Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending April 1 2007.
30.03.2007 - Stonehenge visitor centre gets the go-ahead
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, has told English Heritage that it can go ahead with plans for new visitor facilities at Stonehenge, once the government approves the published roads scheme for the A303.
The key part of the roads scheme, proposed to deal with both traffic issues and preserving the historic landscape, is a 2.1km bored tunnel taking the A303 underground as it passes the World Heritage Site.
Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, has responded that he is pleased with the planning permission, but is anxious for the government to make a decision on the roads scheme.
"English Heritage believes that the published scheme is the only deliverable solution that would provide the dualled A303 that is so urgently needed," he said, "while at the same time unlocking the enormous publis benefits to be gained by giving Stonehenge the setting it deserves."
"We urge the government to give its support to the published scheme for the A303 and to announce its decision without further delay."
30.03.2007 - Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon to open new £1.7m galleries
The Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, has announced it will open its revamped galleries to the public on May 26 2007, launching its new look and fun interactive exhibitions aimed at all the family.
Visitors will be able to take a panoramic look over the world's largest collection of British motor cars from a new mezzanine at the Warwickshire attraction. The renovations are part of the Heritage Lottery funded projects the Road Ahead, which are costing a total of £1.7 million.
Three new exhibitions about the British motor industry have been created. Making British Cars looks at the people involved in designing and building the cars from the 1890s to the present day. Under the Skin uncovers the mystery of how cars work, and the Nick Baldwin Life's Highway exhibition explores transport history.
30.03.2007 – Late night Thursdays at East London museums and galleries
From May 3 2007, art galleries and museums in East London will be staying open until 9pm on the first Thursday of every month. They will also be inviting visitors to special events and free exhibition previews at First Thursdays – Late Night Gallery openings.
The idea is to create a new social and cultural experience in one of the biggest cultural quarters in Europe, East London, that is home to thousands of artists and more than 160 galleries.
First Thursdays is being organised by Whitechapel Art Gallery and Parasol Unit, and is funded by Arts Council England and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Participating venues include Ancient & Modern, Barbican Art Gallery, Museum in Docklands, the Museum of London and Victoria Miro.
A website with an interactive map of venues and more information will go live soon at www.FirstThursdays.co.uk. Pocket-sized First Thursdays East End Art Maps will also be available at each venue and across London showing routes and points of interest between participating museums and galleries. Image: Whitechapel Art Gallery
30.03.2007 - Stoke's Chatterley Whitfield Colliery to undergo £3m regeneration
Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, has announced a grant of £3 million to safeguard some of the most important elements of the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Stoke-on-Trent.
Many parts of the scheduled colliery have structural problems that need tackling. The money will allow an overhaul of the rusting Hesketh Heapstead winding gear, used to raise coal from the mine shaft sunk in 1915, and the making safe of aging concrete beams that support the Pit Head Baths. It is hoped that the art deco Pit Head Baths can be redeveloped into a useful space once the building is sound.
30.03.2007 - Wandsworth Museum thrown a lifeline
Wandsworth Council is joining forces with the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation, a major international sponsor of the arts, to establish a brand new plan for at the heart of the local community. The plan comes following a vehement campaign by Museum staff and supporters to keep the Museum open in the face of funding cutbacks.
The proposal would involve the setting up of an independent trust to manage the museum. Trustees would have access to the existing collection and would run the new service with support from volunteers.
In order to provide the local community with continued access to the Wandsworth Museum collection, the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation has committed, in principle, to finance a new museum trust that would be based at the old West Hill library building. This would allow the entire collection of the current museum plus the privately-run De Morgan Collection of ceramics and paintings to continue to be housed together under one roof.
29.03.2007 - Elizabethan Wollaton Hall re-opens after restoration work
Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, one of the most important Elizabethan houses in the country and home to the city’s Natural History Museum, is to reopen to the public this Easter (April 7), after 18 months of restoration work.
The Grade I-listed building and its 500 acres of surrounding parkland (Nottingham’s largest recreational space) are undergoing a £25m programme of conservation and improvement works.
A further five phases of restoration works are planned over the next ten years, including additional repairs to the hall, outbuildings and park; relocation of some of the museum’s collections; and extensive improvements to the landscape. Work on Phase 2 with the design of a new collections access centre is well underway.
29.03.2007 - Peterborough Museum launches ghost-cam
Peterborough Museum is said to be the city's most haunted building, with up to eight active spirits roaming its corridors. So staff have set up a 'ghost-cam' to spy on the paranormal guests, and visitors to the City Council's website can take a look at the spooky goings-on from 5pm to 8am every night.
Some of the phenomena reported include the grey figure of a First World War soldier who died in the the building in 1916 and a ghostly Roman soldier said to be forever connected to his sword, on display in the Museum's archaeology gallery.
A kitchen maid who fell to her death on the back stairs is also thought to make herself known sometimes. The stairs are only open to the public on pre-booked tours. The question remains, did she fall, did she jump, or was she pushed? Female visitors have reported the impression of being pushed from behind by invisible hands!
29.03.2007 - Charleston Farmhouse acquires early Vanessa Bell painting
Iceland Poppies, a rare early painting by Vanessa Bell, has been bought by the Charleston Trust in East Sussex. The total cost of the painting was £200,000, with funding coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.
Bell moved to Charleston in 1916 with fellow Bloomsbury group artist Duncan Grant and it was to remain her Sussex home until her death in 1961. Working both alone and in partnership with Grant she created an extraordinary series of interiors there, decorated with mural paintings, stencilled wallpapers and painted furniture.
Iceland Poppies (c1908-9) is considered to be one of Bell’s finest paintings. It is one of very few surviving paintings from her early career. Almost all of her early paintings and drawings were destroyed in a fire in her London studio following a bombing raid during the Second World War.
The painting has formed a key part of every major exhibition of Vanessa Bell’s work since her death in 1961.
29.03.2007 - Quilt commemorates slave trade abolition
A unique commemoration of the abolition of the slave trade will be unveiled at London's City Hall on April 5, thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The In Stitches project has brought together British, African and African-Caribbean women in England to create a quilt that depicts historic figures, scenes and artefacts associated with the slave trade and its abolition two centuries ago. The project has been organised by The African Families Foundation (TAFF) based in Southwark.
A total of 60 squares containing symbols, images and texts have been embroidered by women’s quilting groups meeting in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.
After being exhibited at City Hall and other venues in London in April, the quilt will be displayed in all these cities in turn before returning to the capital in time for Black History Month in October. At each of the venues, volunteers will encourage visitors to discuss their thoughts about the issue of slavery and share the emotions stirred up by the images. Recordings of these discussions will be made as part of the project.
28.03.2007 - Kelvingrove acquires iconic menu card from Miss Cranston's Cafe
Glasgow City Council has acquired an important piece of design from a halcyon era in the city’s history - a menu card designed by a key exponent of the 'Glasgow Style', Frances MacNair.
The menu card, which is now part of the collection at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, was designed for Miss Cranston’s Red Lion Café at Glasgow’s third international exhibition, the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry, in 1911.
It was drawn in pencil and watercolour on vellum and the design is based on emblems associated with Scottish national identity - the thistle and a single rampant red lion derived from the royal banner of Scotland.
The purchase was made possible by a £6,000 grant from the Art Fund and the National Acquisitions Fund administered by the National Museums of Scotland and the friends of Glasgow Museums.
The card will be on display at Kelvingrove, in the Mackintosh and Glasgow Style gallery, until late July 2007.
28.03.2007 - Video conference helps school kids learn the history of abolition
Approximately 1,000 schoolchildren in England were brought together via video conference on March 28 with the first black person to solo circumnavigate the world; the Minister for Culture; the Leader of the House of Lords and others to discuss the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in British ships.
Captain Bill Pinkney came from America to join Culture Minister David Lammy via videolink at Southwark City Learning Centre to discuss the abolition with a representative from Wilberforce House Museum in Hull and Key Stage 4 children.
Organised by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the event used 21st century technology to explore an over 200 year old issue.
Chris Batt, Chief Executive, MLA said: “I am delighted that the worlds of culture and education can unite through the use of technology to acknowledge the abolition of the slave trade and show children how much they can learn about their heritage through museums, libraries and archives.”
28.03.2007 - British Library explores UK dialects with new website
The British Library has launched a new website exploring the regional accents and dialects to be found in the British Isles.
Called Sounds Familiar it is the only English language website of its kind and features 72 recordings of regional accents and dialects from every corner of the UK, some recorded in the 1950s and some almost half a century later, in 1998-1999,
The site, which was launched on March 28 2007 makes it possible for users to explore how spoken English varies regionally and how accents and dialects have changed over time.
The British Library hopes to use the website and the new recordings submitted by young speakers to create a comprehensive 'sound map of the UK', which will showcase the varied accents and dialects that can be heard nationwide.
Voice recordings gathered through the website will be added to the British Library's Sound Archive for the benefit of future generations.
28.03.2007 - Tate Modern gets planning go-ahead for new extension
The ambitious new development for an extension at Tate Modern, dubbed Tate Modern Two, has been given the green light by Southwark Council.
Designed to resemble a series of stacked glass boxes, the 12-storey pyramid-shaped extension will be attached to the gallery's south side, increasing space at the London landmark by 60 per cent and allowing more room for modern and contemporary art.
Work is due to begin on the £215m project in 2008 and will be undertaken by the architects Herzog and de Meuron, who were responsible for transforming the former Bankside Powerstation into Tate Modern in 2000. Picture © Herzog & de Meuron / Hayes Davidson
28.03.2007 - Saumarez Smith jumps ship from National Gallery to Royal Academy
Mr Samaurez Smith was appointed after a board meeting at the Royal Academy on March 27 and will take over in the autumn.
The move comes after rumoured clashes between Mr Saumarez Smith and his board chairman Peter Scott QC. There have also been charges from some quarters that his five-year tenure at the National Gallery has been too populist, although shows such as Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio and Velázquez have proved to be the requisite blockbusters now common to the capital's major galleries.
“The Chairman and Trustees are sorry indeed to see the departure of Charles Saumarez Smith to the Royal Academy," said Peter Scott QC.
"He will be a great loss to the National Gallery. He has enjoyed nearly five years of remarkable achievement as our Director."
27.03.2007 - Rolf's portrait of HRH the Queen to spend summer at the Bowes Museum
Rolf Harris's portrait of the Queen is to go on show for the summer at The Bowes Museum in County Durham.
The painting was commissioned by the BBC in 2006 and its creation was televised as part of a Rolf on Art Special to commemorate the Queen's 80th birthday.
It will be exhibited at the Bowes from June 16 to July 28 2007 and complements the Watercolours and Drawing from the Collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother exhibition, also running at the museum throughout the summer. Image © Rolf Harris
27.03.2007 - Trust property scoops top honours for its succulent sausages
The National Trust's Tatton Park in Cheshire has honoured in the North West Fine Food Awards.
Housekeeper's Store at the property was declared Best Cheshire Producer and its sausages scooped two awards - first place in the Specialist Meat and Poultry category for its Venison Sausage and first in the Plain Meat category for its Pork Sausage.
Brendan Flanager, General Manager of the store said: "We are proud that all the meat we sell is reared on the Tatton estate. Our produce is so popular that visitors to Tatton just can't get enough and the awards just endorse what our customers have already been telling us, especially with regards to our sausages."
27.03.2007 - Beamish gets lottery funding to shed light on the safety lamp
Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum in County Durham has received a lottery grant to shed light on a unique mining collection.
A £300,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund will fund the creation of a Lamp Gallery in the Colliery Village to house the museum's nationally important collection of miners' lamps and other mining artefacts.
"Mining is such an important part of our heritage in the north east, and rescue and safety is a vital and often overlooked part of that story, but one that really captures the imagination," said HLF Regional Manager Dr Keith Bartlett. "The lamp cabin will really bring the social history of mining and the fascinating stories that surround it to life today."
The safety lamp was developed, tested and patented by George Stephenson and Humphrey Davy in the north east. The new exhibition will look into its development and the techniques that accompanied mining lamps over the past 250 years, as well as interpreting the social and industrial heritage of mining.
26.03.2007 - Tenants wanted for unique modernist National Trust home
The National Trust is looking for ‘sociable, respectful non-smokers’ to rent one of its properties - a unique modernist house in Surrey.
The Homewood, in Esher, was built in 1938 by architect Patrick Gwynne, who donated it to the Trust in 1992. It has been described as a showcase of 1930s modernist ideas and is noted for its openness and light.
Successful tenants will need to be passionate and knowledgeable about 20th century modernism, say the Trust, and will have to be prepared to look after day-to-day maintenance of the property and its six-acre grounds and also open it to the public for one day a week between April and October.
Steve Walker, Surrey Area Manager for the National Trust, said: “For the right people this will be a very rewarding experience – helping to protect this unique house whilst keeping the original vision for the property alive and sharing it with other like minded people who will undoubtedly be keen to visit.”
Anyone interested in renting The Homewood should call 01372 455024 for more details and an application pack by the end of March 2007. Photo © Simon Basketter, Corvidae
26.03.2007 – Compton Verney acquires Chinese bronze for £4m
Warwickshire’s Compton Verney art gallery has acquired a 12th century BC Chinese wine vessel for more than £4m.
The highly decorated late Shang Dynasty vessel was auctioned at Sotherby’s in New York and was snapped up by the Peter Moores Foundation, which funds the gallery.
It had been part of the collection at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, but will go on show later in 2007 alongside other rare Chinese artefacts at the Warwickshire venue.
26.03.2007 – Lottery funding helps save Merseyside landmarks
Two of Merseyside’s historic buildings have been handed a lifeline from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Lowlands – the Liverpool mansion where the Beatles once failed an audition – and the Old Police Station were both awarded Stage Two Passes worth a total of £1.2m, which means much-needed restoration work can go ahead.
The West Derby Community Association has been awarded £975,000 to restore Lowlands, a Grade II listed Italianate-style mansion built in 1864. It was home to the popular Pillar Club from 1957 to 1966 and it was here that the embryonic Beatles, then called The Quarrymen, famously failed an audition.
The grant will be used to repair the upper floors and to create a History Room at the venue.
St Michael’s and Lark Lane Community Association were given £268,000 to restore the Old Police Station, which was built in 1885 and has served as a community centre since 1974.
26.03.2007 – Surgeons’ Hall to attract sleuths for museum detective weekend
Visitors to Surgeons’ Hall Museum in Edinburgh will be able to discover the ‘real’ Sherlock Holmes at an activity weekend in May.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Sherlock Holmes detective novels, was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and studied medicine in the city under Joseph Bell, a surgeon and President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Bell’s brilliant powers of deduction and diagnosis were the inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.
The Museum Detective Holiday Weekend takes place on May 4-7 and activities include museum detective work, hands-on microscope sessions with an expert pathologist, an up-close display of Holmes memorabilia and a reading of the Conan Doyle story The Dying Detective.
The activities accompany the exhibition Conan Doyle and Joseph Bell: the Real Sherlock Holmes, which runs at the museum until May 31 2007.