Blog

Welcome to the NWFED blog – a place where visitors can keep up with the latest news and views from museums and galleries throughout the North West and beyond. This is an open blog where you can take part in discussions and post your comments on the issues which matter to you.

NWFED EVENT: Co-production in Practice

0 posted November 8th, 2019 | Leave a reply

When: Thursday 26th March (timings tbc)

Where: Ordsall Hall, 322 Ordsall Ln, Salford – M5 3AN

How Much: Free to NWFed Members (for memberships costs and information on how to join, click here)

During this event you will hear from a number of North West organisation’s who have worked on co-curation projects of different scales and budgets. Each speaker will provide honest insights into their own co-curation process detailing what worked well, what went wrong and what they learned while providing invaluable advice for others looking to undertake co-curation projects in their own organisations.

Further details of the programme’s speakers and schedule will be announced soon.

To register your interest in attending, contact Emma Sumner (hello@emmasumner.com)

NWFED MUSEUM BASICS: An Introduction to… Object Marking and Labelling

0 posted November 7th, 2019 | Leave a reply

When: 22 January 2020, 10.30am – 1.00pm

Where: Midland Railway Building, 38-40 Victoria St, Liverpool – L1 6BX

How Much: Free to NWFed Members (for memberships costs and information on how to join, click here)

Led by Tracey Seddon, Collections Care team, National Museums Liverpool

The NWFED introduces its new ‘Museum Basics’ training events with ‘An Introduction to Object Marking and Labelling’. This hands-on session provides everything you need to know about how to mark and label your collection in a safe and sensitive way. The course is aimed at volunteers and professionals new to the sector, as well as anyone who needs a refresher. By the end of the course you will

  • Know why and when to mark museum objects, including ethical considerations
  • Understand the Health and Safety issues relating to marking objects
  • Understand where to source marking and labelling materials and how to put a kit together
  • Have practical experience of marking and labelling a range of objects
  • Understand how to remove numbers

To reserve your place please email Emma Sumner (hello@emmasumner.com)

FUNDING: 2020 Windrush Day Grants

0 posted November 7th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Deadline: 8 December, 11.50pm 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government are looking for organisations to run a community led project seeking to celebrate, commemorate and educate about the Windrush Generation and their contribution to British economic, social and cultural life. This includes those who arrived on the ship, their contemporaries and descendants.

The Ministry have a budget of up to £500,000 to fund activities across the country. The minimum amount available is £2,500 and the maximum is £25,000. All bidders are encouraged to demonstrate additional sources of funding as part of their proposal.

For further information about the fund and how to apply, Click Here.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Creative Consultation with Young People

0 posted November 7th, 2019 | Leave a reply

When: 20 March 2020, 10.00am – 4.15pm

Where: Tullie House, Carlisle

How Much: £90.00

Led by Artswork, this course will ensure your projects for young people remain dynamic and relevant, by embedding their voice across your work and the governance of your organisation. Explore effective consultation tools and discover meaningful, creative ways to communicate with young people. Learn to understand the interests, needs and behaviours of your audiences by involving young people in active roles and ongoing dialogue that will both listen to and empower them.

To find out more about the course and how to book a place, Click Here.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Behaviour Management and Creative Consultation

0 posted November 7th, 2019 | Leave a reply

When: 12th February 2020, 10.00am- 4.15pm

Where: HOME, Manchester

How Much: £150.00 (some limited bursary places available)

Led by Artswork, this is an essential training for anyone working directly with young people. During the course you will undertake practical workshops and activities which require a broad understanding of youth culture and the issues surrounding young people’s lives. There are added pressures of working directly with young people at risk, one of which is having the skills, knowledge and experience to be able to support behaviour effectively and responsively. This course will discuss behaviour strategies, health and safety issues and risk assessment. You will also look at ways of promoting a style of engagement with young people that supports their wellbeing and individual needs, and helps them to succeed and achieve.

To find out more about the course and how to book, Click Here.

 

CONFERENCE: Championing Accessible Museums

0 posted October 15th, 2019 | Leave a reply

When: 12 December 2019, 10.30am – 4.30pm

Where: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

How Much: £55.00 – £195.00

There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, but many museums continue to struggle to welcome them as visitors, volunteers and members of the workforce. What can be done to address disabled access, participation and representation? How can individuals and organisations embed inclusive practice?

Through a series of practical talks as well as interactive discussion, debate and exchange, this one-day Museums Association conference explores how museums can become truly inclusive spaces and representational platforms, and champion equality at every level.

This event is for anyone who is working towards diversity and inclusion at a museum or relevant organisation.

For further details on speakers and how to book your ticket, Click Here

NWFED NEWS: Introducing New Board Member – Sajda Khan

0 posted September 16th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Sajda khan is currently part of the Front of House team at the Blackburn Museum and Art gallery, a role she has held in various capacities for the last 9 years.

When asked about her motivations for joining the board, Sadja explained: “I am very interested in helping to organise the Fed’s programme of events and strengthening the offer for members while assisting with board’s function and working to develop new opportunities for the board to partner up with organisations across the North West.”

FUNDING: £100 million National Lottery Climate Action Fund Launched

0 posted August 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

On the 18 July, the National Lottery Community Fund launched a new £100 million Climate Action Fund that will enable people and communities to take the lead in tackling the climate emergency. This new fund, will build a network of people and communities, well-placed to drive change within, between and beyond their community.

The types of activities supported through this new fund will differ from place to place, but will have one thing in common: the ability to deliver high impact community-led climate action. This includes in areas such as sustainable energy, sustainable transport, consumption, food and protecting and regenerating spaces and habitats.

Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Everyone can play their part in addressing climate change. The impact will be all the greater if we come together within and across communities. This is why, thanks to National Lottery players, we are launching the Climate Action Fund to create grassroots momentum built on learning and sharing within, between and beyond communities – in order to achieve meaningful and sustained climate action.”

To find out more about this new fund and how to apply, Click Here

NWFED NEWS: Introducing New NWFED Board Member – Andy Pearce

0 posted August 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Andy Pearce has over 30 years experience in the museum sector in the North West in roles ranging from Education Officer to Director. He has worked in a wide range of heritage organisations from small independents to large nationals, from charitable trusts to local authorities and has had responsibility for the care and display of many different types of collections from social history to fine arts. The institutions he has worked in, or led, have varied greatly in staff numbers from some of the smallest to some of the largest in region. For the last three years he has been lucky enough to work on museums internationally which (he hopes!) has given him a new perspective on our region.

Andy admits to having had two guiding passions throughout his career. Firstly, exploring how museums can uncover and present the stories of those whose history has often been forgotten or supressed. He is fascinated by how heritage can provide unique and revealing insights in to these rich and diverse ‘hidden’ histories. Secondly, encouraging and developing the staff and volunteers whose job it is to lead and encourage this exploration.

He hopes that with these experiences and enthusiasms he can make a worthwhile contribution to the NWFed’s aims to represent and champion the interests of museums and galleries in the North West, and the people who work in them, on both a regional and a national level.

On his appointment to the Board, Andy explained:  “When I first became aware of the North West Fed more than 30 years ago it performed a vital role providing accessible training, and perhaps more importantly, keeping us in touch with our colleagues across the region. The sector has changed beyond recognition since. However, I believe that in its unique position as a member led, regional organisation the NWFed can still play an important part in supporting and developing those who work and volunteer in the North West’s museums and galleries.”

NWFED NEWS: Introducing New Board Member – Rebecca Miles

0 posted August 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Originally from America, Rebecca Miles is now permanently settled in the UK.  Before moving to the UK in 2013, she worked for the University of Kentucky as an archaeologist excavating and surveying prehistoric and historic sites throughout the state of Kentucky.  After arriving in the UK, she started building up her skills and experiences by volunteering for the Manchester Museum, the Science and Industry Museum, the National Trust’s Quarry Bank Mill, the People’s History Museum, and for an Arts Award project run by the charity Legasee teaching primary students about the history of the Korean War. In 2016, Rebecca was appointed to the Front of House team at Ordsall Hall as a Heritage Facilitator leading primary school learning sessions focused on Tudor history and culture. Outside of her work in museums, Rebecca’s many other interests revolve around handicrafts such as hand and machine knitting, working with felt, embroidery, and hand loom weaving.

When asked about her motivations for joining the board, Rebecca explained: “I wanted to join the board to represent fellow front of house staff who are integral to ensuring all visitors have a positive experience as soon as they walk in through the doors of our museums. As a newly appointed board member, I hope to highlight the efforts and unseen struggles of staff working within our region’s front of house teams and help to find more opportunities to help them develop the skills they have in providing our museum’s visitors with high-quality customer service and in engaging with local our communities.”

 

NWFED NEWS: Introducing New Board Member – Claire Benjamin

0 posted August 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Claire Benjamin is Deputy Director of the Education and Visitors teams at National Museums Liverpool, which includes the International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, Walker Art Gallery, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery. She is responsible for the strategic development of education initiatives, community engagement and front of house visitor experience across the museums. Claire is currently providing strategic support for the internationally acclaimed House of Memories dementia awareness programme and wider income generation initiatives for the organisation.

Claire joined National Museums Liverpool in 1998, and has previously worked as Communities Co-ordinator, Education Manager and Public Programmes Officer. She is a Fellow of the Museums Association.

On her appointment to the NWFed’s Board, Claire explained: “I am excited to be joining the NWFed’s Board at such an interesting time for the sector, given the exposure of the All Party Parliamentary report in 2017 on the value of arts and health, and the Mendoza Report looking at how the bigger national museums in the region can engage better with smaller regional museum services. I think the role of the NWFed has a significant part to play in this conversation, and the bigger agenda of a Northern powerhouse.”

NWFED NEWS: Introducing New Board Member – Gordon Chancellor

0 posted August 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Gordon Chancellor moved to Stockport in February 2019 from the East of England, where he had been the Museum Development Officer (MDO) for Cambridgeshire since 2013. Gordon is now freelance and keen to work with museums in the North West. His museum career started as a geologist at the Oxford University Museum in the 1980s, before being appointed Curator of Peterborough Museum in the 1990s, and then taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society in the early 2000s. From there he went on to become an Archive Development Manager for the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, then Business Manager at the UK Data Archive in Essex before returning to museums as an MDO. Over his career, he has managed a considerable number of Heritage Lottery and Arts Council England funded projects and is especially interested in governance and the issues facing independent museums.

Gordon is delighted to be involved with the Federation and has already enjoyed getting to know other Board members. Being new to the North West, he is excited to be learning about the region which he says is very different (in good ways!) from the East of England. So far he has concentrated on visiting the bigger museums, but hopes that being on the Board will give him opportunities to contribute to the small and volunteer-led museums. Having been part of the SEMFed for many years, is keen to use that experience to help the NWFed to develop its programmes for members. He is also very keen to mentor young people who love art and nature and want to make a career in museums.

 

BLOG POST: NWFed Meeting at Manchester Museum, 28 June 2019

0 posted July 5th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Last Friday we were treated to a brilliant double session themed on Asia and hosted by Manchester Museum. Catherine Lumb, Learning and Engagement Co-ordinator, told us about the current exhibition from India, then Bryan Sitch, Deputy Head of Collections and Archaeology, described his research in advance of planned displays about China. Bryan said that the arrival of Esme Ward as Director in 2017 had focused the Museum’s activities on engaging with audiences. They are doing this by highlighting human stories, especially in the Lee Kai Hung Gallery of Chinese Culture. The gallery has been developed as part of the Museum’s ‘Hello Future’ project, which also includes a £13 million transformation, including a new South Asia Gallery (in partnership with the British Museum) and a new temporary exhibition gallery.

While many venues across Manchester are gearing up to commemorate the bicentenary of the peaceful but brutally suppressed rally which we know as Peterloo, the Museum is commemorating the even worse events at Amritsar in 1919. Catherine, who has led on the Jallianwalla Bagh 1919: Punjab under Seige exhibition from the Partition Museum in Amritsar, led us through the exhibition which tells the story of the terrible events of 13 April 1919 when General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on unarmed men, women and children, killing at least 300, who had gathered to protest against their British oppressors. The exhibition also explains how the background of decades of injustice meted out by the British occupiers in the Punjab led to the massacre. It also covers its aftermath, namely global condemnation of the British which accelerated their departure from India twenty-eight years later. Tragically, as is well known, that departure led to the ‘Partition’ of Pakistan from India and terrible atrocities committed by both Muslims and Hindus. The Singh Twins have painted a superb picture of the massacre, hung near the entrance to the Museum as the central panel of a triptych, to be joined by one showing the events before 1919 and one showing the aftermath.

Catherine told us how she carried out almost all the liaison with the Partition Museum by Skype, only visiting Amritsar once at the end of negotiations, and she said that the five-hour time difference had presented challenges! A great outcome of the exhibition has been a co-curated approach, working with Manchester communities, which is central to the development of content for the South Asia Gallery.

Bryan explained how he had been awarded a Headley Trust Art Fund Fellowship to research content for a new Chinese Culture Gallery, which is planned to open around the same time as the South Asia Gallery in late 2021. A substantial donation from Businessman, Dr Lee Kai Hung (a Manchester University Alumnus) is funding the new gallery and Bryan is unearthing some of the amazing links between China and Manchester as part of the content. Bryan has so far unraveled the stories behind some of the great Chinese objects in the Museum’s collections, exploring the stories of Manchester’s people and their connection to China. The aim is to stimulate empathy in the visitor, fostering a stronger understanding between communities in the UK and China – including the missionary Alfred Bosshardt who was held captive by the Red Army and his relationship with the general Xiao Ke.

There is never a better way to find out about new approaches to the development of new galleries and exhibitions than hearing it from the people involved. We are grateful to Catherine and Bryan for sharing their vision and passion for creating a museum that focuses on empathy and collaboration.

If you have a project or an idea you are working on and would like to share it with the NWFed and its members, please email our News Editor, Emma Sumner: hello@emmasumner.com

NEWS: Museum Development North West Releases 2018-19 Annual Report

0 posted June 8th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Museum Development North West has released their latest annual report for 2018-19. Detailing the investment and delivery of MDNW’s programme in 2018-2019, the report shows the impact of the work the MDNW team has undertaken in the museums sector across the five counties of the North West.

Museum Development is funded by Arts Council England (ACE) over four years; 2018-19 is year one of a four year funded cycle.

Download your copy of MDNW annual report 2018-19, HERE.

 

NEWS: Prosper North Offers Free Business Support Programme for Culture and Heritage Organisations

0 posted June 8th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Prosper North have released details about a new, free business support programme for culture and heritage organisations to help them become stronger, more impactful, and make the most of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund investment opportunity.

Prosper North’s programme aims to improve the capabilities of around 80 cultural heritage organisations in the North of England– from music venues to community art groups, and independent museums to literature festivals – to increase income and impact, becoming more resilient businesses. It is aligned with the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund (NCRF), managed by the Key Fund, which is offering social investments (mix of grant and loans) to creative and cultural organisations in the north of England who deliver positive social impacts.

For those interested in finding out more about the programme, Prosper North are hosting two briefing events in the North West, one in Kendal on the 3 July, and another in Liverpool on the 17 July.

To learn more about the programme and to check if your organisation is eligible to participate, Click Here

NEWS: The Prince of Wales Opens Lakeland Arts New Windermere Jetty Museum

0 posted April 9th, 2019 | Leave a reply

HRH The Prince of Wales is welcomed onboard Osprey by John Eaton, David Dunlop, Paul Pearson and Ian Shirra at Windermere Jetty. Photo Jan Chlebik

After an extensive £20 million development project by Lakeland Arts, the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories finally opened to the public earlier this year on the 23 March.  Following its public opening, a visit from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, gave the museum a Royal seal of approval as he toured new building with Lakeland Arts staff on 8 April.

The Windermere Jetty sits on the site of a former sand and gravel wharf dock, and the historic boat
museum that George Pattinson opened in 1977. Visitors will see boats on water in the Boathouse, and out on the lake itself and in the exhibition galleries. The Sir John Fisher Foundation Conservation Workshop is open, enabling visitors to see live conservation of the boats as they are restored and repaired to go back on the water or on display.
The museum continues traditional boat-building skills here and will involve apprentices, trainees and young people in keeping a traditional industry alive. Through the learning and skills development programme, science, engineering and ecology will meet the arts and culture to explore the collection and the site’s beautiful surrounding landscape. The museum includes the Wolfson Learning Centre, shop, lakeside café and temporary, as well as permanent exhibition spaces. Lakeland Arts took over the old museum in 2007, after it had closed the previous year. Eleven of the boats were allocated to Lakeland Arts by HM Government’s Acceptance in Lieu Scheme and the rest of the historic boats and a wealth of other objects were transferred from the Windermere Nautical Trust.

Northern Museums Volunteer Pass 2019-2020

0 posted April 9th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Are you an accredited Museum? Are you part of the Northern Museums Volunteer Pass scheme?

Led by Museum Development teams in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire, the
The Northern Museum Volunteer Pass Scheme is one of the largest schemes in England. Open to all accredited museums – or those who have received official recognition of working towards accreditation, in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside region – this Pass allows volunteers FREE entry and/or additional benefits (as listed) at participating museums in Yorkshire and Humberside, North East and North West regions.

Details of participating museums can be found in the brochure which you can download here.

To discuss the possibilities of your organisation joining the scheme, contact Alexander Bird at Museum Development North West – alexander.bird@manchester.ac.uk

FUNDING: The Rayne Foundation

0 posted March 17th, 2019 | Leave a reply

For over fifty years The Rayne Foundation has given to many different causes and organisations.  Founded by Lord Rayne (1918-2003) who made great efforts to ensure the Rayne Foundation was engaged with the needs of society, a mission still upheld today.

Always looking for creative ways of tackling entrenched social issues through the arts, health, wellbeing, and education, the Foundation supports projects that can be replicated and led by people with vision. They particularly welcome applications addressing their three areas of special interest: young people’s mental health, art as a tool to achieve social change, and improved quality of life for carers and older people.

Aiming to enlarge sympathies through increasing tolerance and understanding, to reduce exclusion and conflict, to bring people together for the good of society, and ultimately to help create a more comprehending and cohesive world, the Foundation encourage inspiring individuals and organisations who can build bridges within our complex world to apply.

To find out more about the Foundation’s work and how to make an application, Click Here

FUNDING: Marsh Christian Trust

0 posted March 17th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Founded in 1981 by its current Chairman, Mr Brian Marsh OBE, with the aim to create a sustainable way to give something back to society, by supporting the organisations and people who are making a difference, as best he could. From the outset the Trust has aimed to create long-standing relationships with the organisations it supports and partners through both its principle areas of work; the Grants Programme and the Awards Scheme.

The Trust focuses on providing funding which could help small organisations pay for various running costs – such as volunteer expenses, training days, equipment maintenance and other core outgoings – and supports around 300 charities every year through the Grants Programme and gives over 80 different Awards to individuals and groups from across the charity sector, who make a difference to a cause that they believe in.

Grants are unrestricted and range from £250-£4,000, with new applications at the lower end of this scale. Applications are considered on the basis of the organisation’s financial position, performance against charitable aims and objectives and the ratio of voluntary income against fundraising expenses.

The Trust aims to build long-standing relationships with successful applicants and, subject to an annual review, continue its support over time.

NEWS: New-look National Lottery Heritage Fund unveils plans for the next five years

0 posted February 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

A major decentralisation of decision-making across the whole of the UK is at the heart of new plans to distribute more than £1 Billion of National Lottery money to the UK’s heritage over the next five years which will see decisions on around 80% of all funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (previously the Heritage Lottery Fund), made in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and three new English areas.

In addition, the new look National Lottery Heritage Fund will have a major focus on several new areas including: nature, communities, and on ensuring everyone is able to enjoy heritage; new models of investment, moving beyond grants to include loans and partnerships; more support for commercial, sustainable approaches to tackling heritage that’s in danger of being lost; investment and support to help heritage organisations to be more financially sustainable; a requirement for every heritage project that receives funding to be environmentally friendly; greater engagement and support to help 13 deprived communities that have in the past been less successful securing funding; and continued support for large-scale, iconic projects over £5million

Ros Kerslake, CEO of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Over the past 25 years, money raised by people who buy National Lottery tickets has profoundly changed how we view and engage with the UK’s exceptionally varied heritage. By putting people at its heart, it has helped our wonderful buildings, iconic landscapes, cultural memories and traditions and native species not just survive, but thrive.

“Over the next five years, The National Lottery Heritage Fund will inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage, distributing more than £1bn. So we will be making more decisions on funding locally and focusing on the heritage that really matters to people, creating jobs, bringing economic prosperity and improving people’s lives right across the UK.”

To find out more and for details on how to apply, Click Here.

FUNDING: Arts Council England Lottery Project Grants

0 posted February 18th, 2019 | Leave a reply

Arts Council England are still accepting applications for their Lottery Project Grants Programme for arts, museums and libraries projects and you can apply for any amount from £1,000 to £100,000. Project Grants are ACE’s new open access programme for arts, museums and libraries projects, funded by the National Lottery, and will support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations.

Before starting an application, ACE recommends contacting your local Relationship Manager for Museums: Penny Thompson (penny.thompson@artscouncil.org.uk) and Nikola Burdon (nikola.burdon@artscouncil.org.uk).

For full details on eligibility, how to apply, and the funding guidance, visit ACE’s website.

NEWS: Applications Open – Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019

0 posted January 1st, 2019 | Leave a reply

Deadline: Tuesday 6 February 2019

Has your museum got what it takes to win Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019?

If you would like to make an application, it is recommended that you first read the information pack carefully before connecting with Emma Coleman –  ecoleman@artfund.org, 020 7225 4822 – to discuss your application.

NEWS: Alistair Hudson appointed as Director for Manchester Art Gallery and The University of Manchester’s Whitworth

0 posted October 17th, 2017 | Leave a reply

The University of Manchester and Manchester City Council have today announced that Alistair Hudson, currently Director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), will be the new Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth.

Alistair will take up his role in the New Year. He succeeds Maria Balshaw at the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery following her appointment as Director of Tate earlier this year.

He brings with him a wealth of experience at the forefront of the culture sector and a strong record of championing art as a tool for social change and education. During the last three years as Director at mima, he set out the institution’s vision as a ‘Useful Museum’, successfully engaging its local communities and responding to the town’s industrial heritage, as well as placing it amongst the most prestigious galleries in the UK.

Alistair began his career at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (1994-2000), before joining The Government Art Collection (2000-04) where, as Projects Curator, he devised a public art strategy for the new Home Office building with Liam Gillick.

As Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts (2004-14) in the Lake District, he helped the institution gain critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation.

Outside of these roles he is also Chair of Culture Forum North, an open network of partnerships between higher education and the cultural sector across the North, and co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil with Tania Bruguera. He was a 2015 jury member for the Turner Prize.

Alistair said: “I am completely thrilled to be taking up this post in Manchester. The city’s cultural scene is one of the most dynamic and diverse in the country and Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth are at the heart of this. Maria Balshaw and her teams have established both institutions at the forefront of the democratisation of art, working for all of society. I look forward to driving this mission forward and working across the region in projects that have real impact in people’s lives.”

The People’s History Museum Wins Family Friendly Museum Award 2017

0 posted October 9th, 2017 | Leave a reply

The Family Friendly Museum Award is the biggest museum award in Britain and the only award where families pick the winner. Earlier this year we received over 700 nominations from families and museums that were whittled down to a shortlist of ten. These were then road-tested by our family judges against the eight points in the Kids in Museums Mini Manifesto.

Relaunched in 2010 after a major refurbishment programme and attracting over 100,000 visitors per year, the People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy. Families were incredibly impressed with how the museum combined local subjects such as the Peterloo Massacre with exhibits about broader themes in social and political history right up to the present day.

With a collection of 1,500 objects celebrating the history of working people and a unique archive, the People’s History Museum stood out among this year’s shortlisted museums for listening to its family audience and making difficult subjects exciting and accessible. The recent exhibition, Never Going Underground: the Fight for LGBT+ Rights was curated with the local LGBT+ community with the aim of being family friendly and included special family packs. This exhibition was a highlight for many of our family judges. As one said, The museum has very good ideas about how to deal with a difficult subject.

Here’s why one family thought their local museum should win:
We very much felt like they’d tried very hard to make the whole thing very inclusive – a lot of the exhibits echo diversity and inclusion

The burgeoning relationship between the Harris and UCLan

0 posted May 30th, 2017 | Leave a reply

The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library in Preston has a long track record of partnership working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). During the last twenty years this has taken many forms from placements and paid internships for students to the development of joint artistic programmes between the two organisations.

In Certain Places was set up in 2003 as a joint initiative between the Harris and UCLan to explore place-making in Preston in the context of the regeneration plans for the city. ICP created numerous popular art interventions around the city, from Jeppe Hein’s interactive fountain sculpture Appearing Rooms on the Flag Market in 2006, to the Harris Flights, which created a flight of steps leading up to the Harris balcony as the setting for a programme of performances through the summer of 2013.

Harris staff have regularly been involved in the delivery of a variety of courses at the University, including Marketing, Events, History, Art, Fashion and Architecture. Key partnerships have developed with Art and Fashion lecturers, leading to exhibitions featuring both students’ and academics’ work, and with the UCLan-led Preston History Network, which brings together local historical organisations to promote events such as the Guild 2012 and Heritage Open Days.

In 2014 a piece of research was commissioned to scope existing links and the potential for future joint-working. This identified barriers such as information sharing and different working patterns through the year, and led to the development of new contacts to overcome these.

Now however Preston is in the process of major regeneration and both the Harris and UCLan are in a period of massive change. The Harris needs to reposition itself if it is to keep pace with the redevelopment going on around it in the city centre, and to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in Preston and Lancashire. The Re-Imagining the Harris programme was set up in 2015, and has developed an innovative vision which will shape its repositioning. This envisages the Harris as the cultural and community hub for Preston. A community led organisation that acts as the civic focal point for the city centre, constantly animated with creativity at the core of everything it does.

UCLan has grown at a rapid rate, it is now the 8th biggest University in the country, with more than 38,000 students with campuses across Lancashire, and in China. However it recognises Preston as its home, and has developed a masterplan which will see £200 million of investment in the city campus during the next ten years. This campus sits on the edge of the city centre and the masterplan is integral to the wider regeneration of Preston.

A vibrant Preston is key to realising UClan’s ambitions, in order to attract prospective students and entertain existing ones. The University is keen to develop stronger and more tangible links to the city centre to contribute to the animation of the city, and to create stronger links with existing communities across Preston. The Harris provides the perfect partner for the University in developing this city centre presence, and it is this that has driven recent moves to a more co- ordinated and strategic partnership between the two institutions; as well as a wider recognition that the ambitions of the Harris and UCLan are inextricably intertwined.

Therefore the relationship between the Harris and UCLan is moving to a different level. A member of UCLan’s executive team (the Pro Vice Chancellor of External Relations) will sit on the Project Board for the Re-Imagining the Harris project. The University will play a pivotal role in shaping the repositioning of the Harris. In the short to medium term the two organisations are working together to ensure that UCLan adds significant value to the day to day running of the Harris, and has a tangible presence in the building.

The best example of this is the recent development and installation of a Makerspace in the Harris. The idea emerged after discussions between senior staff in the two organisations and was driven by the desire at the Harris to put creativity and making more at the core of what the building does, alongside the expectation at UCLan (and particularly at their Media Innovation studio) that they needed to be engaging more proactively with the hardest to reach audiences in Preston.

Staff from the two organisations worked closely together with additional support for the school of architecture at the University in the early development
of the Makerspace. Since it opened in the autumn of 2016, the programme has been varied, with Harris and UCLan staff, alongside members of the local community and artists, offering a wide opportunity to make and create, from costume making to coding and from drawing to drones.

There are plenty of other examples of the Harris and UCLan working together to deliver the new vision for the Harris, and the wider ambitions of the University. The Heritage Network at UCLan has recently organised a series of sold out talks at the Harris, reinforcing the message that the building is a centre for discussion and debate. The Harris will also host the University’s graduation show and related events in early summer that will animate the building, and enable the people of Preston and Lancashire to appreciate the potential of the thousands of students the city hosts.

So in recent years the partnership between the Harris and UCLan has matured, driven by the regeneration of the city and the challenging environment the two organisations find themselves operating in. The relationship, which had originated in a mutual shared appreciation of learning, heritage and the arts, is now evolving into a robust partnership where each organisation is becoming a key contributor to the other’s wider ambitions.
Jon Finch, Re-imagining the Harris Project Leader

Artists selected for the Meeting Point2 project with museums and heritage sites in the Northt

0 posted March 16th, 2017 | Leave a reply

10 artists have been selected to work in partnership with museums in the North of England, each creating a new piece of work in response to the museum and its collections.

The artists, who have been commissioned through the Meeting Point2 project, will work with venues ranging from a restored historic open-pan salt making site to an excavated monastic site dating back to the 12th century.

The 10 artists and museums are:

Artist                                                     Museum

Matt Stokes                                           Hexham Old Gaol, Northumberland

Owl Project                                            Prescot Museum, Knowsley

Brass Art                                                Chetham’s Library, Manchester

David Appleyard                                     Norton Priory, Cheshire

Serena Partridge                                    Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, Lancashire

Magnus Quaife                                       Portland Basin Museum, Ashton-under-Lyne

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan         Experience Barnsley Museum & Discovery Centre

Lynn Setterington                                   Brontë Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire

Stephen Dixon and Alison Welsh           Preston Park Museum, Stockton on Tees

Martin Hylton                                          Lion Salt Works, Cheshire

The Meeting Point2 project, which is funded through the Arts Council England’s Resilience Fund, aims to equip museums with the knowledge and skills to commission work from artists again in the future, as well as presenting new works in unexpected places.

The selected artists are known for work ranging from fusions of sculpture and sound art, to textile works and film.

Sheffield-based artist David Appleyard, who will be working in partnership with Norton Priory Museum, said: “There is something very special about Norton Priory Museum. My research visits left me literally spellbound so I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in their MeetingPoint2 project. The project offers a rare opportunity to work with a very dedicated team in a place steeped in 900 years of history.”

Brass Art, who will be working with Chetham’s Library in Manchester, said: “We are delighted to have been selected to work with Chetham’s Library. The enthusiasm of the staff there is infectious; we’re looking forward to working with them closely to bring our collaborative practice and aspects of their fascinating collection together.”

Martin Hylton, who will work with Lion Salt Works in Cheshire, said: “I am excited to have been selected to create a newly commissioned piece in response to the Lion Salt Works. I am looking forward to working with the team, and local young dancers to realise this very exciting project.”

The 10 selected artists will create their commissions during 2017.

The programme builds on a successful pilot which took place in 2016 and saw artists working with museums across the North East and Yorkshire.

More details are available at www.artsandheritage.org.uk.

NEWS: Update – Volunteer Support Our Skills Pilot Programme

0 posted February 21st, 2017 | Leave a reply

As many of you will remember, last year the NWFed, in partnership with Museum Development North West, undertook a consultation engaging over 300 volunteers from museums, galleries and heritage organsiations across the North West as part of their newly launched training project for volunteers, Support our Skills (SOS).

The pilot training project is now up and running and the small group of selected volunteers who are fully embracing the opportunity to develop their skills and offering much help and advice in how the programme can be taken forward.  The pilot began in 2016 with a short two day introductory session to allow the group time to get to know each other, but also to assist in developing a programme of five sessions which would concentrate on two major themes they were all interested in, namely exhibition planning and production and collection management and handling.

The group’s last session in December looked more closely at helping them to develop their presentation skills and the venue was the recently opened In the City gallery space, which is being developed by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in a Preston city centre shopping mall. The aim was to show the potential there was for local museums to use this is as a pop up exhibition/events space. An added bonus was the group learnt about the Lego Serious Play (https://www.lego.com/en-gb/seriousplay/) business development tool and even tried out one of its basic ideas by using a Lego duck activity which was both enjoyable and thought provoking.  Over the next couple of months they will be practicing their presentation skills on each other as they are delivering a half-day session at each of their museums.

The next session took place earlier this year in January and looked at a key element for all museums—exhibition planning—and was hosted at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, who also allowed the group use of their handling collections and exhibition spaces.

A couple of members of the group are also taking advantage of MDNW and NWFED Fundraising Strategy Workshop programme, as they are particular interested in developing this for their museums.

If you have any queries about the current pilot scheme please do contact consultant Debbie Walker – dwalker14@btinternet.com or call 0784 600 3638. 

NEWS: SMILE’s Exploring Science in the Natural World – Event Report

0 posted November 16th, 2016 | Leave a reply

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On 21st September Chester Zoo hosted SMILE (Science in Museums Inspiring Learning and Engagement). This exciting expedition into natural sciences was organised by Alex McLeman, SMILE Network Leader from Bolton Library and Museum Services.  SMILE has CPD and networking days which occur at least once a year in museums or other cultural learning venues. These special days provide an opportunity to share ideas and expertise about science learning with museum educators, managers and curators.

It must have been the grandest conference room we have used for a SMILE event, as we were in the Victorian splendour of the Oakfield Manor library. In the morning we gathered together to listen to Charlotte Smith, Head of Learning and Discovery. She gave us an overview about the wide range of science learning delivered by Chester Zoo. Leah Williams gave us an insight into the research the Zoo does and the conservation and community engagement projects which the Zoo leads both locally and globally.

Learning Manager, Sarah Bazley shared projects and activities which demonstrate how learning is at the heart of the Zoo and help to inspire future generations of naturalists. We learnt how biological science is made accessible by using the animals as inspiration. We discovered that a Mountain Chicken is a rare frog and that the Zoo uses a cuddly mountain chicken to weigh and measure. This mimics what the conservationists would do in the wild with real amphibians.

Colleagues from The Natural History Museum & Leeds Museum shared how they have developed resources to enhance the teaching of Evolution. Anette Shelford and Rebecca Machin explored their ideas of object-based sessions that use understanding of Evolution and Adaptation to support self-reflection for pupils.

We had time to network and share ideas over lunch and then we took part in activities around Chester Zoo and experienced interactive science around their latest major project – Islands. We were fortunate to see lots of endangered species including orangutans, Bali starlings, Sumatran tigers and Indian gharial crocodiles. We explored the Sumba Classroom, which was an imaginative interactive learning space. We saw how Chester Zoo uses animal specimens and zoological resources alongside augmented reality to provide a unique learning journey for their school visitors.

These are a few quotes from SMILE delegates from the evaluation at the end of the day.

“I found it a good balance of hearing about what is happening and seeing it in action. I love the different perspective by having SMILE in a Zoo. It showed science in action and individual activities were very interesting. I thought it was great and being free meant that I could come.”

“The presentations were interesting. The walk about through the Zoo was great. I enjoyed the lunch. It was great to talk to fellow museum professionals. The immersive Aurasma Augmented reality was totally new. Thank you!”

“The chance to network and get inspiration, Good ideas for interactives. Talking to other museum education people and stimulating ideas between people.”

SMILE really appreciates everyone’s time and dedication in making these events a success. Big thanks to all the speakers and to the Chester Zoo Learning and Discovery Team for hosting SMILE.  We also greatly appreciate the contribution from NWFeD, Curious Minds, MDNW and GEM who provide funding for SMILE events. Watch out for our next SMILE event in 2017.

SMILE has its own online network – www.groups.google.com/group/smilescience – this site provides a forum for us to share expertise, interests & discuss needs for science learning in Museums.

To join this network please e-mail: alex.mcleman@bolton.gov.uk

GUEST BLOG: NWFed Event – Handling, Packing and Moving Museum Objects

0 posted November 16th, 2016 | Leave a reply

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Image courtesy Chrissy Partheni

NWFED Event: A Beginner’s Guide to Handling, Packing and Moving Museum Objects

When: Thursday 10 November 2016
Where:  Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester

Report by Guest Blogger, Laura Biggadike, Galleries Coordinator, The Lowry, Salford

As a recent Masters graduate who now works as a Galleries Coordinator at The Lowry, I would consider myself relatively knowledgeable on object handling techniques but, as these fields move on so quickly and different institutions have different methods, I thought that attending the NWFed object handling day could only work to broaden my understanding.

Beside the free tea and biscuits on offer, one of the key draws to these kind of sector events is the opportunity to meet other museum professionals. Yes, partly for networking and formal reasons but mainly because I genuinely believe that a huge amount can be learnt, or discussions triggered, through conversation with other museum workers – even if you disagree on methods or have contrasting experience. It was therefore lovely to have such a range of attendees – from other recent graduates to experienced volunteers, from MoSI and The National Football Museum, to the National Trust – all with varied backgrounds and roles to draw from.

The workshop itself was a refreshingly relaxed run-through of basic packing and handling techniques and materials with an integrated practical session and tour. For those who were new to the subject, the informal atmosphere meant that there was no fear of asking a ‘stupid’ question or coming across inexperienced so that everyone could truly benefit from the knowledge of MOSI conservator Sarah Bird, who was also willing to answer case specific questions.

Though much of the information was straight forward to me – having not long graduated – I enjoyed the process of going through the techniques step-by-step so that I could examine my thought process rather than merely going into ‘autopilot’. The practical session was a good opportunity to work with objects different to the fine art pieces I now handle as part of my job, and allowed me to see the materials and methods preferred by other organisations. I chose a vintage teapot from the object selection to wrap as it is vastly different to anything I work with at The Lowry – but with contemporary art you never know what you will get so I thought it couldn’t hurt.

Finally the tour was a hugely enjoyable insight into the behind-the-scenes areas of one of the North West’s best museums. Listening to the issues and considerations the staff face was both interesting and a catalyst for conversation, and I could have spent all day looking through their diverse range of items.

Overall it was a highly enjoyable and interesting day with helpful and lovely staff, an interesting array of attendees and some very helpful hand-out sheets. Thank you to everyone involved and I can’t wait for the next installment – perhaps an intermediate session?

For information on future NWFed events, please visit our events section by Clicking Here

NEWS: NWFed Event – Developing University Partnerships Report

0 posted October 28th, 2016 | Leave a reply

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In the newly re-opened Norton Priory Museum a small group of museum professional from numerous organisations across the North West gathered to listen to case studies from organisations that have successfully established and developed partnerships with universities to aid their research and develop new income streams.

Frank Hargrave, Director of Norton Priory, welcomed everyone and started the day’s presentations with a case study outlining some of the projects he and his team had worked on with PhD students, providing some helpful tips to help those attending understand how to develop similar projects.  Norton Priory has been successfully developing relationships with various universities for some time, an initiative they started when they realised how much research was happening in universities all over the UK that could so easily be applied to the collections of museums.

Frank explained how it’s usually easy to find the right academic to work on your project as their profiles and research interests are always featured on their university’s website making them easy to contact.  Before you contact anyone, it’s good to remember what you as a museum can offer to a university or one of their students and collaborative PhDs are often a good place to start.  Universities are always looking for projects for MA students to move onto PhDs but you can also provide hands-on experience and career advice for students that their lecturers can’t.

Once you’ve sourced an academic partner, new funding sources will be opened up to the project which are specific to academic research, including Arts and Humanities Research Council funding which isn’t usually open to museums but you should remember that you will also open up funding avenues for the university that they are unable to apply to.  When working with universities they can often throw in costs to placements which are easily covered by academic funders but not through museum funds.  Listen to what your academic partner wants but be wary about universities looking to place their students with you so they don’t have to look after them.

Before approaching a university or academic with a project proposal it’s good to remember that your collections contain things numerous items of interest to academics. Lecturers are always looking for PhD opportunities and post-doc research projects and with increasing pressure being put on university departments to demonstrate public impact and engagement, something museums do very well, it makes a positive reaction to a well researched proposal highly likely.  Of course partnerships don’t always work out, in which case move on as there are plenty of other universities you can work with.

Tom Fildes, Norton Priory’s Business Development Director, then went on to explain in detail one of the current projects they are working on with the University of Liverpool’s Engineering Department to develop a portable carbon dating device.  The development of such a device will of course redevelop museum collections by being able to quickly and accurately date artefacts on site at any museum but it will also help to build Norton Priory’s credibility and eventually see revenue from the sale of the device.

To help maintain a good working relationship, Tom explained how he has  needed to maintain a level of flexibility throughout the partnership while keeping an open mind about where the project will go.

Finally, Meg McHugh and Jan Hicks from the Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI) in Manchester focused their case study on REALab, a pilot project which was conducted in partnership with several institutions and provided university students with experience and networking opportunities. The outcome for MoSI was a high quality report without having to bring in a paid consultant and instead bringing in a team of PhD researchers.  The other benefits of the project included getting a different perspective and gaining university contacts which broadened their network.

Having only recently become part of the Science Museum Group MoSI has added research to its objectives and with limited internal resources to do the research they want to they have instead found ways to bring in outside researchers from universities.  MoSI is using its new university network to develop projects examining areas they want to explore further and continuing to think more actively about how university students can become part of the museums work.

Working under the REALab project was MoSI’s first experience of working in partnership with a university and their students.  During the process they learnt a lot about how they could better develop future partnerships and have since changed the way they work creating longer lead in times for projects to allow time for academic research to be undertaken. They now plan to take forward and develop further and plan to develop a research strategy, build up a roster of PhD students, actively blog about research, build the museums research profile and take the time to explain to the universities what they have in their collections.