Programme aims to 'make young people feel welcome' at museums and galleries

27 Mar 2023

A training programme has been launched as part of efforts to make the heritage and culture sector a more welcoming place for teenagers.

The free I’m A Teenager… Get Me Into There! programme from Wigan-based cultural education charity Curious Minds is aimed at staff and volunteers, particularly those who deal directly with the public.

Created in response to research that suggests teenagers often feel unwelcome in venues such as museums and galleries, the programme has been designed to make staff more confident in their dealings with young people.

Kelly Allen, Executive Director of Social Justice at Curious Minds, said: "Experience has shown us that every single adult interaction really matters to young people, especially when they’re doing something that’s new to them. 

“It also affects their willingness to engage with that artform elsewhere, so the responsibility to get it right is huge.”

The course can be accessed in three ways: online by downloading a teaching pack to run activities with staff/volunteers; or as a tailored, in-person version for venues, facilitated by Curious Minds staff.

The I'm A Teenager... programme began life as a partnership with national youth charity UFA and the Lancashire Library and Museums Service.

The latest version was developed as part of Curious Minds’ Hope Streets initiative, working with five museum partners across the North West of England.

Audiences turn to sites with free entry

interior of the main hall of National Museum of Scotland
23 Mar 2023

Annual audience figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions show that post-pandemic, audiences are returning quicker to cultural sites offering free entry.

Campaigners protest ongoing closure of Swindon museum

21 Mar 2023

Campaigners in Swindon calling for a museum to reopen held a tea party earlier this week to mark three years since its closure.

Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery has been closed since March 2020, when the first Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced.

Since then, Swindon Borough Council has agreed to sell the museum’s former venue, Apsley House, to a property developer.

The museum was supposed to be rehoused in a new building, but Councillor Matty Courtliff said that inflation had increased contractors’ estimates, leading to a funding shortfall.

Linda Casmaty, Chair of the Friends of Swindon Museum, told the BBC that she was “disappointed and frustrated” by the situation.

“It's not fair on the people of Swindon – it has been identified as an area of low cultural engagement,” she said. “It could be 10 to 15 years before a new museum is built.”

Instead of funding a new building for the museum, Courtliff said the council was looking into installing the museum and art exhibits on the first floor of the town’s Civic Offices, but no timeline has been provided to local residents. 

Campaigners said that the town, which has a population of more than 220,000 people, currently has no art gallery and nowhere to display its art collection.

“You need to be able to see art, it's no use looking at it in a book,” Casmaty said. “We could get so many visitors if they would open this.

“I'm very keen that Swindon could become a tourist destination and this is one of the things we need.”

Staff at British Museum announce Easter strikes

21 Mar 2023

Union workers at the British Museum have announced further strike dates over the Easter holidays, as part of widespread industrial action.

Thousands of members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will strike in April in a “significant escalation” of the ongoing dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.

Staff at the British Library will take two weeks of action, between 3 April and 16 April, while staff at the British Museum will strike for seven days from 6 April to 12 April.

The dates fall in the middle of the Easter holidays, when local families as well as thousands of tourists will be hoping to visit the museum, which attracts more than six million visitors annually.

The planned strike follows upheaval at the museum last month. More than 100 staff members staged a walkout on 1 February, resulting in the last-minute closure of the museum.

A further strike from 13 February to 19 February, during half term, resulted in the cancellation of scheduled activities and the disruption or closure of services including the box office and information desk.

DCMS reveals beneficiaries of £59m Culture Investment Fund

St Peter's House in Bradford was built in 1886 as a Post Office but is now occupied by Kala Sangam
20 Mar 2023

Third round of the government's Cultural Investment Fund sees £32m for culture projects, £5m for libraries and £21m for museums.

Museum's artefact database 'inaccessible' after cyber attack

16 Mar 2023

A cyber attack linked to Russian hackers that took place more than a year ago is continuing to prevent a museum from accessing its artefact database.

The BBC reports that benefit payments, planning applications and house sales were all delayed when Gloucester City Council was hit by hackers in December 2021.

A new council report has revealed that the Museum of Gloucester is still being affected by the cyber incident.

"It is very worrying that in a council report it was mentioned that the museum services had not had access to its collections database, hindering important investigation into the city's historic monuments," Jeremy Hilton, Leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group at the council, said.

"I hope this important information isn't lost forever or that officers will not have to spend their valuable time inputting data all over again."

Andy Lewis, Portfolio holder for Culture and Leisure at the council, said he believed no records had been lost.

Nottingham Council to consider reopening city's castle

14 Mar 2023

Nottingham Castle could fully reopen to the public in June if plans are approved at a council meeting next week.

The visitor attraction and galleries closed in November when the Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation. 

An executive board at Nottingham City Council will consider a report recommending the authority should take on the castle's running costs of up to £2.1m over three years.

If approved, Nottingham Castle would be run as part of the council's museums and galleries service.

The city centre venue opened in June 2021 following a three-year, £30m renovation project partially funded with an £8m loan from the city council.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis said: "We committed to looking at ways to reopen the castle as soon as possible after Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation.

"This report recommends a way to do that by using the expertise of the council's well-established museums and galleries service, which has previously run the site and has the skills, specialist knowledge and cultural partnership connections."

The report, which also includes other options such as keeping the whole site closed and only reopening the gardens, will be considered at a meeting on Tuesday 21 March.

Small increase in overseas visitors to museums and galleries

13 Mar 2023

The number of people visiting DCMS-sponsored institutions from outside the UK showed slow signs of recovery last year, according to new figures released by the department.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, there were an estimated 1.3m overseas visitors to DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries.

The number is nearly 23 times higher than the previous year, when there were just 54,000 visits from people living outside the UK, largely due to lockdown restrictions.

But the number of overseas visitors remains 94% down on the last financial year unaffected by the pandemic, when 22.7m visited DCMS-sponsored sites in 2018/19. 

Museums and galleries supported by DCMS include the British Museum, Imperial War Museums, National Museums Liverpool, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum Group and the Tate Gallery Group.

The department says the current trend largely mirrors the decrease in overseas visitors to the UK since the pandemic.

National Lottery Heritage Fund unveils new strategy

Exterior of part of Warwick Castle. The photo is an aerial view of the castle walls, showing members of the public in the castle grounds
08 Mar 2023

The 10-year strategy will see the continuation of open funding programmes alongside new ‘strategic funding streams’ including place-based investments.

Young V&A to open in July

02 Mar 2023

A museum designed with and for young people will open in London on 1 July.

Young V&A, in London’s Bethnal Green, is the culmination of a £13m capital project on the site of the former V&A Museum of Childhood, which was east London’s first museum.

The new museum has been designed collaboratively with children under-14s and will showcase more than 2,000 works from the V&A’s collection of art, design and performance.

Gallery spaces feature interactive and hands-on activities, with curated areas designed for babies, teenagers and family-friendly exhibitions.

V&A Director Tristram Hunt commented: “Children and young people have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic and its aftermath, alongside the dramatic fall in creative education in schools. 

“Young V&A is our response: a flagship project investing in creativity with and for young people and their futures. 
“Our plan is to foster Britain’s next generation of artists, thinkers, makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs.”

Museums 'running out of space for historic artefacts'

02 Mar 2023

Museums in England could soon run out of space for historic artefacts, according to a new report commissioned by Historic England and Arts Council England.

The report shows that unless more storage space is acquired, the number of new finds will soon be greater than the space available to store them.

Barney Sloane, national specialist services director at Historic England, said: "The clock is ticking – we have four or five years before we really do start seeing massive problems."

Many new finds come via archaeological contractors hired by developers before clearing sites for construction.

London's largest mosaic find in 50 years, for example, was discovered during a regeneration project near the Shard.

Historic England, along with Arts Council England and National Trust, are in early talks to advise government on the creation of a national archive to address the problem.

They say this could solve the issue of storage for the next 100 years. If, that is, government commits to funding it.

"The potential of archaeological archives is really rich," said Sloane. "It would be a massive shame if we couldn't find a way of making sure they are protected for the future."


Durham Light Infantry Museum set to reopen

01 Mar 2023

A museum in Durham that closed in 2016 due to council cuts is set to reopen.

Durham County Council's planning committee has approved plans to renovate the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum.

The council hopes the refurbished museum, gallery and café will attract between 60,000 and 150,000 visitors a year.

The museum will be free to enter and will display a selection of objects from the DLI collection.

The majority of the collection will be held at a new cultural centre, The Story, which is currently being built.

Elizabeth Scott, cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "Key objects from the DLI collection will be on display at the venue, maintaining links to the building's heritage and, more specifically, showcasing the role the DLI played in world history. 

"The venue will also have strong links to The Story which, when complete, will be a permanent home for the DLI collection."

A paradox for George’s marbles

Elgin Marbles
01 Mar 2023

Can a solution be found to the dilemma of the Elgin/Parthenon marbles? asks William Hancock.

London home for Migration Museum gets nod

Computer generated image of what the new building will look like
01 Mar 2023

The Migration Museum will be based across three floors of a 21-storey tower, provided rent-free by property developer who was a child refugee.

U-turn on plans to mobilise Museum of Cardiff

27 Feb 2023

Cardiff Council has dropped plans to turn the Museum of Cardiff into a mobile attraction.

The council proposed the move, which would have resulted in the loss of the museum’s current building and most of its staff, as part of a consultation into its 2023/24 budget in December.

Following backlash against the plans and a protest against the proposal in Cardiff earlier in February, the council said it plans to keep the museum at its current location for now.

Council leader Huw Thomas told Wales Online councillors will instead “work with the trustees of the museum to secure a sustainable future, including looking at options for delivering the service at an alternative location."

Welsh football museum gets £5m funding boost

23 Feb 2023

Plans for a Welsh national football museum have received a £5.4m boost from the Welsh Government. 

The money will go towards the creation of the Museum of Two Halves in Wrexham, which last year became Wales' newest city.

The Football Association of Wales was formed in the city in 1876.

More recently, Wrexham AFC has been the talk of Welsh football after Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the club in February 2021.

Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said: "Wrexham is the birthplace of Welsh football so it's the ideal location to celebrate the sport's heritage."

The museum, which is set open by 2026, will display a wide range of Welsh football memorabilia, including some of the 2000-plus items currently held in Wrexham's museum archives.

Jonathan Gammond, project manager of the Museum of Two Halves, said the museum will be "about any football played in Wales or any football played by Welsh people outside Wales". 

He added: "All aspects of the game will be covered: amateurs, professionals, men and women, different nationalities and minorities – everyone who loves the game."

Change to definition of 'treasure' will help museums, says Minister

21 Feb 2023

Proposed changes to the legal definition of ‘treasure’ will help museums acquire important historical items, the UK’s Arts and Heritage Minister has said.

Lord Parkinson said the changes, which would apply to the Treasure Act 1996, are needed due to the growing number of detectorists and the increase in significant finds.

Under the current definition, ‘treasure’ should be at least 300 years old and made at least in part of a precious metal, or be part of a collection of valuable objects or artefacts.

Under the proposed changes, exceptional finds would need to be at least 200 years old, regardless of the type of metal they are made of.

If a coroner assesses an artefact as being legally treasure, it can be acquired by a museum rather than sold privately.

Lord Parkinson said that although the existing Treasure Act has saved around 6,000 objects, which have been shared with more than 220 museums, the definition of treasure “is very specific”.

He added that the new law would also bring in a new test of ‘significance’, which would mean an item could be classed as treasure if it is “significant to a part of local, national or regional history, or if it's connected with a particular individual or event”.

Strike forces British Museum to close for three days

Workers stand outside the British Museum protesting. The photo shows around 30 people, holding signs and banners
20 Feb 2023

Staff members take part in week-long strike action organised by their union, as they call for a 10% pay rise in light of the rising cost of living.

Jersey heritage sites to open all year round

14 Feb 2023

Jersey Heritage has decided to open almost all of its heritage sites year-round following increases in government funding and local visitor numbers.

Jon Carter, the charity’s Chief Executive, says the decision to permanently open the majority of sites when the 2023 season begins on 1 March marks “an exciting new chapter”.

Last year, the Jersey Government committed 1% of its annual budget to support the island’s arts, heritage and culture sector, which Carter says has “undoubtedly been a catalyst”.

He told the BBC funds had been increased as 30% of total visits to Jersey’s heritage sites were being made by locals.

“We know that our heritage sites are popular with visitors and they will now have more choice for excursions if they choose to visit Jersey outside of the traditional holiday months,” Carter added.

The news follows plans to upgrade Jersey’s flagship theatre venue with a £11.5m makeover, announced last week.

Sensory-based project aims to improve museum access

women in a wheelchair takes a photo of artwork in a museum
13 Feb 2023

Project to create new ‘sensory logic’ in museums, by considering the role the senses play in the collection and displaying of objects, in a bid to improve accessibility and inclusion.


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