Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

CONFERENCE: Family Arts Conference 2019 – Exploring the value of arts, culture and creativity for families

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

When: Tuesday 12 February 2019, 10.30am – 5.30pm

Where: Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

How Much: £144 – £210

The UK’s largest family arts and culture conference which will explore the value of family engagement and how we can communicate that value to families, funders and the wider cultural sector.

Join the Family Arts Campaign for a full day of lively discussion, practical workshops, informative key-notes and ample opportunities to network with fellow creative professionals.

Key note presentations from:

Cheryl Taylor – Head of Content, BBC Children’s

Syima Aslam – Artistic Director, Bradford Literature Festival

Dr. Zoe Wyrko – Geriatrician and consultant for the BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 show Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds

Practical workshops:

  • Fundraising advice and support from Cause 4’s Arts, Fundraising & Philanthropy programme
  • Commercial value in your family offer with Baker Richards
  • Evaluation with Big Lottery Fund
  • Digital family engagement and gaming exploration with National Videogame Museum
  • World Café session: led by Family Arts Campaign evaluators who will invite all participants to input into and drive forward our national Campaign.

Panel discussions:

  • Diverse family engagement: Representatives from Bradford Literature Festival and Manchester International Festival will share and discuss their approaches in family audience diversification.
  • Creating intergenerational experiences for older and younger audiences: This group will explore examples of bringing young and older audience to participate together in creative activities. With Moving Memory Dance Theatre and Mousetrap Theatre Projects.
  • Inclusive approaches for family audiences: How can the cultural sector become more inclusive to ensure that all families can engage in creative and cultural participation? With MK Gallery and Leeds City Museum.
  • Outdoor arts for families: Join Outdoor Arts UK, Just So Festival (Wild Rumpus), Upswing and Mufti Games to explore why bringing creative and artistic work outdoors can reach new and diverse families.
  • Effective family marketing strategies: PR company Crystlsd, North East Family Arts network – Family Explorers, Unicorn Theatre and the AMA will discuss valuable approaches to reaching more families.
  • Building interactive experiences for parents and early years: How can we create engaging experiences for parents/carers and young children? Join MishMash Productions, Tate and Turned on its Head to find out more.

To find out more and to book a place, Click Here.

CONFERENCE: Boosting Resilience Forum – Maximising Creative Assets and IP

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

When: Thursday 14 March 2019, 10.30am – 6.30pm

Where: The Bluecoat, Liverpool

How Much: Early bird rate until 14 February 2019 £120, normal rate £160.

Boosting Resilience has announced its final showcase event, the Boosting Resilience Forum: Maximising Creative Assets and IP. With a focus on developing effective strategies for better understanding and maximising the potential of arts and cultural sector creative assets and intellectual property, the forum will be a highly participative day of creative workshops, panel discussions and peer-to-peer sessions.

Who is it for:

This forum is for artists and senior leaders in the arts and cultural sector, and all those invested and engaged in the development and growth of the sector, and the value it delivers to society. Participants should be willing to share their thoughts, expertise and challenges in an generous and proactive way.

What is on offer:

The Forum will use a variety of active and creative formats, blending the expertise of contributors and attendees to develop skills and take away practical tools on:

  • Intellectual Property in Practice Workshop – how to develop your understanding of IP in an action oriented, sector relevant session
  • Successful strategies for personal resilience
  • How to use Creative Journaling to enhance leadership and personal resilience
  • Identifying and mapping your personal or organisational Creative Assets
  • Developing a Theory of Change for your organisation to assist decision making and governance
  • Generating and testing ideas for new projects, products or services based on your Creative Assets and IP
  • Action Learning Sets taster sessions
  • Developing Effective Collaborations

Workshop leaders and presenters include: Nicola Saunders (Director, Business Improvement and Innovation, Arts Council England) Patrick Towell (The Audiences Agency and Golant Media Ventures), Professor Ruth Soetendorp (Cass Business School, City, University of London), Professor Clive Holtham (Cass Business School), Isla Wilson (CEO, Ruby Star Associates), Evelyn Wilson and Suzie Leighton, Directors of The Culture Capital Exchange, members from the Boosting Resilience cohort and team and many others.

For further information and to book a place, Click Here

CONFERENCE: Museums Association’s Moving on Up 2019

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

When:  27 February 2019, timings tbc

Where:  Nottingham Contemporary

How Much: MA members £75, non-members £115

Do you want to advance your career and have greater impact in your work, in your community and in achieving your ambitions?
Moving on Up is the essential event for anyone wanting to:
  • build courage
  • develop their career
  • be a positive force for change
  • create a unique space for themselves in museums
  • think creatively about what they should do next
  • fine new opportunities and make the most of them.
At Moving on Up you will:
  • hear from inspirational leaders
  • learn how to network successfully
  • get top tips on navigating job opportunities
  • discover how to raise your profile in the sector
  • take part in interactive workshops and panel discussions
  • ask and be asked the essential questions for taking your career to the next level

To book a place or for further information about the event, Click Here

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Museums Association Digital Basics Boot Camp

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

When: 29 January 2019, 10:45am – 5:00pm (registration from 9.45am)

Where: Science and Industry Museum, Manchester

How Much: between £95 – £195

The Museums Association’s digital basics boot camp is a fast-paced one-day conference covering all the essential digital skills that museums need today, including:

  • Digital marketing: Approaches to digital marketing that will allow you to make best use of your institution’s mailing lists and contacts
  • Practical social media: Thinking strategically about social media activity, including effective tools and approaches, and useful case studies
  • Effective content: Identify content in your organisation, writing for the web, and planning and commissioning for the best results
  • Measuring success: Using Google Analytics, surveys and user testing to work out who is using your website, how they are using it, and how you can respond
  • Digital surgery: Do you have specific questions about working online? Delegates may submit questions, and a selection will be answered by the day’s speaker

This event is for any museum professional who wants to polish their digital skills, find out what to spend their time and money on, and gain the confidence to pursue their own digital projects back at their museum.
For further information and to book, Click Here

 

CONFERENCE: Where Next for Resilience – A summit on securing the future

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

When:  23 January 2019, 11:00am – 4:30pm

Where: The Birmingham Hippodrome Hurst St, Birmingham B5 4TB

How Much: £50 to cover venue and refreshment costs

Inspired by The Audience Agency and Golant Media Ventures’ recent Arts Council England commissioned report What is Resilience Anyway? – representing the views of more than 1000 cultural practitioners – this summit is an opportunity to map the next steps.

Partnering with Culture Central, we’ll be sharing previously unreleased insights, offering practical solutions for debate and gathering leading thinkers and doers from the creative, public and third sectors for a lively discussion.

How should we respond to the opportunities and challenges the report sets out? What are the implications for individuals, organisations, funders and policymakers across the UK? We’ll explore future scenarios for the cultural sector and co-develop our potential responses.

This is a landmark event for all cultural and creative leaders looking to set the agenda as well as respond to change – to evolve their organisations and better serve their audiences.

To book, Click Here

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

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

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

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

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

Monday, October 9th, 2017

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

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

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

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

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

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

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

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

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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

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

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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

Friday, October 28th, 2016

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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.

NEWS: 2018 Museums Network

Friday, October 28th, 2016

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2018 will mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which saw voting rights granted to women for the first time.  The 1918 act enfranchised women over 30 who met certain property ownership requirements, and extended the vote to almost all men over the age of 21. It laid the path for the introduction of universal suffrage ten years later, which saw women win equal voting rights to men.

After a lot of interest was expressed around the idea of a network which would provide opportunities for organisations planning to celebrate this anniversary to share information and discuss the possibilities of joint promotion on external and public-facing websites and platforms, the Museums Association’s Director Sharon Harper took the decision to create the 2018 Museums Network bringing together museums with plans to commemorate the anniversaries of several gender equality milestones in 2018.

2018 will also mark the 50th anniversary of the women’s strike at Ford Dagenham, which led to the eventual introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, and the 130th anniversary of the matchwomen’s strike, which saw women take collective action against hazardous working conditions and poor pay.

If your museum has plans to celebrate these anniversaries or you are interested in finding out more about joining the network, please contact Sharon Harper on the details below.    A number of museums have already started planning events for 2018, including the East End Women’s Museum in London, which is in the planning stages and will open to coincide with the anniversaries in 2018, the People’s History Museum in Manchester, and St Fagan’s Museum of National History in Wales.

Sharon Harper, Director, Museums Association:  sharon@museumsassociation.org.

 

NEWS: Support Our Skills Volunteer Development Programme Update

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

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Volunteer Development Programme Pilot:  November 2016 – March 2017

Following the consultation undertaken earlier this year which engaged with over 300 volunteers from museums, galleries and heritage organsiations across the North West, the NWFed’s training project for volunteers ‘SoS (Support our Skills) Volunteer Development Programme’ will begin this November. The NWFed and MDNW are pleased to be working with consultant Debbie Walker who will now take forward the programme’s development as it enters its pilot phase, developing a bespoke programme with a small group of invited participants.

The Programme funded by Museum Development North West will offer up to 10 places for volunteers who have been referred and supported by the museum’s they volunteer for. The programme will be free to attend and will include travel expenses to all training sessions. Most sessions will take place in venues in Preston or Manchester to make access and logistics as easy as possible.

Who is it for?

This initial phase is aimed at volunteers who are keen to develop/update their knowledge and skills of the museum profession, either to pursue a career in museums or develop their role within the organisation they are volunteering.

Please note this initial pilot programme is not available to volunteers at National Museums, National Partner Museums or Museum Studies students.

When will it take place?

There will be 6 main sessions which will take place at Manchester and Preston venues. It will be begin with a 2 day introductory session on Friday 11 and Monday 14 November and then approximately one session per month.

Programme participants and the venues they volunteer for will also sign up to deliver a half-day themed session at their Museum. This will hopefully allow the group to share ideas, see a number of different venues and importantly get to know each other and develop a lasting relationship.

How to apply – If you have a volunteer(s) you would like to refer on the programme, please contact Debbie Walker using the contact details listed below.

Debbie Walker:  Email – dwalker14@btinternet.com , Telephone – 0784 600 3638.

NEWS: Lancashire Museums Last Chance

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

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Earlier this year Lancashire County Council (LCC) announced a call out to interested third parties seeking to submit detail business plans to take over any of the five museums they could no longer afford to run. The decision was taken following budget cuts which meant the LCC could no longer afford to fund the museums. Its  financial strategy report, published towards the end of last year, concluded that over the five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21 the council needed to make savings of £262m on top of those previously agreed.

Numerous potentially viable business plans were received for the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster, the Maritime Museum in Fleetwood, the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, Queen Street Mill Textile Museum in Burnley and Helmshore Mills Textile Museum in Rossendale.   Plans from four organisations which have applied to take over the five museums were most recently discussed at a cabinet meeting on 8 September. , the meeting decided which of the museums will be transferred to third parties.

Although very little detail was announced following the meeting, the LCC did confirm that all five museums would close to the public on 30 September 2016, while negotiations continue with the four organisations. It is expected that the approved transfers will be made by the end of December this year. Councillor Marcus Johnstone, the cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, explained:

“This is extremely good news for the future of these museums. There is obviously still a lot of work to do but it is very encouraging to see such robust and well-thought-through business plans.  In an ideal world we would not have been forced into this position but as we no longer have the funding to keep these cultural resources open we can at least do a thorough job to ensure that they have a sustainable future.”

With proper care and maintenance plans having been put in place to ensure each of the venues in question are looked after, preserved properly, and kept safe and secure, the intention is that negotiations can be concluded as soon as possible with a view to the transfers being made by 31 December 2016.

NEWS: NWFED Chair, Katy Ashton, goes on Maternity Leave

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

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Katy Ashton has been involved as a Trustee and as the Chair of the North West Federation of Museums Board for just over 5 years. During her time with us, Katy has been a true advocate of everything the NWFed stands for, actively championed 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 and recruiting numerous new individual and institutional members.  Overseeing the NWFed’s activities, Katy has played a huge role in planning and delivering the NWFed’s programme of training and networking events for members as well as developing ambitious business plans, successfully creating new partnerships and securing funding for new innovative new development programmes.

Katy will be temporarily stepping down from her role as Chair on 21 October to take maternity leave and in her place, Alex Walker, one of the newer members of the NWFed’s Board will be stepping into Katy’s role as Acting Chair until Katy returns in 2017.  Many of you will already know Alex from her role as the North West’s representative of the Museums Association or as the Head of Arts and Heritage at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery from where she recently retired.  On Alex’s appointment and her temporary departure, Katy shared her thoughts:

“I’m shortly going to be heading off on maternity leave and taking a break from my role as Chair of the NWFed. I’m delighted that Alex Walker has agreed to take on the role of Acting Chair while I’m on leave and I know that the Board and the Federation will be in very safe hands. With her extensive experience as a leader in the sector at the Harris Museum in Preston and with her other roles including NW representative for the Museums Association, Alex is the perfect person to continue to develop the NWFed while I’m away. You can continue to keep up to date with all NWFed news on our website and newsletter over the coming year.”

From everyone at the NWFed, we would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best at this exciting time for her and her family.

To read Alex Walker’s profile on the NWFed’s Blog, Click Here

NEWS: Introducing New NWFED Board Member, Alex Walker

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

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The NWFed is pleased to announce the appointment of new Board member, Alex Walker, who is currently acting as the North West’s representative of the Museums Association.

Despite recently retiring from her position as Head of Arts and Heritage at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Alex is continuing to remain highly active within the sector across the North West and nationally. Alex recently become Vice-chair of the British Association of Friends of Museums, is a member of the Chethams Library Redevelopment Steering Group and is also a committee member of the Lancashire Art Fund.  Alex has extensive experience in museums sector having led the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, known for its community focussed approach and ambitious exhibitions programme, for a number of years and under her leadership won the 2014 Contemporary Arts Society annual award and became a Plus Tate member.  Having been a member of the NW Museums Development Steering Group, Alex has a long association with the NWFed including previously acting as the NWFed’s President, on her appointment, Alex explained:

 “I am privileged to be able to put my experience in the sector to support the NWFed. The NW has an extraordinarily varied and rich museum offer.  In these difficult and uncertain times for museums  networks, mutual support and knowledge sharing are vitally important.  The Fed has an important role to play in this and can help build the resilience of the talented and dedicated people who work in museums across the region.    I am also pleased to be able to support our new development programme for volunteers which will strengthen their skills and benefit the museums in which they work.”

When appointing board members, it is important to us that those appointed are prepared to oversee and support the work of the NWFED while acting as ambassadors for the organisation.  We are excited to be working with Alex and are sure her experience and expertise will make a great edition to the NWFED and our ongoing work.

Alex will also become the NWFed’s Acting Chair stepping in for Katy Ashton as she goes on Maternity leave.  To read the full story on our blog, Click Here.

 

NEWS: Museums Association to Expand Transformers Programme

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

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Freelance conservator Lucie Graham working on Gallery Oldham’s Natural History collection. Image Courtesy:  Gallery Oldham.

 

Following a successful application for Arts Council England’s (ACE) Museum Resilience Fund, The Museums Association (MA) has announced it is to expand its Transformers initiative.

Transformers is the Museums Association’s workforce initiative for people in mid-career, supported by any accredited museum (or museum working towards accreditation), looking to change the way they work.  Those who participate are challenged to develop new ways of thinking and supported throughout to engage with experimental ideas, fresh thinking and learning from the experience of experts and innovators.

Receiving £407,662 from the Museums Resilience Fund, the MA plan to broaden and diversify the Transformers targeting areas of particular need such as civic museums and smaller regional museums.

It will include three strands: intensive support, coaching, residential courses and workshops for 16 mid-career professionals, culminating in a £3,000 microfunded project at their museum; a two-day course for 130 participants, in partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, including learning from the Foundation’s Our Museum project, with sessions on change management, partnership working and influencing; and a programme of support and coaching for 20 mid-career museum professionals from diverse backgrounds.  Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, explains:

“We are delighted to have backing from ACE for this ground-breaking scheme that encourages innovation and risk-taking. We are working with partner organisations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that museum professionals across the UK are able to benefit from this pioneering scheme.

“The additional funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will enable us to embed the legacy and learning of the Our Museum programme into Transformers so that participants can embed working with communities as active partners in their work.”

To find out more  about Transformers and how you could participate, Click Here

NEWS: People History Museum Receives Museum Resilience Fund Grant

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

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Banners section – Main Gallery Two @ People’s History Museum

 

As Arts Council England announces the successful applicants of its second round of Museum Resilience Funding, organisations across the North West have been celebrating success.  John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Museums at Arts Council England explained:

‘The focus of our investment approach for museums in 2015 – 2018 is on building a more resilient sector.  The Museum Resilience Fund is a key part of that, providing vital support to museums right across the country.’

One of the North West’s successful recipients is Manchester’s Peoples History Museum who have been awarded £273,600 to undertake their project, Builders and Dreamers: the future of ideas worth fighting for, which will transform the museum over the next 18 months with the ambition of becoming a cultural centre for Manchester, the North West and the UK; a space where people debate and discuss the key ideas and issues facing society today. Katy Ashton, Director explained PHM’s delight at being granted the funding to undertake such an ambitious project:

‘The funding will enable us to strengthen the museum and add capacity in key areas which will make a real difference to the museum’s future.  By supporting the museum with this funding, the Arts Council is helping us to achieve our big ambitions as the national museum of democracy and home of ideas worth fighting for.

There are some extremely important anniversaries on the horizon for our museum to champion and lead, with a programme of activity on LGBT+ rights planned for 2017 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, the centenary of women first getting the right to vote in 2018 and the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019.  These are all huge opportunities for the museum and for our partners and audiences and we’re very excited to now have the additional support that comes with this grant.’

The Museum Resilience Fund is investing £30 million during 2015 – 2018 to focus on any gaps or development opportunities for excellent museums of all sizes.  To find out more about the fund and its recipients so far, Click Here

NEWS: Arts Council Unveils Museum Funding Shake Up

Friday, August 5th, 2016

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Image Courtesy: The Atkinson

“Major Partner Museums scrapped but new opportunities open up”

Major Partner Museums and other ringfenced museum funding streams are to be abolished in a radical shake-up announced today by Arts Council England (ACE).

From 2018 onwards, all arts council funding for museums in England will be integrated into the existing National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), Grants for the Arts and strategic funding programmes. The changes come after a survey conducted by the research consultancy ComRes with 1,000 stakeholders found widespread support for the proposals in the culture sector.

ACE plans to introduce three funding bands for NPO applicants: grants between £40,000-£250,000; grants between £250,000-£1m; and grants of more than £1m. Less administrative burden will be placed on those applying for smaller grants, and the length of funding settlements will increase from three to four years.

The NPO programme will also include a new category, Sector Support Organisations, which will be available to organisations that offer support services to the sector rather than producing arts and culture themselves.

To read the full article originally published on Museums Journal, Click Here

NEWS: MU[SEE]UM

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

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Here at the NWFed we are always on the look out for places and spaces which can help us keep up with the latest happenings in the museum and gallery sector.  In a recent conversation with our partners over at Museum Development North West we found out about a space which we hadn’t previously discovered and wanted to share with you.

Museeum is a weekly updated e-mag devoted to encouraging people to activate all of their five senses and explore things anew by helping visitors to see, taste, touch, breathe and listen differently when they visit art spaces.

“Mu[see]um encourages you to see beyond the traditional museum experience. Activate all the senses and explore art spaces anew!”
Edited by a team of like-minded art professionals and enthusiasts, the team hope to enrich people’s cultural experience with tips on mind-blowing architecture, amazing food, unconventional shopping, breathtaking gardens and stimulating learning activities – everything that makes museums important creative and communication environments today.   

Why not take a look at MU[SEE]UM for yourself by following this link and sign up for their newsletter to keep up with the latest happenings.

 

NEWS: Four Towns and Cities Shortlisted to Host Great Exhibition of the North

Friday, July 29th, 2016

 

After much deliberation, the four shortlisted towns and cities who will battle it out to host the the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018 have been named as Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield.

Strong bids were also submitted by teams in Halifax, Harrogate, Scunthorpe, St Helens and Whitehaven.  Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, explained:

“The Great Exhibition of the North is a unique opportunity to celebrate the creativity of Northern England and I am thrilled we received so many innovative bids.”

After the final four venues are assessed by the Great Exhibition board, the final venue will be chosen by Ministers and announced this autumn.

The exhibition will run for at least two months, showcasing the great creative, cultural and design sectors across the whole of the North with a view to helping boost investment and tourism in the region.  The Government is contributing £5 million towards the exhibition and a further £15 million to a legacy fund to attract further cultural investment in the North.

To read the full press release published on Gov.UK, Click Here.  

NEWS: Culture Warrington Launches New Membership Scheme

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

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Local Warrington man Roger Hunt, a member of the World Cup-winning England team in 1966, signs up as the first patron of our new membership scheme, with Culture Warrington’s board chair Maureen Banner.  Image Courtesy: Culture Warrington.

The team at Culture Warrington have always been dedicated to making the town a thriving centre of activity and work tirelessly to promote its heritage, arts and entertainment offer.  With lots of exciting future plans to further improve this offer including a new Heritage Hub which will explore the town’s rich history, and a new gallery bringing the best of the contemporary arts to Warrington there are exciting times ahead for the team and its audiences old and new.

Even with all of this activity happening, Culture Warrington has still found the time to launch a brand new Membership Scheme.  To find out more about what this new scheme will offer audiences and bring to Warrington, our News Editor Emma Sumner spoke to Michelle Hill, Culture Warrington’s Collections and Archive Manager to find out more:

Emma Sumner: How did the idea of Culture Warrington running a membership scheme come about?  Was this something your audience asked for or something that you decided to set up as a source of income generation?

Michelle Hill: The main impetus for the set-up of the scheme was the museum being awarded a Catalyst grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The aim of the project was to look at making the organisation more sustainable, business-like and resilient following transfer from local authority management in 2012.

There were two main strands of the project with one aim – to increase our support base.  One part of the Catalyst project focused on launching a revamped Culture Warrington volunteer scheme and the other part was to look at formulating a fundraising strategy through sponsorship, philanthropy and developing a membership scheme.   We also wanted to reiterate that Culture Warrington is a charity and because of this there is now an increased emphasis on us raising our own funds and looking for financial support in a variety of ways.

ES:  What does a Culture Warrington membership give those who subscribe?

MH: At present, new members will get:

  • A six-monthly newsletter packed with news, information, exclusive interviews and blogs from across Culture Warrington
  • Priority booking for selected events – Be the first to book tickets at Pyramid and Parr Hall before they go on sale to the general public
  • Invitations to exclusive members-only events across Culture Warrington from exhibition previews to behind the scenes tours and opportunities to ‘meet the curator’
  • Access to discounted tickets and special offers to selected shows and events at Pyramid and Parr Hall
  • Save money on ticket purchases for events at Pyramid and Parr Hall with no booking fees
  • Membership badge
  • An additional free gift (a Culture Warrington shopper)

ES:  Since you launched, have you had a good response to the scheme and what has been the uptake?

MH: We launched it on 1 July and to date (27 July) we have had more than 20 members sign up.  There is a marketing plan in place to raise awareness of the scheme and a working group has been set up to monitor and further develop the scheme.

ES:  Does Culture Warrington have any future plans to develop the scheme further and if so how do you see it developing?

MH:  Yes we would like to develop family and corporate membership offers.  We decided to start with a couple of membership categories (single and double membership) to see how things go and then we can reflect on progress, examine member feedback and then look at developing the scheme further.  We would aim to review the benefits the scheme offers on an annual basis.

ES: What would your advice be to any other North West organisations who might want to look into setting up their own membership schemes?

MH: Set up a working group of staff representing different parts of the organisation and speak to  staff at all levels about suggestions and ideas that have been put forward.  Do your research into what other schemes are out there locally and their pricing structure; don’t overprice your scheme.  Ask your visitors what they would like to see from a scheme in terms of potential benefits and this should give you a steer.  Keep an eye on the benefits offered so you are not giving away more than the income you generate.  Have a dedicated person/team of people to meet regularly after the scheme has launched to keep it high on people’s agendas.  As with all projects once they have launched, it’s easy to let things drift as staff move onto other projects.

It was very useful for us to have an external consultant Marilyn Scott (director of the Lightbox in Woking) who has extensive experience in this area to guide us but obviously not everyone has the funds to do this. In which case it would be useful to get out and about and speak with people in other organisations that have set up schemes and get their advice about what has or hasn’t worked for them.

To find out more about the scheme or to become a member, Click Here

NEWS: Museums Association Find a Museum Tool

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

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Earlier this year the Museums Association launched a new online database called Find a Museum.  A valuable and useful online tool, it allows anyone working for an institution with membership of the Museums Association to search for information about other museums collections, find contact details for fellow museum professionals, search relevant academic courses and find qualified training providers.

Having rolled out a new database over the past few weeks, our News Editor Emma Sumner caught up with MA’s Marketing and Sales Officer Emma Mitchinson to find out more about the project’s progress and future developments:

Emma Sumner:  Could you explain what Find a Museum is and what those who have access to it can benefit from?

Emma Mitchinson:  Find a museum is a fully searchable online directory, giving you the ability to search staff and collection information and use multiple fields to find the results you need. Includes:

  • over 2,700 museums, galleries, heritage sites and related organisations
  • over 12,000 staff across museum departments
  • search by collection type
  • search by job title
  • search by services offered
  • search by geographical area
  • research, admission and attendance figures
  • facilities and access information

 

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ES:  Why did the Museums Association feel this was a tool that was needed withing the sector?

EM:  Find a Museum is something that we have always produced, initially in a printed copy of the Museums & Galleries Yearbook. The online function has allowed people to filter their search by collection types, region etc which we think is more user friendly and is a quick go to guide at the touch of a button to find information on other museums.

ES:  Since it was launched, how have you seen it develop relationships between museums and perhaps what are some of the most successful connections it has created?

EM:  From user feedback we know that people like to find other members of staff with responsibility for similar collections or who have similar services and facilities at their museum. This can help with their research when putting on an exhibition, trying something new in their museum or for their own career development.

ES:  How do you see this tool developing in the future and does the Museum Association have any plans to develop its search potentials further?

EM:  We are looking at a web redesign at the moment and ideally we would like to develop and possibly link up some of our online functionalities, including Find a Museum. We would also like to develop Find a Museum further to help research areas such as the make-up of the workforce in the sector or get an idea of patterns in museum funding.

To find further information and details on how to subscribe to Find a Museum, Click Here.

NEWS: Money Matters – A New Creative Teaching and Learning Resource for Teachers

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

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The Harris Museum has a nationally important 12,500 item strong numismatic collection which was formerly underused. The Money Matters Project funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation started in 2014 has transformed how this fantastic collection is used. As well as repacking and cataloguing the collection, the project has allowed the Harris to network with other museums and share expertise.

As this project draws to a close, a brand new creative teaching and learning resource commissioned by the Harris Museum’s Money Matters project and Curious Minds has been made available to download from Museum Development North West’s (MDNW) blog, providing a link between museums and those who would like to know more about how to use their collections creatively. To help explain how this new resource can help teachers and those working in learning environments, James Arnold, History Curator at the Harris, introduces it:

“The resource is aimed at museum practitioners and teachers who want to find out more about the numismatic (coin and medal) collections in the North West and how to bring them to life to inspire pupil learning and engagement. The resource contains:

  • An introduction to numismatic (coin and medal) collections and what they are
  • Ideas for creative learning using numismatic collections
  • Creative ideas and a curriculum map
  • Arts Award using coins and medals
  • In practice examples in the North West
  • Links to other resources

In 2013 MDNW carried out a small consultation with museums. The results were clear – there was a huge willingness by museums to use their numismatic collections if they could, but holding them back was their lack of confidence in knowing what they had and how to use it. In recent years museum staff and volunteers have struggled with how to make collections relevant and accessible against a backdrop of ever diminishing resources and expert knowledge leaving the sector. Yet the mapping work undertaken by the Money & Medals Network has shown the large number of numismatic collections held by the region’s museums, some of them being part of the founding collections of museums with their roots in the 19th century.

To download a copy from MDNW’s blog, Click Here.

NEWS: Museum Freecycle Update

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

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Two years after its was founded by Caroline Keppel-Palmer, the Museum Freecycle network has grown substantially, and with over 550 members across the UK, continues to help museums reuse, reduce and recycle unwanted items in new and innovative ways.   To find out more about this successful project, the NWFed caught up with Keppel-Palmer to find out more about the benefits museums who join the network could enjoy.

Keppel-Palmer explained that at the time of founding Museum Freecycle, she was working as the Managing Director for the architecture and design studio, Urban Salon. The company worked with many museums designing temporary exhibitions and much of the display kit from these exhibitions was ending up in the skip, even though most of it was perfectly reusable.  It was repeatedly seeing this waste which spurred Keppel-Palmer on to establish the Museum Freecycle network as a space where museums could advertise and dispose of unwanted items – including exhibition furniture, display cases and office equipment – to other museums who have a use for them.

Having seen the network go from strength to strength over the last two years, Keppel-Palmer explained:

“I am keen to see as many UK museums as possible join and benefit from Museum Freecycle, so we can reduce waste to an absolute minimum and help as many museums as possible get access to ‘new’ free equipment.  The more members we have, the better the site will work for everyone.”

The network has also helped  numerous museums to develop and upgrade their visitor experiences in spite of financial constraints and ever-tighter budgets.  It’s not just standard museum equipment and fittings that find new homes either; currently Museum Freecycle is helping to find new homes for a bride and groom cake topper, a pregnant wire mannequin and a Victorian courtroom dock.

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It is very quick and easy for any museum to sign up and join the network.  To do so, museums simply need to create a free Freecycle account and then apply to join the Museum Freecycle group.

To sign up and enjoy the benefits this ever  growing network could bring your museum,Click Here.

NEWS: Economics of Touring Exhibitions Survey Report Launched

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Halima Cassell Private View at Kirkby Gallery3
Back in April 2015, the Touring Exhibitions Group (TEG) was awarded £40,000 by Arts Council England as part of their Museum Resilience Fund to support the delivery of a two year research and training programme which would explore the current economics of touring exhibitions in the UK.  Operating under the title ‘Economics of Touring Exhibitions:  Models for Practice’, the programme recently launched three new resources to help museums and galleries within the UK find out more about the economic benefits of touring their exhibitions.

All of these resources can each be downloaded by clicking on the link above and are freely available to all museums and galleries through TEG’s website.  For those who may not already be aware of the Touring Exhibitions Group’s work, they are a UK based independent membership network committed to exchanging exhibitions as a means of sharing ideas, materials and resources and to extend public awareness, knowledge and enjoyment of historical and contemporary culture.

To find out more about TEG’s  on-going work, research and events, Click Here

NEWS: Neil MacGregor Warns of Erosion of Curatorial Strength in the Regional Museums

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

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Installation of the giant deer skeleton in the Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum. Photo by John Caley, copyright Manx Museum and National Trust

In a recent blog for the Museums Association the former Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor  raised his concerns about the curatorial strength in museums outside London becoming “a very serious issue”.  Now retired and acting as advisor to a number of international institutions, MacGregor gave evidence to a select committee hearing last week as part of the ongoing Countries of Culture Inquiry, which is examining the landscape of cultural provision across the UK.

MacGregor told the committee that the financial constraints on local authorities meant that curators were not being recruited because they “rarely generate revenue” in a way that can be easily quantified leading to a steady erosion of curatorial strength in the regions.  He then went on to explain:

“This loss of specialist knowledge is making it difficult for some museums to borrow from other institutions or use their own collections effectively.  It is very hard for those collections outside London to be intelligent borrowers, because the curator needs to know what would be useful to borrow and useful to use; but perhaps even more significantly, it makes it impossible for the local museum to use its own resource properly.”

The Countries of Culture Inquiry are continuing to hear evidence from culture, museum and heritage professionals throughout the month and will issue a report on their findings later this year.

To read the full article which was originally published on the Museums Association blog, Click Here