News In Brief - Week Ending April 9 2007

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 02 April 2007
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Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending April 9 2007.

a painting showing the a fruit in a kernel attached to a tree

05.04.2007 - Founder of Singapore's treasured drawing collection purchased by British Library

The British Library has purchased an important collection of botanical, zoological and topographical drawings and watercolours owned by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles – the founder of Singapore.

The drawing collection, valued at around £400,000, was purchased with the help of a £114,814 grant from The Art Fund. Additional funding came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) is best known today as the founder of Singapore, and for the world-famous Raffles Hotel that was named after him. However, his deepest passion was probably the study of natural history.

He was the founder and first president of the London Zoological Society and London Zoo, and gave his name to the largest flower in the world, the Rafflesia, a genus of parasitic flowering plants. While in Southeast Asia he commissioned hundreds of detailed botanical and zoological drawings and watercolours, as well as many studies of the area’s geography and local people by British, Dutch and Asian artists.

In February 1824 virtually all Raffles’ personal possessions, including hundreds of paintings, drawings and a menagerie of live animals, were destroyed when the ship taking them back to England, the Fame, caught fire.

Over the next three months Raffles immediately set about rebuilding his lost collections, including commissioning new copies of the natural history drawings. It is these drawings which now form part of the Raffles Family Collection which has been purchased by the British Library.

The collection is available to researchers in the British Library, and will go on display later in the year.

05.04.2007 - Arts Council use beer mats to spark an arts debate amongst East Midlands boozers

In order to mark its 60th birthday the Arts Council have commissioned and produced a series of everyday objects in order to bring art into daily life and in the East Midlands they want people to debate the arts while having a pint in the local.

One hundred thousand beer mats are being circulated to pubs in Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Derby and Northampton. The series poses questions about contemporary art, theatre, public art, music and dance.

"We hope the questions on the beer mats will stimulate people to talk about the arts," said Laura Dyer, Executive Director, Arts Council England, East Midlands, "and to get involved with the Arts Council’s first ever-public enquiry about the value of the arts and public funding by taking part in our on-line debate at

a photograph of a large modern building

05.04.2007 - IWM North to premier electro-accoustic sound experiment

Simon Bainbridge's Music Space Reflection, a musical response to the soaring architecture of Daniel Libeskind is to premiered at Imperial War Museum North on April 28.

Written for the irregular spaces of the Museum, Bainbridge has combined four groups of musicians and surround-sound live electronics into an all-encompassing acoustic experience conducted by Diego Masson and performed by the London Sinfonietta.

Sound Intermedia are working closely with Bainbridge to mould the music to the space - using details of the sound processing to reflect the planes and angles of the building. On 28 April two performances of the work and a talk with Bainbridge will allow the audience to move around the building, experiencing the work from different aural viewpoints.

Tickets are priced £7.50 (concessions available). Contact Royal Northern College of Music ticket office on 0161 907 5555 /

05.04.2007 - Highways Agency and English Heritage publish new guidance on roads and historic sites

New measures to assess the impact of proposed road schemes on historic landscapes have been agreed by the Highways Agency and English Heritage.

Highways Agency project managers will now follow the guidance when assessing the impact of new road schemes, ensuring that they respect the historic fabric of the landscape through which they pass. This may mean that mitigating measure need to be taken to minimise noise and visual intrusion, for example.

The approach is already being used at the A30 Bodmin to Indian Queen improvement in Cornwall, and at the A3 Hindhead Tunnel planned to carry the dual carriageway through Box Hill in Surrey.

The new approac

a screenshot of a webpage

05.04.2007 - Science Museum website enables visitors access to 2,500 objects online

The , the organisation behind the Science Museum, National Railway Museum and the National Media Museum, has launched the first phase of a project to transform the Science Museum's website.

The objective of the revamp is to increase interaction between the museums and visitors and the new site includes online access to galleries interlinked with 2,500 'on display' objects as well as teacher information, age group and subject linking and accessibility info.

A google mini search engine has been whilst the interlinking between sections, stories and games has been improved. As part of phase one of the content management project, the NMSI’s extranet and its organisation-wide intranet will also be delivered. Once this phase is complete, phase two will be launched, which will include work to integrate and join up the other museum websites.

The new interactive website for the Science Museum’s 6.5 million online visitors can be visited at

05.04.2007 - Update guidance for managing war memorials

New guidance aimed at preserving the 70,000-plus war memorials in Englans and Wales has been published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA). It replace a code of practice issued by the Home Office in 2002.

The updated guidance explains how grants can be obtained from English Heritage, Cadw and the War Memorials Trust, for conservation and repair bills, or for correcting mistakes and adding names.

'War Memorials in England and Wales - Guidance for Custodians' is available free from the DCA website, or by emailing

05.04.2007 - Rare Beryl Reid items go on display at New Walk's Joe Orton exhibition

A rare selection of items belonging to the actress Beryl Reid have gon on display at Leicester’s New Walk Museum & Art Gallery.

The items, comprising of scripts, foyer card and a selection of film stills, all relate to Beryl’s performances as Kath in Joe Orton’s ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’. The actress appeared in both the stage and screen versions of the play.

The Beryl Reid items are now on display as part of the Joe Orton exhibition, ‘Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933 – 1967’. The exhibition is open until May 7 2007 and admission is free.

photo of a medieval manuscript

04.04.2007 - Minister puts export bar on rare 14th century Nottingham document

Culture Minister David Lammy has placed a temporary export bar on a 14th century guild roll, the earliest example of this kind of manuscript to survive in Nottingham.

The export bar is the last chance for the funds to be raised to keep the 1371 roll of members of Nottingham’s Guild of St Mary in the UK.

Potential buyers have until June 2 2007 to express a serious intention to buy the document, which is valued at £6,600 plus VAT.

Guilds were organisations outside the established military, religious and governmental hierarchies, which were formed to provide for common needs. Membership was very widespread and the roll would provide scholars with invaluable information on medieval borough and parish life.

Very few examples of this kind of document exist elsewhere in the UK. Anyway interested in making an offer for the roll should contact the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

photo of an old castle like manor house with some people in flourescent jackets in the foreground

04.04.2007 - Remains of 13th century building uncovered at Cowdray House

Excavations of Cowdray House in West Sussex have uncovered evidence of an earlier 13th century building on the site.

Walls and a cobbled floor have been confirmed as part of an earlier manor house, demolished to make way for the ‘new’ Cowdray House, built in 1520.

The dating of the find potentially makes Cowdray the site of one of the earliest known manor houses in the country. A team from Oxford Archaeology, led by Jody Morris, are helping with restoration work on the site in order to open it to the public.

photo of a castle with gardens and a fountain in the foreground

04.04.2007 - New York Metropolitan Opera production inspired by Culzean Castle

A holiday to the west coast of Scotland led a leading theatre artist to base the design for a New York opera production on Culzean Castle.

Tony Award-winning theatre artist Mary Zimmerman had been staying at the guestrooms in the castle and has used it at the theme for a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

"I went to Scotland to Culzean Castle on the west coast, which clings to the side of a cliff surrounded by vast cultivated gardens, alleys of trees and wild land as well," she explained.

"That place became the core of our design - the strange shade of green of the outsized rooms, the bare branches above our heads in the alleyways ... It felt like a place haunted by madness, the setting for a ghostly Victorian tale."

screenshot of the young pavement artist of the year competition

03.04.2007 - Young Pavement Artist of the Year Competition launched

Schools, youth and community groups are being asked to help the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign find the Young Pavement Artist of the Year.

The charity has launched its Young Pavement Artists Competition 2007, a national competition for young people aged 4-19, now in its 22nd year.

Mark Speight from Children's BBC, who is President of the competition, said: "This year we want more kids than ever before to pick up their chalks to help people facing the challenges of muscle disease. So ask your local school or youth group to sign up and get drawing!"

This year's competition has the theme The Arctic and Antarctic. Groups can take part by organising their own local pavement art event to raise funds for the charity and winners will be entered into the national competition, whose panel of judges includes representatives from The Royal Academy of Art.

For more details of how to get involved, go to the Muscular Dystrophy website.

03.04.2007 - Art Fund launches £5m international contemporary art purchasing scheme

The Art Fund has announced the most ambitious scheme in its history by investing £5m in a new initiative devoted to international contemporary art.

Art Fund International aims to encourage a change in the scale, ambition and ability with which regional centres can acquire contemporary works of international significance.

The project has its origins in the Art Fund's 2003 centenary exhibition and conference, which identified the historic shortcomings of UK museums in acquiring contemporary art by non-British artists.

Art Fund International will run for five years alongside the organisation's regular grant-giving programme.

colour drawing of the plans for a formal garden

03.04.2007 - Work to start on recreation of Kenilworth Castle's lost Elizabethan garden

Work on the recreation of Kenilworth Castle's lost Elizabethan garden is due to start in late summer 2007 subject to planning permission.

The work will come after a two-year English Heritage research programme, which included two seasons of archaeological investigation at the Warwickshire site.

They identified the precise location and size of the Elizabethan gardens, which had been wrongly recreated in the 1970s, and unearthed the octagonal base of a decorative Renaissance fountain.

The research confirmed the accuracy of much of the description of the garden made by Robert Langham, an eye-witness of the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Kenilworth in 1575.

"The archaeological excavation and historical and literary research undertaken over the past two years will enable us to recreate one of the best understood 16th century gardens in England," said John Watkins, Head of Gardens and Landscape at English Heritage.

"This research has also revealed a more complex and sumptuous garden than was first envisaged."

03.04.2007 - Museum on the look out for holiday snaps from days gone by

Mill Green Museum in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, are asking for snaps from local people's family holidays to help with a new exhibition.

Curator Caroline Rawle and her team of volunteers and preparing their summer exhibition, Holiday Heaven, a nostalgic look at holidays from years gone by.

"It's the story of everyday life which is so important to local history," she said. "Maybe you were the first person in your street to fly on holiday to Spain, or your family holidays have special traditions of their own. We'd love to hear your story."

photo of a helicopter

02.04.2007 – £300,000 HLF grant for Helicopter Museum

The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare has been awarded a £290,500 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards new education, skills training and conservation facilities.

The Museum, which holds the world's largest dedicated collection of rotary-wing aircraft, will use part of the grant to develop a 669 sq m (7200 sq ft) new maintenance, restoration and training facility.

Additional building works will provide a new technical library and archive facility, a 30/60 seat classroom/film theatre and other public facilities, as well as the addition of much needed new display spaces and insulation of the main hangar to improve the environment for the exhibits and visitors.

The Museum has just completed a £150,000 new hangar extension funded from its own resources.

Also planned is the creation of new interactive education and training materials and employment of an Education Officer to organise outreach visits and Key Stage 2 and 3 school work.

The announcement is the second good news for THM this month, following the award of Accreditation from Museum, Libraries and Archives South West earlier in March which recognised the professional standards attained by the largely volunteer-run museum.

02.04.2007 – Annual grant doubled for National Heritage Memorial Fund

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has welcomed a doubling of its annual grant from the government from April 1 2007, taking its budget up to £10 million.

The increase for the Fund, which is used as a last resort to save artefacts of national importance for UK collections, comes at a vital time as demand for the NHMF’s support continues to outstrip its resources. In 2006 its trustees spent £1.87 million more than its £5 million grant-in-aid for safeguarding the nation’s most precious heritage.

In the last year, the NHMF has helped to save The Blue Rigi by JMW Turner, the golden Newark Torc and an important collection of steamboats located at Lake Windermere.

David Lammy, Minister for Culture, said: “We have doubled their government funding for this year in recognition of the magnificent work they do.”

black and white photo of a gun emplacement in a shore battery

02.04.2007 - Details of former Newhaven Fort residents unearthed by volunteer

A volunteer working at Newhaven Fort has unearthed a wealth of information about the people who once lived there.

The Sussex University student found from the Fort's archives that over a period of 30 years before the First World War up to 110 military personnel and their families lived there.

Living in the casemates, family units would carry out daily activities, with the male head of the family working as a soldier. Wives would carry out domestic chores like laundry and cleaning and children, called barrack rats, were expected to carry out tasks like running errands, domestic services and labouring. Some of them appear to have been born at the Fort.

Staff at the Fort are now planning to extend the research and create a new exhibition based on its ex-residents.

02.04.2007 – Government announces regional reps for Cultural Olympiad

A network of regional representatives will be put in place, David Lammy MP has announced, to move forward plans for a Cultural Olympiad alongside the 2012 Games.

Eight English regions outside London will get their own ‘Creative Programmer’ to encourage and enable local arts and cultural bodies - and ordinary people - to get involved in the Olympics.

“The Cultural Olympiad needs to be genuinely UK-wide,” said Mr Lammy. “That’s why each region will appoint a highly driven and experienced person to make sure that the whole of the country gets the chance to showcase what it can do.”

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