Out and about during the Welcome Weekend in Nottingham in 2007.
The range of activities and events now being planned for Museums and Galleries Month is wide ranging and in many cases inspired not just by our theme “Ideas and Innovation” but also by the MGM Arts programme. There is also a strong Chinese theme running through MGM this year.
Read here about some of the collaborative plans around the country and on the next pages on specific plans for the Museums at Night Weekend and the Arts programme.
This year representatives from 47 museums in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have joined forces to create a large PR and marketing campaign for MGM. The project is coordinated by the Museum Development Service for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and it is overseen by a steering group of eight museums, including representatives from Hampshire County Museums and Archives Service (South East Hub lead partner).
Museum Development Officer Katerina Kremmida said: “This is the first year that the museums have come together in a coordinated effort to support MGM and we hope it will continue and be the start of longer-term partnership working to produce great events and initiatives for visitors to take part in.”
The campaign focuses on three areas of activities: joint marketing and publicity, shared public activities and advice and support. The main drive for the PR campaign is the “Museums Trumps” game. Children will be able to collect and trade the “Museums Trumps” cards, which will feature information about a particular museum’s collection.
An MGM Workshop Day in January explored how museums in the South East region might develop activities to support the theme of Innovations and Ideas at Milestones Museum, Basingstoke and facilitated by the Hub. Museums who attended the Workshop and are now finalising their plans which include “ideas and innovations” at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre such as Wade Dahl Till valve, Stretching shoes and a Meccano chariot and the technology of shopping at the Surrey Heath Museum, Camberley.
East Midlands museums have taken Museums and Galleries Month to heart with more than 90 events planned in the region’s museums and galleries, a third of which haven’t participated in MGM before. The interest in MGM has been building up since Renaissance East Midlands and MLA East Midlands joined together to promote the opportunity and offer small grants to museums in 2005. Participants have increased significantly year on year. In 2008 grant applications exceeded the available budget and the regionally produced promotional leaflet has gone from a four page dl leaflet to a 24 page booklet.
The grants available have also developed from support for events during May and Night at the Museum, to grants and training support offered in 2008 for museum arts projects and innovative trails. The total budget, including promotional and marketing materials (leaflet, banners and other materials) for 2008 is £70,000.
The creativity of the events is also increasing with their number and many sites are embracing the MGM theme and the promotion opportunities including Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers.
Some of the 2008 highlights are mentioned in the Museums at Night article (next page) others include: A session for young people to design and build their own space machines at Leicester’s City Gallery; a Polish Night at Gainsborough Old Hall connecting with the local immigrant community; an event to remember disabled people who were killed in the Holocaust at the Holocaust Memorial Centre, the first such memorial in the world.
The West Midlands hub is concentrating on the conference (see page 3) while individual museums are planning events linked to the theme at Stoke on Trent, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (the Big Picture), Lunt Fort and others.
East of England museums, including Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, Colchester & Ipswich Museum Service, The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, Museums Luton and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich have joined together to give a Chinese twist to the MGM theme in advance of the Beijing Games. Under the banner ‘China East – it’s not as far as you think’ these museums are running a festival of free events with a Chinese connection. China East will offer visitors the chance to experience this fascinating culture at close quarters: from porcelain to paper and from warriors to fans!
In Wales there will be bilingual print produced with support from Welsh Assembly Government. CyMal’s PR company Working Word are organising a competition "Inventor's Den" among schools and Higher Education providers to encourage new inventions.
London’s Smaller Museums and Galleries Group is re-launching the Discover London Trails with a complete revision of most of the trails and the addition of three more. Following the Chinese theme, there will be a Chinese London Trail, linking collections from the V&A and the British Museum to the Croydon Museum with a stopover in London’s Chinatown. Also new is an Ideas and Innovation in Medicine Trail in conjunction with the London Medical Museums Group, and work is in hand on a new War and Peace trail. Go to www.culture24.org.uk/london. The trails are supported by Renaissance London which has also invested in a Bus Wrap – a pink bus with pictures of objects from London’s museums now travelling the streets of London till October.
Also in London, Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall will be transformed for The Long Weekend at the end of May, when it houses the first ever Flux-Olympiad with a series of flux-sports events over the three-day arts festival on the 23-26 May. Both Flux-athletes and visitors will be able to take part in a wide range of flux-sports including soccer games played on stilts, obstacle shoe races, slow speed bicycle races and the balloon shotput. Founding Fluxus artist George Maciunas (1931 – 1978) conceived the idea of a Flux-Olympiad in the 1960s but this event was never realised. The Weekend as a whole will celebrate the fusion between different art forms.
At the Imperial War Museum, starting on 24 May, they will explores the inventiveness of Ian Fleming’s gadgets and gismos, designed for his hero James Bond, linked to the special exhibition For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, The Secret War exhibition and the MGM theme of Ideas and Innovation. The Science Museum is staging both a lecture on Climate Change on Saturday 3rd May and a debate (see debates), as well as a sleepover.
Scotland is celebrating Museums and Galleries Month with ShowScotland on the first weekend of May. Go to www.showscotland.com for more information.