Museums and Galleries 2010: The Year in the News Part Two

By Ben Miller | 21 December 2010
From Banksy to Burns, here's the second part of our look back at 2010. Click on the links to read more about each story...

A photo of two curators holding the skeleton of a dinosaur
The Ulster Museum in Belfast wins the Art Fund Prize
July
The stuffed polar bears and edmontosauruses have cause to roar at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, which wins the Art Fund Prize.

“Cultural tourism, in its broadest sense, has singularly failed to turn up for Wales", says Michael Houlihan, the departing Director General of National Museum Wales, calling culture “incredibly important” to the country. One man who’s in a brighter mood is Colum Eastwood, the Mayor of Derry, who salutes the “absolutely amazing” people of his city as it wins the UK City of Culture race. Seamus Heaney and Feargal Sharkey will lead the campaign, which is expected to entice investment to the tune of £200 million.

Good times on the Mersey as the ink is dried on the contracts for the new £50 million Liverpool Library and a 20-tonne 19th century motor coach which served the world’s first elevated electric railway line on the docks of the River Mersey becomes the first exhibit to enter the new £72 million Museum of Liverpool.

A photo of a graffiti of a child
Banksy moves in mysterious ways in Sussex
August
Yorkshire Day gets even better in God’s Country as the Yorkshire Museum reopens following a £2 million redevelopment. The Lottery warns of “tough times ahead” but calls on funding bids to be ambitious as it pledges an extra £10 million in annual awards from 2011.

Piermaster’s House and the National Conservation Centre in Liverpool could shut. “These potential closures represent what happens when public funding is cut”, says National Museums Liverpool Director David Fleming. Basing House reopens in majestic style in Basingstoke after a £2.3 million rebuild.

Banksy spraypaints the side of a beach walkway in Sussex town St Leonards – “there was a big local hoo-hah and someone complained, which led to talk that it would have to come down,” says local artist Lorna Crabbe, but it seems safe for now.

A photo of a Roman helmet
The Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet at Tullie House© Christie's Images Ltd
September
At least the battle against cuts will leave a legacy of new art – David Shrigley’s video to launch the Save the Arts bid is laughter in the dark. Former Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans, Art Attack host Neil Buchanan and members of chart-toppers OMD and The Zutons also sign a petition to back National Museums Liverpool against funding disasters.

The Battle of Britain command centre, gothic temples and revival houses and Victoria Woolf’s country house retreat in Sussex are among thousands of venues offering a sneak glimpse to the public for Heritage Open Days. A mystery benefactor offers £50,000 in match funding to save the Crosby Garret helmet at Tullie House.

The Roman Baths reopen in impressive style after a £5.5 million redevelopment. The Derbyshire town of Buxton gets a “wonderful” new venue after a £2.5 million restoration project on the Pavilion Arts Centre finishes, and Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole’s 18th century mansion in London, has lost none of that gothic splendour as it reopens following a £9 million, two-year restoration project.

Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery secures its future with grants of £1.5 million from the Lottery and Waltham Forest Council.

A photo of builders on a construction site
Work begins on the new Mary Rose Museum
October
“We had thousands of pounds coming in every day, and children literally emptying their piggy banks,” says curator Andrew Mackay, as Tullie House’s Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet is sold to a private bidder for £2.3 million at auction.

Time for more men in ridiculous costumes – a man dressed as Henry VIII takes to a JCB as work begins on the £35 million Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, an “unparalleled experience” which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

Ed Vaizey gives a no-pain, no-gain warning to the Museums Association, praising the leadership of the organisation. David Anderson, the new Director General of National Museum Wales, says the £9 million redevelopment of the St Fagans National History Museum is a priority as he takes up his post.

More than a million aerial photos of Britain taken since the start of the First World War will be digitised in a £1.75 million, four-year conservation programme. Britain’s oldest continuously used cinema and one of North London’s most treasured landmarks reopens after a £1.1 million rebuild – “it makes me smile every time I set foot in there”, says Chief Executive Paul Homer.

The Arts Council suffers a 29.6% budget cut in the Government Spending Review, but promises a “strong and resilient future” for the arts. All funded organisations will have to re-apply for funding in April 2012.

A photo of a suited man in a museum
Neil MacGregor of the British Museum
November
Ed Vaizey thwarts the Getty Museum by barring a JMW Turner landscape of Rome, which was bought by the Los Angeles centre for £20.7 million in July, from leaving the country. Archaeologists on Orkney could be getting “a jumble of bones” for Christmas as they race to uncover a 5,000-year-old tomb full of skulls.

The Melton Carnegie Museum in Leicestershire shows off its £1 million transformation into “a truly remarkable community facility”. Archaeological oracle the Portable Antiquities Scheme launches the Annual Treasure Report at the British Museum, but suffers a 15% reduction in funding for the next four years. It will be handed over to the British Museum, whose director, Neil MacGregor, says the venue is “very, very supportive” of Ed Vaizey’s attempts to minimise cuts to the sector.

Two of Manchester’s major arts centre, the Cornerhouse cinema and the Library Theatre Company, unveil plans to move into a purpose-built £19 million home. The Charles Dickens Museum launches a public appeal to raise £900,000 in match funding for Lottery cash towards restoring the original look of his former London home in Bloomsbury.

A photo of archaeologists digging in darkness
The Yorkshire Museum finds a gladiator© York Museums Trust
December
An uplifting start to the end of the year as the Acceptance in Lieu scheme announces a £15.7 million year and the HLF gives £10 million to the Stonehenge visitor centre masterplan.

Haggis and merriment head to a 1,600 square metre home in Ayrshire as the £21 million Robert Burns Birthplace Museum opens. There's more good news for Scotland - Susan Philipsz becomes the first aural artist to win the Turner Prize.

Boris Johnson promises an “unforgettable” Olympic festival for Londoners as organisers announce an arts festival starring Damon Albarn, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and David Hockney to accompany the games.

Croydon Council gives residents until January to respond to plans which could result in the town’s entire arts service being consigned to a history no-one will be able to see.

Prince William says the creation of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War galleries “could not come at a more important time” as the institution targets £29 million to make them a reality.

“The physical evidence reveals he was a swordsman and that his body was literally dumped with the rubbish – there was no hint that he had been buried in a ceremonial way,” says head curator Andrew Morrison as the skeleton of a brutally murdered Roman gladiator is found in the garden of the Yorkshire Museum.

The Museum of Science and Industry reopens its flagship Experiment Gallery to the shake and shimmer of turbulence zones and mirrors of infinity.

Remember when it wasn't snowing?
The Year in News Part 1
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