Museum of Homelessness to open first permanent venue

22 Sep 2022

A new permanent venue for the Museum of Homelessness will open in London next year, it has been announced.

The museum said Manor House Lodge, in Finsbury Park, will be its base of operations as well as a centre for creativity, healing and community cohesion. 

Plans for the site are being developed by people with experience of homelessness alongside Stephen Greenberg, a museum planner who has worked on more than 100 museum projects. 

The museum said it hopes for the venue to be "a world class creative hub" that hosts performances, talks and workshops developed by people with experience of homelessness. It will provide 250 support sessions per year designed in partnership with those in need, which are likely to include regular surgeries focused on housing and legal rights as well as the provision of essentials during the cost-of-living crisis.

The plans for the site also include an open access professional standard arts studio for people experiencing homelessness and a home for the national archive and collection for homelessness, poverty and social action. 

The museum has been granted a 10-year community lease from Haringey Council which is currently undertaking initial works on the site. The Museum of Homelessness team is due to be onsite later this year and will undertake a six-month community development period prior to opening to the public in spring or summer next year.

Museum of Homelessness Co-founder Matt Turtle said: “After working in borrowed venues for seven years and relying on the generosity of partners especially the Outside Project, we are delighted to be putting down roots in Harringey. 

"We are excited about transforming this precious site into a museum space like no other, a place where people can hear stories they won't hear anyone else and receive practical support when they need it.

"Our community will work with partners including the council and people experiencing homelessness locally to make a space for everyone.”

Glasgow faith museum reopens after pandemic

21 Sep 2022

A museum in Glasgow that is one of only a few in the world dedicated solely to religion has reopened for the first time since before the pandemic.

St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, named after Glasgow’s patron saint, closed in March 2020 as lockdown restrictions were introduced, but reopened last week.

The museum, which sits beside the Cathedral and Provand’s Lordship, explores the importance of religion in peoples’ lives across the world and across time.

Phillip Mendelsohn, chair of Interfaith Glasgow said: “St Mungo Museum is such an important resource to the faith communities of Glasgow and the wider community. 

“As a city with many refugees and asylum seekers, sharing the story of the many faiths in the city is important in building community cohesion.  

“The importance of St Mungo extends far beyond the city as it is one of the few museums of comparative religion in the world and is unique in the UK.”

V&A moves to return looted treasures to Ghana

20 Sep 2022

The Victoria and Albert Museum is in talks over returning looted artefacts to Ghana.

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, has said he is “optimistic” that a new partnership can create a pathway for Asante artefacts “to be on display in Ghana in the coming years”, after visiting the country in February to hold discussions on the issue.

The items, including 13 pieces of lgold court regalia, including a decorated flower-shaped pectoral 'soul' disc and a pear-shaped pendant, were seized during a punitive raid in 1874.

Current restrictions incorporated in the 1983 National Heritage Act mean that the V&A is not able to 'deaccession' artefacts. Hunt hopes the 40th anniversary of the legislation next year can offer an opportunity to debate whether this needs to change.

In the interim, the museum can only offer the artefacts on long-term loan. 

In the V&A’s latest annual review, he wrote that he visited Ghana “to begin conversations about a renewable cultural partnership centred around the V&A collection of Asante court regalia, which entered the collection following the looting of Kumasi in 1874”.



Festival cancelled over 'funding fears' following Queen's death

Hull City Hall illuminated at the opening event for Hull City of Culture in 2017
14 Sep 2022

Mixed reaction to decision to cancel music festival following death of Queen Elizabeth, amid claims of pressure to do so by funders.

Scheme to tempt visitors back to museums launches

13 Sep 2022

A new museum and gallery membership scheme in Tyne and Wear has launched as part of efforts to attract people "back to culture".

Local museums and galleries in the area say they have been struggling to return to pre-pandemic visitor levels after a drop in numbers of up to 50% at some venues. The new scheme covers 10 galleries and museums run by Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. 

The venues offer free entry, but admission is charged for special major exhibitions. Under the new tiered membership scheme, visitors can purchase an annual membership that includes free entry to ticketed exhibitions, invitations to special events and priority booking.

Membership fees will be used to fund the running costs of venues including Laing Art Gallery, Hatton Gallery and Discovery Art Museum, Shipley Art Gallery and South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, as well as two Roman forts and a steam railway.

VAT refund scheme for museums and galleries reopens

Image of Tate Modern
01 Sep 2022

The scheme, which is available to museums and galleries that provide free access to the public, is reopening to widen access to arts and culture.

Protestors shun Science Museum over coal sponsor

31 Aug 2022

Over 1,000 tickets for a late night event held at the Science Museum yesterday (31 August) went unused in protest over the museum's coal sponsorship.

The event, Science Museum India Lates, was targeted because of to the museum's sponosorship deal with Indian coal-producing conglomerate Adani, first announced last October.

While the event was taking place, a group including young people, teachers, grandparents, local residents and scientists protested outside. Representatives of the South Asia Solidarity Group gave an unsanctioned speech inside the museuem.

A spokesperson for South Asia Solidarity Group expressed outraged that Adani is sponsoring a new gallery which focuses on the transition to green energy.

"This sponsorship is a blatant attempt to greenwash the Adani Group’s destructive activities - an attempt the museum sadly seems all too happy to play along with."

Museums that reflect Brummie-ness

Exhibition piece inside Birmingham Museum
31 Aug 2022

As Birmingham applauds the extraordinary success of the Commonwealth Games, Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah reflect on the role of museums in shaping the city’s future.

Refurbishment of Preston’s Harris Museum begins

24 Aug 2022

The Harris Museum in Preston is set to undergo a £14m refurbishment with the keys officially handed over to a construction company this week.

The Harris Your Place project aims to "restore and reimagine" the Lancashire museum. In preparation for the massive refurbishment, more than 250,000 objects have been removed from the site by expert movers and placed in storage. Works including oil paintings, watercolours, sculptures, drawings and prints have been individually cleaned using conservation tools.

The museum's ceremonial key, designed by Alfred Gilbert, was initially used to open the Harris back in 1893 by Arthur Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby. It consists of an Art Nouveau-style openwork terminal enclosing a rock crystal drop below a finial crown and features an enamelled coats of arms from the Stanley family.

This week, Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council, will hand it to Michael Conlon, chairman of Conlon Construction, signalling the official launch of the restoration project.

“Accepting the ceremonial keys to the Harris, a building of tremendous cultural and historical significance to the city of Preston, is a huge honour,” said Conlon.

The museum will reopen in 2024 and hopes to see annual visitor numbers increase from 350,000 to 450,000.

Proposals for branch of Natural History Museum in Scotland stall

24 Aug 2022

Plans to establish a new branch of the Natural History Museum in Scotland have stalled due to staffing changes at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), it has emerged.

Aberdeen City Council is considering the viability of transforming the Norco House building, a Brutalist landmark that until recently housed a John Lewis department store, into a satellite of the museum.

The store closed in December 2020 and the building was subsequently used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre. It is now up for sale for £5m and the council has been attempting to discuss the project with DCMS, which directly sponsors the Natural History Museum.

A report published by the council reveals that while “officers are looking to meet with the head of cultural development and place-based investment to discuss the proposal”, the plans “have not progressed due to changes in personnel in DCMS”.

DCMS’s previous head of cultural development moved to a new post in April and the post has not been occupied since then.

Theatres receive funding to 'unlock their heritage'

23 Aug 2022

Two theatres in Bradford have received more than £180,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to help them explore their history.

St George’s Hall, which opened in 1853, has hosted big names including Charles Dickens, Harry Houdini and David Bowie.

The Alhambra Theatre, built in 1913 and home to Bradford’s annual pantomime, has hosted acts such as Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe & Wise.

Yorkshire Live reports that the money will fund a a three-year project, starting this month, to develop and deliver “an extensive heritage activity programme”. The programme will look at, among other things, the lengthy history of pantomime at the Alhambra.

The cash comes from the Lottery’s Heritage Centre Stage activity programme. The Lottery says the funding will “unlock the heritage associated with Bradford’s historic city centre venues and engage with a range of people in the district”.

Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said: “Culminating in 2025 when Bradford will be UK City of Culture, we are thrilled to receive this award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for our project; Heritage Centre Stage which will support a range of people from across the Bradford district to engage with the heritage in our fantastic, historic venues, in a way which has real meaning to their lives.”

Economic value of museums and galleries on the rise

The interior of the National Gallery
23 Aug 2022

Latest government figures show the value to the economy of museums and galleries has rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels.

England's largest free heritage festival returns

22 Aug 2022

Many arts buildings will open for free next month as part of England’s largest festival of history and culture.

Organised by the National Trust, Heritage Open Days gives families free access to cultural buildings including museums and galleries.

More than 670 free events are planned across the event’s 10-day period, from 9 to 18 September.

According to the trust, this year's theme - Astounding Inventions - puts focus on overlooked inventors and those whose creations we couldn’t live without.

"Whether it's a doorstep discovery, a local curiosity, a world-famous attraction or a one-of-a-kind experience - there really is something for everyone this year," said Heritage Open Days Marketing and Projects Manager Liam Montgomery.

A full list of free events is available on the Heritage Open Days website.

Glasgow museums to repatriate artefacts to India

22 Aug 2022

Glasgow’s museums will be the first in the UK to repatriate artefacts to India after Glasgow Life, the charity which manages the city’s museum collections, signed an agreement to return seven Indian antiquities.

Work on the repatriation of the artefacts began in January 2021 and was recently approved by Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee.

Dignitaries from the High Commission of India were welcomed for a transfer of ownership ceremony at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum last Friday (19 August).

The repatriation is part of a wider move by Glasgow Life Museums, which is also repatriating 19 Benin bronzes to Nigeria and 25 Lakota cultural items sold and donated to the city’s museum collection in 1892.

In June, the museums welcomed a delegation from Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments to discuss the transfer of ownership of the artefacts and future dates for their return.

Duncan Dornan, Glasgow Life's Head of Museums and Collections, said the transfer of ownership “symbolises a significant step for Glasgow, with the city continuing its positive repatriation history by ensuring these cultural artefacts are placed back in the hands of their legitimate owners.”

“Credit must be given to the High Commission of India and British High Commission for their cooperation and support. We look forward to continuing our work with the Indian authorities to deliver the safe return of these artefacts,” he said.

Scottish museum faces calls to return totem pole

18 Aug 2022

The National Museum of Scotland is being urged to return a totem pole, stolen from Canada nearly 100 years ago, to a delegation of First Nations leaders.

The pole was removed from a sacred “house group” in the Nisga’a Nation in 1929 by Marius Barbeau, a Canadian ethnographer and anthropologist who sold it to the Scottish museum. Hand-carved in the 1860s, it depicts the story of Ts’wawit, a Nisga’a’ warrior killed in conflict.

Barbeau, who conducted fieldwork beginning in the 1910s, has been criticised for inaccurately portraying indigenous cultures.

The repatriation of the object is in line with the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, signed by the United Kingdom, as well as with the provisions for repatriation laid out in the Nisga’a Treaty, which came into effect in 2000.

If the museum agrees to repatriate the artefact, it will be the second totem pole repatriated to Canada from a European museum. The Haisla G’psgolox pole was returned to Canada from Sweden’s Museum of Ethnography in 2006.

The delegation, which consists of the Nisga’a Nation Chief Earl Stephens, Amy Parent and Shawna McKay, will meet museum officials next week.

“This will be the first time in living memory that members of the House of Ni’isjoohl will be able to see the memorial pole with our own eyes,” Stephens said. “This visit will be deeply emotional for us all.”

Police warn of rise in heritage crime

17 Aug 2022

Some of Britain’s historical artefacts are at risk of being lost forever amid a rising wave of heritage crime, a senior police officer has warned.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan told the Telegraph that thieves are increasingly targeting churches and other historic sites around the UK, confident they can steal valuables or raw materials undetected amid shrinking congregations and waning interest in local historical sites.

Nolan, who was appointed national policing lead on heritage crime two years ago, said that police receive very little intelligence about crimes against historic buildings and monuments, in contrast to other crimes such as antisocial behaviour.

She warned that public "antipathy” towards the protection of heritage assets is worsening the problem and said that the scale of heritage crime is hard to judge because it is often unreported.

A total of 16 churches were targeted by thieves in July and previous research has found that nearly 20% of listed buildings were physically affected by crime in the space of a year.

“I think the thing to remember with heritage crime is that some of the things that are targeted are literally priceless,” she said.

“I think we should not necessarily judge the individual objects, just looking at how we can protect them and keep the country’s stories alive.”

Museum service undergoes rebrand

15 Aug 2022

Brighton & Hove’s museum service, previously known as the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, has announced details of it new name and brand identity.

The service, which was previously council-run but moved to trust status in late 2020, will be known as Brighton & Hove Museums.

The organisation said the new name and refreshed website and logo are intended to “communicate the direction being taken across the service since the museums became an independent charitable trust”.

Meanwhile, two of the trust’s sites have been renamed to recognise the importance of their outdoor spaces to visitors - the Royal Pavilion will now be known as the Royal Pavilion & Garden, and Preston Manor will be known as Preston Manor & Gardens.

Legal ruling raises prospect of huge savings for museums 

The interior of the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle
15 Aug 2022

Calls for government body that sets business rates for museums and galleries to review its methodology following latest legal defeat on the issue.

Repatriation: Museums must be 'transparent' about collections

A room at the British Museum
11 Aug 2022

Fresh guidance on repatriation calls for museums to tell the full stories behind their collections, including items that may have a controversial past.

Brunel Museum to support young women in engineering

10 Aug 2022

The Brunel Museum has announced it will use funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund to create a new programme in support of young women in engineering.

The project, entitled Sophia’s Story, was inspired by Sophia Brunel, the older sister of civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Once described by Lord Armstrong as “Brunel in petticoats”, she was a promising engineer in her own right.

The project is designed to help girls and young women under the age of 15, both within and outside school settings, to engage with engineering. It has three strands, each targeting different age groups.

As part of the programme, the museum will work with students at Bacon’s College in Rotherhithe to develop a film about women in engineering for inclusion in the museum’s permanent exhibition. 

The project is designed to help improve gender representation and access to female role models in engineering careers by delivering sessions tackling gender stereotypes to co-ed schools, with the intention of training boys and young men to recognise and challenge gender bias.

It also aims to encourage young women in the early years of secondary school to consider taking STEM-related GCSEs.


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