Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending February 17 2007.
16.02.2007 – Manchester Dock in Liverpool excavated
An archaeological excavation is underway on Liverpool’s famous waterfront in advance of the construction of the new Museum of Liverpool.
A team of archaeologists and volunteers have been digging up part of the Manchester Dock, Chester Basin and nearby quaysides on the Mann Island site over the last month, and have so far exposed the layout of the 19th century dock. A tidal basin was originally constructed in the 1780s, but the dock visible now was created with the addition of an entrance lock in 1810-15.
Manchester Dock played an important role in the trade of coal, cotton and manufactured goods until it closed in the 1920s and was filled in with rubble.
The lock – one of the earliest surviving examples in the Liverpool docks complex - has been uncovered by the work as has the outline of the western sandstone wall of Manchester Dock. The lock gates are visible and are made from what is thought to be tropical hardwood.
A viewing platform has been erected so visitors can see the excavation, which will be four metres deep eventually.
16.02.2007 - Phoenix Arts launches Brighton art bazaar
Phoenix Arts Association in Brighton is looking for artists or makers who have work for sale at affordable prices to set up a stall in the Phoenix Gallery space for an arts, crafts and jumble sale on Saturday February 24.
Given the moniker Art Junky, the event will bring together the best of Brighton’s lively jumble sale culture and its enterprising artist population for a one day flea market that will be targeting buyers on the look out for affordable art, unusual cast-offs, and 'junk stall' inspiration.
Artists can set up their own stall for only £10 or if they are too busy, then will sell the work on a 50/50 split of the proceeds.
To add to the ambience of the event the gallery is also looking for musicians who may like the opportunity to play a set during the day and would be willing to do it for free - will be rewarded with the opportunity to sell their arty junk for free.
Anyone interested in taking a stall or making music should contact Sara Duffy on firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01273) 603700.
16.02.2007 – Roman Villa uncovered under back gardens in Leicestershire
A villa dating back 1,800 years has been discovered beneath the back gardens of five homes in a Leicestershire village.
Local archaeologists were alerted after a resident of the road in Ibstock found pottery pieces and tiles while digging out a pond bed. A ensuing investigation has unearthed two military ditches, a sword or dagger pommel and more pottery.
Some of the finds will be displayed at Donington le Heath Manor House on February 25 2007 between 11am and 4pm.
15.02.2007 - Funding package for repair of England's Cathedrals doubled
This year's grants, announced on February 15 2007 and totalling £1.6 million, will be used for a range of projects - including repairs to the roof of the 12th-century St Anselm's Chapel in Chester Cathedral.
Cuts in government funding meant English Heritage was forced to reduce the scheme to just £1 million in 2004. This new partnership reinstates pre-2004 levels of funding and doubles individual grant thresholds so helping cathedrals to undertake larger repair projects.
15.02.2007 - Top astronomer launches Centre for Life planetarium show
Professor John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, will visit the Centre for Life in Newcastle on Friday February 16 2007, to unveil its new planetarium show, Winter Skies.
The show, which will be screened in the Centre’s Dome Theatre, will take visitors on a journey through our solar system to learn more about our neighbouring planets and the stars we can see in the winter sky.
“This is the first time there has been such a planetarium show in the region and it looks set to be a very exciting addition to our range of activities here at Life," said Ian Simmons, Head of Science Development and Public Programmes at the Centre for Life. "The images used in the show are truly mesmerising and I’m sure our visitors will find it worth their visit."
15.02.2007 - Blickling’s historic ceiling revealed after painstaking restoration following flood damage
An intricately colourful Arts and Crafts ceiling that once adorned Blickling Hall’s Brown Drawing Room has been revealed and is now in its final stages of conservation following years of dedicated work.
The ceiling, a fine example of Victorian decorative art incorporating Celtic imagery, birds and flowers, was covered over for 70 years until a flood at Blickling in 2002 forced the removal of the ceiling to expose the remarkable work.
The design consists of 52 painted strips which are bordered by joists within the framework of larger decorative beams. It features an interlacing, geometric pattern displaying Celtic influences.
The work will be finished off in the Brown Drawing Room at Blickling between Monday February 19 and Thursday March 1 2007.
15.02.2007 - Henry Wellcome’s Library Re-launches
The Wellcome Library, Europe’s largest resource for the study of history of medicine, will re-open in its new home as part of the Wellcome Collection on 18 April. Popular author Sebastian Faulks will officially launch the new and vastly enhanced Library, which houses over 2.5 million items spanning 3,000 years.
Collections at the Wellcome Library include 60,000 volumes of medical and scientific literature, a film and audio collection of 2,500 titles, a rare books collection of 70,000 volumes, 600 archival collections and more than 100,000 paintings, prints and photographs.
Artifacts range from the ‘Nuremburg Chronicle’ (1943), a book depicting the history of the world containing 800 woodcut illustrations, to the horn of an arctic whale nearly three metres long.
15.02.2007 - Lower Orangery Garden restored at Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace has begun the process of restoring William III and Mary II’s baroque Lower Orangery Garden. The garden, due for completion in the summer, will benefit from the 2007 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Gala Preview following the announcement that Historic Royal Palaces will be this year’s supported charity.
The Hampton Court Palaces Garden and Estates team have already begun restoration work on the Lower Orangery Garden, complete with its exotic plant collection, to recreate the stunning displays first introduced 300 years ago by avid horticulturalists William III and Mary II.
Today there are no other surviving 17th century gardens in Europe or indeed the rest of the world displaying exotics in this manner. The restoration of the Lower Orangery Garden will confirm that the gardens at Hampton Court Palace are amongst the best presented, landscaped and historically significant in Europe.
14.02.2007 – Human remains throw up questions over history of Harrow-on-the-Hill church
Parishioners of St Mary’s, Harrow-on-the-Hill’s oldest church, discovered ancient human remains as they removed rotting pews, posing the question whether there was a church on the site before the present building.
The Norman church of St Mary’s was built between 1087 and 1094, but the remains may predate this, backing up a theory a Saxon church stood there before.
“The initial speculation is the body dates back to the 1200s,” church warden Pauline Chandler told the Harrow Times. “The head goes under a wall our records show dates back to between 1190 and 1240 – so the body would have to have been buried before then.”
An archaeologist has visited the site and investigations are under way to date the skeleton.
14.02.2007 – Roman burials found in Horncastle
Archaeologists working on a site prior to a major sewerage scheme in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, have had some unexpected finds in the form of about 30 Roman graves and a haul of pottery, jewellery, coins and other materials.
The excavation is the biggest in the town’s history, taking up its playing fields, which was known by archaeologists to have been a Roman field system (from aerial pictures and geophysical surveys). However, they did not anticipate the burials and previous Roman human remains found in the area were cremations.
The latest burial findings were of complete skeletons, some in coffins and one with a brooch, indicating a change in customs.
Analyses of these and the other artefacts will give a picture of the different phases of activity in Horncastle between the first and third centuries AD.
13.02.2007 - Bronze Age burial site found at Tidworth tank base
Builders working on the new Royal Tank Regiment base at Tidworth in Wiltshire have found four Bronze Age graves.
The 3,500-year-old graves are the oldest finds from the town and Wessex Archaeology found the bodies had been cremated. Ashes in three of the graves were covered by pots that had been placed upside down.
Experts will now study the bones to determine the age and sex of the dead.
"Bronze Age burial mounds are a familiar sight even today, but not everyone was buried under a barrow at this time," said Nick Truckle, Project Manger at Wessex Archaeology.
"As the four graves lay in a line, we imagine that the sites of the graves were marked by some sort of memorial. As the graves were close together this small cemetery may be a family one."
13.02.2007 - Hartlepool's Headland to be home to historic coastal defence gun
Hartlepool’s Headland will be transformed by a new project remembering the area’s military history.
The currently disused and unkempt spot will be fitted with neat paving and an original coastal defence gun will point out to sea from the site, marking the area’s role as a pre-World War One gunnery command post.
The gun has been obtained from English Heritage by the Heugh Gun Battery Trust, which is restoring the nearby Heugh Gun Battery.
13.02.2007 - Museum in Docklands to host slavery reparations debate
Museum in Docklands will be holding a debate commemorating the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade on Saturday February 18.
The debate, titled Can Slavery Reparations Ever Deliver Justice? will be recorded for BBC Radio London and is expected to be chaired by broadcaster Eddie Nestor. Among the panelists will be lawyer Esther Stanford, a lifelong campaigner for reparations, along with Judith Edwards, an active Conservative and former advisor to Ian Duncan Smith.
The event is free to attend, but spaces are limited, so to reserve a ticket call the museum on 0870 444 3855. It will be broadcast on Eddie Nestor's BBC London show on February 18.
12.02.2007 - Rare photograph of Julia Margaret Cameron given to National Media Museum
A rare daguerreotype depicting Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79) – one of the most important figures in the history of photography – has been given to the National Media Museum in Bradford.
The gift comes from Cameron’s great-great-grandchildren and shows Cameron at the age of 29, 20 years before her own photographic career began, with her seven year old daughter, Julia Hay Cameron, on her knee.
Although the photographer is unknown, the picture is of particular interest because it was Julia Hay Cameron and her husband who later gave the gift of a camera to Julia Margaret Cameron, who went on to embrace photography with a passion bordering on obsession.
In little more than a decade she produced hundreds of searching portraits of some of the most eminent figures of the Victorian age, including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin and Thomas Carlyle, along with distinctive portraits of her servants and friends. Her work is recognised today as being decades ahead of its time.
The gift was made to the museum via the Art Fund, who were selected by the family to be the conduit for placing the photograph in a public collection. It now joins other Cameron-related archives including a set of photograph albums given to the same museum by the family in 2002. The daguerreotype will be on display at the National Media Museum from Febraury 12 2007.
12.02.2007 - Cultural property advice portal set up to help public and museums buy art and antiques
The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has created a website to help art and antiques enthusiasts buy or sell art. Launched on February 12 2007, the Cultural Property Advice website contains vital information on collecting, buying and selling art, antiques and antiquities legitimately and with confidence.
The website supports private collectors, trade organisations and individuals working in public collections like museums, libraries and archives. It is a reliable, accurate and practical source of information and guidance on cultural property including: exporting and importing cultural objects; current legislation; news on stolen and illicitly traded objects; and lots of checklists and factsheets to support what you are doing.
"Public interest in buying and selling art and antiques is on a high at the moment," explained Culture Minister David Lammy. "But the ‘dos and don’ts’ of the trade can be confusing to the novice and the veteran alike. This site brings all the best advice together on every aspect of it, and I warmly recommend it to everyone involved in this fascinating and rewarding business.”
12.02.2007 - Arts Council asks public to get involved in national arts debate
Arts Council England’s first ever public inquiry, the arts debate, has launched its second phase with an open public consultation to explore what people value about the arts and what they expect from public funding. It takes place alongside research with the arts sector and other key stakeholders.
The arts debate commenced last year with a series of national discussion groups, including people engaged with the arts and those who are not. The results provide a rich insight into how people perceive and experience the arts today, and what their priorities for public funding of the arts are. The full findings of this initial stage are available on the arts debate website: www.artsdebate.co.uk
“The arts debate is a unique opportunity for members of the public, artists, arts organisations and a wide range of other institutions to debate the principles that should guide public funding of the arts today," said Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive, Arts Council England.
"It’s very exciting – opening up the debate in this way may create some entirely new possibilities for the arts in England. We’ve learnt a huge amount already - now we want many more people to have their say by logging on to the arts debate website.”
Findings from the research along with the views from the public consultation will be analysed and published later in the year along with the Arts Council’s plans for the future. The public consultation will run for three months until May 11 2007.