Being an international in the creative sector

Photo of Concorde
12 Feb 2018

Julie Bécaud, now a researcher at the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains her first steps into the arts in the UK.

£14.5m for AI to curate national heritage collection

Woman looking at artefacts in the British Museum
21 Sep 2021

AHRC’s investment will support artificially intelligent programmes to create unified virtual collections of the UK’s museums, archives, libraries, and galleries.

Tate Modern was UK's most visited museum last year

21 Sep 2021

Data from the last quarter of 2020 has revealed Tate Modern to be the most visited museum in England last year.

The museum attracted 160,814 visits from October to December - whilst coronavirus restrictions were still in place - pushing the The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum into second and third place respectively.

Altogether, it welcomed 1.43 million people in 2020 despite the pandemic closing institutions for several months.

National Museums Liverpool was the only museum outside London to feature in the top 10, placing seventh.

Data collated by DCMS shows 1.27 million people visited museums across the country in the last three months of the year, a 84.7% decrease compared to figures from 2019.

Blackpool begins work on £13m Showtown Museum

21 Sep 2021

Work has begun on Blackpool’s Showtown Museum after delays caused by the pandemic.

The £13m project, which will tell the story of Blackpool and its role in British entertainment history, is expected to be completed by April 2023.

It will be located on the town’s Golden Mile inside the Sands Building, which will also feature Blackpool’s first five-star hotel.

Described as the “jewel in the crown” of Blackpool Council’s regeneration plans, the project has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund, Coastal Communities Fund and Lancashire Growth Deal.

The museum says it will celebrate the comedians, dancers, acrobats and characters who turned the seaside town into “the home of showbusiness”.

Heritage tower demolished after Dorries overturns listing 

20 Sep 2021

The heritage sector has criticised new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision to overturn Dorman Long Tower’s Grade II-listed status on her first evening in office, causing the building to be demolished on Sunday (September 19).

The 1950s Brutalist building had been added to the National Heritage List for England earlier in the week following the recommendation of Historic England, who valued the building as “nationally unique”.

But Dorries accepted an appeal from South Tees Development Corporation and Ben Houchen, the Conservative Mayor of Tees Valley, who argued the tower would costs the taxpayer more than £9m if left standing.

Architect George Clarke called the decision “heartbreaking”. Director of The Twentieth Century Society Catherine Croft said “a minister overturning a Historic England decision to list is always concerning”.

Dorries’ decision was based on the view the “building is not of the required special architectural or historic interest to remain listed," according to a DCMS spokesperson. 

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is moving house

15 Sep 2021

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery will move out of Apsley House, allaying concerns it could be closed indefinitely.

Work will now begin on temporarily rehoming the gallery on the upper floor of Swindon Borough Council's city centre offices.

Council Director of Strategic Growth and Development Richard Bell said the offices will be ready to open their first display by the end of the year.

“There’s more floor space in the civic than in Apsley House, it’s more accessible, and we’ll be able to show more of the collection."

The council deemed Apsley House not fit for purpose earlier this year, raising concerns over the museum's future.

Closed since March 2020, the council had originally set aside £400,00 to repair the 1830s building.

Now it has been sold, the money is instead earmarked for the new exhibition space.

British Museum plans new gallery in Shropshire

10 Sep 2021

A 'partnership gallery' at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery will open in 2024, the British Museum has announced.

The museum's Bronze Age displays will be "redeveloped" to make better use of gallery space and create narratives about historical local life.

Three 12,800-year-old woolly mammoth skeletons - the most complete sets in northwest Europe - will be the draw card of the gallery.

The British Museum says the partnership will allow more of Shrewsbury's nationally significant geology and archaeology collections to be shared with the public

Barbican seeks design team for building revamp 

08 Sep 2021

The Barbican Centre and City of London are searching for a design team to refurbish the city centre arts venue.

A competition offering between £50m and £150m to revamp the Grade-II listed building “to meet the needs of 21st century artists, audiences and communities” has been launched.

Proposals must cover all aspects of the building, include plans to upgrade venues, repurpose unused spaces, and improve the building’s environmental performance with an eye to carbon neutrality by 2027.

Teams featuring architects, engineers and sustainability and heritage consultants encouraged to apply before the October 21 deadline.

Five finalists will be shortlisted, with a design team expected to be appointed in February.

Curators of the future

exhibition and showcase
07 Sep 2021

Being disabled in the visual arts sector has presented galleries with serious challenges. But Mike Layward is optimistic about programmes which promote much needed change.

Belgium prescribes culture for Covid stress

06 Sep 2021

Patients diagnosed with Covid-related stress in Brussels are being prescribed free visits to museums and galleries.

Doctors at Brugmman Hospital are offering visits to five publicly owned sites across the Belgian capital, including its centre for contemporary art, a fashion museum and a museum of the city's sewage system.

“It has been shown that art can be beneficial for health, both mental and physical,” Brussels' City Councillor for Tourism Delphine Houba said.

The idea forms part of a three-month pilot scheme designed to bolster mental health during the pandemic.

Inspiration has come from a similar programme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year per patient.

'Political sentiment' to trouble removal of hospital founder's statue

02 Sep 2021

Guy's & St Thomas' Foundation says it will remove a statue of the London hospital's founder, Thomas Guy, to "a less prominent area" over his links to slavery.

It will need planning permission to do so - something its lawyers say is "very unlikely in the short to medium term due to planning legislation and political sentiment".

The plan for the listed statue conflicts with the Government's 'retain and explain' policy on contested heritage, and a final decision may lie in the hands of the Planning Minister, Robert Jenrick.

"Clearly, the minister is likely to give great weight to his policy which is not supportive of removing or otherwise altering the statue," the hospital's lawyers concluded, warning the removal plan may not succeed.

A consultation recommended the trust retain statues of Thomas Guy and historical benefactor Robert Clayton but provide information on how the men made their wealth. Clayton's statue will remain in place, as it's considered to be less prominent than Guy's.


Museums tackling loneliness

image of museum
01 Sep 2021

In rural areas such as Cornwall, the pandemic has exacerbated loneliness, with vulnerable people losing their sense of community. Emmie Kell thinks museums can be part of the solution.

Bank of England removes art with slavery links

31 Aug 2021

The Bank of England has removed 10 oil paintings and busts of governors and directors with known connections to the transatlantic slave trade.

On display within the bank’s headquarters and museum, the works from the 18th and 19th Century included its founding director Gilbert Heathcote. 

The bank announced a review of its art collection last June following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.

It has also hired a researcher on slavery for its museum, to “explore the bank's historic links with the transatlantic slave trade in detail.”

A Bank of England spokesperson said the work will shape future museum displays interpreting these connections.


‘Promising leads’ on new home for Vagina Museum

25 Aug 2021

London's Vagina Museum is searching for a new home after its landlord, Camden Market, decided not to renew its lease.

Development and Marketing Manager Zoe Williams said it is exploring some “promising leads”.

“The public call really helped bring to light some options that we hadn’t otherwise considered. It was great to see such an outpouring of love and support.”

The museum's current lease will end in September, with the site set to become a clothing store. 

Camden Market offered to rehome the collection on its fourth floor, but this was deemed unsuitable by the museum.

It is searching for new premises of at least 2,000sqft to expand its collection.

Call to patronise local museums as visitors favour big name sites

19 Aug 2021

Museums have not yet returned to full strength despite restrictions lifting. The challenges for smaller and larger sites this summer differ.

Science Museum used 'misleading' tool to justify big oil sponsorship

05 Aug 2021

The museum promoted itself as the first in the cultural sector to assess potential partners using a climate action benchmark that would have green lit deals with most oil and gas companies.

Glasgow cultural operator to cut 500 jobs

14 Jul 2021

Glasgow Life says it's unrealistic to expect it can reopen 80 of its venues, including several libraries and the UK's only museum of religious art.

Forging a new partnership

Garden Museum welcomes visitors back in August 2020
13 Jul 2021

The museum and heritage sector has always been collaborative. But, says Carolyn Young, the need for supporting each other to build resilience is now greater than ever.

Masks to stay in arts venues as Stage 4 opening confirmed

13 Jul 2021

The Government "expect and recommend" masks in enclosed public spaces - and cultural venues are taking the lead.

Young people taking the lead

Attenborough Arts Centre's resident youth group, Next Gen
06 Jul 2021

A new programme aimed at engaging 18-to-25 year olds with museums and galleries hands over control of the creative direction to the young people themselves. Sophie Alonso explains. 


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