London tourist attractions could face strike action

27 Apr 2023

London attractions including Tower Bridge and the Barbican could face industrial action following a vote by City of London Corporation staff.

GMB union members working for the council have overwhelmingly voted for strike action, having rejected the Corporation’s 2022-23 pay offer.

Of those who voted, 77% said they were prepared to strike.

Anna Lee, GMB London Regional Organiser, said: “This vote for industrial action shows just how strongly our members feel and how they will continue to fight for a fair and decent pay rise.

“This is an historic vote, the first time ever that City of London Corporation staff have voted to strike over pay.

"I hope in light of this vote the Corporation will reconsider its position and get back to the negotiating table and present an offer which truly recognises the hard work, reliability and dedication of its workforce.”

Tank Museum hits record 100m YouTube views

25 Apr 2023

The Tank Museum has made museums history by attracting more than 100m views on its YouTube channel, which has more than 500,000 subscribers.

The military museum in Bovington, Dorset has had more views than any other museum in the world, surpassing the British Museum’s 61m total views.

The channel, which currently offers 427 videos, features expert staff members sharing their knowledge of tanks in the museum's collection, as well as mini-documentaries and footage from events.

The Tank Museum's head of marketing Nik Wyness said: “As a rural regimental museum, we see YouTube as an essential means of reaching a wider audience, helping us to fulfil our mission to tell the story of the tank and the people that served in them.

“YouTube has allowed us reach a global audience of tank enthusiasts and it’s as a direct result of this that we are now generating over a quarter of our annual turnover from non-visitors."

DCMS study questions 'digital capacity' of museum sector

A virtual exhibition
24 Apr 2023

Report into partnership activities undertaken by the national museums raises questions about the capacity for and value of post-pandemic digital provision.

Museum of Shakespeare to open next spring

20 Apr 2023

The playhouse which originally staged the works of William Shakespeare will be publicly available to visit for the first time when The Museum of Shakespeare opens next year.

The new museum, located in Shoreditch, London, has been billed an “immersive and interactive experience” where visitors can explore the archaeological remains of The Curtain Playhouse, one of the earliest purpose-built theatres in London.

It will showcase Elizabethan London and the work and life of Shakespeare following an archaeological excavation of the site, which took place between 2011 and 2016.

Exhibitions will feature original artefacts alongside projected reconstructions and multisensory experiences, including a chance to walk on the stage Shakespeare's works were performed.

The Museum of Shakespeare was designed by creative studio Bompas & Parr in collaboration with Museum of London Archaeology and Historic England.

Harry Parr, co-founder of Bompas & Parr, said: “this will be Shakespeare as you have never experienced it before”.

Virtual museum celebrates Paralympic artefacts 

19 Apr 2023

A 3D virtual museum is set is to launch this week, showcasing objects from the National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT).

The Digital Explorations Celebration & Virtual Museum, launching on Wednesday (19 April) at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, will showcase objects including mascots, clothing and sports equipment.

The museum is part of the Digital Exploration Project, funded by the Rothschild Foundation and National Lottery Heritage Fund, with support from the Heart of Bucks.

The result of three years of work, the exhibition brings together more than 65 objects curated and scanned by participants from local disability organisations from across Buckinghamshire. 

The collection also includes artefacts from other museums, items from students at Pebble Brook School and artefacts from NPHT’s own collection.

Participants received professional training and work experience in historical research and cataloguing, digital 3D scanning, photogrammetry and editing.

“We are proud to support NPHT’s Digital Exploration project, preserving and sharing their inspirational Paralympic heritage of international significance, through the digital innovation of 3D models and exhibitions, promoting wider access for disabled people, young people and researchers,” said Leona Forsyth, Senior Grants Manager at the Rothschild Foundation.

“This work is also helping build a local cultural sector that is inclusive, vibrant and resilient. 

“The team’s personal approach and dedication to meeting individual needs through mentoring and training is developing the life skills and improving the quality of life and well-being of disabled participants, while helping build a more diverse, representative heritage workforce locally.”

Redundancies at National Science and Media Museum

National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, with a statue of J. B. Priestley in front.
19 Apr 2023

The museum is set to close for 13 months to undergo a £6m upgrade, resulting in more than 20 front-facing staff being made redundant.

New permanent premises for Dundee Museum of Transport 

18 Apr 2023

Dundee Museum of Transport has been granted planning permission to convert an old tram depot into a permanent home.

The museum purchased the 120-metre-long B-listed Maryfield Tram Depot in 2015, along with two acres of surrounding grounds.

Constructed in 1901, it has been on the Buildings at Risk register since 2010. It is scheduled for “extensive renovation”, following which it will serve as the new home of the museum, which is currently based in temporary premises.

The multi-million development plans propose re-using the existing building fabric, conserving and restoring building elements where possible.

A new steel structure and modern panelled roof are set to be installed to the fire-damaged rear section, with translucent panels at high levels introducing light into the new exhibition space, according to plans by local architectural practice Andrew Black Design.

Increasing the internal height will allow for future expansion by adding a mezzanine level, enabling the museum to change its space to suit shifting needs. The design also includes an internal courtyard that will be connected to an external display space.

“To reach the milestone of securing planning permission for our Maryfield site is incredibly exciting,” said Dr Paul Jennings, the museum’s Executive Director.

“The new museum will celebrate Dundee’s transport heritage but also take a look into the future of transport. Over the coming months, we will continue our fundraising efforts in order to try and deliver the new museum to an ambitious timetable.”

Wisbech museum to charge visitors due to 'financial crisis'

View of the entrance to Wisbech and Fenland Museum
18 Apr 2023

Historic museum introduces admission charges for the first time in its history, warning that its future beyond the end of the current financial year is in the balance.

National Portrait Gallery set for new learning centre

17 Apr 2023

The National Portrait Gallery will boast a new learning facility when it reopens in June.

The centre, which will be called Mildred and Simon Palley Learning Centre, has been named after the philanthropists who have donated millions of pounds to the Gallery and will compromise of three new studios, a gallery and an outdoor space, all of which will be available to all visitors.

The centre’s studios – The Law Photograph Studio, The Art Studio and The Clore Studio – will host the Gallery’s creative programmes, aimed at developing practical skills and increasing visitors’ access to experts.

“The creation of our new Mildred and Simon Palley Learning Centre has more than doubled the Gallery’s provision for learners, with welcoming and stimulating open studios now available for all to enjoy,” said National Portrait Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan.

“Visitors will be able to engage with portraiture in ways that just weren’t possible prior to our redevelopment, thanks to the capabilities of the new space.”

Seven 'at risk' venues to receive Theatres Trust grants

13 Apr 2023

Seven venues on the Theatres At Risk Register are to receive grants from a new Theatres Trust fund.

The theatres receiving a share of the £60,000 fund are Burnley Empire, Derby Hippodrome, Doncaster Grand, Margate Theatre Royal, Morecambe Winter Gardens, Salford Victoria, and Tameside Hippodrome.

The grants have been awarded through the trust's new Resilient Theatres: Resilient Communities programme.

The programme aims to help progress the restoration of historic venues, with the ultimate aim of them reopening to the public.

Work supported by the first round of grants includes governance reviews, a conditions survey, an audience development strategy, and an oral history project.

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said: "We believe every theatre on our Theatres At Risk list has the potential to be returned for use by their communities, providing performance venues of types currently lacking in their local areas, and bringing much needed footfall to town centres.

"We are pleased to support these theatres with projects that will help each theatre move a step closer to their ultimate goal."

Diaspora community-led museum practice needs recognition

13 Apr 2023

A new report published by National Museums Scotland (NMS) calls for diaspora community participants in museum projects to be valued as experts and offered fair remuneration.

The report is the first stage of the Exchange: Community-Led Collections Research initiative, funded by a £250,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

It outlines nine recommendations that also include the creation of safer spaces and co-designing participation so people can tell stories on their terms.

Seven museum partners around the UK were supported to carry out the research, with NMS and Royal Museums Greenwich acting as a support hub.

The partners worked with African, Caribbean, and South Asian diaspora heritage community members. Participatory research methodologies were used to explore experiences of empire, migration, and life in Britain.

John Giblin, keeper of global arts, cultures and design at NMS, said: “The key question at the centre of the Exchange project was how participation can be more equitable for diaspora heritage community members. 

“This report highlights the benefits of community-led participatory practice as well as the challenges and barriers to participation, and the nine recommendations are a valuable first step in finding an answer to that question."

The AHRC has announced £150,000 of funding for Exchange 2.0, which will aim to build on the findings of the first stage with a focus on knowledge sharing, sustainable legacy and impact.

Last-ditch attempt to save derelict Plymouth theatre

11 Apr 2023

A new campaign has been launched to save a Victorian theatre building in Plymouth.

The Palace Theatre on the city's Union Street was first opened in 1898 as a music hall, before re-opening as the New Palace Theatre of Varieties in 1899 following a fire.

In more recent times it has been a bingo hall, a theatre and finally a nightclub. It closed to the public in 2006.

The Grade-II* listed building was put on the Theatre Trust's 'at risk' list 14 years ago and has continued to decline, despite several attempts to save it.

The campaign is calling on the building's owners to carry out emergency repairs in order to halt its further decline.

Campaign supporter Oliver Colvile, former MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, said: “The Palace is in desperate need of emergency repairs and I support any initiative that will bring this beautiful building back into our cultural and civic life again.”

The building's current owner is Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh. Last year, Plymouth MP Luke Pollard unsuccessfully called on Bahmanzadeh to either renovate the Palace or sell it to someone who would.

Seven UK sites bidding for UNESCO World Heritage Status

11 Apr 2023

York's historic city centre and an iron-age settlement in Shetland are among seven sites to receive government backing to bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The sites have been added to the UK Government's 'Tentative List', published every 10 years.

The list sets out the sites which it feels have the best chance of winning the status.

York city centre and the Zenith of Iron Age are both listed for their cultural importance.

Other sites to gain government support are: The People's Park, Birkenhead, a pioneering urban park that opened in 1847; and the Gracehill Moravian Church Settlements in Northern Ireland.

Also listed are three natural sites: East Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route over Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent; The Flow Country, a vast expanse of blanket bog in the North of Scotland; and the Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas, in the UK Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands.

Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said: "All the locations being put forward would be worthy recipients of this accolade – and we will give them our full backing so they can benefit from the international recognition it can bring."

If successful, the seven sites would join the 33 other World Heritage Sites already based in the UK.

Paisley Museum to open after £45m transformation 

Depiction of 'Paisley Museum Reimagined' following £45m transformation.
11 Apr 2023

The Scottish museum will reopen with a larger venue, including additional gallery spaces and an expanded collection.

Kettle's Yard ditches free admission 'for financial sustainability'

The extended Kettle's Yard Gallery
05 Apr 2023

Art gallery owned by University of Cambridge reluctantly introduces admission charges, blaming the decision on rising costs and standstill funding.

Major study to explore impact of online arts on mental health

Young woman looking at images in a gallery
03 Apr 2023

Researchers from Oxford University will help young people create an online museum to support the mental health of diverse and underrepresented groups.

National Glass Centre set for relocation

31 Mar 2023

University of Sunderland says it is in talks regarding future site options for the centre, as locals raise concerns against relocation plans.

National Lottery awards £24m to heritage sites

An aerial view of Crystal Palace Park showing the dinosaur sculptures
29 Mar 2023

Heritage sites across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive funding for restoration and improvement work.

Plan to reopen Nottingham Castle gets green light

28 Mar 2023

Nottingham Castle will reopen to the public after plans were formally approved by the city council.

The museum and heritage site closed last November due to the collapse of the charitable trust that ran it. It had been open for just 18 months following a £31m redevelopment.

Members of Nottingham City Council's executive board backed a strategy that will see the city centre site open to the public from May. However, the council is yet to decide whether the site will be run by its own museum and gallery service, by an external provider, or in partnership.

Pavlos Kotsonis, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning, said: “This is a site which belongs to the whole of Nottingham and I’m hopeful that our approach, which draws on our successful experience of running Wollaton and Newstead, will first and foremost meet with local approval.

“I have no doubt that Nottingham Castle can also become a destination of national and international importance, just as we had envisaged when the £31m of improvements were completed.”

Council Leader David Mellen reportedly told the board: “We needed to get this open as quickly as we can, and we have done that now.” 


Museum and distillery opens in Northumberland

28 Mar 2023

A new Anglo-Saxon museum and whisky distillery is hoping to become a major tourist attraction for Northumberland.

The £16m project is inspired by the summer palace of 7th Century Northumbrian royalty, which was discovered nearby in 1949. The distillery revives a local tradition which, according to the attraction's owners, became dormant around 200 years ago.

Ad Gefrin – which means 'by the hill of goats' in Anglo-Saxon – is situated in the small town of Wooler on a previously derelict site. Items on display will tell the story of the 7th Century royal court and include loans from the British Museum.

The museum is owned by Eileen Ferguson, who with her husband also owns haulage company Ferguson Transport. 

She said she hoped Ad Gefrin, which is employing more than 60 people, would be "the catalyst for regeneration" in the area.


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