British Museum to pay translator after plagiarism allegation

26 Jun 2023

The British Museum has offered to pay translator Yilin Wang for her work, after she alleged her poetry translations had been plagiarised.

Last week, the museum removed a segment of its China’s Hidden Century exhibition after the writer said she received neither credit nor payment for her translations of work by Chinese revolutionary Qiu Jin.

The museum said that it had issued an apology for the “unintentional human error” and had “offered financial payment for the period the translations appeared in the exhibition, as well as for the continued use of quotations from their translations in the exhibition catalogue”. 

The museum described the matter as “an inadvertent mistake”. It has offered Wang payment in line with its usual rates, The Guardian reported.

Museum staff spent years working on the exhibition, which includes 300 objects and research from more than 100 scholars from 14 countries. Some staff and curators were subject to “unacceptable” attacks on social media and through emails after the plagiarism allegations, the museum claims.

“We stand behind our colleagues fully and request those responsible for these personal attacks to desist as we work with Yilin Wang to resolve the issues they have raised concerning the use of their translations within the exhibition,” it said.

Academics who have previously worked with the museum have written to express their concern, including Julia Lovell, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck University and one of the principal researchers of the exhibition, who said she was “in full sympathy with Ms Wang’s anger”. 

“It was a genuinely accidental, unmalicious human error amid a very complex project, for which the British Museum have apologised profusely and sincerely, and sought to make amends,” she said.

In a statement on Twitter, Wang said that the museum had told her it would not be reinstating her translations in the exhibition. Her work is acknowledged in the exhibition’s catalogue.

AHRC-funded research to examine UK museum closures

21 Jun 2023

A new research project examining museum closures in the UK has recieved £1m funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The project will look at museum closures and the dispersal of collections within the UK museum sector.

Titled Museum Closure in the UK 2000-2025, the two-year project will be based at Birkbeck, University of London and King’s College London.

Research will begin in October and be led by Fiona Candlin, professor of museology at Birkbeck.

The research team said: “We will investigate the afterlife of collections, find out if museum exhibits are scrapped, sold, stored, or re-used, and examine ‘outreach’ and temporary museums. 

“A knowledge base will be designed to model and store the collected data, and visualisations and analyses of the data will be developed. Above all, we aim at critically reassessing notions of permanence and loss within the museums sector.”

Art Fund: 'Rainy day for museums' prompts rise in grants

The Druthaib’s Ball' by 2021 Turner Prize winners Array Collective
21 Jun 2023

Grant giving charity ramps up financial support for museums to try and help them deal with the impact of global crises.

Peace Museum to make 'transformational' move

21 Jun 2023

The Peace Museum is making a "transformational" move from its current site in the centre of Bradford to a new home in Saltaire on the outskirts of the city.

The museum will relocate its collection to the historic Salts Mill in Saltaire, a Victorian workers village which has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2001. 

The move is scheduled for next summer. It has been made possible by a £245,651 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Clive Barrett, the museum's chair of trustees, said: “This project will be transformational for the Peace Museum.

“This is particularly exciting in light of Bradford receiving City of Culture for 2025, as we'll be able to welcome visitors from all over the world to our brand new museum in the heart of the district.”

The Peace Museum opened in its current site in 1998 and is currently closed as it prepares for the move. It is the only museum in the UK dedicated to peace.

Council gives assurances on future of Buxton Museum

19 Jun 2023

Derbyshire County Council has pledged to offer continued support to Buxton Museum after it was forced to close for maintenance work.

The BBC reports that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery shut at short notice at the start of June when dry rot was found in the building, with no timeframe given for how long remedial work will take.

But after a visit to the museum Derbyshire County Council Leader Barry Lewis said there is an "absolute commitment" to the service.

"Closing the museum and art gallery was a great disappointment but necessary so that this vital investigation work can be carried out," he said.

"However, there is an absolute commitment to supporting the museum and securing the long-term future of its collections."

Eight members of staff are currently working to move exhibits to storage before being moved to other roles.

During the closure the council is encouraging visitors to continue to enjoy the museum via the Wonders of the Peak website and by taking a virtual museum tour.

York Minster in £4m appeal for heritage craft skills centre

07 Jun 2023

Cathedral York Minster has launched an appeal to raise £4m towards a new centre for ancient craft skills. 

The Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills will focus on traditional crafts such as stonemasonry and glaziery - skills neeeded to preserve the minster, which was built between 1220 and 1472. 

The original budget for the centre was expected to be £5m, but rising costs mean it is now likely to be closer to £9m.

York Minster is one of 10 English cathedrals to have its own stonemasonry department.

Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund, said creating the centre would offer "long-term sustainable benefits both financially, and in the maintenance of heritage skills to York Minster, the heritage community, and the wider city".

Bletchley Park learning centre opens after £13m redevelopment

06 Jun 2023

A formerly run-down World War Two building at Bletchley Park has opened as a new museum learning centre, part of a £13million redevelopment of the historic site.

The centre is in Block E, originally built in 1943 as part of Bletchley’s wartime intelligence gathering operation.

The restored and refurbished building in Bletchley, Milton Keynes is dedicated to ‘formal and informal learning programmes’.

Lily Dean, Learning Manager for the Bletchley Park Trust, the independent charity that runs the site, said it would be a "state-of-the-art learning centre".

She added: “This facility will enable more students to visit us, supporting their studies in STEM subjects, and helping us to share the amazing feats of human ingenuity that took place at Bletchley Park with more learners than ever before.”  

Block E features eight learning spaces designed to host more than 13 tailored workshops.

The completion of the new learning centre is the concluding phase of a redevelopment project that has also seen the creation of a new permanent exhibition, 'The Intelligence Factory', and a Collection Centre housing more than 420,000 items relating to Bletchley Park's wartime work.

Jewish Museum London announces closure of current site

The second floor exhibit room at the Jewish Museum London
05 Jun 2023

Museum says it will close its current base in London this summer and develop plans for a 'new museum fit for the future' in a more prominent location.

BP sponsorship of British Museum ends after 27 years

Interior of British Museum
05 Jun 2023

Activists celebrate news that no exhibitions or activities are being sponsored by BP, although documents show certain terms of the deal remain in effect until the end of the year.

Natural History Museum 'sorry' for National Conservatism event

A Blue Whale skeleton mounted in Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum
02 Jun 2023

Institution distances itself from 'hateful rhetoric' expressed at private dinner held at the museum by rightwing thinktank, and apologises for not calling out a tweet 'that minimised the horrors of the Holocaust'.

Foundling Museum makes 'urgent' appeal to secure future

Visitors in Introductory Gallery at the Foundling Museum
01 Jun 2023

The institution is seeking £1m in additional funding by September to secure the long-term future of its building and collections.

University develops guidance on trans-inclusive practice for museums

30 May 2023

The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester is developing guidance on trans-inclusive practice in museums, galleries and heritage organisations.

To ensure that the advice is as useful as possible across the sector, RCMG is asking cultural organisations to complete a confidential survey detailing the challenges they are experiencing and any issues they would like the guidance to cover.

The work aims to help organisations advance their commitments to greater equality and inclusion by offering clear advise and support.

“Although more and more museums, galleries and heritage organisations are keen to develop their trans-inclusive practice – to work with communities to improve representation, to welcome trans visitors and support trans colleagues – recent months have seen increasing uncertainty and sometimes anxiety about how to take this forward,” said Richard Sandell, Co-Director of the RCMG.

“The guidance we are developing will support organisations to be ambitious and confident in their work to advance trans-inclusion and equality.”

The guidance will be developed with legal scholars from the University of Edinburgh and is set to be issued this summer.

It will include an ethical framework to guide work that seeks to advance equality for trans staff and visitors as well as guiding organisations in how to foster approaches that increase public understanding and support for trans inclusion.

Research grant set to illuminate Portsmouth’s past

30 May 2023

Researchers will delve into Portsmouth’s heritage, culture and collections with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for nine PhD studentships.

Portsmouth City Council was awarded the fully-funded PhD studentships as part of the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships programme.  

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, along with other Higher Education institutions, will work with the city’s museums and archive team to design and co-supervise research projects based on the city’s historic collections, heritage and culture.

“This is a real coup for the city as the programme typically supports national organisations – it shows the strength and depth of our heritage and collections,” said Counsellor Steve Pitt, the Leader of Portsmouth City Council with responsibility for culture.

“This programme will help us uncover new perspectives on the city’s past and help us to share our story and heritage in new and exciting ways.”

Professor Anne Murphy, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Portsmouth, said the researchers’ discoveries “will open up Portsmouth’s amazing heritage and culture to new perspectives and audiences in and beyond the city”.

The council is inviting expressions of interest from Higher Education institutions who would like to collaborate on research proposals, with the first projects projected to begin in October 2024.
 

Italy hikes museum prices to repair flood damage

30 May 2023

Italy is raising the price of museum tickets by €1, with proceeds going towards saving cultural heritage damaged by floods in the Emilia-Romagna region.

The measure was announced by the Italian government as part of a €2 billion aid package.

Proposed by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the price hike will apply to all state-run museums from 15 June for a two-month period.

The decision has split opinion in Italy. While some have supported the government’s decisiveness, others have raised concern it will deter the public from visiting museums.

According to ISTAT statistics agency, fewer than a quarter of Italians visited a museum in 2022.

Also last week, Italian Culture Ministry Undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni said the Culture Ministry has made €2.5m available to help protect cultural heritage, and will further invest another €6m.
 

Vagina Museum reaches fundraising target for relocation

26 May 2023

The Vagina Museum has exceeded a fundraising target to allow it move into a new premises situated between two railway arches in East London.

According to an online crowdfunder, over 2,400 donations have helped the museum surpass its £85,000 target.

The organisation's director, Florence Schechter, had said the museum would face permanent closure if the target was not reached.

The museum has been homeless since January after being given less than a week to vacate the premises it held for less than a year, causing the museum to operate digitally in the interim.

In an update shared on Twitter, the museum thanked all donors, adding that is had been "really touch and go": "If we didn't reach the target, we would have had to wind up".

"We're busily preparing design and fit-out work for our new home. And we're planning new exhibitions as well as levelling up our permanent exhibition," the statement added.

The fundraiser will remain open until early June, with additional proceeds going towards the musuem "opening its doors in an even stronger and more secure position".

Nottingham Castle to reopen with new pricing structure

22 May 2023

Nottingham Castle will reopen on 26 June, seven months on from its closure when the trust responsible for its operation entered liquidation.

When the castle reopened in 2021 after a £31m redevelopment project, a standard admission price of £13 was introduced, or £9.50 for children, leading to complaints and calls for ticket prices to be reviewed, according to local press at the time.

The heritage site will now adopt ‘pay once, visit all year’ ticketing arrangements when it reopens, with adults able to pay £12 for all year access, with children under 15 able to go free with a paying adult.

A family of five will now be able to buy an annual pass for £24, compared with £35.50 before the castle’s closure.

The new admission arrangements will include unlimited access to the grounds, Brewhouse Yard Cottages, Robin Hood Adventures and Rebellion Galleries and the castle museum, unlimited for a 12-month period.

Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning at Nottingham City Council, said the the local authority hopes the announcement will come as welcome news.

“We have endeavoured to listen to what visitors didn’t like about the Trust’s admission arrangements, and I believe the simpler pricing and exceptional value we are announcing will help to encourage visitors, near and far, to come back again and again.”

A new website has been launched to take advanced bookings.

Cultural transformation programme supports Welsh museums

15 May 2023

Several museums in Wales have received funding in the latest round of the Welsh Government's Cultural Transformation Capital Programme.

Among those to benefit from the £1.7m funding pot is Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery in Merthyr Tydfil.

It has been awarded £146,480 to develop an off-site storage space that will enable the relocation of its art store and provide better access to its collection.

Other recipients include Narberth Museum in Pembrokeshire which has been awarded £120,534 to improve efficiency, while Abergavenny Castle will use its £110,000 to improve energy efficiency.

Rhondda Heritage Park in Rhondda Cynon Taf has received £135,000 towards new interactive history digital displays.

Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden, said that support provided by local museums, archives and libraries "is essential to helping communities in Wales thrive, now more than ever". 

She added: "This round of funding is supporting a wide variety of initiatives, from transforming spaces to be better used by their communities, enabling greater access and participation, whilst also supporting the health and wellbeing of users, to preserving collections for future generations."

Since the programme was extended in 2017 to include museums and archives, more than £9m has been provided to organisations across Wales.

City council defends Glasgow Life staff cuts

12 May 2023

Glasgow City Council’s culture leader has said a reduction in the number of staff at Glasgow Life will not affect the quality of the city’s cultural offer.

Earlier this year, the council announced the number of conservation staff at Glasgow Life, which operates council-owned cultural venues, will be reduced by 40% as part of a £1.5m cost saving effort in the museums and collections department.

The decision will mean displays and temporary exhibitions will not be changed as frequently in museums under Glasgow Life’s remit.

Staff cuts at the charity date back to 2021, following a loss of income due to pandemic-related closures.

Responding to concerns raised by fellow councillors at a council meeting on Thursday (11 May), City Convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations, Anette Christie, said the impact of the proposals had been carefully considered.

“It is recognised that this level of reduction will of course have an impact on the frequency of temporary exhibitions and display changes but these decisions have been made in response to the scale of the financial challenge that the city faces.”

Christie insisted the affected museums will retain their Glasgow Museums accreditation, which allows venues to secure revenue or capital funding.

She added the city will maintain its reputation for world-renowned collections, with the council planning development projects at the People’s Palace and the Mitchell Library.

“This city is a city of innovation and we will build on that. Our ambitions still remain great,” Christie said.

“Change is difficult but I have assured them of how important they are to the city, the role that they play and I can say with confidence they are still dedicated.”

Funding secured for exhibition touring network

12 May 2023

An exhibition touring network will be established to develop and tour exhibitions across a dozen sites in England after securing funding from Arts Council England (ACE) and Art Fund.

The Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring (MAGNET) brings together 12 partners across England, plus the Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG), to co-develop new exhibitions which will tour between partner venues.

It has been awarded a £336,000 Touring Projects grant from ACE to enable it to develop and tour three new exhibitions, opening in 2025. 

Meanwhile, £75,000 from Art Fund will help fund a three-year full-time MAGNET Coordinator post, to ensure smooth running of the network. 

The new network aims to allow exhibitions to be seen by many more people, as well as addressing the unsustainability of "single use" exhibitions. The three-year funding deal will also see MAGNET develop a sustainable business model to allow future touring to other partner venues and the creation of further exhibitions.

Nick Merriman, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens and MAGNET lead, said: "There is now real momentum and a nationwide movement to support touring exhibitions. 

"We know that, by pooling our resources, we can offer high-quality, co-curated exhibitions that make the collections of the whole network accessible to the public in a meaningful way. 

"Thanks to Arts Council England and Art Fund we can now continue MAGNET’s reach beyond the walls and vaults of any one museum and into local communities around the country."

Growing number of craft skills 'under threat'

11 May 2023

Traditional craft skills are "on the verge of extinction" in the UK, according to new research.

Five new skills have been added to the "critically endangered" category of the Red List of Endangered Crafts, a research project by the charity Heritage Crafts.

These include straw hat making and encaustic tile making, which join a list of 146 at-risk crafts. Other endangered crafts are Cornish hedging, marionette making, and pigment making.

Researcher Mary Lewis said factors such as the energy crisis, inflation, the pandemic and Brexit had all made matters worse for those working in traditional crafts.

She said: “We know that heritage craft skills operate like an ecosystem; if we lose one part it can have devastating consequences on other parts of the system.

"If we allow endangered crafts to disappear then we seriously diminish the opportunities for future generations to create their own sustainable and fulfilling livelihoods and deal with the challenges of the future.”

The Red List of Endangered Crafts 2023 edition can be viewed online at redlist.heritagecrafts.org.uk.

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