News In Brief - Week Ending December 17 2006

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 11 December 2006
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Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending December 17 2006. This page is updated every weekday.

painting of a canal basin surrounded by factories

15.12.2006 - MLA removes Bury Art Gallery and Museum from national accreditation scheme

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) Accreditation Panel has removed Bury Art Gallery and Museum's accredited status as of December 15.

This decision was taken as a result of the Bury Metropolitan Borough Council's decision to sell the painting A Riverbank by LS Lowry to plug a hole in the council's deficit. The painting was sold for £1.25m last month.

Chris Batt, Chief Executive, MLA, said: "The Accreditation Panel has made a unanimous decision to remove Bury Museum's registered status. The rules of the scheme are in place essentially to maintain and preserve our country's heritage, therefore breaking those rules not only affects future funding for the museum, but creates a cultural deficit for the people of Bury."

15.12.2006 – Rare Henry VIII medal sold for £22,500 at auction

A rare silver medal dating from 1545 and featuring the face of King Henry VIII has sold for £22,500 at auction.

The medal was one of the star attractions at Thomson, Roddick & Medcalf’s December auction in Carlisle. The only other two existing examples of the same type of medal are exhibits at the British Museum and Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.

The silver medal bears inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek proclaiming Henry as the head of the Church of England.

photo montage of an artist at work

15.12.2006 – Scotland’s First national conference for artists with learning disabilities, Art Expo 2007

February 2007 will see Scotland’s first ever national conference for artists with learning disabilities, Art Expo 2007, in Glasgow.

The one-day event, on February 27 2007, has been organised by Project Ability for learning disabled artists and groups from all over Scotland to get together to share skills, knowledge and experience. The day will include talks, discussion, film screenings, arts activities and more.

To book a place and find out more, visit

15.12.2006 – MLA urges schools to invest in libraries

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has responded to the results of the 2005-06 Survey of Library Services to Schools and Children in the UK by urging schools to keep investing in libraries, and work with public libraries.

The research, carried out by the Library and Information Statistics Unit, showed a mixed picture. There was a four per cent increase in the borrowing of children’s books over 2004-05, and 10 per cent increase in total spending on children’s services over the previous year.

However, school library services in the UK are also decreasing, with 10 closing in the last five years and a five per cent drop in school library staff. The survey also found that 13 per cent of Local Education Authority pupils attend schools in areas with no formal school library service provision.

“Although I’m pleased with the increasing emphasis public libraries are placing on their specialist library services for children, I’m concerned that schools are investing less in school library services and potentially in school library services themselves,” said John Dolan, Head of Library Policy at MLA. “School libraries are important in giving young people the information, learning and skills they will need during the rest of their learning lives.”

a photograph of the name plate of flying scotsman with steam rising

14.12.2006 - Flying Scotsman gets new cylinders and bearings

Ongoing work by the National Railway Museum to refurbish the Flying Scotsman has seen the nation's most treasured steam locomotive kitted out with new precision machined cylinders and bearings courtesy of Corus Process Engineering.

The three cylinder Scotsman is currently undergoing its ten year overhaul at the museum's workshops in York and the museum hopes to have the locomotive up and running again by late 2007. In the meantime visitors to the NRM can view the engine from The Works balcony.

14.12.2006 - Remains of lost Abbey discovered near Derby

Sandstone walls belonging to what archaeologists believe to be Darley Abbey have been uncovered at Darley Abbey village, just outside Derby.

The three sandstone walls are thought to be the clearest indication yet found of the location of the abbey, which gave the village its name.

Demolished during the dissolution of the monasteries in the late 1530s, the abbey belonged to the Augustinian order and was founded in about 1146. For 400 years it was one of the most powerful institutions in the country.

Further excavations will now take place to discover more of the medieval remains and to ascertain the exact size and location of the once thriving medieval abbey.

14.12.2006 - Art Fund launches its enriching the regions scheme

Three regional launches have taken place to kick start The Art Fund's new collecting initiative, Enriching Regions.

The scheme will make up to £45,000 per region available to museums in the East of England, East Midlands and West Midlands thanks to a funding package of £130,000 from the Esme Fairbairn Foundation.

The regions were identified in a recent Art Fund survey as those least able to add to their museum and gallery collections, the report also found that almost 70% of all museums now acquire new material mainly or solely by gift.

Museums can apply for up to 100% of the cost of the work (minimum grant of £2,000), but priority will be given to those museums that can also find local funding – perhaps from a patron or local business. Museums from the three regions should contact Sarah Philp in The Art Fund’s Grants Office on 020 7225 4803 for further information.

14.12.2006 - Archaeological dig reveals 13th century finds in Berwick

Archaeologists from Tyne and Wear Museums have uncovered a series of important finds during a dig in the Walkergate area of Berwick.

A silver coin dating from the 13th century reign of King Henry III is among the finds found together with the remains of buildings which may date to the heyday of medieval Berwick.

Excavations are due to finish on December 15 on the site which is known locally as the Beehive, before work on a new £3.3 million business site begins. However, the excavation has given archaeologists a fuller picture of Berwick from the medieval period up to and beyond the Elizabethan and Georgian eras.

photo of a round brick building on a lawn

14.12.2006 - Gardner Arts Centre at University of Sussex to close

Funding cuts will force the Gardner Arts Centre at the University of Sussex campus to close in 2007, its board has announced.

After Brighton and Hove City Council withdrew the venue’s annual £30,000 grant in November (with effect from April 2007), the Gardner was unable to meet criteria that would also attract Arts Council funding. The board therefore took the decision to close the centre after its 2007 spring season.

“The real sadness is that this decision has nothing to do with the quality of the work,” said Chair of the Board Deborah Grubb. “The building, which we lease from the University of Sussex, is in need of significant investment, and the Gardner is also faced with an increasingly competitive arts economy following decisions by the Arts Council to concentrate support on city centre venues, which has inevitably impacted on our programme, audiences and income.”

photo of a large neoclassical building with a fountain in front of it

13.12.2006 – Britain's museums and galleries bring £1.5 billion per year in economic benefits, report finds

A report published on December 13 has highlighted the key role of museums in Britain’s economy.

Commissioned by the National Museum Directors’ Conference and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the research was carried out by Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.

The report, entitled ‘Museums and Galleries in Britain: Economic Social and Creative Impacts’, estimates that the UK’s major museums and galleries bring £1.5 billion per year in economic benefits, taking into account turnover and visitor expenditure. It also states that broadly, £1 in every £1,000 in the UK economy can be directly related to the museum and gallery sector, and new institutions contribute to the regeneration of industrial cities.

Mark Wood, Chair of the MLA Board, welcomed the report, but pointed to the need for continued investment.

“Although it is clear there is much to be proud of,” he said, “particularly the impact of the Renaissance programme and other initiatives designed to develop wider audiences, the report does include some pertinent insights into the continuing need for long term investment in museums and galleries to ensure that the high quality services offered to all persist.”

photo of a modernist block of flats with balconies

13.12.2006 – Modernist health centre and spa awarded grants

English Heritage have awarded £40,000 for the benefit of Finsbury Health Centre and the adjoining Spa Green Estate in Islington, both designed by Modernist architect Lubetkin.

The funds will be used to create new guidelines on the future management and conservation of the 1930s buildings.

“The new management guidelines will provide the local authority with much-needed advice and information about the listed buildings,” explained Richard Parish, English Heritage’s Historic Areas Advisor for London, “how they can be made fit for purpose in the 21st century and how their future can be best secured.”

Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin designed and built the Health Centre in 1938 in accordance with Finsbury Council’s wish to address illnesses rife amongst the poor at the time, including diphtheria, whooping cough and tuberculosis. It was the first such purpose-built centre in London, and is still used as such thanks to its functional design.

Photo © Crown Copyright 2006

13.12.2006 – Artists invited to commemorate Belfast Dockers’ strike

Belfast City Council is looking for designs to commemorate the 1907 Belfast Dockers’ strike – and the winning proposal will net £12,000.

Artists are invited to submit proposals for an original, permanent stained glass window that will take pride of place in City Hall.

“As a former dock worker and member of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions,” said Councillor Alex Maskey, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee, “I think it is very important that we commemorate the Dockers’ strike, because it was instrumental in bringing about much needed improvements in the working classes’ quality of life.”

For a full brief and more information, see, or contact the Good Relations Unit, Chief Executive’s Department, City Hall, Belfast BT1 5GS, telephone (028) 902 70663, email

The deadline for submissions is 12pm, January 10 2007.

a drawing of an early man carrying a dead animal

12.12.2006 - Skeleton cast and conservation to help identify Indonesian Hobbit

Scientists have conserved and made skeleton casts of the one-metre-tall human species, nicknamed the hobbit, discovered on the Indonesian Island of Flores in 2003.

Having lived only 18,000 years ago 'Homo floresiensis' is thought by some experts to be the longest lasting of our non-modern human ancestors. When it was discovered the one metre tall creature hit the headlines and amazed the scientific community when it was suggested as a new species.

However, the debate still rages with some scientists believing it to be a deformed homo-sapien.

Now Natural History Museum scientist, Lorraine Cornish, has visited the National Research Centre for Archaeology in Indonesia to help conserve the fossil bones, which were in need of specialist care and repair.

Reversible resin was used to harden the bone surface whilst replica hand and feet casts were taken of the fossil specimens which were also CT scanned, photographed and videod. The work will enable more scientists to study the remains and decide on its origins.

12.12.2006 - Chinese artist He Yun Chang brings his solitary rock tour to London

The Chinese performance artist who has been touring round Britain carrying a rock is due to bring his solitary tour to the capital on December 13 and 14.

He Yun Chang began his durational performance art project in Rock, Northumberland in September 2006, when he walked to the nearby coast at Boulmer. There he selected a rock and set off walking with it around Britain in an anti-clockwise direction with the intention of returning the rock to the exact place where he found it.

Anyone interested in joining He Yun Chang as he walks through London can phone 0770 333 6347 for up to the minute locations.

12.12.2006 - Youngsters make new podcast guides to Scottish cities

A new series of podcast guides to Scotland's cities have been made by youngsters taking part in workshops at various galleries across the country.

The MPsix project saw young people join together to script, perform and edit a series of personal guides to their home city. The guides will be available from December 13 at the website and feature personal guides to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling.

photo of a blue book with a mackerel embedded in its cover

11.12.2006 - Award winning bookbindings on display at British Library

The winners of the 2006 Bookbinding Competition are on show at the British Library until February 4 2007.

The competition offers a unique platform for craft workers to reveal their bookbinding skills and creativity, and this year's selection have been produced in a variety of materials including goatskin, vellum, oil paint, gold lettering and Japanese tissue inlays.

Kate Holland won the Mansfield Medal for Best Book in the Competition for her hand-dyed black goatskin binding of HE Bates' Through the Woods. Mary Norwood won the Arthur Johnson Prize with her mackerel-modelled cover to Elizabeth David's A Book Of Mediterranean Food (pictured). The top prize for a Set book went to Derek Hood.

11.12.2006 - Birmingham Museum and Gallery seeks entrants for major art competition

Amateur and professional artists across the West Midlands are being invited to submit entries to the first Birmingham Open art competition.

Successful applicants will have their work exhibited at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with the chance to be voted best in show and win £1,000.

"Through the Birmingham Open, the Museum and Art Gallery is providing a prominent platform for up and coming artists to have their work displayed in a world class gallery," said Rita McClean, Head of Museums and Heritage Services at Birmingham Council. "The first Birmingham Open is long overdue and we want this to become established as part of the region's cultural calender."

All types of artwork will be accepted including paintings, drawings, collage, photography, sculpture, constructions and time-based or digital work. The deadline for entries is January 15 2007 - contact the museum for more details.

photo of a terracotta statue of a woman holding a small model

11.12.2006 - Unusual new Madonna statue unveiled at Boston Guildhall

An unusual new terracotta and gold leaf statue of The Madonna has been installed in an empty niche on the front of St Mary's Guildhall in Boston, Lincolnshire in time for Christmas.

The Madonna, made by artist Claire Curneen, who has work in the V&A's collection, holds a model of the local St Botolph's Church in her hands.

The Guildhall is a Grade I listed building and the new sculpture is part of a £877,000 lottery-funded refurbishment programme, which will see the venue reopen to the public in summer 2007.

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