Archive for July, 2016

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

Roger Hunt 1

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

Find a Museum 1

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


Find a Museum 3

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.

FUNDING: Ready to Borrow Grants Scheme 2017-18

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Arts Council England has secured funding for a grant programme for museums to borrow loans for display by upgrading buildings and display spaces to meet the requirements of the Government Indemnity Scheme.

The purpose of the programme is to allow museums to borrow significant objects from museums, particularly national museums and Major Partner Museums. By borrowing high profile loans it is hoped that museums will increase their visitor figures and profile, to help increase their resilience in challenging times.

£132,000 has been allocated for museums in the North West in 2017-18 and the funding will be distributed through MDNW. A single museum can apply for a minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £50,000. A consortium of museums can apply for a maximum of £80,000.

The funding must be used for exhibitions and displays which include loans from one or more of the following, in order of priority:

  • national museums and Major Partner Museums
  • other Accredited museums in the UK
  • publicly-funded museums overseas

The loan(s) must be confirmed between the borrowing and lending organisations prior to application to this fund.

The programme is being announced now to give sufficient lead in time for museums to approach nationals and Major Partner Museums to request loans. Additional support on working with nationals to secure loans will be given in the form of the British Museum’s “Loan Ready” programme, with training days running in the North West from September 2016 to February 2017. Attendance on this programme is strongly recommended if you are considering applying to the “Ready to Borrow” scheme. Further details of the British Museum’s programme will be announced on our blog soon.

To apply for “Ready to Borrow” funding you MUST attend one of the surgeries held in by the MDNW team for advice and guidance before submitting an application. We will not accept applications from museums which have not attended. The surgeries will be held in July 2017; dates and venues will be announced on our blog nearer the time.

For further details on eligibility and timescales, refer to the ACE Ready to Borrow guidance 2017-18 and the ACE Ready to Borrow Application Form. Please read through these before contacting one of the team for advice.

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

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016



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.