News In Brief - Week Ending December 3 2006

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 28 November 2006
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  • Archived article

Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending December 3 2006.

photo of part of an amphitheatre

1.12.2006 – First international conference on Amphitheatres to be held in Chester

Experts from around the world will join members of the public in Chester next year for the first international conference on Roman amphitheatres.

Organised by English Heritage and Chester City Council, ‘Roman Amphitheatres and Spectacula: a 21st century perspective’ will run on February 17 and 18 2007. It was prompted by the stunning amphitheatre discovered in Chester, which is the largest excavated example in Britain.

Experts from English Heritage and Chester City Council will present their theory at the conference that the Chester amphitheatre was a two-storey structure similar to the one in El Djem, Tunisia, where Gladiator was filmed.

For more details and to book a place, see the conference website at

1.12.2006 – New figures show 29million extra visits to national museums since entry charges scrapped

Secretary of State for Culture, Tessa Jowell, has hailed figures showing that nearly 30million more people have visited the UK’s national museums since admission became free in 2001 inspirational.

The figures, released on December 1, show that visitor numbers to places like the Natural History and Science Museums in London, the National Railway Museum in York and National Museums Liverpool have soared since the policy was implemented.

“There is a real appetite for serious culture in this country,” said Ms Jowell. “When the obstacle of entry fees is swept away, people come in their millions, and keep coming.”

1.12.2006 - Imperial War Museum publishes catalogue of oil paintings

Nearly 2,000 oil paintings from the Imperial War Museum collection have been brought together for the first time in a catalogue.

Published by the Public Catalogue Foundation, 'Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in the Imperial War Museum' is a comprehensive work, featuring some of the most important art made by British artists.

The IWM collection gives a fascinating insight into 20th century warfare, both at home and on the front line, including works acquired through war artist schemes. Laura Knight, John Nash and Sidney Spencer are just a few of the artists whose work is featured.

The catalogue is priced at £35 hardback and £20 paperback and is available from the IWM.

Big Chill logo with image of Tate's portico

30.11.2006 - The Big Chill goes Late at Tate Britain

Big Chill Recordings artists will perform at a special Late at Tate Britain event on Friday December 1.

Eva Abraham and AGK will perform live in the gallery, Chilled by Nature perform an A/V set, as does Alucidnation and Leggo Beast spins some tunes.

The evening of mixed media also sees animation, performances from VAMP and Kevin Atherton, and readings from Jake Chapman, Janice Kerbal, Chris Hammond and others.

The evening will run from 6pm to 10pm, and the entrance fee to the exhibitions Holbein in England and the Turner Prize are half price during Late at Tate.

30.11.2006 – Viking Treasure goes home to the North West

A collection of Viking Treasure found in 2004 is returning to the North West following a grant of £45,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Huxley Hoard, named after the place it was found near Chester, consists of 22 Viking silver objects, mainly bracelets, in the distinctive Irish Sea style from around AD 850-950.

With the HLF’s help, the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, and have purchased the hoard jointly, to be displayed on a rotating programme at the venues. The hoard will be brought back to the North West from the British Museum in the next couple of months.

photo of a cabinet with jigsaw pieces laid in front of it

30.11.2006 – Last chance to save early jigsaws and George III cabinet

Culture Minister David Lammy has put a temporary export bar on a cabinet containing dissected maps used as teaching aids for King George III's children.

The mahogany cabinet contains engraved maps, dissected and mounted on wood, and a manuscript claiming that it was used by the governess to George III's children (including the future George IV and William IV).

Money now needs to be raised if these example of early jigsaws are to be kept in the UK. If an offer for the recommended price of £120,000 is not forthcoming before spring 2007, the cabinet may go abroad.

30.11.2006 – Ways to die in Lamplugh, Cumbria, 17th century style

Dying was more interesting in 17th century Lamplugh, records have revealed.

Staff at Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, Whitehaven, have found a series of interesting causes of death on burial registers from the parish of Lamplugh, dating from 1656 to 1663.

Four residents were ‘frightened to death by fairies’, seven were ‘bewitched’ and three women were drowned for witchcraft. One man was led into a horse pond by a ‘will of the wisp’.

Other peculiar deaths included being ‘crossed in love’, being attacked by the Parson’s bull, choking on barley and losing a frying pan and pitchforks duel!

“It’s great to unearth a document like this in our collection and gives people a chance to discover a more quirky side to history,” said Anne Rowe, County Archivist of Cumbria Archive Service. “I’m not sure whether to attribute this list to our ancestors’ superstitions or just their sense of humour!”

30.11.2006 - Giant Advent calendar beamed on to Northamptonshire museum

A larger-than-life Advent calendar is being projected on to the side of the Canal Museum in Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire.

Lynda Payton, from the Friends of the Canal Museum, who had the idea, said: "A different waterways related picture or museum artefact will be unveiled each evening, providing a bright and colourful illumination to the museum and towpath. The Friends hope the project will encourage visitors to pop back to the museum during the day to look at the colourful displays and explore the canalside."

The calendar will go live at a special switch on ceremony at 5.30pm on Friday December 1 when David Blagrove, author, local historian and Chairman of the Friends will flick the switch. The light show will be displayed daily from 5.30pm until 11pm, December 1-24.

photo of a crane hauling a mast

29.11.2006 – Cutty Sark masts delivered to Historic Dockyard Chatham

The masts of the Cutty Sark – the last surviving tea clipper in the world – are taking a break from their Greenwich home while the ship undergoes a two-year conservation project.

The 100-foot-long masts have been safely lifted out of the ship and are on their way to The Historic Dockyard Chatham this week, in the first phase of a £25million conservation project.

Visitors will be able to learn about the 16-tonne masts at the Historic Dockyard from 2007, where they are being stored between HM Submarine Ocelot and HMS Gannet. Ocelot was the last submarine built for the Royal Navy at Chatham, while Gannet is the last sloop from Queen Victoria’s Navy.

“What a superb opportunity for two maritime heritage organisations who have both benefited from Heritage Lottery Funding to work together on such an important conservation project,” said Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. “We welcome Cutty Sark to The Historic Dockyard Chatham and look forward to showing her masts and spars off to all our visitors in 2007.”

“Although Cutty Sark has benefited hugely from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, we still need another £6million to complete the project,” said Richard Doughty, CEO of the Cutty Sark Trust. “Any contribution visitors to The Historic Dockyard can make to help us will be enormously appreciated.”

29.11.2006 – National Trust acquires Quarry Bank House and Garden, Cheshire

The National Trust has reunited one of Britain’s greatest industrial heritage sites with the purchase of Quarry Bank House and Garden in Cheshire.

The estate was originally part of Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate, the only water-powered cotton mill still operating in the UK. The National Trust already owns the mill, which houses an early steam-powered beam engine.

Built in the late 18th century by the Mill’s founder, Samuel Greg, the Trust will restore the garden over the next 18 months, opening it to visitors in 2008, while the house will be let on a residential basis until there is funding to open it to the public.

“Quarry Bank House and garden form an important part of the region’s industrial heritage,” said David Houston, Cheshire Area Manager for the Trust, “and are the final piece in the jigsaw which will restore the mill complex at Quarry Bank to the Greg family’s original vision for the estate, as well as allowing us a unique glimpse into life during the early part of the Industrial Revolution.”

“We are delighted to have been able to acquire this wonderful and picturesque garden that has nestled secretly in the landscape right at the heart of Quarry Bank Mill,” said David Houston, “We are looking forward to sharing this secret with thousands of visitors in the coming years.”

drawing of a fictional landscape picturing st pauls cathedral surrounded by many other churches and buildings

29.11.2006 - British Architectural Library acquires tribute to Sir Christopher Wren

The British Architectural Library in London has purchased A Tribute To Sir Christopher Wren, the most important drawing by Charles Cockerell RA ever to come on the market.

It brings together all the buildings in the early 19th century that were believed to have been built by Wren into one vast urban landscape.

The library bought the drawing at a Sotheby's auction for £98,000, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Art Fund. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1838 and re-sparked interest in Wren's work, contributing to his being regarded as one of England's most important architects.

Cockerell (1788-1863) was the first professional architect to serve as president of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1860-62 and was one of the leading architects of his day.

Image © Sotheby's

photo of a bronze sculpture of a dancer

29.11.2006 - Degas’s Dancer sidesteps inheritance tax

A sculpture of a dancer by Edgar Degas has been has been acquired for the nation in lieu of inheritance tax through the Museums, Libraries and Archive Council’s (MLA) Acceptance in Lieu scheme.

The MLA announced today the acceptance of a Degas sculpture entitled 'Préparation à la Danse: pied droit en avant' under the scheme which allows important cultural items to be offered to the nation to settle inheritance tax bills. A painting by William Nicholson, Begonias, has also been accepted through the scheme.

Both items will enter UK gallery collections, London's Courtauld Institute and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, respectively, where they will be displayed for the enjoyment of the public.

The two works of art have been offered in lieu of inheritance tax from the estate of the art dealer and historian Lillian Browse, who died in December 2005, aged 99.

photo of a wooden panelled room interior with an open fire and table draped with a tapestry

28.11.2006 - National Trust houses in London to team up with local schools for major community project

Four National Trust (NT) houses in London have teamed up with schools to launch a major community project, aiming to form lasting connections between Londoners and their local NT properties.

The project, London Voices, received a £410,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to run for three years and set the scene for permanent community involvement across the NT.

Ham House in Richmond, Osterley Park in Hounslow, Morden Hall Park in Merton and Sutton House in Hackney will each partner a nearby school and organise a series of creative projects with local families, with local authority arts and heritage teams also involved.

Participants will work with artists at the NT properties to produce interactive displays, dramatic performances, poetry and art to be showcased at the houses each spring and summer, starting in 2007.

Photo: Sutton House, Hackney. Photo © NTPL/Geoffrey Frosh

photo of a large red brick building with a plaza in front of it

28.11.2006 - Predicting the future of memory at the British Library

UK experts are to meet at the British Library to debate the key issues surrounding the science of technology and memory.

The day-long Future Of Our Pasts event, which is open to the public, will be held on December 12 2006 and will discuss how memories are formed, stored and retrieved and also look at how techologies for managing and storing information are becoming more powerful and sophisticated.

It hopes to address questions like whether it will be possible for us to replace parts of our memory with artificial aids and how can technology help with memory disorders.

Attendance is free, but limited to 200 places - email for more details.

28.11.2006 - Museum calls for old teacups and crockery to help build unique mosaic

A Staffordshire museum is calling for people to send in their old teacups and crockery to help create an unusual mosaic.

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is collecting the backstamps from thousands of pieces of local pottery to make a mosaic wall to be installed at the museum.

There have been more than 1,500 potters in Stoke-on-Trent and most of them used a backstamp to identify their work, often including the words 'England' or 'Made in England'.

"Each piece of pottery will represent a piece of history or a personal snapshot of time," said project leader Emma Biggs. "It may be that the contributer or a relative worked at the factory, or the ware may be from a broken piece of a set brought for a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary and this is an opportunity to have a memory incorporated in this unique work of art."

Special donation drums have been placed at several local venues - to find out where they are and other ways you can donate your Stoke pottery call 0207 687 9980.

photo of a woman stood behind a clear box

27.11.2006 - Student wins eBay auction for exhibition space at Museum of London

A textile student from Goldsmith's College in London topped the bidding on an eBay auction for a display space at the Museum of London.

Lee Slack paid £720 for the space in a museum display case, and plans to create a unique textile design for it. Lee is from Cumbria but now lives in Greenwich.

"We're absolutely thrilled that the auction has been won by a Londoner who plans to use the space for a creative response to his adopted city - we can't wait to see his finished piece," said Jack Lohman, museum director.

photo of a black and silver playstation three games console on a red background

27.11.2006 - Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 arrive at Science Museum ahead of public release

The Science Museum's Game On exhibition is installing the new Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3 gaming consoles on November 29 2006, both ahead of their public release.

The Nintendo Wii is due to go on sale in the UK on December 8 2006 and the PlayStation 3 is not available until March 2007, making the exhibition the only place in the country where people can compare the new machines. Microsoft's new Xbox 360 is already installed at the exhibition.

"The future is here," said Gaetan Lee, programmes developer at the Science Museum. "Visitors can experience the graphics, interactivity and intensity that are to form the next stage of gaming's technological and cultural development."

Game On is an interactive exhibition exploring the history and culture of computer gaming - read the 24 Hour Museum review.

Photo © Sony

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