The MGM arts programme, supported by Arts Council England, was launched in the autumn of 2007 with three MGM Working with Artists seminars. these were held at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery/Ikon Gallery; the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art; and at Spacex Gallery, Exeter.
The seminars were produced with support from engage. There were also workshops in London and elsewhere and a toolkit entitled Working with Artists and Galleries. These were aimed mainly at museum and heritage site staff and volunteers with little or no experience of working with artists. The Tool Kit can be downloaded here
The MGM arts programme also encouraged key contemporary art galleries around the UK to become more involved with good results. Many of the art events drew inspiration from the Ideas and Innovations theme, and also engaged with the Museums at Night weekend and other 2008 themes such as China Now to create new works and to provide novel experiences for audiences:
In their exhibition Indelible: Every contact leaves a trace, Fabrica explored the ground-breaking discoveries of Dr Edmond Locard: ‘the exchange principle’ - the notion that our physical existence in the world and our actions leave indelible traces upon our environment and other people.
The John Hansard Gallery exhibited the work of pioneering landscape photographer O G S Crawford –credited with approaching landscape as a form of archaeology, and hosted an MGM debate on the subject.
The National Glass Centre, Sunderland teamed up the international artists group ‘United Visual Artists’ and a core group of five young people from Venerable Bede’s School to produce a sculptural glass lighting installation, using traditional glass blowing techniques with a wide range of technologies and materials such of traditional lighting, LED and computer programming.
The young people worked closely with both UVA and the National Glass Centre to understand and develop ideas and experiment with materials and concepts with a view to producing the installation.
The Fairlynch Museum near Exeter commissioned artist Evelyn Dewar to create new works in response to their extensive costume and jewellery collection. The exhibition, From the Closet to the Cosmos included works in painting, photography and collage and its accompanying ‘Meet the Artist’ session attracted many first time visitors to the museum. The Museum of Dartmoor Life and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum got together to produce Dartmoor Rocks - an exhibition of new art work created by local artists inspired by the landscape of Dartmoor.
The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art teamed up with other contemporary art venues including the Laing, Hatton Gallery and Shipley Gallery to produce a series of late night art events as part of the Newcastle Late Shows. Highlights included Enchanted Moments - a site specific work installed at the BALTIC; Full Bloom at the Laing Art Gallery – inviting members of the public to inscribe hundreds of fresh white arum lilies with their love for others.
The high quality and thought provoking art projects showcased during Museums and Galleries Month in response to the MGM Arts Programme is very encouraging and will serve as an inspiration for future contemporary arts events and collaborations.
Clare Moloney, Arts Programme Co-ordinator, Museums and Galleries Month 2008