June 2013

NMDC newsletter: June 2013
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NMDC newsletter: June 2013
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  The economic value of culture

Arts Council report assesses the value of culture

Arts Council England has published a new report, The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy. The report was commissioned from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). Arts Council England says “The report is the first comprehensive analysis to determine the value of art and culture to the modern economy at a national scale. This is an independent report, which uses methodology the Treasury will recognise and respect.” Key findings from the research include:
  • There are strong links to the tourism sector, with at least £856 million per annum of tourism being linked to arts and culture.
  • The government’s 0.1% of spend on the arts yields 0.4% of GDP.
  • Arts and culture generate more money per pound invested than health, retail, professional and business service sectors.
  • The sector grew from 2008 – 2010 with some decline as the economy shrank in the last 3 years. However the greatest sum of money supporting the sector is earned income.
  • 110,000 are directly employed in the arts – 0.45% of the total workforce.
  • Arts had a turnover of £12.8 billion in 2011.
Responding to the report Chief Executive of ACE, Alan Davey writes: "With this report we can confidently confirm the impressive scale of the arts and culture industry and its distinctive strengths and contribution. It is an undeniably vibrant sector with strong links to the wider economy and a key part of our economic future.” The study was co-commissioned with the NMDC but unfortunately, as detailed in the report, museums had to be excluded from Cebr’s macroeconomic impact analysis due to difficulties in accurately capturing the wide range and complexity of their activities.  The report does demonstrate however the important role of museums in spillover impacts such as attracting tourists, supporting creative industries and contributing to national productivity through education, research and skills development.  ACE and NMDC are using the report's findings and possible solutions suggested by Cebr to consider options for further work to fully assess the macroeconomic impact of museums.  Arts Council

DCMS asks can the value of culture be measured?

Dr Claire Donovan has been blogging and carrying out research for DCMS, exploring whether and how the value of culture can be measured. Her report, A holistic approach to valuing our culture, concludes that relying on economic indicators alone is unrealistic in practice – but that by combining economic and non-economic material, useful evidence can be gathered.  She argues too that DCMS can draw from the AHRC’s recently announced Cultural Value project to set up benchmarks from which it could built a toolkit for the sector. Her work combined online dialogue with the sector and desk research. She says “the strength of the blog discussion was that the cultural sector saw no contradiction in valuing our culture using an array of monetary or narrative approaches, and with capturing the unique value that the cultural sector creates”. DCMS

British Library measures its economic value

The British Library has published an economic valuation of its services, using a Total Economic Valuation (TEV) framework approved by the Treasury. It also included analysis of 2065 onsite and online Reading Room surveys, 1400 online surveys from website users and 220 online surveys from Document Supply customers. The evaluation showed that the library provides £5 of economic value to society for every £1 invested, generating a net economic value of £419m for users and UK society as a whole.  The report also explores the range of uses of the library – from research prior to setting up a new business, to support for specialist teaching to historical research. British Library

Welsh museum data released

The Welsh Government have released data from a second ‘Spotlight on Museums’ survey, which tracked how museums are performing across the country. The previous survey was in 2006. Some of the central findings include:
  • visits to museums increased by 9% between 2006 and 2010 to over 3.8 million
  • in 2010, local community groups used museum services on 4,843 occasions
  • museums in Wales care for approximately 5.5 million items
  • volunteers form 62% of the workforce and contributed their time, worth approximately £1.73 million in 2010. Welsh Government
Also: Further details of restructuring and job losses at National Museums Wales have been announced.  The 23 job losses are less than the 35 projected when the cuts were first explored. In a statement, the museum said it will continue to have a substantial curatorial and conservation team made up of 120 members of staff with “high level international expertise across all departments”. “The new structure will not affect the day-to-day operations of the seven national museums across Wales,” said the Director-General David Anderson. Gareth Howells of the union Prospect said that he still had concerns about capacity but was "pleased that the museum has accepted our proposals and reduced the number of job losses". BBC, Arts Industry, Museums Journal

Crafts and the Creative Industries

As DCMS reviews how it defines the creative industries, there has been disquiet over the last few weeks over the possibility that crafts will not be included in the new definition, because so many craftspeople (88%) are sole traders and therefore too small to be easily counted, and because in an original statement, DCMS contended “the view is that in the main, that these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process.” ACE and the Crafts Council have since been in talks with DCMS leading to a second statement saying that “we are not intending to reclassify crafts as non-creative” and adding that it is the vague classification of many crafts by the Office of National Statistics which makes it hard to track the impact of craft on the economy.  In a detailed blog, Geoff Mulgan of Nesta, who is among those working on the new classifications acknowledged “discussions about statistics soon become discussions about status” and that there’s a risk of the untrackable being ignored. He adds: “We're pretty confident that the approach Nesta proposed is both intellectually and practically superior to the alternatives. But we're very open to criticisms and alternatives.” Guardian Culture Professionals, Creative & Cultural Skills, DCMS, Nesta, Crafts Council Back to top


History and ‘Mr Men’ – controversy surrounds Michael Gove speech

The debate about proposed changes to the History curriculum continues to be heated and confrontational.  In a speech given to an audience of teachers at Brighton College in May, Education Secretary Michael Gove attacked what he felt is a culture of low expectations in teaching. He concentrated on the English Literature curriculum, where he argued that pre-twentieth century texts were seldom chosen, and the History curriculum which he argued is dumbed down with modern populism in its learning strategies. Michael Gove acknowledged the recent input about which particular periods of history should be included at different ages and said it was a ‘welcome debate’. He said “while some good individual points have been made by constructive critics of our draft, I have to record that, amidst all the debate which the draft history curriculum has stimulated, no coherent single alternative model has emerged as a superior rival.” He argued that debates about content were of less importance than addressing how history is taught. At the heart of the speech was the example of a secondary school lesson which used the Mr Men in relation to the rise of Hitler.  He said that a Labour-supporting teacher had brought the example to his attention.  He said: “Even at GCSE level this infantilisation continues. One set of history teaching resources targeted at year 11s – 15 and 16 year olds – suggests spending classroom time depicting the rise of Hitler as a ‘Mr Men’ story. If I may quote – “The following steps are a useful framework: Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…). Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.”

”I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves' work but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat.” Russel Tarr of the Active History website which produced the lesson said that the work had been misrepresented: the material covered had been about the Weimar Republic, not the horrors of the Second World War, and that the ‘Mr Men’ exercise was a final lesson in producing simple précis after a rigorous exploration of the subject matter.  Meanwhile Michael Gove has been under attack from the Labour party for using the results of TV poll as the evidential underpinning of a previous speech.  Academics, writers and teachers have lined up on both sides of the debate about teaching standards: recently poet Michael Rosen has attacked the reforms, while novelist Jacqueline Wilson has expressed concern about the standard of English in schools. Politics.co.uk (full speech text), Active History, BBC, Daily Express, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent NMDC's response to the Department for Education's consultation on the proposed National Curriculum for History can be read here.

Education covered in the Queen’s speech

The Queen’s Speech this year included a commitment to the coming education reforms. Elsewhere there was an emphasis on improving the economy, reducing the welfare bill and increasing employment. Conservatives (full text of speech), BBC Back to top

  Working internationally

‘Working Internationally’ success guide published

The Association of Independent Museums has published a guide, Working Successfully Internationally.  It was written in response to the Working Internationally Conference co-run by ICOM-UK, NMDC and the British Museum earlier this year. The guide is written by the British Council’s Museums Advisor Jane Weeks observes that almost all museums in the UK have international connections through their collections, and although the work can be challenging it can be rewarding. The guide also looks at sources of travel grants and wider funding, ways to establish partnerships and case studies. AIM Also: Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service has teamed up with French partners to finance a 60s vintage mobile cinema which will be showing archive film at various locations in Norfolk throughout the summer. In May, the mobile cinema toured various towns in Upper Normandy with its freight of specially digitised films.  ArchiveAlive

British Council report indicates that cultural ‘soft power’ brings business to the UK

The British Council has published a report, Culture Means Business, based on interviews with more than 10,000 educated young people across the world (age 16 – 34).  It shows that young people with exposure to UK culture are on average 11% more likely to say they are interested in doing business with the UK – 44% versus 33%.  The enhancement is particularly noticeable in Russia where 52% of those with experience of UK culture would like to do business here, compared with 33% without.  The stats also draw from interviews in China, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, India and Pakistan. The report also showed that 50% of young people asked were interested in studying in the UK, and 61% are interested in visiting as a tourist. John Worne, the British Council’s Director of Strategy said: “Maria Miller asked for evidence, and the British Council is proud to be able to show that the UK’s educational and cultural sector is delivering for her, for culture, for business and for the UK economy. “What this report underlines is that it’s not a choice between culture or business - they are two sides of the same coin. As well as being big businesses in themselves, UK culture and education do a great job for the whole of UK plc, opening doors and attracting talent, trade and tourism. The constant challenge is to turn the UK’s ‘soft power’ into hard exports and convert willing audiences around the world into business partners and paying customers.” British Council blog, British Council (whole report)

ICOM dismisses senior staff

The International Council of Museums has dismissed Director General, Julien Anfruns, and its Director for Administration and Finance, Lydie Spaczynski.  The organisation is now under investigation by the French Ministry of Work.  It is unclear yet what the allegations consist of, but President Hans-Martin Hinz writes “Serious misconduct has taken place in the secretariat in the past.” Hanna Pennock has been appointed acting Director General. Museums Journal

Should more cultural institutions seek EU funding?

Writing for the Guardian, Chief Executive of Visiting Arts, Yvette Vaughan Jones asks why more cultural organisations do not seek EU funding. She says that many organisations who participate grow in confidence and expertise – but that  unsychronised funding schemes, lack of R&D and the perception that European bureaucracy will be overwhelming deters many potential participants.  Europe’s new cultural scheme Creative Europe, which will begin in 2014, and focuses on many areas where the UK is ahead of the game, including audience development and the digital shift.  She argues that this makes it an ideal moment to explore European partnership. Guardian Cultural Professionals, Creative Europe

Does the EU work for you?

As the political debate continues about the value to the UK of being in Europe, DCMS has launched a survey to ask organisations in the cultural sector about their experiences. Maria Miller said: “Europe and European powers can impact enormously on British culture, sport and tourism. We want to hear from the experts: how does the EU help – or hinder – the way we do things in the UK? Evidence pulled together in this report will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU.”  Organisations are asked to complete the survey before 7th August. BOP consulting, Gov.uk, Balance of Competencies Survey

Rijksmuseum global trendsetter as it waives digital copyright

The fees for high resolution images are part of the bread-and-butter earnings of many museums, but a trend is beginning internationally to waive these fees and provide hi-res pictures for free. The Rijksmuseum has led the way with its Director of Collections, Taco Dibbits, saying “‘With the Internet, it’s so difficult to control your copyright or use of images that we decided we’d rather people use a very good high-resolution image of the ‘Milkmaid’ from the Rijksmuseum rather than using a very bad reproduction”. At the National Gallery head of digital Charlotte Sexton acknowledged a conflicted picture: "museums are still making money from the sale of images. That income, though, has been decreasing. You have that commercial concern butting up against this desire to go for free access." New York Times Back to top


Final conference programme sets the direction for heritage and science research

For the past five years the AHRC and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have been collaborating on £8 million of investment which has set the agenda for science and heritage research for the next decade.  Their work is culminating in a conference taking place on October 29th– 31st.  Parallel sessions on culture, materials and technology will reveal new science relevant to collections, buildings, landscapes and archaeology.  Contact [email protected] to register an interest. HeritageScience

Oral history training in Wales

Two free oral history courses are being offered to staff and volunteers working in Welsh museums, archives and libraries. The first is on 12th June at Narberth Museum, the second on 9th August at Llangollen Museum. It gives an introduction to oral history interviewing and recording equipment. Narberth courseLlangollen course

Free conservation conference

A two day conference, Conservation Matters, is being organised by the National Library of Wales and the School of Art at Aberystwyth University, and is supported by CyMAL. The conference will explore how conservation decisions are made about cultural heritage, from delicate ceramics to buildings.  It takes place on 13th/14th June and is free. Contact [email protected] for details and to book.

Celebration of Scottish contemporary art planned for 2014

A huge programme celebrating modern art connected with Scotland will take place across the country in 2014. The Generation programme will encompass more than 50 venues. It has been masterminded by National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life with £750,000 of funding from Creative Scotland.  Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art said “It is really about highlighting the fact that Scotland is a place where people come to make great art – there is a great sense of possibility here.” Museums Association

Scotland outlines plans to commemorate WW1

First Minister Alex Salmond outlined a programme of commemoration to cover the next five years of centenaries of the First World War. There will be particular emphasis on the Battles of Loos and Arras, where a large number of Scotsmen lost their lives.  The First Minister said “By reflecting on these devastating events, and the consequences they had for communities the length and breadth of Scotland, we will help people of all ages in this country understand more about the futility of war and strengthen our resolve to never let a tragedy like the Great War happen again.” Scottish Government

Start planning to participate in ‘Explore your Archive’

A new campaign, ‘Explore your archives’, is being launched in November by the National Archives and the Archives and Record Association. They urge museums and archives to start planning their participation now.  They offer a toolkit with brand guidelines and key messages to help those taking part, and will also be offering press promotion of participating projects. National Archives Back to top

  Acquisitions, new discoveries and loans

‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’ saved for the nation

A partnership of museums, led by Tate, has acquired Constable’s 1831 painting Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. The picture has been on loan to the National Gallery since 1983, but when the family who owned it wanted to sell, the gallery was unable to raise sufficient funds.  The Tate was able to bring together three large donations to buy the picture, including the largest ever sum of money from the HLF for a single picture: £15.8m.  The picture had been in danger of being sold to a US art museum. Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota praised the previous owners for making "a very generous offer" to Tate which made the purchase possible.  He added "This is the one of Constable's most important paintings. He regarded it as one of his masterpieces and always wanted it to be in the national collection." The partnership, called Aspire, include Tate, National Museum Wales, National Galleries Scotland, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum.  The painting will be displayed at Tate Britain until the end of the year before going on tour. The Art Newspaper, BBC

He ain’t heavy, he’s our walrus

The Horniman’s stuffed walrus is its mascot and has been constantly on display since the 1890s when the museum first opened. Now for the first time the walrus is on the move, heading for a temporary exhibition at Turner Contemporary, Margate.  Film and photos captured a virtuoso logistical operation as the enormous mammal was lifted from the Horniman’s Natural History galleries.  Its huge size is due to a mistake by a Victorian taxidermist who stuffed the usually loose and wrinkled skin of the beast to bursting point. It is this idiosyncrasy which attracted Turner Contemporary who are staging a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ themed exhibition. Telegraph, Youtube, Turner Contemporary Also: In more good news for Margate, the Art Fund have announced that it will be touring Jeremy Deller's Venice Biennale piece English Magic to a number of UK towns. Margate is one, as are Bristol and Walthamstow. Art Fund, British Council

Staffordshire Hoard saved as one collection by modern jeweller

It was one of the briefest appeals for funding in recent times: within hours of a call for financial help to buy the second half of the Staffordshire Hoard, jeweller Geoffrey Munn, managing director of Wartski, contacted Birmingham City Council to offer support.  His gift of £57,395 covered the cost of the 81 piece new discovery and means that the whole hoard, which was excavated in two halves over the last couple of years, will stay together as one collection in the UK. Geoffrey Munn said “Both the Chairman of Wartski, Nicholas Snowman, and I are thrilled to have a chance of securing the future of what can only be described as Staffordshire’s Tutankhamun.” The Anglo-Saxon treasures will now be owned jointly by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils.  Support from HLF and members of the public has also contributed to the display and conservation of earlier finds from the hoard.  Arts Industry, Museums Journal, Staffordshire Hoard

An exhibition with a twist as unseen objects go on display

Ten extraordinary objects which have never previously been on display will be shown in ten museums across the UK, including the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Horniman Museum, as part of First Time Out. They include an elaborate cigar holder for the coronation of King Ludwig of Bavaria, a model bone guillotine, the first lightbulb, and a dophin skull with elaborate etchings. To increase the chance of people seeing the objects, half way through the exhibition, all ten objects will switch venue. Guardian, Guardian (to view all the objects)

1940s intelligence files released by Foreign Office

The Foreign Office has released 500 intelligence files relating to the period 1939 – 1952. Foreign Office Chief Historian Patrick Salmon said “These papers give a unique insight into a secret world of intelligence and espionage, during both the Second World War and the early Cold War.” Foreign Office historians have also published a series of essays which provide a commentary on the releases. Gov.uk, Issuu (FO essays)

British Museum is world's greatest lender

The British Museum loaned more of its holdings in the last year than any other museum in the world.  Of 4502 objects, 2174 went to 169 UK venues, and 2328 to 151 international venues. Many of the UK loans are long term, with international ones being likely to be for shorter periods.  Prints and drawings are the most common loan object.  Perhaps this year's most significant loan is the Cyrus Cylinder which is touring to venues in the US. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is the world's second most prolific lender, followed by Berlin State Museum and the Louvre in Paris comes fifth.  However, the fourth and sixth positions were held by UK institutions: the V&A and the Tate. Art Newspaper (story available by subscription only) British Museum, British Museum (Cyrus Cylinder press release)

Fleet of bronze age boats discovered in Cambridgeshire

Eight bronze age boats, deliberately sunk about 3,000 years ago have been discovered in a quarry just outside Peterborough.  Some of the boats are in such good condition that they still float, others have intricate carvings, and handles to lift them out of the water.  First indications are that the oldest of the vessels are from 1,600BC, with the newest being sunk in the same spot 600 years later.  Conservator Ian Panter said "There was huge excitement over the first boat, and then they were phoning the office saying they'd found another, and another, and another, until finally we were thinking, 'Come on now, you're just being greedy." The vessels are being taken to nearby Flag Fen Archeological site for conservation, where they will be on display to the public from Wednesday. Guardian, Telegraph, Visit Peterborough  Back to top

  Changing policy structures

Scotland launches first ever strategy for historic environment

Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) has formally launched as the nation’s development body, and also published a delivery plan for the next two years. From Strategy to Action sets out five priority areas:
  • knowledge and skills development
  • funding and investment
  • sector profile, marketing and advocacy
  • standards and planning for sustainability
  • collections and engagement.
Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said “Too often we take the historic environment for granted, or assume it will last forever. In practice, the historic environment needs careful management and a clear sense of direction. It is a precious asset, capable of providing real and increasing benefits to Scotland’s people... It contributes £2.3 billion annually to our economy and supports 41,000 jobs.” In a short film to mark the launch, Douglas Connell, Chair of MGS said that he wanted to provide ‘real support for the sector’ to all the 400 museums and galleries in the country, and the estimated 12 million items in their collections.  He said that since January 2012 MGS has invested £1.3m in 145 museum projects.  It will now also concentrate on bringing in other partners to support the sector.  He also underlined the support of the Scottish G overnment ‘who understand the importance of a distinctive voice for Scotland’s cultural heritage’. Historic Scotland, Youtube, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland,

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act – a short film

English Heritage has produced a short film summarising the results of the new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which simplifies the law relating to works on listed buildings and in conservation areas.  English Heritage expect the reforms to reduce uncertainty and make risk management of listed buildings easier. English Heritage

Restructuring to affect museums in Northern Ireland

As Northern Ireland reduces its local authorities from 26 to 11, implications are expected for museum services in the country. Museums Association Director Mark Taylor said “Some services may well have to merge, and there will be a period of change as local authorities try to adapt to the new structure." Museums Association

Wales launches historic environment strategy

The Welsh Government has published an historic environment strategy, focusing on the tangible social, economic and environmental benefits for Welsh communities.  The piece is a forerunner to a Heritage Bill which will be debated in 2014. Welsh Government Also: In a speech at the Hay Festival, Welsh Minister for Culture John Griffiths said that "the arts are about more than money". He pointed to benefits ranging from expressing national identity, pure enjoyment and instilling self-belief and confidence particularly in the young. Welsh Government Back to top


Keeping Collections safe

The Collections Trust has produced new resources aimed at keeping collections safe from theft, fire and flood.  The material includes toolkits to help identify risk, find solutions and monitor the results.  Highly practical, the topics covered include display cases, CCTV, key security, fire prevention, working with contractors and advice for architects and planners.  Collections Link

Cuming Museum fire caused by blowtorch

It now seems likely that the fire which devastated the fabric of the Cuming Museum was caused by workmen using a blowtorch on the roof. An Asian tray was also stolen from the building following the fire. Museums Journal Also: Since March, 14 holes have been dug across the ground of Whitby Abbey as illegal metal detectorists searched the site.  Claire Warner for English Heritage said it was unlikely that valuables still remained in the ground but “if these people have found something and not declared it they are denying us all further knowledge of Whitby.” English Heritage  Back to top


Brighter colours, more audio, comfy chairs: what teenagers want from museums

Teenagers working with 'Kids in Museums' have produced a short film for the Welsh Government about what would improve their experience of museums. Their suggestions include brighter designs, better signage, a chance to use all five senses, changing displays and comfy chairs. As Kids in Museums says, “nothing suggested costs very much, if anything, to make it happen”.  They encourage dialogue, adding “you’ll never know what teenagers really want unless you ask them”. Kids in Museums (includes film), Museums Association

Reawakening the mind: arts and dementia

Arts4Dementia has published an evaluation report of its work using the arts to ‘reawaken the mind’ of adults in the early stages of dementia, alongside their carers. It explores work with a range of art forms and looks at the effects of each on cognitive function and wellbeing. Museums and art galleries involved included Kenwood House, The Wallace Collection, Art on the Angel Canal Boat, Dulwich Picture Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Photographers’ Gallery and the Museum of Brands.  Most say that their involvement has allowed them to create a paradigm that they will use again. Meanwhile Beamish reports on its third year of events with the Alzheimers Society, including a May ‘Singing for the Brain’ event. Arts 4 Dementia, Beamish

History for health?

For the past three years a University College London research project has been measuring the impact of museum object handling sessions on health.  The project has focused on work in hospitals and care homes – places where there has previously been little museum outreach work.  The project is funded by AHRC. Organiser Helen Chatterjee says that the preliminary results are that there is good evidence that museums can have a positive impact – for instance by increasing positive feelings and reducing isolation.  She is writing a book, Museums, Health and Wellbeing, due out in the autumn.  Meanwhile work continues to produce a ‘museum wellbeing measure’ and toolkit drawing on the experience of more than 20 museums. London Museums Group Blog, UCL museums, UCL Touching Heritage

Mapping engagement with the Cultural Olympiad

Arts Council England has produced research giving a final evaluation of London’s Cultural Olympiad of 2012.  Headline findings from the report include:
  • Public engagement over the period of the Cultural Olympiad, across audiences, visitors, participants and volunteers, is estimated at 43.4 million
  • Within this, attendances and visits accounted for 37.4 million, with 32.5 million of this figure being for free events
  • Work involving disabled people and the young was particularly strong
  • 58% of attendees said their experience made them more likely to attend another event
Museums and heritage events made up 14% of the programme – the second largest chunk after visual arts. Arts Council Back to top

  And the winner is...

Glasgow Riverside first Scottish winner of European Museum of the Year

Glasgow Riverside Museum has been announced as the European Museum of the Year in a competition which included 40 museums across Europe. Opened in 2011, Glasgow Riverside was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and replaced the old Museum of Transport.  The new museum allows visitors to climb aboard vintage public transport including four locomotive footplates, three trams, two subway cars, one train carriage and a bus.  It has already attracted 2 million visitors. Judges said "The Riverside Museum demonstrates brilliantly how a  transport collection can renew its relevance through active engagement with wider social and universal issues.” Arts Industry, BBC, Glasgow Riverside, European Museum Forum

Natural History Museum takes top prize at Museums + Heritage awards

The Natural History Museum won the Museums + Heritage awards ‘Best of the Best’ prize at a ceremony in May. The museum also won best temporary or touring exhibition for Scott’s Last Expedition.  Among the other winners were the Titanic Store at Titanic Belfast for trading and enterprise, Dimbola Museum for ‘project on a limited budget’ and the Design Museum and National Centre for Citizenship for their educational initiatives. Museums + Heritage

Nominations open for Heritage Alliance Heroes award

The Heritage Alliance has opened nominations for its third Heritage Heroes award.  The prize is given each December and recognises outstanding volunteer effort in heritage organisations.  Last year's winner was Paul Griffiths of the Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust for his 'Return of the Saints' project. Special mention went to Norman Tulip, Chief Engineer of the historic SS Shieldhall on the Solent. This year’s deadline is 31st August.  Heritage Alliance

Hempcrete’ innovation scoops Science Museum two awards

The Science Museum has been storing many of its undisplayed objects in a building made of hemp and lime aka ‘hempcrete’.  The material is both zero carbon and also ideal for providing the temperature and humidity buffering essential to many of the objects ranging from horse drawn carriages to paper archives. Now they have won two prizes for the innovation from the Greenbuild Awards and the Museums + Heritage Awards. Matt Moore, Head of Sustainable Development said “The project is part of a wider remit to reduce emissions across all our sites. Using science and engineering to look after the Science Museum collections seems to be a perfect solution to one of our biggest challenges.” Science Museum

V&A’s alliance with generous jeweller scoops award

In our second story this month about the generosity of jewellers, the V&A have won an award for their association with jeweller and philanthropist Harry Winston.  The Arts & Business Award for Arts/Business Collaboration went to their Hollywood Costume exhibition, supported by Winston.  The show was described by the Telegraph as “a wonderfully evocative tribute to the movies”. Telegraph, Arts & Business

Family friendly museum award for 2013

The longlist for the Telegraph/Kids in Museums Family Friendly Museum Award 2013 has been announced.  It includes 20 museums from a longlist of 140.  Bristol’s MShed is among those chosen, with a young visitor enthusing: ‘It’s interesting because it has older things than my Nan.’ Telegraph, Kids in Museums

Collections Trust announces longlist for Collections Management Award

The longlist for the Collections Trust’s 2013 management award has also been announced.  It includes ten museums in total with categories for collections on a budget, participatory practice and collections practice. The winners will be announced on 2nd July. Collections Trust Back to top

  Beatles and Barbara Windsor

John Lennon’s lyrics donated to the nation under the ‘lifetime giving’ scheme

Manuscript copies of three John Lennon songs have been given to the British Library under the government’s new Cultural Gifts Scheme.  The lyrics of Strawberry Fields Forever, She Said She Said and In My Life were given by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies. He said “I want my Beatles collection to be kept together, in one place, and on public display, and the British Library is the perfect home for it.” The Cultural Gifts Scheme means that for the first time living owners of culturally significant items can gift objects to the nation and save tax up to 30% of the value of the object.  Gov.uk, British Library,

National Portrait Gallery hosts first Choir in Residence

The National Portrait Gallery has created the first ever choir in residence of a UK museum.  The 22-strong Portrait Choir has many members who have just finished their studies at leading British music conservatoires.  They will perform at least five times a year at the NPG for the next three years. Pim Baxter, Deputy Director of the Museum said “The Gallery’s programme of free Friday Evening Music, which began in May 2000, has been a great success and over the years has demonstrated how portraiture and the human voice can complement each other.”  The work has been made possible by the support of Hani Farsi of The Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation.  He said: ‘The innovative nature of this project is what first appealed to me” National Portrait Gallery,

Vocaleyes produces podcasts describing London landmarks

Vocaleyes has produced a series of short podcasts describing London landmarks for blind and partially sighted people.  They are narrated by actors, historians, performers, MPs and others who feel a connection to each London location.  They include musician Alison Balsom describing the Globe Theatre, Bettany Hughes on the Roman Crossing at Brentford and Barbara Windsor on the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Thirty-eight landmarks are described in all.  Director Judy Dixey said “You can’t believe how fascinating a red pillar box can be, until you discover what Tony Robinson thinks about it and start to examine it in detail through his description.”  VocalEyes Back to top


More detail on HLF World War One centenary grants

Last month we reported that HLF is providing £7m of small grants to allow communities to commemorate WW1.  Now further details have been published by HLF, including a guide to the very broad areas that could be included - from buildings to oral history - and exploring the longer term effects of war on following generations. Novelist Sebastian Faulks is a member of the Government’s First World War advisory group.  He said “ this is an opportunity for every street, town or village to make sure they remember the cataclysmic events of a hundred years ago”.  HLF (guidance on what may be funded), HLF (overview), DCMS, Culture24,

Can you contribute to thinking about museums and happiness?

The Happy Museum is looking for museums who can demonstrate that they can promote thinking about happiness, museums and environmental sustainability.  It is inviting those organisations to apply to a new fund. Projects must also leave a culture of change in surrounding communities.  The deadline for applications is 12th June 2013. Happy Museum

HLF relaunches its Young Roots programme

The HLF is relaunching its Young Roots programme for young people aged 11 – 25 to engage with heritage in the UK.  The grants available have now increased to between £10k - £50k. Projects will bring together heritage and youth groups to work in partnership. Past Young Roots projects have included exploring and documenting cultural and music traditions, doing nature conservation work, restoring a vintage motorbike and curating a digital trail through a museum collection. HLF

HLF announces large grants to warship, art gallery and race track

HLF has announced six major grants to venues to allow them to work towards much larger bids for funds. These seed funds may lever £68m. The large seed funds include £126,000 to Aberdeen Art Gallery to allow them to work towards a £10m bid for a significant extension. HMS Caroline will use a grant of £845,600 to work towards a £12.2 million bid to turn the ship into a museum. The other recipients are Silverstone race track, an old brewery in Redruth (which is now a Cornish heritage site), Alexandra Palace and Auckland Castle.  Museums Journal, HLF

Alex Reinhardt Memorial Award offers artist in residence

The Alex Reinhardt Memorial Award gives the opportunity for museums and galleries to apply for a 10 week artists’ residency at their venue.  The artist will produce a permanent piece of work as well as taking part in outreach and educational activities. £15k is available with a further £2k for expenses. The residency will run from February 2014. Engage

Nesta offers guide to crowdfunding

How has crowdfunding developed since the 90s? What basic techniques should you follow to make your crowdfunding successful? And which of the proliferating crowdfunding platforms is best for your museum?  Nesta has produced a new short guide covering these questions, and CrowdingIn, a website which helps you find the ideal crowdfunding platform.  $2.7 billion was raised by crowdfunding worldwide in 2012, with £200 million invested in the UK, where this approach to raising money is just taking off. CrowdingIn, Nesta

Digital R&D fund offers workshops

In 2012 the Arts Council and Nesta launched a £7m three year fund to support R&D by arts organisations wanting to extend their reach through digital media.  The main lines of work it will support are: user generated content and social media, digital distribution and exhibition, mobile location and games, data and archives, resources and education and learning. Two workshops with experts in the possibilities of digital work have taken place for organisations interested in applying – more will be announced shortly.  In the meantime, interested organisations can contact [email protected]. Arts Council, Artsdigitalrnd  Back to top

  Valuing the Regions?

Paul Hamlyn Foundation supports regional theatre

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is marking its 25th anniversary by giving five awards of £0.5m (£100,000 per year over five years) to five performing arts venues in the regions. The recipients are: Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; Hall for Cornwall, Truro; Opera North, Leeds; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool; and Sherman Cymru, Cardiff.  The Foundation hopes that these gifts will help build relationships with groups who would not otherwise attend the theatre. Of the members of the public reached in past programmes, one in ten continues to go to the theatre at least annually. Arts Industry say that venues and areas hit by local authority cuts have been especially earmarked by the scheme. Arts Industry, Paul Hamlyn Foundation

East Durham among successful bids for Creative People and Places programme

Arts Council England’s Creative People and places programme has awarded another £18m to eleven consortia across the country.  The money is intended to give local communities power in shaping their own arts provision.  Recipients include the Creswell Heritage Trust, Beamish: Living Museum of the North, Canal & River Trust North West, and Peterborough Culture and Leisure. These areas are all places where people’s engagement with the arts is significantly below the national average. East Durham was one of the regions chosen with a grant of £1.5m, after hundreds of people in the coal mining district of Easington helped shape their bid. Director of the Beamish, Richard Evans said “The area is already well known for its coal mining history – now we want to help it become world famous for the quality of its arts and culture. This announcement is just the beginning of an exciting journey – we now start a 6 month process of detailed planning and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take part and share their ideas by contacting us through our website www.eastdurhamcreates.co.uk.” Arts Industry, Museums Association, East Durham

Charity begins (and largely ends) in London

Figures from Arts & Business for 2011/12 show that while private giving to the arts is up by £48.6 million, 90% of that giving is to London based institutions. A total of £660.5 million was invested from individual giving, trusts and foundations and businesses. The largest donations were to heritage at 34.4%, with museums receiving 13.3% and the visual arts receiving 15.2% of total investment. Director of Arts & Business Philip Spedding said that the overall figures were ‘remarkably robust’ given the economic climate, adding “Two main concerns arise from the figures. First, the increasing dominance of cultural organisations based in London in terms of who is raising the most money. Second, the increasing reliance by the cultural sector on Trust and Foundation support.” The region attracting the least investment is the North East on just 0.9% - an area which has also suffered from severe cuts to arts funding from local government in recent months. Telegraph, Arts & Business Back to top


Tourism spend in the UK breaks £19 billion barrier

In the year to the end of March 2013, tourism spend in the UK was £19.1 billion, a 5% year on year increase.  In March 2013, the spend by tourists was up 14% on March 2012.  Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson said: “Last year the country was in the international spotlight and we are now beginning to see the positive impact it has had in terms of increased tourism spend”. Gov.uk

Visit Britain and government launch tourism growth strategy

Visit Britian has launched an even more ambitious tourism strategy, with the aim of increasing foreign tourism to the UK by more than a third to £31 billion by 2020.  They hope this will create an extra 200,000 jobs across the country.  A £2million two year partnership with Emirates airlines is part of the strategy which aims to make it easier for people to get to the UK from overseas.  Other strands include increased engagement with the travel trade, broadening the ‘product range’ for tourists and buildings on Britain’s good international image. Visit Britain, Gov.uk

Rescue use ‘Great’ marketing to draw attention to archeological heritage in peril

Rescue, the British Archeological Trust has raised concerns that dangerously underfunded segments of the UK’s heritage face damage or ruin, under the slogan ‘Heritage is GREATLY underfunded in Britain’. Pointing to English Heritage’s 32% budget cut under the 2010 spending review and 25% local authority cuts, it argues that important underpinnings of cultural heritage support are consequently being abandoned.  They write: “Liverpool, together with Merseyside as a whole, no longer maintains a Historic Environment Record, the essential tool which ensures that a concern for the national heritage lies at the core of the planning and development process. This is in direct violation of the Government’s commitments under the Valetta Convention and the principles underlying the National Planning Policy Framework”. They also argue that a lack of funding and space in museums for archaeological archives means that some are on the brink of destruction. Rescue

Visit England launches guide to accessible tourism

Over a quarter of the UK’s population have a longstanding health problem or disability and groups containing at least one person in this category spent £2bn on tourism in the UK last year.  Visit England has produced a new guide, Speak Up, giving guidance for businesses and attractions to creating more accessible tourism, describing how this can generate a loyal following and repeat business.  The guide material is not just about ramps and wide doors, but also about cheap adjustments which can make venues user friendly to a far wider range of people. Visit England (press release), Visit England (accessibility pages)

Victorian Society seeks top ten most endangered buildings

The Victorian Society is seeking nominations for Victorian buildings at risk from decay or demolition. Buildings nominated do not have to be listed, but must have been built between 1837 – 1914. Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society  said “We want to make sure the best Victorian and Edwardian architecture survives for future generations to enjoy. To do this we need to know what is most at risk, from demolition, development, or simply neglect”. Victorian Society

English Heritage produces waterproof guides for divers

English Heritage reports back on the success of its ‘dive trails’ which give divers guided tours to a handful of the 47 protected wreck sites off the English coast.  There are trails of three wooden wrecks - (HMS Colossus, Coronation and Norman’s Bay) at the moment, with another planned of the submarine HMS/m A1. English Heritage research shows that the trails have brought economic benefit to the areas covered, and there has been strong positive feedback from divers.  The up-to-date photographs they return with also help English Heritage with monitoring the state of the wrecks. English Heritage, Independent

York Minster makes ‘Horn of Ulf’ centre of large new attraction

The UK’s largest gothic cathedral is launching a major new museum space in its undercroft area, with funding from the HLF. The galleries will tell the story of the last 2,000 years of the site, displaying remains of a Roman barracks, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and the foundations of the Norman Minster. It also reveals that in the 9th century a Viking lord called Ulf gifted the cathedral’s land using an elaborately carved elephant tusk as a deed of transfer.  The Cathedral still owns, and will be displaying, the Horn of Ulf.   ALVA, York Minster Back to top

  Tech and Libraries

Wikid museums: Bodleian library holds Queen Victoria editathon

The Bodleian Library has hosted an ‘editathon’ of Queen Victoria’s Journals drawing together people in person and online through Wikipedia. The Library has been working with the Royal Archives to eventually make all versions of her diary available online. The Bodleian have also published a wishlist of other Victorian topics where they hope Wikipedia contributors will improve or create articles – from the children and ladies in waiting of the Queen to figures like Tsar Nicholas I and Archibald Primrose. Wikipedia, Bodleian

Arts Council envisions Libraries of the Future

Arts Council England has published the results of major research into the future development of libraries, which began with research interviews with more than 800 people.  A clear message emerged about the need for continued publicly run services, but they highlighted four development areas for successful libraries:
  • place the library as the hub of the community
  • make the most of digital technology and creative media
  • ensure that libraries are resilient and sustainable
  • deliver the right skills for those who work in libraries
Recent work by Arts Council England includes the Libraries Development Initiative project completed in March, and the Enterprising Libraries project, to be published in July. Arts Council, Arts Council (Libraries development initiative)

‘Psychic hive mind fortune teller’ and other bright ideas from MuseumNext

V&A staff have produced a blog of some of the best ideas showcased at MuseumNext – ranging from the strengths of the award-winning Rijksmuseum’s website, to developing digital services in unstable conditions, ‘affection management’ and the ‘Psychic Hive Mind Fortune teller’ – an interactive which welded the physical and digital together for conference attendees. V&A  Back to top

  And finally….
Here at NMDC news we are usually as diligent as a colony of ants, but we have been very distracted this month by the Wellcome Collection’s newly released Who’s the Pest game, produced as part of their collaboration with Pestival.  The ecosystem app pits humans against ants as a cabbage patch becomes an arena of total war.  Feeding individual ants to the preying mantis may be a satisfying temporary solution, but we learn that all the ants on earth outweigh humans by a ratio of 25:1.  We may be some time…. Who’s The Pest, Pestival, Wellcome Collection

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