Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending March 2 2008. This page is updated every weekday.
29.02.2008 - NPG launches film season exploring famous artists
The National Portrait Gallery in London is launching a season of films by Jake Auerbach, offering illuminating insights into the lives and works of some of our most elusive artists.
The season of seven films, including portraits of Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Walter Sickert, RB Kitaj, John Virtue, Auguste Rodin, Allen Jones and Paula Rego, begins on Thursday March 13 2008.
Jake Auerbach will introduce the first film to be shown in the series, Lucian Freud: Portraits and will be joined by Freud's biographer, William Feaver.
All films are screened free on a first come, first served basis. Screenings are in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. See www.npg.org.uk for more details.
29.02.2008 - 17th century garden found in Aberdeenshire
Archaeological excavations at the National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle Estate, Aberdeenshire have revealed exciting evidence for the early 17th century gardens which once surrounded the castle.
A team of professional and volunteer archaeologists, led by Murray Archaeological Services Ltd, uncovered foundations of very substantial walls and areas of paving, clear evidence of landscaping work carried out in the 1770s, medieval ceramics, including glazed floor tiles and pottery fragments and 17th and 18th century wine bottles, fine tableware and clay pipe fragments.
The gardens, which have lain hidden under green lawns for nearly 250 years, were probably established in the early 1600s, when a palace wing was added to Drum Castle.
“This is a very exciting discovery," said Dr Shannon Fraser, Archaeologist for the National Trust for Scotland. "The garden features being revealed at Drum are among the oldest in the National Trust for Scotland’s care and will provide important new information about a relatively little-understood period of Scottish garden history."
28.02.2008 - Blue Plaque for philosopher Karl Popper
An English Heritage Blue Plaque has been unveiled in north London to philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994).
Popper, born in Vienna in 1902, made his name as a philosopher of science, later focusing on political and social philosophy. He was working as a lecturer in New Zealand in 1945 when he completed his best known work, The Open Society and its Enemies. After this was published, he moved to England to take up a post at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His reputation grew and he was knighted in 1965.
The plaque has been unveiled at his former home, 16 Burlington Rise, Barnet, where he lived from 1946 to 1950.
Popper’s defence of liberal values against totalitarianism of all shades has been cited approvingly by politicians from both the left and right, including Anthony Crosland, Sir Keith Joseph, Vaclav Havel and Helmut Kohl.
28.02.2008 - Heritage Champion appointed for Bath
Bryan Chalker has become Bath's new Heritage Champion, appointed by Bath and North East Somerset Council, to help to promote and protect Bath's heritage.
The new Heritage Champion will be supported by English Heritage as they help to use the historic environment to bring regeneration, new businesses, jobs, educational opportunities and an improved quality of life to their local area.
"Champions are heritage heroes who work hard to transform their local communities," said Andrew Vines, English Heritage Regional Director for the South West. "They are local experts who understand what matters in their areas. Heritage Champions know how to see the historic streets and buildings around as an asset to help trigger renewal and boost the area's culture. We welcome Bryan Chalker and greatly look forward to working with him."
Historic Environment Champions act as the focus for historic environment issues within their local community. They work to put the historic environment high on their Council's agenda and help to link up historic environment policy between departments.
"I am really looking forward to my new role," said Bryan. "My first task will be to raise public awareness of Bath's rich industrial past and to initiate a programme of heritage plaques throughout the city to commemorate the Blitz, Stothert and Pitt Crane Works and the Dead Mill."
27.02.2008 - Major new arts centre for Aberdeen
An innovative new arts centre will be incorporated into sunken Victorian gardens in Aberdeen, providing a major venue for contemporary art in the north of Scotland.
Peacock Visual Arts’ plans for the £12.5million centre were approved by the Scottish Government on February 26, and it is expected to be completed by 2010. It has been designed by architects Brisac Gonzalez, the designers of the award-winning Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.
The new Union Terrace Gardens centre is hoped to attract over 200,000 visitors a year, with its 3,200 square metres hosting a range of contemporary arts activities.
“We are delighted at receiving the Ministers' go-ahead,” said Lindsay Gordon, Director of Peacock. “As soon as Brisac Gonzalez unveiled the plans we knew this development would bring something very special to the cultural and architectural landscape of the UK.”
“What we have here is a stunning building that will put Aberdeen on par with other Northern European cultural centres such as Helsinki, Oslo and Copenhagen."
A detailed model of the new plans for the centre will be on display to the public in the City Council's St Nicholas House headquarters for the next month.
27.02.2008 – Ceramic art fair comes to Royal College
Ceramic Art London 2008 will take place at the Royal College of Art from February 29 to March 2, with 80 leading ceramic artists showing off their wares.
The major international showcase hosts the latest in contemporary studio ceramics and allows the artists to sell direct to the public, rather than via galleries.
Pieces at the fair this year include exquisite sculptural works by ceramicists such as Peter Hayes, Peter Beard and Claire Loder; work by recent graduates such as RCA student Louisa Taylor, who has already been commissioned to create a range of casual tableware for Wedgwood; quirky limited editions by Carole Windham, who draws inspiration from Pop Art and nineteenth century Staffordshire Pottery; and work by Jon Lawrence, a young ceramist who casts antique forms and covers the surfaces with graffiti-like scrawls and transfers.
CAL is accompanied by a programme of free talks and events that include an artist talk by the influential British potters Edmund De Waal and Elizabeth Fritsch along with a ‘Desert Island Pots’ interview with Emmanuel Cooper, editor of Ceramic Review.
For more details see www.ceramics.org.uk.
27.02.2008 - Fine china collection given to Worcester Porcelain Museum
Elaborate china made for sultans and kings, mass-produced commemorative mugs, fine tea sets made for retiring business men and smart dinner services adorned with family crests are seen in unique drawings and designs in a Royal Worcester Porcelain Factory archive purchased by The Art Fund for just over £55,000.
The Art Fund has presented the archive to the Worcester Porcelain Museum to mark the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).
Containing Royal Worcester Porcelain Factory pattern books, drawings and loose illustrations of patterns and animal designs, the gift completes the transfer of records from the Worcester Royal Porcelain Factory to the Worcester Porcelain Museum, and will join a much larger collection of manuscripts, photographs and designs created during the company’s 256 year history.
27.02.2008 – Waygood Gallery gets planning go-ahead for Newcastle redevelopment
Newcastle’s Waygood Gallery has been given planning permission for its redeveloped venue and together with the city council has appointed builders.
Work will begin this spring to create a new city centre cultural venue comprising of galleries, artists studios, a learning centre, café bar and club and office space. For more details and to see an animation of the redevelopment see www.waygood.org.
26.02.2008 - Bomb from St Bees School, Cumbria, returns for first time in 72 years
When a bomb was found under the floor upon which a government official was standing, giving a speech at St Bees School in 1932, it caused quite a stir, understandably.
However, the St Bees Bomb is now best known for the fact that it didn’t go off.
The Beacon in Whitehaven, Cumbria, now holds the (defused) unexploded bomb, where it is on permanent display. However, on March 11 it return to St Bee’s School for the students there to see and hear about the story behind it. It will be the first time in 72 years that it has been in the school.
26.02.2008 - Museums Association publishes disposal toolkit for collection thinning
We all need a good turn-out now and again to get rid of unnecessary clutter. Museums are no different, but the task is a little more difficult with their precious collections of historical artefacts.
The Museums Association has just published a disposal toolkit to help with the unenviable job, and supports its recent changes to its Code of Ethics for Museums, which encourages transfer of objects that could be better used elsewhere, and, in exceptional circumstances, allows for the sale of objects on the open market.
“Museums typically collect a thousand times as many things as they get rid of,” said Mark Taylor, Director of the MA. “Wonderful collections can become a burden unless they are cleared of unused objects."
The toolkit is available on the collection section of the MA website.
26.02.2008 - The Feast of Fenland celebrated at Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre, Cambridgeshire
The scent of good old fashioned cooking will waft about the roundhouses at Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre in Cambridgeshire on Saturday March 1 2008.
It will be the archaeological centre’s 25th season this year, and to mark the occasion, an Iron Age and Roman feast is planned – also in celebration of the centre’s new Feast of Fenland exhibition.
Herb expert Christina Stapeley will be demonstrating the ancient cooking techniques in the morning, and also medieval cookery in the afternoon.
The new exhibition, Feast of Fenland, celebrates Fenland food and its production past, present and future – from strawberries to sugar beet, potatoes to punt guns, traction engines to tractors.
26.02.2008 - Liverpool to host conference on public history and museums
Liverpool will host a major international conference on public history that will examine areas such as how museums shape our sense of identity and our emotional responses to subjects such as the slave trade.
The conference, organised by the University of Liverpool, will examine the role of public history in art, archaeology, film and sport. Speakers will include former Minister for Welfare Reform, Frank Field MP, Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Lonnie Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American History in the US.
The role of museums in constructing and reinforcing collective identities will also be debated – with particular focus on the interpretation of slavery in museums in the UK, the US and Jamaica and the ways museums select and manage their collections in order to shape the emotions of their audiences.
The conference will be held at Merseyside Maritime Museum from April 10-12 2008 (entry £80). For further details see www.liv.ac.uk/history/public-history.
25.02.2008 - Campaign to save Brunel's atmospheric railway pump house in Totnes
Locals have started a campaign to list a 19th century atmospheric railway pumping house in Totnes, designed by IK Brunel, following plans to demolish it.
The 1840s building was part of Brunel's ambitious attempt to drive trains by hooking them up to a piston drawn through a slotted pipe between railway tracks. The piston was pumped through the tube by pumping stations along the lineside. The idea was abandoned when rats, chewing through leather sealing strips on the tube, stopped the trains. Only two other pumping stations survive on Brunel's main line to Penzance.
Dairy Crest owns the site, and plans to demolish the structure before selling the land.
25.02.2008 – Mining museum seeks Coal Queens
The National Coal Mining Museum of England in Wakefield is on the lookout for former Coal Queens of Britain to join in the Annual Miners’ Gala in June, as part of the museum's 20th anniversary celebrations.
The Coal Queen of Britain competition was run every year between 1969 and 1996 by the National Coal Board, with collieries across the country nominating their own Coal Queen. Regional finalists went on to compete for the national crown.
June 8 2008 will see the mining museum’s fourth Miners’ Gala, with a range of free activities and performances looking back at the culture around the industry. Past Coal Queen winners or their families can contact Rachel Bannister on 01942 844560 to take part.
25.02.2008 – Glasgow Art Club sheds private club status to attract people to its gallery
The Glasgow Art Club, situated in historic premises in the city’s Bath Street, has got rid of its private members status in a bid to open up its gallery and facilities to more people.
The move to become a charity is part of a plan which includes a £1.3m renovation and the restoration of a currently hidden Charles Rennie Mackintosh mural. It is believed that Mackintosh even designed the club’s gallery space as a young architect.
25.02.2008 - National Railway Museum acquires rare early industrial locomotive
The National Railway Museum in York will put on show an engine dating back to the 1840s that could be the oldest surviving locomotive with six driving wheels.
The Bradyll has survived diverse employment over the last 160 years, including coal hauling and snowploughing. Some time after the Second World War, the loco was put on display outside Durham's Philadelphia Works. It is now undergoing conservation.
25.02.2008 – Hut 8 opened at Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, centre of World War II codebreaking, has opened the refurbished Hut 8 to visitors, containing new displays including the HMS Petard exhibition.
During WWII, Hut 8 housed the unit that broke the German Enigma messages and important figures such as Alan Turing and Hugh Alexander worked there.
The hut has been returned to its 1940s appearance, with an exhibition paying tribute to servicemen Tommy Brown, Colin Grazier and Anthony Fasson from the HMS Petard, who captured the codebooks that enabled the staff in Hut 8 to crack the Enigma codes.
25.02.2008 – Design, DH Lawrence and Oriental collections recognised as outstanding
Three exceptional collections covering literature, design and Oriental history have been awarded Designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to acknowledge their significance and quality.
The DH Lawrence collection at the Hallward Library, University of Nottingham; the Museum of Domestic Architecture and Design’s (MoDA) Silver Studio collection, Middlesex University; and the Egyptology and Chinese collections held by Durham University Oriental Museum are the latest to receive the award.
The DH Lawrence collection, held at the University of Nottingham’s Hallward Library, comprehensively covers the work of the author and responses to it. The Silver Studio was a commercial design studio active between 1880 and 1963. MoDA's vast collection relating to the studio includes a fascinating record of design in the English home during this time.
At Durham University Oriental Museum, the Egyptology collection is one of the best in Britain. It was built around a core collection made by the Fourth Duke of Northumberland in the mid-nineteenth century and comprises over 6,700 objects. The museum’s Chinese collection is one of the most comprehensive in Europe, housing over 10,000 artefacts to provide a rich and diverse overview of the history of Chinese material culture.
Image shows Late Period bronze cat coffin. © Durham University Oriental Museum