Recently at the Museum Next Conference in Dublin we got in a conversation with someone and they recommended a great museum blog that we wanted to share.
Museeum is a weekly updated e-mag devoted to everything that goes beyond your usual expectations from a museum/gallery/art space visit. We encourage you to see beyond the traditional museum experience and activate all your five senses. Museeum is here to help you See, Taste, Touch, Breathe and Listen differently in art spaces. We hope to enrich your 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.
MuseumsEtc are currently inviting submissions for inclusion in an exciting new book which they will be publishing early next year, The Museum Blog Book.
Today, much of the most interesting, innovative and passionate writing – and dialogue about museums and galleries takes place around some 500 carefully-crafted, thoughtfully-created museum blogs and personal websites. But all too little of this content enters into mainstream museum discourse on a regular basis. The Museum Blog Book aims to remedy this.
If you’d like to submit content, the deadline for MuseumsEtc receiving it is 11 January 2016.
Full details of this Call For Papers can be found here
We are pleased to announce the launch of a new feature on our blog, the Museum Development North West Calendar.
The calendar, which can be found here, will keep you up to date with our events schedule, as well as deadlines for funding opportunities.
If there is anything you would like us to add to the calendar, please get in touch as it will be updated frequently.
From John Orna-Ornstein, our Director of Museums, blogs about the future of local authority funded museums.
I’ve just visited my local town museum, or at least the muddy shell of it. The former site of the Hitchin museum has closed and a new museum for North Hertfordshire is being built, at a cost of around five million pounds. It’s not a vanity project. The local authority has taken a considered, strategic decision to invest in a single museum and community hub that can be run, with modest LA support, by a mixture of paid professionals and volunteers.
The new North Hertfordshire museum in development
Local authorities remain the most important funders of regional museums in England, providing around five times more funding than the Arts Council. Reductions in local authority budgets are therefore having an impact on hundreds of museums. More than half of respondents to the Museums Association’s Cuts Survey for 2014 indicated that funding had reduced last year, and many reported consequent reductions in public services. And, literally as I’m sitting here writing, I take a call about a local authority on the verge of selling a museum building that holds important collections.
But the picture isn’t all bad. I’ve visited dozens of local authority museums in the last year, and been involved in conversations about many more. The great majority are optimistic about their futures. And some are faring relatively well financially, with grant income holding firm and increases in commercial revenue. I’ve also talked directly to the chief executives of local authorities as well as to councillors and officers with responsibility for culture. Most are enormously supportive of their museums and wider cultural and arts offer, even where they have taken difficult decisions to reduce funding.
So where does this leave us? For local authority museums it means being very clear what their offer is, and how it meets local needs and local authority priorities. Museums have to be worth paying for, whether on the door or through public or philanthropic investment. Does the museum meet a real community need, providing valuable services that enhance the lives of local people? Alternatively, how does the offer compare to the local cinema or National Trust property? Is the café somewhere local people will prefer to Starbucks and is the shop comparable in quality to high street venues?
For the Arts Council it means being involved in dozens of conversations with local authorities across England, championing the value of museums as part of a broader cultural and arts offer. The Arts Council has an active relationship with around two thirds of the country’s local authorities. I suspect these relationships are more important than the forty million pounds we invest in museums every year. My priority for the coming months is to support my colleagues in making museums central to their local conversations. One of yours might be to make sure that everyone knows all about the value of your local museum. And if you work in a museum, why not even invite someone from the local authority or Arts Council office to visit if you haven’t already done so?
The future for local authority museums can be a bright one. But that will mean change. The new North Herts Museum has required significant capital investment from a supportive district council. But it will also be cheaper to run than the two older and smaller museums it replaces. A high quality offer and solid plans for commercial income should give it a vibrant and sustainable future. The role of the Arts Council is to support this change, through wise investment and development and, critically at the moment, through nuanced local advocacy.
Written by Lisa Edwards, Project Assistant at the National Waterways Museum the latest blog to feature on here is the Window on the World. WOTW is a HLF project run by staff and volunteers at The National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port interpreting the town’s historic slipway for the first time and securing the future of two boats in the Trust’s national collection.