News In Brief - Week Ending January 28 2007

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 15 January 2007
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Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending January 28 2007.

montage of planets

26.01.2007 – Natural History Museum leads project on the origins of the solar system

Scientists at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London, are to lead a project looking at how the solar system formed, which gets underway this month.

The project, Origins, is being carried out by a network of European institutions and will involve a multidisciplinary team including astronomers and cosmochemists. The study was given the go-ahead when the European Commission awarded it a 2.6 million Euro grant at the end of 2006, which will fund four years of work.

“We hope to make a really world-class contribution to the field of planetary sciences,” said Sara Russell, meteorite and cosmochemistry expert at the head of the NHM’s project team.

Researchers will examine meteorite samples to find out how long the planet building process took, what the solar system environment was like before the planets formed and how its composition varies at different distances from the sun. The NHM has one of the finest collections of meteorites in the world, numbering around 2,000 individual specimens.

Picture shows images from Voyager I. © NASA/NHM

26.01.2007 – City of London Temple of Mithras to be listed

Culture Minister David Lammy has announced that the Temple of Mithras, Queen Victoria Street in the City of London, is to be listed at Grade II.

The 3rd century structure is the only known Mithraeum from Roman London and one of only a handful discovered in Britain. Discovered in 1954, it was one of the most important archaeological finds of the immediate post-war era, with crowds queuing for hours to see the excavated site.

The temple was then reconstructed in its current location at Bucklersbury House, in the 1960s. Its listing will ensure that the significance of the structure is respected in future plans that may affect its character.

“This temple is a highly significant remnant of Roman London,” said Mr Lammy, “representing the only known Mithraeum in the City. It has been a great archaeology learning tool in the heart of London and it will now be preserved for future generations.”

He added that the proposal to reconstruct the temple in its original site (on Walbrook in the City) will now be given due consideration.

a photo of a large white building on a dockside

25.01.2007 - Museum of Liverpool scoops major grant

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced it is to set aside a grant of £11.4m* to support the fit out of the Museum of Liverpool.

The grant means the new museum has now secured funds in excess of £50 million.

"We’re delighted to be able to support this ambitious project, which will bring the city’s complex story to life," said Carole Souter, Director of the HLF, "particularly as this year Liverpool is celebrating the 800th anniversary of its founding charter."

Building on the success of, and eventually replacing, the Museum of Liverpool Life, the new museum will draw on ’s collections, many of which have never been on public display. It is seen as a vital part of the legacy of 2008, when Liverpool becomes European Capital of Culture.

The announcement comes after the HLF rejected a similar bid for £11.4million in January 2006 because of what it described as: "serious concerns about the overall costs and lack of detail on the displays and content within the museum." With these issues now resolved the future of the museum seems secure and it is due to open to the public in 2010.

25.01.2007 - Government accepts Nazi loot panel's advice to send back three artworks

Three drawings looted by the Nazis in 1939 are to be returned to their natural owners, after the government accepted recommendations made by the independent Spoliation Advisory Panel.

The drawings are held by the Courtauld Institute and two of them, attributed to the artists Giuseppe Bibiena and Carl Ruthart, will be handed over to the heirs of Dr Arthur Feldmann, whilst a third, attributed to Frans Van Mieris the elder, is to be presented back to the Gallery by Mr Feldmann's heirs.

Firm evidence was presented by the panel that proved the drawings were seized from Mr Feldman's home by the Gestapo in March 1939. They were acquired at Sotheby's in 1946 by Messrs Colnaghi and sold on before forming part of the Witt bequest of over 3,000 old master drawings given to the Courtuald in 1952.

photo of a museum in a landscape

25.01.2007 – Equestrian acquisition unveiled at Bowes Museum

The Bowes Museum has unveiled its latest acquisition – an oil painting of the horse Cotherstone by John Frederick Herring Junior (1815-1907).

The Museum was keen to buy the painting, which it did at a Christie’s auction in New York for $10,000, as the horse depicted belonged to John Bowes, the museum’s founder.

Cotherstone, named after the village, was a Derby winner, and is shown in a loosebox in the 1844 painting. The Bowes also recently bought a portrait of Cotherstone’s trainer, John Scott, known as the Wizard of the North.

25.01.2007 – Sponsor a salt block to help restore Cheshire’s Lion Salt Works

The Lion Salt Works Trust has launched a ‘Sponsor a Salt Block’ scheme to help secure match funding for the restoration of the Lion Salt Works at Northwich, Cheshire.

The Trust hopes the scheme will help it reach its target of £2 million match funding to enable it to access an offer of £4.96 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Vale Royal Borough Council has already made a pledge of £750,000 whilst the Northwich and District Heritage Society have pledged £1,000. The appeal is also aimed at companies which use salt as part of their products.

Request a donation form by calling 01606 41823, or download one from the website www.lionsaltworkstrust.co.uk .

photo of a ruined church and graveyard

24.01.2007 – HLF announces £5.8m for Burns museum project

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced a Stage One Pass for a grant of £5,827,000 to create a new museum dedicated to Scottish national hero, Robert Burns. Fittingly, the announcement has come on the eve of Burns Day.

The history and works of the famous bard are to be brought to life with the transformation of Burns National Heritage Park in Alloway, revealed Patricia Ferguson, Scotland’s Culture Minister.

The cornerstones of the new project will be the thatched cottage in which Burns was born in 1759 and a new museum housing the world’s largest and most important collection of Burns memorabilia. The cottage will benefit from a long-term programme of repair and conservation. A leafy walkway will link these with other sites, such as the Brig O Doon and Alloway Auld Kirk.

The current museum is in a bad state of repair, meaning many of its important artefacts have had to be removed to the National Libraries in Edinburgh for safekeeping.

“Burns has left us a rich literary heritage that is recognised throughout the world,” said Brian Lang, Chair of the HLF’s Committee for Scotland. “He is part of our national memory, celebrated every year and touching ordinary lives with a humanity that still resonates today. It is only fitting that he be given a museum we can all be proud of.”

The project is planned to be completed in 2009 to form a key part of the Burns bicentenary celebrations. Picture shows Alloway Auld Kirk

photo of the prow of an old ship

24.01.2007 - Brunel's ss Great Britain shortlisted for European museum prize

Four UK museums have been shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year Award 2007.

Amongst the four is , which won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries in 2006.

Other museums shortlisted for the prestigious European prize are World Museum Liverpool, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Buckinghamshire, and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Organisers the European Museum Forum will announce the winner at a ceremony in Alicante, Spain, in May 2007. The winning museum will receive a trophy designed by British sculptor Henry Moore.

24.01.2007 - Precious marble busts moved by crane at Powis Castle

Eight marble busts of Roman Emperor Caesar, each weighing 150kg, are to be moved to a new floor at Powis Castle, Wales, over the course of the next three weeks. The project will employ a team of builders alongside four conservators, a structural engineer, an architect and a crane!

The busts are moving from the ground floor, where only those on private tours see them, to the castle's Long Gallery, so that all visitors will see them in future. Evidence shows that this was where they were placed originally by the Herbert family, who brought them back home from trips to Italy in the 17th century.

The floorboards in the Long Gallery have already been reinforced with steel joists and plates to take the extra weight.

Margaret Gray, House Manager of the National Trust property, said that restoring the historical scheme would bring a "greater sense of symmetry and rhythm to the Gallery".

The project has been made possible with £20,000 raised from raffle ticket sales and funding from the National Trust.

24.01.2007 - £16.7m for Royal Museum Edinburgh

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced final approval for a grant of £16.7 million for the , Edinburgh.

The grant will go towards a £44.5million project to transform the museum into a state-of-the-art visitor experience, doubling the number of objects of display. It is the largest ever capital grant to be given by the HLF to a project in Scotland.

shows a photo of a dockside crane

23.01.2007 - Glasgow School of Art students design 3D images for exhibition atop titan crane

Glasgow School of Art students are designing a specially commissioned 3D image of a Clydebank Shipyard in its heyday which will be on show at the top of a 120 foot Titan Crane.

Visitors with a head for heights will be able to look out at the cities historic John Brown shipyard site and also see a digital version of the shipyard through four viewers. Some of the world's most famous vessels including the QE2 were launched from the shipyard.

The 3D project is part of a £175,000 exhibition at the shipyard by the School of Art, as part of the regeneration of Clydebank.

"We are focusing on the period between 1966 and 1967 for the show,” said Ian Johnston, Deputy Director of The Digital Design Studio at the School of Art. “The idea was to create something memorable and that's why we opted for the launch of the QE2. Using pictures of the yard, we'll be able to reconstruct photo-real computer images and a 3D design which will geographically overlay where John Browns used to be."

Photo courtesy Clydebank Rebuilt

shows a photo of a grassy v shaped linear feature with trees on either side.

23.01.2007 - Antonine Wall proposed as World Heritage Site by Tessa Jowell

The Antonine Wall has been put forward by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell as the UK's latest nomination for World Heritage Site status.

The wall, which links the Forth and the Clyde, was built in the 2nd century, marking the furthest north-west boundary of the Roman Empire.

"The Antonine Wall is one of the UK's most important Roman monuments and a fascinating part of our European heritage. It is this international dimension that is most exciting to me," said Tessa Jowell. "I hope that it will one day encompass remains of the Roman frontiers not only here and in Germany, but also around the rest of Europe, the Mediterranean region of North Africa and the Middle East".

If successful, the Wall will join The Tower of London, Canterbury Cathedral, The Palace of Westminster and 24 other UK World Heritage Sites. UNESCO, who are responsible for the scheme, will now examine the proposal and make a final decision next year.

Photo above courtesy Scottish Office

a detail of a painting showing a mountain on the edge of a lake

22.01.2007 - Art Fund and Tate Launch appeal to save Turner's Blue Rigi for the nation

The Art Fund, the UK’s leading art charity, and Tate, have launched a public appeal to help save Turner’s The Blue Rigi for the nation.

£2.45 million needs to be raised by March 20 2007 towards a total price of £4.95 million to prevent the work entering a private collection abroad. The charity also announced it was pledging £500,000, one of The Art Fund’s largest ever grants, towards the fundraising campaign.

Sold at auction on June 5 2006 for the record price of £5.8 million, The Blue Rigi was the most expensive British watercolour ever sold until a temporary export bar was placed on the painting until March 20 2007 by the Culture Minister, David Lammy.

In December 2006 Tate announced it was allocating £2 million towards the purchase of the painting and has now brought together the three Turner Rigi paintings in an exhibition which opens at Tate Britain on 22 January 2007. Tate has also made a funding application to the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Members of the public will be able to pledge their support online by ‘buying a brushstroke’ from The Blue Rigi, by visiting a special website created for online donations at www.artfund.org/savebluerigi. Several artists including David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Antony Gormley, Bridget Riley and Rachel Whiteread have already purchased online brushstrokes which cost £5 each. The aim is to have raised £300,000 when the online image is complete.

22.01.2007 - Artes Mundi Prize expands its arts activites in Wales

Following the public interest generated by record attendances at Artes Mundi's two exhibitions in 2004 and 2006, the organisers of Wales' international visual art prize have announced a programme of events that will bring more international art to Wales.

In the run-up to the Artes Mundi 3 exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff in 2008 a programme of activities is being put together at The Gate Arts Centre in Cardiff that will provide audiences with the opportunity to explore the work of major artists.

On January 23 Mats Bigert and Las Bergström will show and discuss their work - in particular their film The Last Supper, which explores the tradition of giving inmates a final meal of their choosing.

a photograph of a model of a man and a woman

22.01.2007 - Gormley-esque offshore sculpture announced for Newbiggin-by-the-Sea

A permanent offshore sculpture by Sean Henry is to be installed off the coast of the North East seaside town of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

The sculpture, which is called Couple, was commissioned by INSPIRE (South East Northumberland Public Art & Design Initiative) and features two bronze figures measuring five metres tall. It will be situated on a steel plinth 15 metres in length and 7.5 metres in height, which will be integrated onto the recently confirmed breakwater strucuture 350 metres out into Newbiggin Bay.

During high tides when the breakwater isn't visible, the sculpture will give the impression of being anchored out to sea.

INSPIRE are hoping the art project will act as a tourism boost for Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and that Henry's sculpture will generate the same global iconic status as Antony Gormley's Angel of the North.

22.01.2007 - Newcastle's iconic Byker Estate is listed by Culture Minister David Lammy

The Byker housing estate in Newcastle has been listed Grade II* by Culture Minister David Lammy, following advice from English Heritage.

Regarded as the finest example of work by renowned Swedish architect Ralph Erskine, the 1970s estate is both of historic and architectural importance, and has been influential on housing projects up to and including the Greenwich Millennium Village.

"The Byker estate is an extraordinary and outstanding piece of architecture which has won awards and attracted attention throughout its life," said Mr Lammy. "Its influence, both on design and the way we involve communities in the planning process, has been profound."

A conservation management plan has been devised for the estate and the City Council has been careful in the stewardship of the architecturally significant and socially innovative estate.

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