitor attractions Top 10

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has published statistics for visits to larger museums and galleries in 2012.  For the sixth year running, the British Museum was top attraction with a shade under 6 million visits (5,575,946), while Tate Modern’s 9% increase in visitor numbers, driven by a Damien Hirst retrospective, moved it up into second place.  Nine of the ten top attractions were in London, but a spectacular 29% increase in visitor numbers to 1,893,521 for the National Museum of Scotland put it in ninth place, and made it the most popular attraction outside the capital. Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said "the recently refurbished National Museum of Scotland and Scottish National Portrait Gallery recorded massive increases in visitor numbers, and the National Museum is the first Scottish attraction ever to appear in the UK top ten. The Scottish Government made a significant financial contribution to both of these renovation projects and our investment is clearly paying dividends for the nation." Museums and art galleries did see a dip in visitors during the London Olympics, but these recovered quickly.  The greatest challenge to visits in 2012 was the poor summer weather: of the 30 attractions which saw a greater than 10% decline in visitors, 27 were based around parks, gardens and other outdoor spaces.  Despite this, across all the attractions listed, there was 5.1% increase in visits, to 92.1 million.  ALVA, Independent, Scottish Government, BBC Also: the refurbishment and new history centre around Stonehenge continues to attract media interest. VisitBritain anticipates large rises in visitor numbers with the relaunch later this year, (which could see it providing a rural challenge to the London hegemony in ALVA’s 2013/14 figures).  Meanwhile, a Guardian article demonstrates that the debate about whether the monument is a hospital, a temple, a planetarium, a graveyard, all of the above or something else entirely – is a topic of enduring fascination for the public.  Incentive Travel, Guardian

Most popular global exhibitions published for 2012

The Art Newspaper has published its annual account of the most visited art exhibitions globally.  Rank is determined by the total number of visitors per day.  The most popular was ‘Masterpieces from the Mauritshuis’ at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum with 10,573 visitors each day, followed by shows in Rio de Janeiro, St Petersburg and Washington.  Brazil is seeing a renaissance in art gallery attendance on the back of an economic boom.  The David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy was fifth in the list attracting 7,512 visitors each day.  Tate Modern dominates the ‘Big Ticket’ list – shows where the ticket also includes entrance to other attractions.  Their Tino Sehgal, Tanks: Art in Action and Tacita Dean shows are the top three. In terms of overall attendance of an art venue, London museums are strongly represented: the British Museum is third (5,575,946) after the Louvre (9,720,260) and Museum of Metropolitan Art (6,115,881), Tate Modern (5,304,710) is fourth and the National Gallery (5,163,902) fifth.  Art Newspaper (article available with subscription only)

Seasides of culture?

Bids are now in for the title of City of Culture 2017, and ports and seaside towns are well represented in the list.  The bidding cities are Aberdeen, Chester, Dundee, East Kent, Hastings with Bexhill on Sea, Hull, Leicester, Plymouth, Portsmouth with Southampton, Southend on Sea and Swansea Bay. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said that the number of entries showed a healthy appetite for the City of Culture scheme, adding ‘The competition brings together communities and creates economic and social benefits and I am pleased to see so many local authorities and different partners coming together. I wish all eleven the best of luck.’ The entries will now be sifted to create a shortlist which will be announced in June 2013.  Gov.uk, Arts Industry

‘Moving targets’ report looks at engaging cultural tourists online

A report produced by Culture24 for the Europeana Awareness Project looks at different kinds of cultural tourists and how to engage them online.  They refer to them as ‘moving targets’ because of the diversity of interests and profiles – from traditional ‘culture vultures’ to those with specialist interests like ‘Gardening’ or ‘Dark Tourism’ or those pursuing a family history or a sense of identity.  The reports suggests marketing plans more tailored to all these kinds of segments, and a move away from a simple ‘build it and they will come’ model.  Culture24, Culture24 (Europeana Awareness)

Taking Part Statistics released

Statistics have been released for the third quarter of the 2012/13 year for cultural participation in the UK by adults, and show that more than half of adults visited a museum or gallery.  Headline points include:
  • 73% of adults have visited a heritage site in the past year.  This is a 3% increase since 2010/11
  • The proportion of adults visiting a museum or gallery in the last year was 52%, representing a steady rise since the 42% recorded in 2005/6 when figures were first tracked.
  • Arts engagement was 78% for urban areas and 81% for rural areas.
Gov.uk Also: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced an independent review of architecture and the built environment.  It will be led by architect Sir Terry Farrell and will look at:
  • Understanding the Government’s role in promoting design quality in architecture and the built environment;
  • The economic benefits of architecture
  • Cultural heritage and the built environment
  • Promoting education, outreach, and skills.
Vaizey hopes the review will engage the sector to think about the role of Government in achieving high quality design.  Gov.uk  Back to top


Museum and Heritage Awards Shortlist Announced

The Museum and Heritage Awards shortlist have just been announced over a variety of categories. Among the dozens shortlisted for a number of awards are Royal Pavilion & Museums Brighton & Hove for World Stories: Young Voices in the Educational initiative category, Birmingham Museums Trust, for the Science Garden at Thinktank in the Best Permanent Exhibition category; National Galleries of Scotland, The Nation/Live-Work in the Best project on a limited budget category.  The Museum of London is among five shortlisted from over 500 nominations for the ‘Guardian Culture Pros Pick’ of most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction of the past year.  Winners will be announced on 15th May Museums and Heritage

Artfund shortlist for Museum of the Year revealed

The Artfund has announced the shortlist of ten for the annual Museum of the Year prize.  There is a prize of £100,000 for the winner.  The shortlist, which include several NMDC member museums, are: the Baltic, Gateshead; Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; The Hepworth Wakefield; the Horniman Museum, London; Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery, Glasgow; Museum of Archeology & Anthropology, Cambridge; Narberth Museum, Pembrokeshire; Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees; and the William Morris Gallery, London. Many of the museums on the shortlist have been transformed in the last few years by redevelopment: Narberth Museum closed in 2003, but has been brought back to life over the past decade by dedicated volunteers; the William Morris Gallery has seen 100,000 visitors through its door since it reopened in 2012.  ArtFund

  Members' news

Virtual tourism: UK galleries join the Google Art Project

The Google Art Project brings some of the elements of Google Street View to leading galleries, allowing visitors to virtually wander round spaces looking at pictures.  One image per institution has also been photographed at extremely high resolution – allowing users to see works of art in much greater detail than with the naked eye.  The National Gallery, Tate Britain and the Birmingham Museums Trust represent the UK so far in the project, which is still seeking more partners. As the Telegraph points out, the project is still in early stages and the images available very partial.  However, it allows potential visitors to get a taste of what it is like ‘on the ground’ in gallery spaces in a different city, country or continent.  National Gallery, Virtually wander the Tate on Google Art Project, Telegraph, Museums Association, Google Art Project FAQs

Museum volunteering to reintegrate people into society

Imperial War Museum North and Manchester Museums have jointly received £528,700 for a scheme which creates volunteering opportunities in museums for those who would otherwise be at risk of social isolation.  Improving Futures: volunteering for wellbeing will include 16 – 24 year olds, the over 50s and ex-service personnel.  The volunteers will receive bespoke training accredited by Manchester college.  The project builds on the previously successful In Touch project. Graham Boxer, Director of IWM North welcomed the opportunity to create ‘robust evidence of how volunteering in museums can change people’s lives and support wellbeing’.  HLF

Yorkshire Museum seeks funds to buy ‘nationally important’ hoard found in Bedale

A Viking hoard from the 9th or 10th century discovered in Bedale in North Yorkshire has been declared of national importance.  It includes 29 silver ingots, 4 silver neck rings, gold rivets and half a silver brooch.  They are currently at the British Museum for conservation and valuation. Andrew Morrison, head curator of the Yorkshire Museum said “the gold sword pommel and a unique silver neck ring are incredibly beautiful and rare finds. We now hope to be able to raise the funds needed to keep them in Yorkshire." Yorkshire Museum, BBC news Also: The Crossrail project continues to offer unique opportunities for archaeological discovery at a swathe of sites across London, as a 73 mile high speed rail link is built.  The most recent discovery is a 14th century plague pit, containing six bodies, but finds from all periods have been discovered in the course of the excavation.  The Museum of London Archaeology service is working closely with Crossrail’s own archaeologists.  BBC

Public lending rights transfer to British Library

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that the Public Lending Right scheme is to be transferred to the British Library.  The PLR scheme means that authors receive a small fee each time their book is borrowed in a public library.  The new arrangement will mean savings of £750,000 over ten years. Vaizey said “this transfer is designed to help ‘future-proof’ the scheme, and maximise payments to authors by delivering future administration savings.”  Gov.uk

Museums and Galleries Scotland invests £315k in upgrading collections

Ten top Scottish collections will receive a share of £315,000 to raise standards in their display, the storytelling around the material, and visitor experience.  The funding includes £40,000 to Glasgow Life to document and disseminate information about 200 medieval architectural fragments in the Burrell Collection, which, as we report elsewhere, may soon be available to travel outside Scotland for the first time.  Museums Association Back to top


Budget 2013: another round of cuts for museums

DCMS will receive another 1% reduction to its budgets in 2013/14 and 2014/15 following cuts announced in the Budget.  As a result English national museums and Arts Council England will receive cuts of 1.09% in 2013/14 and 1.06% in 2014/15.  A DCMS spokesperson said: “It is inevitable, given that almost all DCMS funding is passed directly to our arm’s length bodies, that we need to pass much of this cut on." The grant for these two years was also cut during the Autumn Spending Review, meaning that the actual cut in grants is 2.09% and 3.06% respectively. Chief Executive of the Arts Council, Alan Davey said: “We will have no choice but to pass these cuts in our Grant in aid budget onto our funded organisations. Once the figures are confirmed we will let everyone know as soon as possible how we will do it and what it will mean for them.  We understand that for many organisations every penny counts and further cuts could cause problems. Changes to budgets this near to the beginning of the financial year are never easy.”  The Stage, Arts Council

Rossendale museum closes as local councils argue over funding

It seems likely that Rossendale Museum will close permanently at the end of March, after Rossendale Borough Council argued that it was not ‘value for money’ and sought to reduce the £100,000 which it pays Lancashire County Council to run it.  The former mill owner’s home contains Victorian art, fashion and furniture and a natural history collection. Attempts to transfer the museum to a community group have not succeeded, and, as the contract between the two councils runs out, no agreement has been reached.  Council leader Alyson Barnes aid the museum would not be 'mothballed', but a statement on the museum’s website says that it will close on March 31st and is not expected to reopen.  Arts Industry, Rossendale Museum

My Theatre Matters Campaign launched

Despite strong evidence from the Local Government Association and elsewhere that the arts and culture sustain local economies, some local authorities have chosen to slash cultural budgets by large sums in response to budget deficits.  In response to this climate, a group of theatre organisations have launched the My Theatre Matters Campaign, in which people can add their photo and explain why their local theatre is vital to them.  The stories told include many whose local theatres have either closed or live with very insecure funding arrangements.  Meanwhile Moray Council is pressing ahead with its 100% cuts as critics complain that its ‘local consultation’ was very partial.  The Stage,  My Theatre Matters Also We note that the sale of ‘Old Flo’ remains on track.  The Wharf

Charity Tax Group highlights tax savings for charities

The Charity Tax Group has highlighted a number of savings for charities in the current budget, including an employer allowance of £2,000 towards their employer NICS bill.   The government has also agreed to consult on tax relief for those investing in social enterprises.  The VAT registration threshold has also been raised by £2k to £79k.  Charity Tax Group Back to top

  ‘Grand Partnerships’ – funding culture

Peter Bazalgette gives inaugural lecture as Chair of the Arts Council

In his first official speech as new Chair of Arts Council England, Peter Bazalgette outlined his vision for how the UK’s cultural offer should be sustained, through a ‘Grand Partnership’ of business, philanthropy and government funding.  He said that only 1% of all philanthropy went to the arts (despite arts being the third greatest recipient of donations over £1m) and that the sector should try to grow this figure.  He also said that businesses that had ‘deleveraged’ and now had healthy balance sheets should become part of the mix of cultural support.  He gave examples of how businesses, local councils and the Arts Council working together had created transformative change for everyone: “One of the most inspiring visits I have made in the last six weeks was to the Turner Contemporary on the Kent coast. There, a partnership between the Arts Council, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and English Heritage has been a key driver in the regeneration of Margate’s old town. The old town is now fully occupied and the project is now moving onto the high street. I met some of the new businesses that are clustering around it. I met some of the people who were unemployed and who are now working in the gallery.” He ended by affirming the importance of public funding as part of the cultural mix: “Public funding will always be the bedrock of Britain’s creative culture because it is the venture capital that makes wonderful things happen: the brilliant, the inspiring and the stuff that people want more of. It is a relatively small sum of money with a very big result.” In an online Q&A earlier in the month, he said the thing most concerning him at present is the potential cutbacks in arts spending by local councils.  Arts Council (full transcript), Museums Association, Guardian

Businesses ‘more choosy’ about arts sponsorship in the downturn

The most recently published analysis by Arts + Business shows that business support for the arts fell by 7% in 2011, marking four years of declining funding. International business leaders continue to fund, but play it safe with top flight institutions with solid reputations: Rena de Sisto of Merrill Lynch says that they have ‘remained steadfast’ in their support of Tate Modern.  For smaller museums, the challenge is much greater: De Sisto says “I would like to see more mid-sized companies and even professional practices get involved in supporting their local arts organisations”.  The Art Newspaper

Ed Vaizey says creative and cultural sector ‘in rude health’

In a speech given to the Local Government Association, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey argued that the ‘arts are not in crisis’.  He cited the increase in lottery sales as a source of income for the HLF (which is projected to receive £379m in 2015, and increase of £160m compared to 2010) and for the Arts Council of England which, also based on projections, should receive £262m in 2015, £100m more than in 2010).  He also pointed to the good economic return which local authorities can expect when investing in culture, referring to Local Government Association findings also published this month.  Reporting on the speech, The Stage pointed to a number of local authorities who have nevertheless cut, or severely reduced their cultural spend. The charity  Children and the Arts expressed a particular concern about theatre, saying that while ‘some strands of the arts are attracting funding and indeed, flourishing’ theatre is ‘shrivelling'.  Gov.uk, Arts Industry, The Stage, Children and the Arts

Arts investment brings in £4 for every £1 spent says Local Government Association

A study by the Local Government Association shows that an investment in the arts by local councils is sustaining local economies and returning roughly £4 worth of tourism and other spend back into local economies. It reports that the arts provide nearly 1 million jobs, sustain 67,000 businesses and contribute 28 billion to the economy.  Tourism is one of the few sectors growing in the current economic climate – now at five times the rate of the rest of the economy. Funding for culture by local councils fell by £23m in 2011/2 (around 7.8%), although most have not pursued the drastic measures contemplated by Newcastle and Moray. The report also gives examples of excellence, including York Museums’ Trust, which has been turned around in the last few years from a loss maker with declining visitor figures to a group which now supports 100 jobs, draws in 600,000 visitors and provides around £10 of impact for every £1 invested by the Council. Local Government Association, Museums Association

British Council increases its arts funding by 33%

Five years ago, the British Council scrapped its arts funding and then reinstated it after government intervention.  Now it has increased its investment in the arts by 33%.  British Council Chairman Sir Vernon Ellis said "the arts are at the heart of the British Council and define who we are as seen from overseas".  The extra funding comes from earned income from the Council’s English teaching operation.  Arts Industry

Arts Council announces beneficiaries of Renaissance Strategic support fund

The Arts Council has announced the beneficiaries of its £17.8m Renaissance strategic fund, created to help museums become more sustainable, resilient and creative to attract more visitors. Among the 87 beneficiaries are the William Morris Gallery which will be funding a business development programme, the Design Museum which is moving to new premises in Kensington, as well as the Geffrye Museum to support its launch of a much larger Museum of the Home in 2016.  Arts Industry, Arts Council

DCMS figures: Private giving to cultural organisations increases

The DCMS has published a breakdown of how much the organisations it supports received from other sources of funding in 2011/12. The cultural institutions included are the Arts Council England and their Regularly Funded Organisations, the British Film Institute, British Library, English Heritage, and the National Museums and Galleries.  The total income breakdown is:
  • Donations, sponsorships and memberships – £274m, 11%
  • Donated objects - £83m, 3%
  • Grant in Aid £994m, 38%
  • Other income £1241m, 48%.
For every £1 grant in aid raised, institutions raised 36p in fundraising or contributed income.  The overall sums raised have risen from £304m in 2008/9 to £357m in 2011/12.  In the same period, Grant in Aid has decreased by £1064m to £994.  The donation of Titian’s Diana & Callisto to the National Gallery worth £68.5m has had particular impact on this year’s figures, but even with donated gifts excluded, the percentage of fundraising to GiA has steadily increased over time and is now at its highest level of £27.6m Gov.uk

Greater opportunities for museums to work with universities

A six month collaboration, Share Academy, has explored how museums and universities can work more closely together – to create better research, and see that research better used in museum spaces.  ACE brought together University College London, the London Museums Group and the University of the Arts, London to drive the work.  Share Academy are holding a free symposium and networking event – Expertise, Engagement and Impact - on Wednesday 10 April at UCL in the Wilkins Old Refectory, followed by an evening networking event in the Grant Museum.  They will present case studies from the project and offer the chance to create further partnerships during the networking event.  Estelle Morris is the keynote speaker.  For full details contact Naomi Asantewa-Sechereh at [email protected] or book here.  London Museums Group blog, Share Academy on Eventbrite, Also: Nick Merriman, former chair of the University Museums Group says that university museums are in the healthiest state they have been for 25 years – seen as an asset which can attract the best students and staff as universities become increasingly competitive. They are also reaching audiences well beyond their own campuses, with the Ashmolean being the most visited non-national in the country.  There is some suggestion from the length of conversations that visitors have with staff that university museum visitors ‘stay longer and think more’.  Museums Association Back to top

  Museum futureology

Print your own statue, and other innovations

The American Alliance of Museums has produced a report on trends which it thinks will be most influential in the future development of museums.  They argue for the potential of ‘3D printing’ to transform not just museum giftshops, but manufacturing in the developed world. 3D printing is a process where replicas of objects, made from a variety of different organic materials, can be produced to order on short print runs.  It offers the possibility that the museum visitor who really liked your Rodin in Room 3 can get their own scale copy ‘printed off’ on the way out, although this clearly raises issues about copyright.  3D printing has been around for ten years on an industrial scale, but now much smaller ‘desktop’ units are on the horizon. The report says that at least four (unnamed) US museums have held ‘hackathons’ or ‘scanathons’ which have encouraged artists and technology geeks to play with data and produce replicas or adaptations of museum collections. There are a number of UK/European projects and contacts for the evolving technology:
  • The meSch project hopes to offer museum professionals an easy-to-use platform for fabricating artefacts in about four years time.  It has three museum test partners and will be advertising for more as the project progresses. (twitter @meschproject).
  • Oonagh Murphy of the University of Ulster has produced a report on New York innovations, including details of the Met’s 3D hackathon.
  • Museomix are bringing a ‘FabLab’ to Ironbridge Gorge in November to create prototype artefacts at Enginuity.
  • Academics at DeMontfort University are working with small museums to develop the technology: contact Dr Lionel Dean   [email protected] and Douglas Cawthorne [email protected].
  • The V&A’s Industrial Revolution 2.0 in 2011 including 3D printed objects.
Elsewhere the US report looks at how museums may be transformed by mobiles and ‘wired’ culture, tracking not just visitor numbers, but the route that each person takes through a museum.  But conversely, museums could market themselves as grounding place to escape from tech, as a market develops in ‘wifi free rooms’ (where special wallpaper kills the signal) and tech free retreats.  The ‘Biolounge’ at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is just one that now offers a ‘digital detox’ to visitors.  Trendswatch report, Center for the Future of Museums Blog

V&A tracks mobile use in museums

In the past twelve months the number of people accessing the V&A’s website through mobile devices has doubled.  In the light of this growing use, the V&A have conducted a survey among visitors and produced a report.  The findings include that:
  • Around two thirds of visitors to the V&A own a smartphone and carry it with them everywhere.
  • 60% say they have used a smartphone in a gallery to enhance their visit.
  • One third of V&A visitors also own a tablet, but are much less likely to bring it to the museum.
  • Young visitors tend not to use audioguides and would much prefer to use their own device, but it’s possible that the ‘tour’ concept may not suit how they interact with museums anyway.
  • If traditional ‘audioguide’ users are to be converted to using their own smartphones instead, the technology at least initially will need to be very easy to use.
The Tate, Imperial War Museums and National Gallery have also been conducting joint research which is not yet published, but some of the preliminary findings are discussed briefly by the V&A blog.  V&A blog, Full mobile survey report

Collections Trust announces Open Culture 2013 conference

The Collections Trust is running its Annual ‘Open Culture’ conference on 2nd– 3rdJuly 2013 at the Kia Oval.  Its central question is ‘how can collections management power the participatory museum of tomorrow?’ The programme includes more than 30 speakers, including a keynote from the Smithsonian Museum, a discussion from the Imperial War Museum on digital opportunity and Culture Action Europe.  The complete programme is being refined right until the start of the conference, so that it reflects the most current issues facing museums and collection managers.  Delegate fees have been reduced by 18% compared with last year, and early bird discounts are available until the end of April.  Collections Link Back to top

  Copyright and rightful owners

Technoviking sues

The Berlin raver immortalised as ‘Technoviking’ in a short piece of film which went viral and was watched by millions is now sueing the man who recorded him.  The artist and curator Matthias Fritsch found his career taking off as he used the clip to explore the spread of memes by the internet.  However he is now being held responsible for invasion of privacy, and for the myriad of parodies and merchandise which the film spawned.  If found guilty, he may have to repay some of his earnings and be asked to remove ‘Technoviking’ from the web.  Fristsch argues that the meme is now beyond his control, with his lawyer adding "If artists are prohibited from using videos with pictures of people at public exhibitions, this would mean a substantial limitation to the freedom of art, which is a constitutional right in Germany". The case raises interesting issues for organisations making use of internet memes (although the Museum of London is likely to be pretty safe with its medieval-jug-inspired take on the Harlem Shake.)  Guardian,  Art Newspaper

Getty’s Nazi auction database makes spotting looted artworks easier

A new database set up by the Getty Research Institute carries most German auction catalogues from 1930–1945 and will make it far easier for museums and dealers to find out if objects had been subject to forced sales during the Nazi era.  35 cultural institutions worked together for two years to standardise the information.  Lucian Simmonds, the Director at Sotherby’s with responsibility for restitution issues, said it would “enable museums, collectors and the trade to identify more works which may be subject to claim”.  New York lawyer Laurence Kaye says research that may previously have meant searching libraries across the globe could now take a few minutes.  Art Newspaper, Artlyst

‘Let’s not reignite the War of the Roses’

The discussions about how and where Richard III should be buried continue, with rival petitions in circulation from those who favour York or Leicester.  The Dean of York has gone to the police after receiving hate mail following her support for a final resting place in Leicester Cathedral.  Pro-York descendents of Richard III are threatening a legal challenge.  At least four MPs have been drawn in by the issue and there has been an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall. Hugh Bayley, Labour MP for York Central said that opinion was clearly divided, and asked for an independent committee to be established to settle the matter, adding “Let's discuss where his remains should be put to rest in a dignified and sober way.  We don't want to reignite the Wars of the Roses.” One academic argues that he should receive a Catholic, not an Anglican funeral.  Meanwhile Leicester Cathedral is planning a relatively modest gravestone set in the floor of the Cathedral, while the Richard III Society has raised £30,000 for a more elaborate limestone sarcophagus.  Telegraph, BBC, BBC politics, Guardian, Richard III Society, Guardian Also Bones which some people think could belong to Alfred the Great have been exhumed from a grave in Winchester and reburied to protect them from enthusiasts for the graves of lost kings, following the publicity surrounding Richard III.  Guardian

Glasgow’s second attempt at altering terms of donors art bequest

When shipping magnate William Burrell (1861–1958) left his art collection to Glasgow it was with strict instructions that the collection should never travel abroad, as he was afraid it might be damaged in transit.  Now that air freight and packing techniques have improved, Glasgow City Council is seeking a dispensation from the Scottish Government, so that objects can travel to Atlanta, the British Museum and elsewhere.  A previous attempt had been blocked by trustees of the Burrell estate, but indications are that they feel more positive about the current request. The Burrell collection consists of 8,000 pieces and is particularly strong on Chinese art, but also includes Late Gothic, Early Renaissance, and late 19thcentury French art.  Pieces by Degas and Cezanne have been missing from major international retrospectives because of the ban.  Art Newspaper, Glasgow Life Also: One well-loved piece of art certain to leave the UK is Picasso’s Child with a Dove.  Valued at £50m, it was sold last year at Christie’s by the Aberconway family.  It has been on public display in the UK since the 1970s, but the new owner is not obliged to show it and an export bar on the image lapsed in December.  An attempt by ACE and others to raise funds to keep the work in Britain had also failed.  Alan Yentob, creative director at the BBC called it a ‘catastrophic loss’ made inevitable by the economic climate.  Art critic Brian Sewell was more pragmatic: “[Child with a Dove is] widely rumoured to have been sold to Qatar, where they're opening a new museum, in which case, it will still be available to the public, just a different public.” Independent Back to top        

  Teaching history: of Ebaccs and new citizens

Debate continues on changes to the history curriculum

Michael Gove’s proposed changes to the history curriculum in England continue to be criticised by a number of cultural bodies. The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) is campaigning against the removal of all post-1688 history from Key Stage 2, arguing that there are far fewer museums covering earlier periods of history and that children will be therefore less likely to visit a museum while at primary school.  AIM also say that there has been a large investment in museum materials for Key Stage 2 which will be lost if the changes are implemented.  They urge people to write to MPs and/or fill in the government consultation before 16th April. The Cultural Learning Alliance is organising roundtable discussions which will continue during April to shape a joint response to the changes.  Among their concerns are:
  • ‘Discount codes’ which mean that in calculating a school’s league table, a pass from a single child at A–C in Dance and Drama will count as only one, not two qualifications.  The same will apply to Graphics and Art & Design.
  • Schools are still expected to resource and prioritise Ebacc subjects, which contain few arts subjects.
  • Art & Design has been based on a set of principles described as ‘retrograde’ by the Design Council.  (The Crafts Council has also expressed concern that by concentrating only on ‘drawing and painting skills’ the grounding for future ‘architects, designers and engineers’ will be lost.  The chairman of BAE systems has also criticised an insufficient regard for engineering).
  • They share concerns that teaching history chronologically and only reaching the 20th century at secondary school will break up existing partnerships between schools and the museum sector.
One hundred academics have written to the Independent and Telegraph saying that the changes to the whole curriculum are ‘micromanagement’ and ‘too narrow’; Michael Gove has responded by referring to the critics as ‘bad academia’.  AIM, Dept of Education (Consultation page on the reform of the National Curriculum in England), Cultural Learning Alliance, Crafts Council, Independent, Guardian, Guardian (BAE systems chairman), Daily Mail (Michael Gove)

From Art History to SmartHistory

SmartHistory is one of the recent success stories of digital education.  The website now attracts millions of students to learn from 500 videos as well as text and images, having crowdfunded its growth from an initial $25,000 grant.  Its creators Dr Steve Harris and Dr Beth Zucker say “It started quite humbly. We couldn’t get our students to read their art history textbooks.  We needed a better way to inspire a conversation about art.”  They say that ‘as if museums didn’t decontextualise things enough’, text books are even more likely to present material in ways that make it difficult to imagine their original surroundings.  Museum and gallery professionals interested in working with Smarthistory can attend a masterclass event run by the Collections Trust at the Science Museum on July 1st.  Collections Link

History tests for new British citizens launched

The test and handbook for British citizenship has been rewritten, removing mundane information about water meters and including a substantial section on basic history.  Monty Python, Rudyard Kipling and Andrew Lloyd Webber all appear in the Home Office’s 180 page syllabus.  Potential citizens will then take the government’s ‘Life in the UK’ test, with a tough pass standard designed to reduce net migration.  Playwright David Edgar has criticised the history element for including battles and union jacks but leaving out most dissenting traditions except the suffragettes.  BBC, Home Office sample questions, Guardian, Guardian (David Edgar) Back to top

  Leadership and representation

Women still under-represented as museum directors…

A new report Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain? shows that women are under-represented in all levels of politics.  But the report also touches on other sectors, and shows that museums, too, perform poorly in terms of equal power. Writing for the Guardian, Jo Caird reports “Of the national and regional museums and galleries surveyed, only 28% have a female director. The boards of these institutions are 72.6% male and men account for an even more alarming 90.7% of chairs.”  These statistics are extrapolated from only fifty museums, but they are mainly large nationals, with the majority belonging to the NMDC. Diana Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums and incoming Chair of the NMDC says "unless trustee bodies make a deliberate decision not to recruit in their own image, then what you will see is the perpetual replacement of a suit by a suit".  Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, adds "If you want powerful people on boards, the powerful people are predominantly not women at the moment.  And so it perpetuates." Cultural bodies regularly funded by ACE have a much better profile, with women accounting for 48% of Chief Execs and 45% of Board members.  But they will only begin to collect stats on the museum sector in 2013.  As Caird suggests, it may be identifying reliable stats across all museums which allows the sector to address the imbalance.  Guardian, Counting Women In

… while street art evens up London’s representation of famous women

Coinciding with International Women’s Day on 9th March, an image of Rights of Women author Mary Wollstonecraft has been stencilled on the side of the Unitarian Chapel close to her former home on Newington Green.  Wollstonecraft was herself a Unitarian, and the current congregation at the chapel seem nothing but delighted at her appearance on their Grade II listed building. The image is clearly based on the John Opie picture of Wollstonecraft, which is on display in the National Portrait Gallery.  Mildmay’s Labour councillor Kate Groucutt says “I absolutely want it to stay. We’ve had confirmation from Hackney Council and they can’t remove it without checking with the owner, and that’s the church.  It’s not going to be painted over, we have secured that.” There are only a handful of statues to women among the hundreds in London. The community group Mary on the Green has been involved in a longstanding campaign to commemorate the campaigner with a statue in the neighbourhood, projecting her image onto Parliament in late 2011.  However, it seems that local street artist ‘Stewy’ was responsible for the new image.  Stewy, N16 magazine, Mary on the Green, Secret London, A Vindication of the Rights of Mary Blogspot, Islington Tribune, Islington Gazette

Heritage sector urged to nominate more people for honours in 2013

The Heritage Alliance is urging people to nominate people for the 2014 New Year Honours now. They say “nominations from within the sector have been low in the past, with only eight nominations from three organisations for the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours list.”  (Those nominating philanthropists should use the same process and form).  DCMS Honours Nomination Form, Heritage Alliance e-bulletin

Apply for the Extend Leadership programme

Extend is looking for people working in learning and education roles in the arts to take part in their leadership training.  The programme consists of a training needs analysis, two residentials, mentoring and a joint project for participants and is supported by ACE, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.  The deadline for applications is 10am Monday 8th April.  Engage

HLF and NHMF seek Trustees

The Heritage Lottery Fund and National Heritage Memorial Fund are seeking five Trustees with experience of the heritage sector to sit on the joint Board of both institutions.  The expertise sought ranges from development of museum services and change management, business experience, ecosystems, fine art and art history or local government.  HLF Back to top


National funding scheme now live

A new scheme piloted in 2012 to make casual giving to museums easier via mobiles has been officially launched.  The National Funding Scheme creates a recognisable giving brand - 'Donate' - within which museums can pitch for support for overheads, or a specific exhibition, idea or project.  With research by the V&A showing the number of people taking smartphones into museums spiralling sharply upwards, the opportunities for visitors to donate easily, in a moment of inspiration, are increasing.  A second launch for the whole of the UK is expected later in the year.  National Funding scheme, More from last year’s NMDC newsletter

Heritage Lottery Fund launches Young Roots

The Heritage Lottery fund has launched a new rolling scheme for groups or individuals aged 11–25 who would like funding for a heritage project.  Grants from £10,000-£50,000 are available.  HLF suggests that projects could range from ‘restoring a vintage motorbike, designing a new nature trail or documenting changes to their community over time’.  They hope that those taking part will develop employability and heritage skills, and engage their communities in heritage issues.  HLF

Cultural Value Project funding scheme

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has launched a new ‘Cultural Value Project’ which seeks to explore how we value cultural engagement. They say: “The Project will take as its starting point the different forms of cultural experience, such as, for instance, the aesthetic and cognitive dimensions of our cultural encounters.  This might be seen as analysing the phenomenology of cultural experiences in order to understand better the benefits uniquely associated with cultural activity.  This significant approach will be conducted alongside exploration of the many other economic and social benefits conventionally associated with cultural activity.” The breadth of their interest extends from museum exhibitions to amateur bands.  It is inviting collaboration from a number of researchers and organisations and expects to fund 20 to 40 projects.  AHRC (Collaboration opportunities), AHRC (about the Cultural Value Project)

Heritage help advice portal launches

Heritage Help, a new free advice service, has been launched with funding from English Heritage and the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies.  It is aimed at local history groups and town and parish councils facing new heritage responsibilities under the 2011 Localism Act, as well as individual owners of heritage properties.  The site offers advice on everything from grants to working with listed buildings.  Heritage Help

£3m fund available for arts for peace projects in Northern Ireland

A £3.125m fund was launched on 28th February to create public art to help build peace between communities in Northern Ireland, as well as border communities in the Republic of Ireland.  The programme ‘Building Peace through the Arts - Re-Imaging Communities’ will fund areas where local people want to change politicised street art or graffiti for new pieces reflecting a united community.  The organisers acknowledge that the work is ‘difficult and sensitive’ and that the ‘listening part’ will be crucial.  Rosin McDonough, Chief Exec, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said "This is not about sanitising the past.  We know there are cleavages in our society and between our communities.  This programme is only successful when communities themselves want to change".  Funds from £500 to £50,000 are available.  Community organisations and public sector bodies will work together on funded projects.  Arts Council of Northern Ireland, IFACCA Back to top

  Fire, war and disaster

UK government urged to protect cultural heritage in War Zones

At an event commemorating the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Professor Peter Stone of Newcastle University has called on the UK government to ratify legislation which would help protect heritage sites and artefacts in war zones around the world. The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was signed by the UK in 1954 but it has not introduced legislation to make it legally binding, although in 2010 Ed Vaizey said that the government intended to do so when there was legislative time.  An e-petition points out that the US ratified the convention in 2009, meaning that the UK is the last major military power not to have done so.  Collections Link, E-petition, UNESCO

Majority of collection safe after Cuming Museum’s devastating fire

A fire, which started in the roof, has gutted the Cuming Museum in Southwark.  The eclectic Cuming collection was gathered by two generations of the Cuming family and includes objects brought back to London after the Cook voyages of exploration.  There are also Egyptian artefacts and sometimes eccentric ephemera collected in 19th century Europe. Firefighters rescued the contents of Gallery One while the museum was still on fire, recovering 500 objects, some of which are damaged.  Galleries two and three were destroyed - the full extent of the damage to the material will not be known until a full recovery is underway.  However, the Cuming has only 1% of its collections on display at any time, and Heritage Manager Judy Aitken says that the rest is safe and sound in another building. Although the building would be out of action for months, staff intend to continue events as soon as an alternative space has been found.  Walworth Society, Guardian, 101 London Museums, Cuming Museum collection online Back to top

  Free professional learning events

Changing Cultures: event for Welsh museum professionals on including disadvantaged children

CyMAL is running two events to help museums, archives and libraries find new ways of encouraging children and young people, particularly those from less well off backgrounds, to engage with their culture and heritage, as part of the Welsh Government’s Changing Cultures initiative.  Details and booking for the two events (in North and South Wales) can be found here: South Wales, North Wales, Welsh Government

Happy Museum – new funding plus workshops in Birmingham and Newcastle

The Happy Museum has launched new free workshops in the Midlands and North.  The sessions explore how museums can adapt to the need to create a more sustainable future.  The Happy Museum has just received new funding which means it will continue until at least March 2014, and announcements of new Open Commissioned projects and possibly a scholarship are imminent.  Sign up for their newsletter for details.  Birmingham booking, Newcastle Booking, Happy Museum project

Museums and Heritage Show

The Museums and Heritage Show is taking place on 15th–16th May at Olympia.  The event includes over 40 talks and is free to attend. The show also includes ask the expert surgeries and display stalls from around 150 suppliers.  Attendees are encouraged to book now.  M+H show, Programme Back to top

  NMDC jobs
See the full list of current jobs at NMDC member organisations here.  Included this month:
  • Duty Manager, Science Museum
  • Sculpture Conservator, Tate
  • Museums Events Manager, V&A
  • Curator, Fashion and Textiles, National Museums, Scotland
  • University of Cambridge Museums, Marketing and Press Co-ordinator
 Back to top

This newsletter can also be read online at ('http://www.nationalmuseums.org.uk/news/newsletters/',)

If you have any comments or contributions for the newsletter please send them to the Editor, Kate Smith, at [email protected].
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© 2012 National Museum Directors' Council