MUSEUM news THE JOURNAL OF NATIONAL HERITAGE ● SPRING 2009 Check out our website at nationalheritage.org.uk
We don’t know his name, but know a good deal else about this sailor, who died when the Mary Rose went down in the Solent in 1545 and whose skeleton was found in the wreckage. He was the ship’s bosun, the officer closest to the crew, who could be identified by the possession of his bosun’s whistle or call. He was in his early 40s, quite elderly in a crew that was mostly aged between 17 and 24, and although short by modern standards was powerfully built, indicating a lifetime at sea. Scientists can even tell that he was born and bred in south-west England. This astonishingly detailed reconstruction of his appearance has been created by a partnership of the forensic scientist Dr Lynne Bell and Richard Neave, a leading medical artist. Full story, page 3.
NH PROFILE Rhiann Harris
LOCAL FOCUS Honeywood Museum
The face of Henry’s navy
NEWS Museum boards – ‘male, pale, stale’ 1 Art Fund Prize last ten Kids’ manifesto 2 Mary Rose’s secrets 3
No to Britishness museum
NH DEBATE Stuart Davies on the recession, you and Keynes 7
MUSEUM IN THE NEWS 1 – Broadfield Glass Museum 8 2 – Theatre at the V&A 8
HERITAGE REVISITED Robert Hewison on how the ‘industry’ has changed 9
NATIONAL HERITAGE GUIDE A selective list of current and forthcoming museum and gallery exhibitions 10-15
EVENTS Forthcoming visit to the Handel House Museum 16
Museum News goes virtual This will be the last printed Museum News for the time being. Because of the rising costs of printing and distribution, the next issue, due in October, and subsequent issues will be published online only at our website, at nationalheritage.org.uk, where you will find all the news and features supporting the interests of museum and gallery visitors and users, and the role of museums and galleries in the UK. Our popular listings will also appear on the website. – Simon Tait, Editor.
Museum boards ‘male, pale and stale’ – MLA chief The boards of publicly funded museums and galleries have been branded “male, pale and stale” – by the chief executive of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, Roy Clare. “The inherent problem in the public sector of self-generating ruling class maintaining this ‘malepale-stale’ environment in governance” he said, meaning that too few women, two few young people, and many too few from the black, Asian and multi-ethnic sectors (BAME) are appointed to museum boards. The difference, he says, is not so much between the heritage sector and the visual and performing arts, as between the public and private sector, and the crucial factor is the rules about appointments to boards following the Nolan Committee report on standards in public life. Nolan was concerned to eradicate the “tap on the shoulder” process of recruiting to the boards of public bodies, to ensure appointments on merit. But what is happening is that the “pool” from which board members, particularly for national museums and galleries, is drawn has solidified. “So the inherent problem in the public sector of self-generating ruling class maintaining this ‘malepale-stale’ environment in governance” he said, meaning that too few women, two few young people, and many too few from the black, Asian and multi-ethnic sectors on boards (BAME). The effect of too many white middle-aged men on our museums’ governing bodies is that the many different stories a museum collection can tell that
would appeal to the growingly diverse sectors of modern British society are not drawn out. “We’ve got collections with really huge potential to represent diverse stories, but the governance of the board does not reflect that” he said. “That’s the key starting point for me”. The problem relates as much to his own board at the MLA as anywhere else, but he hopes there are signs of change. DCMS has an advisory board on heritage comprising the likes of Clare, Carole Souter of the HLF, Mark Jones of the V&A and National Museums Directors’ Conference, and English Heritage CEO Simon Turley, which recently presented a key paper to the head civil servant in the department, Jonathan Stephens. “He has reacted positively” Clare said, and in April the first ever networking session involving chairs and chief executives from the sector was due to take place at DCMS. “The private sector has got more freedom in terms of how to appoint trustees, and that freedom when used well can extend to bringing onto a board people who can make a difference for you in one sector or another. Private sector charities have brought in very imaginative people who wouldn’t compete under Nolan for public sector jobs” Clare said. The pool has to be widened, and Clare hopes to that the current rebuilding of the MLA board will set an example of having more women, young people and trustees from BAME backgrounds – but the problem remains, he admits, that the team appointed by DCMS to select likely candidates are three white middle-aged males.
MUSEUM NEWS CHAIRMAN’S LETTER
Now is not the time... hose who read my letter in the last issue may recall that I warned that our limited resources have been imposing increasingly severe restrictions on National Heritage’s activities, and that our charity would face some tough decisions in the coming year. Among these was the possibility that we might have to close down, one suggestion being that we should do so with a bang rather than a whimper – using the cash we had left to support a small museum that was itself facing closure. The problem with that, as we can see now we are well into this difficult year, would be judging which of quite a few museums most deserved such an award. After some valuable discussions at our annual general meeting the executive committee decided that this was not the time to close down, though others have been forced to do so. The Campaign for Museums has had to, and abandon its annual museum month, following the withdrawal of funding by the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council, and too many museums and galleries, particularly those dependent on local authority funding, are likely to be facing financial and other problems during the current recession and will need all the support and encouragement we can give. Readers of this issue will find, on page seven, an interesting appraisal by Stuart Davies, one of our regular contributors and current president of the Museums Association, of how museums and galleries might be affected by the recession. He also suggests how they might make some contributions towards its resolution. Simply by surviving, National Heritage will continue to do what it can to help, but we shall have to cut costs in order to do so. One economy, as announced on the front page of this issue, will be to cease publishing Museum News in print format, which will make substantial savings in our budget. Our journal will continue to be available on line (www.nationalheritage.org.uk), as will an expanded version of our list of current and forthcoming museum and gallery exhibitions, and for those members who do not have computers a print-out can be obtained on application to the NY Administration Centre, Rye Road, Hawkburst, Kent TN18 5DW (tel: 01580 752 052). James Bishop
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Art Fund Prize 2009 longlist The long list of ten museums and galleries has been announced for the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries. The winner will be announced in June. The judges, chaired by Lord Puttnam, will select the winner from: • The Braid: Arts Centre and Mid-Antrim Museum, Ballymena, Co Antrim, a £20 million new museum, arts centre and exhibition space exploring the history of the region. • The Centre of New Enlightenment at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, inspired by the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment and using the museum’s collections to inspire young people. • Outside the Box at the Museum of Reading which entrusts more than 20,000 precious objects from the museum’s collections packed into more than 1,500 boxes and loaned out to schools, colleges, care homes, libraries, and local community groups. • Scotland: A Changing Nation at National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, five major themes affecting life in Scotland from the First
World War to the present. • National Trust Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire, which offers the rare chance for kids big and small to get hands-on with its collections in this museum set in the 19th century servants’ wing of 17th century Sudbury Hall. • Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham, transformed from a group of decaying buildings into a thriving and inspirational community hub for heritage, arts and learning. • Rotunda – The William Smith Museum of Geology, Scarborough, one of the oldest surviving purpose-built museums in the country. • Ruthin Craft Centre: The Centre for the Applied Arts, Denbighshire, the most important gallery for contemporary craft in Wales in a stunning new building. • The Sackler Centre for arts education at the V&A, London, one of the most innovative museum education spaces in the world. • The Wedgwood Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, celebrating the art of ceramics at its finest and dedicated to the people who have made objects of great beauty from the soil of Staffordshire.
What kids really want... With the help of a £40,000 grant from the Museums Libraries and Archives Council, Kids in Museums, the charity devoted to highlighting the needs of families in museum visits, has produced a new manifesto culled from the responses in a survey of its members. It was launched at the Royal Academy by the
charity’s patron, television presenter Mariela Frostrup, who recalled frightening museum visits when she was a child when warders would not tolerate talking. “They were always telling me to ‘shush’ crossly, and that put me off for years” she said. “Why couldn’t they just have told us something about the displays that would interest us?”
The 20 points respondents called for were: 1. 2.
Be welcoming from café to curator. Be accessible or prams and wheelchairs, with automatic doors, lifts and pushchair storage. 3. Give a hand to parents – don’t presume adults have been to a museum before, so help them to help their children enjoy the museum. 4. Be interactive and hands on so kids can touch objects. 5. Be height aware, with objects, art and signage low enough to children to see. 6. Have different things to do with art carts, picture trails, storytelling, and dressing up so parents don’t have to do all the work. 7. Produce guides and trails that children and adults can use together. 8. Provide healthy food and unlimited tap water. 9. Provide great toilets with baby changing facilities and room for pushchairs. 10. Teach kids respect for objects and other visitors, and explain why there are things they can’t touch.
11. Sell items in the shop that aren’t too expensive and not junk. 12. Give free entry wherever possible or family tickets allowing re-entry. 13. Don’t make assumptions about kids likes and dislikes, they can appreciate fine art as well as finger-painting. 14. Provide open space where kids can let off steam. 15. But also have some quiet space where kids and families can reflect together. 16. Don’t say “shush” – why shouldn’t families be able to discuss what the are seeing? 17. Don't forget teenagers and make sure there’s somewhere for them to store their stuff. 18. Have dedicated family friendly days with extra activities. 19. Remember there’s no typical family, they can span generations. 20. Remember a visit doesn’t end when a family leaves. Many families want the experience to last, so have follow-up activities and suggestions on the website.
First showing for Mary Rose’s treasures In a remarkable coup, a Croydon school rather than an accredited museum is the venue where some of the most extraordinary survivals of Tudor life – relics from the wreck of Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose – can be seen by the public for the first time. The exhibition, which is at Whitgift School until August 7, has 250 objects from the wreck about 80% of which have never been seen public before, but which will be part of the new Mary Rose museum being planned for Portsmouth Harbour. As well as the reconstructions of the faces of the ship’s bosun and a gunner, there is the full skeleton of the ship’s dog, a mongrel that appears to have spent its entire life on board and was probably mostly engaged in keeping down the rat population. The Mary Rose sank suddenly in 1545 as the French fleet was attacking the English in the Solent, killing all but a few of its complement of over 400. The ship, named after Henry’s favourite sister, remained on the ocean floor until marine archaeologists raised it in 1982, and they have been bringing remarkably preserved treasures to the surface ever since. The exhibition, at the new £10m conference centre of Whitgift School which stands on land once owned by Henry VIII, has an array of objects which portray every aspect of shipboard life in the early Tudor navy. There are rare yew bows and their arrows –
contrary to popular belief, English yew was not the best favoured because it was too difficult to bend, and European wood was the most sought after. There are guns and different types of shot, including the rare and fearsome canister shot, a box packed with pebbles which would scatter its deadly cargo on impact. There is a basket-hilt sword, daggers and knives. There are fresh-minted gold coins and silver groats, as well as worthless jettons,
used as counters. Clothes were found in excellent condition, including shoes which could be worn today, a jerkin, woollen hose and a leather mitten. A comb still has nits trapped in its tines. The officers put their own arms on the pewter dining ware they used, and although below decks the wooden bowls belonged to the king, they also had the marks of their seaman users. There is a great wooden tankard, and tankard lids were also marked by their users. Medical equipment includes a large syringe, and bottles still have the medicines used on board. Music was clearly important in the king’s navy. And there is a drum, a unique fiddle with its bow, a shawm - complete with its reed and the only surviving example of its type - and a tabor pipe, a kind of flute played whilst banging a drum. And there are early navigational instruments, including a compass, dividers, a chart stick and sounding weights used with lines to measure water depth. There are also items of rigging and tools, and the complete side of a sailor’s wooden trunk. Surprisingly, only six years after the Reformation, there are personal rosary beads, as well as other items of jewellery. Whitgift School’s headmaster, Dr Christopher Barnett, persuaded the trustees of the Mary Rose to allow him to be the first to show many of the items as part of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII, and also of the commissioning of the Mary Rose. “It is the most fantastic story, and these finds are unmatched for their quality and what they can tell us about the navy in the 1540s” he said. Hidden Treasures from the Mary Rose is at Whitgift School, Nottingham Road, Haling Park, Croydon CR2 6YT, from April 7 to August 7, www.maryrosehidden treasures.org.
Letter from Erik Blakeley, curator of Staffordshire Regiment Museum The article “Has the social museum arrived?” (Museum News 84) got me steaming. I have seldom read anything so patronizing in my professional career. It seems to imply that museum curators live up to some kind of 1920s stereotype of an introverted anal academic with no interest in his (it’s negative so of course the stereotype’s male!) community or the stories that his museum tells beyond demonstrating his knowledge of the minute details of 18th Century porcelain (or whatever happens to be his pet subject). I am sick and tired of media-grabbing whizzkids and overpaid academics stating the blindingly obvious as if it is something new. Of course museums should be relevant to their audiences and those audiences should
be as diverse and inclusive as possible. Of course collections and archives are primarily of value for the stories they contain. I don’t think I have ever met a colleague who would suggest anything different. However, suggesting that we should mount collections-free exhibitions or severely cut back on collections care is a very different thing. If museums turn their backs on their collections they will end up only doing badly what the internet and History Channel can do on much bigger budgets, beamed direct to the living rooms of the audience. If we are still to suggest that people visit museums we have to use our USP which, like it or not, remains material artefacts and primary source documents. MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 3
A museum of childhood – and children Rhian Harris, director, the V&A Museum of Childhood hian Harris’s new charge used to be disparagingly known as “The Brompton Boilers”, a prefabricated Victorian building which was once the main galleries of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), moved to East End in the 1870s when it was no longer required in Brompton Road, and a century later turned into the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. Its fortunes have lifted considerably since it reopened after a three year refurbishment, costing £5m, with an increase of visitor numbers from 125,000 a year to 350,000. There’s still building to do, but now more of perception than bricks and mortar, and it’s quite a challenge. “It’s a museum of childhood, but it’s perceived as a children’s museum and sometimes it has to be a bit of both, which is tricky” Harris says. At the age of 28 she had been the first director of the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury where she raised more than £11m herself to cre-
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ate the museum. Four years ago The Observer included her as one of its 80 brightest young people, and in 2006 Time Out picked her out as a mover and shaker. Now called the V&A Museum of Childhood, in the 80s there was a limited refurbishment without the benefit of the lottery money stream. That has changed, and the once case-crowded central floor space is now devoted to an information desk, a shop and a cafeteria, with the collections - still largely in glass cases - on the two floors rising either side of the atrium. The remake completed in December 2006 added a new entrance, more education space, bigger toilets, and there’s a sandpit and a kiddies’ kitchen to occupy the smaller visitors. Harris, now 38, had been coming here as a visitor since her son Kyffin was six months old (he’s four now), and she thought then that it had become a sort of theme park. “Mums can come in for a cup of coffee while the kids bounce around somewhere safe, but you want those people to
look in the cases” she says. That’s where her building process starts, looking at programming, exhibitions, its establishment as the V&A’s national museum of childhood, and building a relationship with the main museum to the west, which she sees as much as a treasure chest as a parent institution. “One of the big things I need to do is revisit all the permanent displays – eventually we need to tell the story of childhood here and that’s not being done” she says, which means looking at social history or the first time here, “at personal stories, because that’s a really key way that people access history”. Not just putting a toy in a case, then, but information about the child who owned it, maybe a photograph, and a description of their life, “so the whole thing comes alive”. She is creating a narrative now, “a beginning, a middle and an end, with the thematic things that come out of it. People walk through the doors now and see a museum of toys, they don’t know what the museum is really about”. The poignancy of tough childhoods was something Harris came face to face with at the Foundling, with the scores of tokens, sometimes no more than beer bottle tops, left by parents with their abandoned children, in a tear-jerking display. “Everybody relates to it and that certainly influences my thinking, and I want to bring it here. I’ve seen the power of that, and how people respond to those kinds of stories; when we had people walking out in tears I felt I’d done my job properly” she says. She wants to plan an exhibition for under-fives, but also a collaborative one with other museums which would look at the abandonment of children, the real tragedy behind the tale of Peter Pan. “We have to be truthful, and the truth is not always easy” she says. She has inherited a programme of exhibitions stretching two years ahead, but she wants to look at a new kind of temporary show that explores children’s lives, and probably not the ones whose middle class families were able to buy them the sophisticated toys shown now. For the Olympics year the V&A will have an exhibition of the best design of the years 1948 (when the Olympics were last in London) and 2012, and the MoC within the Olympics corridor - will offer a children’s version, but may also add social history with a display about the life of a typical Bethnal Green child in 1948 compared with today. Design, she says, is an intrinsic part of social history: after all, she says, “everyday objects are made in such a way as to be effective, and that’s what makes them successful”. She wants to introduce contemporary art to the museum, and in Bethnal Green it is surrounded by studios where important artists are working. “We’re so brilliantly placed, this must be a massively inspirational resource, and maybe we start a mini Frieze, where for a month things are exhibited intermingled with the objects. Why not? We should be a museum that connects on a community basis as well as national and international. “One of the reasons I work in museums is that they have a real power to touch people and sometimes, in a small way but also a large way, to change lives.”
The Honeywood dream T
he village of Carshalton is now buried in the suburban cottonwool of what used to be called the Surrey Stockbroker Belt, part of the London Borough of Sutton and bordering on the London Borough of Croydon, but at its heart is a large natural pond as bucolic as any Cotswold rural scene. It is that tranquil world that the wealthy London merchant John Pattinson Kirk bought into as a country escape when in the 1880s he acquired two 17th century flint-and-chalk cottages on the pond to be a second home to his main household in Soho Square. They were called Wandle Cottage and Honeywood, and having demolished the second and transferred the name to the first, he developed it into a comparatively modest house, over babbling culverted River Wandle. He made further additions in 1898 and 1903. Honeywood developed into a large and eyecatching white-stuccoed house overlooking the ponds on the main A232, and when Kirk died it was home to his adopted daughter Lily Kirk Edwards. She sold it in 1940 to the Carshalton District Council which was keen to preserve as much of the village as possible, and for almost half a century Honeywood served as municipal offices – including serving as an ARP headquarters during the Second World War. Then in 1989, with the district council subsumed into Sutton, the house became a heritage centre for the whole borough opening in 1990 after an extensive refurbishment, and at the end of 2007 was designated a museum. Curator Jane Howard says that Honeywood now is what the community makes it. “We don’t want to put interpretations on things, the house speaks for itself and the visitors follow in the footsteps of the people of Carshalton that would have know in its past and do know it now.” Research has revealed the colour schemes of the woodwork and walls of the Pattinson Kirk household, and architectural features have survived well to be carefully restored. A self-indulgence for Mr Pattinson Kirk was his magnificent ground floor snooker saloon, which has remained fully equipped. Honeywood is a Victorian middle class home, except in the bathroom where the original tub has survived and the scullery which still has its copper for heating the household’s water, there are no “recreated” 19th century rooms here. The now rare flint/chalk chequered external walls of the original cottage are still there in the centre of the house, and they have been uncovered and displayed; in what has become the Tudor Room, a 17th century window had been plastered over in the mid-19th century and it was discovered in 1989, its glass still intact, to give unique information of the first architecture of the place. The Tudor Gallery on the first floor allows the museum to celebrate royal connections, particularly with the court of Henry VIII, and this year, in the 500th anniversary year of Henry’s
accession, there is an opportunity to mark those connections through the local families, such as the Carews who had a long if mixed association with Tudor royalty. Another room is devoted to childhood through the bequeathed possessions of a local woman born in 1898, with her pram, her toys and games, all augmented by modern equivalents which children can play with. “We like to make things as hands-on as possible” Jane Howard says. On the landing where the complicated network of stairways meets at a junction, the local transport story is told, overlooked by an enormous station clock. Another room, with a full-size quern stone at its centre at which visitors can discover for themselves the enormous effort it took to grind a handful of corn, is devoted to memories of local industries. The growing of watercress was important here, and it was a centre for the manufacture of snuff. Visitor numbers are modest, at between 17,000 and 13,000 a year, reduced while the franchise for the tearoom on the ground floor is allotted (it should be open for the summer), but 1,500 children from local schools come each year. “We’re eager to ensure that there is always something new here and we have a lot of repeat visits – children come with their schools and then bring their families, for instance” the curator says.
Honeywood is also a home gallery for local artists, with its own substantial collection of their work and frequent exhibitions – among the collection is one by the last owner of the house, Lily Kirk Edwards, a gifted watercolourist – and Ms Howard has also acquired important paintings of local landscapes done before photography to enlarge knowledge of local history. Now Sutton and the museum have launched a £450,000 scheme to open the museum out even more to the community. It is already the centre for local organisations, and for the annual art festival at the end of May, and after consulting the community there will be a new interpretation of the house’s story, a focal point for local conservation interpretation, repair of some historical features, and a more sophisticated contemporary art programme. The museum will also look at 20th century history in the borough, including the development of local estates, and six plasma screens are to be located around the borough through which a wider audience for the collections and activities can be reached. “We know how important the community reckons the museum to be, we have an extremely active and enthusiastic Friends group which we couldn’t manage without” says Jane Howard, “but we want to be even more in step with the village of Carshalton and the wider borough of Sutton.”
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Thumbs down for the Museum of Britishness he Museums, Libraries and Archives Council has told the DCMS that a Museum of Britishness as envisaged by the Prime Minister has no future. Instead, the MLA suggests a focussed website run by a small team who would establish links with relevant collections around Britain to create modules, online and actual exhibitions and events. A new building would cost £150m to £200m, and the MLA found no evidence that a single building in London devoted to British history would attract and engage people, the report said. Nor had there been much support from the museum profession because it would have no permanent collections of its own and would have to draw on the holdings of other museums around Britain, which would be difficult to sustain. A London-based museum would also have the effect of alienating communities in the rest of the country, counter to the government’s policy of improving a sense of national awareness. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, fully endorsed the MLA report. “Given the near impossibility of a new museum securing the loans of objects and documents from all over the UK, it seems the web is the right option for this very important subject” he said. The nearest we have to a museum of British history is the National Portrait Gallery, a biographical collection which chronicles national accomplishment, whose director Sandy Nairne was consulted by the MLA team. “A new building wouldn’t have made any sense even if we hadn’t been in these economic times” Nairne said. “There are accounts of parts of the story in the British Library, the National Portrait Gallery, parts of the British Museum, the V&A and the Commonwealth and Empire Museum, but another building is not the way to make really sure that children care about British history and want to know more about it.” Lord Baker, the former Home Secretary who persuaded Gordon Brown to support the idea early last year, was particularly disappointed, however. He had been close to establishing the museum in 1997 when the plan was high on the list for Lottery funding by the then Millennium Fund and it was vetoed by Tony Blair. “The report is a great disappointment, and what they’ve put forward instead is a damp squib” he said. “There are lots of websites and they’re not very exciting; children need a day out they can remember. Nowhere tells the whole story. My idea was a building that would do it on four floors and there would be five floors for the University of the Arts, near to
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Museums, the Recession and Mr. Keynes ow are museums coping with the recession ? Is it all gloom and despondency, or is there anything more positive to report? Received wisdom has it that recession hits the public sector later than the manufacturing or service sectors, but the impact of it lasts longer. So it is early days to come to any definitive conclusions about the impact of recession upon museums, even assuming we had reliable ways of measuring that impact, which we do not. Nevertheless, some observations can be made and thoughts offered. The first one has to be that there is no hiding place. Museums are not recession-proof. If they get significant income from admissions and trading, they will be hit because people spend less in a recession. If they offer free admission but are funded out of the public purse they are going to lose the budgets they need to function because there is going to be less public funding available. Local authorities, universities, regiments and most other corporate bodies which run museums, for example, have lost income as the value of their financial investments has declined. Even the usual generous donors and sponsors will have been hit and will be thinking a lot harder about how generous they can be now. In government, the talk is all of counter-recession strategies. So what can be done to at least reduce the impact of recession and kick start economic recovery? The Keynesian solution is to spend. Invest public money in schemes which deliver employment and business opportunities, which in turn put money in consumers’ pockets, which they spend in the retail and service sectors. This virtuous wheel slowly grinds around and drives the economy again. Those less keen on Keynesian economics will point out that it may well be a “spend now, pay later” philosophy. That remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the concept of “putting idle hands to work” has more than just economic benefits. It addresses serious social and psychological issues: being able to offer employment and a purpose in life restores the dignity, spirit and optimism of those directly affected by recession. Can museums contribute? The bodies that fund them certainly can help them to. Money invested by the Heritage Lottery Fund in museum construction projects or programmes which involve employing significant teams of workers can make a real difference. Similarly, Renaissance is well-placed to direct funding into projects which engage with those who are affected by recession. But more directly, there are at least three ways museums can help.
King’s Cross so it would be easy to get to. It’s a great opportunity missed." MLA suggests a Museum Centre for British History which would develop co-ordinated access to the collections held in existing museums, heritage sites, libraries and archives across Britain for focussed themes, and it would also develop a digital component to support history teaching in schools. It would be a national federated body, including museums, universities and research institutions, supported by a small staff, that would pull together research, planning and programming. Alec Coles, director of Tyne & Wear Museums whose £26m Great North Museum is due to open in Newcastle in May, said the museum of British history already exists – the rich regional collections. “The last thing we need is another building that perpetuates the idea that Britishness only happens in London,” he said. “But something that co-ordinates the intelligence we have would be welcome.” Lord Baker’s scheme was not the first attempt at a Museum of Britain. In 1994 a group of academics, historians and museologists had been impressed by the German “Haus der Geschichte”, or History House, which boldly set out to tell the modern German story including the horrors of the Nazi decades. They wanted to make one here, but a museum that would “relate in as pragmatic and objective a way as possible the development of the British people in all their social aspects”, as a proposal to the chief executive of Milton Keynes, who very nearly bought into the idea, put it. There would have been four broad subject areas: “Feeding, clothing, housing and keeping the British healthy; their inspirations through education and leisure; controlling them through law and constitution; and their interaction with non-British countries over the centuries”. However, the scheme failed to get the backing of the local authority or the National Lottery agencies.
NATIONAL HERITAGE DEBATE with Stuart Davies First, they can organise themselves to take in more volunteers, especially graduates who will come out of their colleges and universities in the summer and find it very tough to get a job. Most museums have the basic infrastructure to manage major volunteer programmes, and there is plenty of advice around about how to do it properly. Museums just need to take a more business-like efficient approach to recruiting and retaining young minds willing to learn and having a lot to offer museums. Second, resources can be diverted into programmes which are labour-intensive for a few and at the same time engage large numbers of people. An ideal example is that of oral history projects. There is an opportunity now to carry out recordings of people living through recessionary times and mark how they have been affected and how they are coping. Finally, all museums can turn their attention – and their resources – to tourism. In a recession fewer people holiday abroad and more look to closer at home for their recreation. Museums can and should be part of what Britain has to offer this summer and probably for some time to come. They need to be reviewing their offer and trying to imagine what these new visitors might want and expect. None of these suggestions are going to entirely protect museums from the impact of recession, but they will go some way towards again demonstrating the value of museums to society and may in that way add to their sustainability in the longer run. MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 7
MUSEUMS IN THE NEWS MUSEUM IN THE NEWS 1
Fight to save glass museum A fierce campaign has been waged to ensure the survival of the Broadfield House Glass Museum at Kingswinford in the West Midlands after the local authority, Dudley Borough Council, ordered a feasibility study of its future. Early in April a petition with 7,000 signatures from 50 different countries compiled by the Glass Foundation was handed to the council, and at the time of going to press feasibility consultants had still not been appointed. Set in the heart of the traditional Stourbridge glass-making district, Broadfield House is the only dedicated glass museum of its kind in the country and it has developed an international reputation. It’s small, with only three full-time staff and four part-time, and this year it celebrates its 30th anniversary. Its reputation has been spreading. Last year Broadfield House recorded visitor numbers of 14,500, more than 50% up on the previous year and high for s specialist museum not on the regular tourist beat – and that despite its opening hours being halved. A number of factors are responsible for the new popularity. There has been some effective joint marketing with Red House Glass Cone and
Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, and also a powerful word of mouth effect. Six months ago Broadfield House co-hosted the International Glass Festival to, says one of the front of house staff, Jeanette Rasmussen Tranter, great acclaim. “It is a small but perfectly formed museum with dedicated staff who are passionate about their subject and the service that they offer, but unfortunately run on a shoestring by the council” she said in a letter to The Times. Staff members are now forbidden to discuss the situation publicly, including curator Roger Dodsworth.
MUSEUM IN THE NEWS 2
Theatre Museum reopens in V&A galleries The Theatre Museum, which closed in Covent Garden in 2007, has re-emerged in its parent, the V&A, as the Theatre and Performance Galleries. At a cost of almost £1m, space on the first floor of the museum in South Kensington has been adapted for the collections, which started life in the V&A in 1970s, with more than 250 objects including a first folio of Shakespeare’s plays compiled in 1623 and specially commissioned films of playwrights and directors including Michael Frayn and Sir Peter Hall. The new display ranges across the whole spectrum of live theatre performance over the last 350 years, including costume design, posters, stage props, set models, embracing dramatic theatre, ballet, opera, musicals and even circus. Archive footage on show includes performers such as Rudolf Nureyev, Marlene Dietrich, Daniel Radcliffe, Fiona Shaw and Carlos Acosta, and highlights from the National Video Archive of Performance including work by Complicité, the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as West End musicals, pantomime and fringe theatre. The V&A said the new galleries would present the collections in a fresh way, focusing on the process of production and performance from initial conception and design to opening night. But among the guests at the opening evening disappointment was expressed at the lack of dramatic effect in the displays. Former curator, Margaret Benton, said that the presentation lacked a space for performance, which the Theatre Museum had had: “The objects are beautiful, but there’s no sense of actual drama” she said. The theatre collections will have call on the V&A’s main temporary exhibition space for special shows, and there will be touring exhibitions from the collections, beginning with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes in 2010. 8 MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09
The council’s proposal is to move the collection to Red House Cone – ironically, the site is owned by Waterford Wedgwood which went into administration earlier in the year – but the Friends of Broadfield House, who have mounted the campaign to try to change the council’s decision, say the alternative does not have enough exhibition space nor lecture facilities. Important loan collections would necessarily be out of the public gaze.
The heritage industry - revisited Twenty-two years ago Robert Hewison’s controversial The Heritage Industry: Britain in a Climate of Decline showed how a boom in museum openings meant turning to the past to manufacture a completely misleading future. He was wrong, he admits... f The Heritage Industry: Britain in a Climate of Decline forecast terminal decay, I was clearly quite wrong. We are still here, and until recently the economy was booming. Now, as we seem to be approaching conditions similar to those of the early 1980s, what has changed since 1987? First of all, the Heritage is no longer in Danger. In the 1980s, one of the ways in which something came to be seen as part of the heritage was that it had to be under threat. A hundred factory chimneys was prosperous pollution, ten cold factory chimneys were an eyesore, but the last factory chimney, threatened with demolition, was a proud symbol of the industrial past. It is absolutely true that in the 1980s a great deal of the heritage was in danger, with country houses coming somewhat higher up the endangered list than the communities that bore the brunt of social and economic change. But in 1992 the government that gave us the Department of National Heritage – a victory for the heritage industry if ever there was one – also gave us the National Lottery. Since then the Heritage Lottery Fund has spent more than three billion pounds on preserving the heritage, in all its forms. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be things from the past that will be deemed worthy of preservation, from Old Masters to steam engines. I sometimes think the Past is the only growth industry we have left. But thanks to the one-pound gambles of many ordinary people, we are in a much better position to preserve and understand the past than we were 20 years ago. Not only that, the Heritage Lottery Fund has substantially moved the focus of its activities away from the object-based, class–inflected attitude to what constitutes the heritage that it had inherited from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (created in 1980), to something much more inclusive and democratic – and much more evenly spread across the United Kingdom. The HLF has seriously considered its values and is putting much more effort into supporting local initiatives, oral history, and the celebration of customs and traditions as much as what is known as the built heritage. Other organisations have tried to reach out in similar fashion. The National Trust, whose view of the world used to be from the Drawing Room and Terrace, is now as proud of its downstairs as its upstairs. But it is plainly not enough. The Taking Part survey (the government’s garnered data about engagement and non-engagement in culture) shows that the heritage is still largely the preserve of those who have been lucky enough to have educational, social and physical mobility. The Scottish Household Survey of 2007 tells a similar story. In Scotland in 2007, 79 per cent of those holding a professional qualification had visited a heritage site, compared with only 32 per cent of those with no qualifications. I have to say that it is not just access to the heritage that we should be worried
“As we enter a period of uncertainty that has many of the hallmarks of the crisis that created the Heritage Industry in the 1980s, above all, I hope that we will reach for the critical tool of History, rather than the comfort blanket of Heritage.”
Heritage open day 2008 at The Forge, Market Bosworth. Picture English Heritage
about. There is a devastating report from the Arts Council, which also analyses the Taking Part statistics. It has the rather odd title From Indifference to Enthusiasm - odd, that is, until you understand that what the Taking Part survey tells us is that most people are indifferent, and only 4% of the population can be called enthusiasts. 84% cent of the population fall into the ‘little if anything’ or the ‘now and again’ groups. The message about the arts is the same as what I believe is the message about the heritage. I quote: ‘Two of the most important factors in determining whether somebody attends arts activities are education and social status – the higher an individual’s level of education and social status, the more likely they are to have high levels of arts attendance.’ What we have to realise is that this conference has to address an issue bigger than the heritage, and bigger than the arts, and that is the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the deprived and the educationally privileged, that has steadily widened since, perhaps not coincidentally, the National Heritage Acts of 1980 and 1983. Yet what is interesting about those acts – the second of which created English Heritage – is that neither of them defines what “the heritage” actually is. To this day the Heritage Lottery Fund refuses to define what it spends its billions on, on the grounds that it is up to people to make appeals to it to which it will then – if it is so minded – respond. The heritage has been allowed to define itself – which means that it has been defined by those who are more articulate, or simply more privileged. But, as Stuart Hall has said: ‘Heritage is a powerful mirror. Those who do not see themselves in it are therefore excluded’. We have an opportunity to re-define – or in fact define – the meaning of the word Heritage. I am not calling for a return to some kind of macho, metal bashing economy, and certainly not to the class divisions it embodied. If more equal societies are happier societies, then it is time for tap on the spirit level. In 1997 something was invented called the Creative Industries – used creatively, the rich resources of the past do have something to offer to the present. As we enter a period of uncertainty that has many of the hallmarks of the crisis that created the Heritage Industry in the 1980s, above all, I hope that we will reach for the critical tool of History, rather than the comfort blanket of Heritage. Once it was the mines that became museums – how long before we see the opening of the first Hedge Fund Heritage Centre? MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 9
NATIONAL HERITAGE GUIDE A selective list of current & forthcoming museum & gallery exhibitions. 1O MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09
ABERDEEN ART GALLERY
Schoolhill, Aberdeen AB10 1FQ Tel: 01224 523700 www.aagm.co.uk Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5. Admission free. John Bellany (until 10 May 2009) A selection from the Gallery’s permanent collections of works by one of Scotland’s most successful living artists.
Newgate, Barnard Castle, Co Durham DL12 8NP Tel: 01833 690606 www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk Daily 10-5. Admission £6.35, concessions £5.45, children free. Toy Tales (9 May-1 Nov 2009) An exhibition exploring 60 years of BBC children’s television programmes, featuring original animations, puppets, props & stage sets. Included are artwork from Bagpuss, 1950s Muffin the Mule toys, & characters from present-day 64 Zoo Lane, plus Paddington Bear, Andy Pandy, Basil Brush, Teletubbies & Postman Pat memorabilia. Silver & Metals Gallery (opens 10 Apr 2009) New permanent gallery featuring items from the Museum’s collections that have been undisplayed for decades. It includes a multi-media presentation about the Bowes’s lifesized silver swan–a 230-year-old automaton operated by an ingenious clockwork mechanism.
BARBICAN ART GALLERY Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS Tel: 0845 1207550 www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery Daily 11-8 (Tues, Wed until 6; Thurs until 10). Admission £8, concessions £6, children under 12 free. Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture (until 24 May 2009) A major survey of the renowned architect, thinker, writer & artist showing how his work changed dramatically over the years. On show are his 1925 master plan for Paris, a complete kitchen from his 1947 Unité d’habitation & original models of his 1950s’ chapel at Ronchamp. Radical Nature: Art & architecture for a changing planet 1969-2009 (19 June-20 Sept 2009) Itself conceived as a natural landscape, the exhibition brings together the ideas of visionaries from different continents & generations. Their schemes are drawn from Land Art, environmental activism, experimental architecture & utopianism to create inspiring solutions to reverse our degradation of the natural world around us.
BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Chamberlain Sq, Birmingham B3 3DH Tel: 0121 303 2834 www.bmag.org.uk Mon-Thurs & Sat 10-5, Fri 10.305, Sun 12.30-5. Admission free. Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires (30 May-27 Sept 2009) A major exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Boulton’s death celebrates one of the most important figures in the history of Birmingham. With his partner James Watt, Boulton pushed the technological boundaries of his time leading to Britain’s status as the world’s first industrial nation. It brings together material from the Museum’s collections, from the City Archives, national museums, Birmingham Assay Office & private collectors.
Alongside are Egyptian tomb goods from Brent’s own collections, acquired in the early 20th century by local businessman & philanthropist George Titus Barham.
BRIGHTON MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton BN1 1EE Tel: 01273 290900 www.virtualmuseum.info Tues-Sat & bank holidays 10-5 (Tues until 7), Sun 2-5. Admission free. The American Scene: prints from Hopper to Pollock (2 May-31 Aug 2009) The first half of the 20th century was a period of great change in America. This British Museum touring exhibition consisting of 80 prints by 60 modern American artists– including Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, George Bellows, Louise Bourgeois, & Alexander Calder–gives an insight into American society & culture of the time.
BRENT MUSEUM Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Rd, London NW10 2SF Tel: 020 8937 3600 www.brent.gov.uk Mon 11-8, Tues-Sat 9-6 (Tues & Thurs until 8), Sun 11-6; closed 10 & 13 Apr & 4 May. Admission free. Divine Cat: Speaking to the gods in Ancient Egypt (until 10 May 2009) One of the British Museum’s great treasures, the famous GayerAnderson cat, is the focal point of this touring exhibition of items evoking the ancient Egyptian practice of dedicating metal statues of gods in temples, in a bid to communicate with the divine realm.
Bowes Museum: Toy Tales
BRITISH LIBRARY 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB Tel: 0870 4441500 www.bl.uk Mon-Fri 9.30-6 (Tues until 8), Sat 9.30-5, Sun & bank-holiday Mons 11-5. Admission to museum free. Henry VIII: Man & Monarch (23 Apr-6 Sept 2009) A major exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. It features books, manuscripts & correspondence written or annotated by Henry, with portraits, tapestry, armour, jewellery & sculpture on loan from other national museums & collections. Admission £9, seniors £7, concessions £5; children free. Booking (fee applies) on 01937 546546, or via website.
BRITISH MUSEUM Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG Tel: 020 7323 8000 www.britishmuseum.org Daily 10-5.30 (Thurs, Fri until 8.30). Admission to museum free. Garden & Cosmos: The royal paintings of Jodhpur (28 May-23 Aug 2009) Fifty works on loan from India show the distinctive styles of painting developed in the region of Jodhpur between the 17th & 19th centuries. Subjects range from Jodhpur rulers in their gardens to more abstract concepts such as yoga narratives. Admission £8, children free. Booking (fee
ESTORICK COLLECTION OF MODERN ITALIAN ART 39A Canonbury Sq, London N1 2AN Tel: 020 7704 9522 www.estorickcollection.com Wed-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5. Admission £5, concessions £3.50, students & children under 16 free. Framing Modernism: Architecture & photography in Italy 1926-65 (29 Apr-21 June 2009) More than 100 vintage photographs chart the development of Italian Modernist architecture. The exhibition also looks at the part played by photography in books & magazines in fostering the striking visual exploration of such buildings.
FALMOUTH ART GALLERY
National Gallery: Picasso: Challenging the Past. applies) on 020 7323 8181, or via website. The Paul & Jill Ruddock Gallery of Medieval Europe (opens 25 Mar 2009) The Museum’s third new permanent gallery to open this year is devoted to material dating from 1050 to 1500 AD. Among British, European & Byzantine treasures are the 4thcentury Royal Gold Cup, made in Paris; sacred art from abbeys, priories & convents; royal art from the palaces of Westminster & Clarendon; & the world-famous 12th-century Lewis chessmen.
CEREDIGION MUSEUM Coliseum, Terrace Rd, Aberystwyth, Dyfed SY23 2AQ Tel: 01970 633088 http://museum.ceredigion.gov.uk Mon-Sat 10-5; closed 10 Apr. Admission free. Scouting in Ceredigion: A Centenary Exhibition (1 May-27 June 2009) Scouting in Aberystwyth began in 1909 with the formation of a BadenPowell Boy Scout Troop. Though changed over the last 100 years, it remains a treasured institution & part of local community life–as shown by the photographs & memorabilia on display.
COMPTON VERNEY Kineton, nr Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwicks CV35 9HZ Tel: 01926 645500 www.comptonverney.org.uk
Tues-Sun & bank-holiday Mons 11-5. Admission £7, seniors £5, students £4, children £2; family (2+4) £16. Fatal Attraction: Diana & Actaeon–The Forbidden Gaze (21 Mar-31 May 2009) Paintings, prints, drawings, photographs & artefacts, by Cranach, Delacroix, Dürer, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Degas, Klimt & Schiele, based on the mythical tale of the hunter Actaeon. Transformed into a stag by the goddess Diana as a punishment for gazing upon her nakedness, he was hunted down & killed by his own hounds. Booking on 01926 645500, or via website.
COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN Tel: 020 7848 2526 www.courtauld.ac.uk Daily 10-6. Admission £5, concessions £4; UK students & children under 18 free; all admission free Mon 10-2 (except bank holidays). Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 (18 June-20 Sept 2009) Using the extensive collection of decorative arts, paintings & designs bequeathed to the Institute by the artist & critic Roger Fry, the exhibition investigates the way the Omega Workshops produced objects, the use of design drawings, the collaborative nature of its working practices & the Workshops’
lasting influence on 20th-century crafts in Britain.
DEAN GALLERY 73 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DS Tel: 0131 624 6200 www.nationalgalleries.org Daily 10-5. Admission free. Alive with Innovations: Paolozzi’s beginnings (28 Mar-30 June 2009) The seminal contributions of Eduardo Paolozzi to sculpture, printmaking & collage established his position at the forefront of the post-war avant-garde & made him one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century. Among highlights of Paolozzi’s rebellious work of the 1950s on show are brutalistic sculptures, energetic drawings, & radical collages of commercial material.
LES ENLUMINURES AT WARTSKI 14 Grafton St, London W1S 4DE Tel: 020 7493 1141 www.wartski.com Mon-Sat 11-5. Admission free Roman to Renaissance: A private collection of rings (12-22 May 2009) A collection of medieval & Renaissance rings from Western Europe & Byzantium dating from between 300 & 1600AD. They include marriage rings, seal rings, stirrup rings, merchant rings & gemstone rings.
Municipal Buildings, The Moor, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 2RT Tel: 01326 313863 www.falmouthartgallery.com Mon-Sat 10-5. Admission free. Species (25 Apr-27 June 2009) Part of the Gallery’s Darwin 200 celebrations, this quirky exhibition shows some of Darwin’s intriguing research methods & a range of creatures–from small & scaly to large & hairy. Surrealist artist Patrick Woodroffe has dreamed up new & fantastic species for the show, which also features paintings & photographs of Cornwall’s rich horticultural heritage.
FITZWILLIAM MUSEUM Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB Tel: 01223 332900 www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun & bank-holiday Mons 12-5. Admission free. Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science & the Visual Arts (16 June-4 Oct 2009) A different take on the Darwin festivities, this cross-disciplinary exhibition from the Yale Center for British Art explores the great naturalist’s interest in the visual arts. Paintings by Landseer, Turner, Degas, Monet & Cézanne, plus late-19thcentury drawings, photographs, sculpture, taxidermy & fossils, demonstrate the vast range of artistic responses to his ideas.
FOX TALBOT MUSEUM Lacock, nr Chippenham, Wilts SN15 2LG Tel: 01249 730459 www.nationaltrust.org.uk Daily 11-5.30; closed 10 Apr. Admission £5.10 (includes Lacock Abbey cloisters & grounds), children £2.50; family (2+2) £12.90. Relicta: All that Remains (until 28 June 2009) An installation by Alison Marchant recreates the world of maid-of-allwork Hannah Cullwick (1833-1906), who staged photographs of herself as gifts for her upper-class lover. Through these images, & Cullwick’s MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 11
NATIONAL HERITAGE GUIDE writings, Marchant examines women’s labour & 19th-century social barriers.
GAWTHORPE HALL Padiham, nr Burnley, Lancs BB12 8UA Tel: 01282 771004 www.lancashire.gov.uk Tues-Thurs, Sat, Sun 1-5. Admission £4, concessions £3, children free. Illusions of Elizabeth I (2 June-1 Nov 2009) Inspired by the 450th anniversary of the birth of Queen Elizabeth I, members of the Phoenix Artists Textile Group present their own portraits of the monarch. With these modern works on fabric are genuine Elizabethan embroideries from Gawthorpe’s fine Rachel KayShuttleworth textile collection.
GEFFRYE MUSEUM 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA Tel: 020 7739 9893 www.geffrye-museum.org.uk Tues-Sat 10-5; Sun & bank-holiday Mons 12-5; closed 10 Apr. Admission free. Ethelburger Tower: At home in a high-rise (7 Apr-31 Aug 2009) In a series of images, Mark Cooper explores the living-rooms of his neighbours in a block of flats in Battersea. He photographed the interiors as he found them, tidy or untidy, showing how these nearidentical architectural spaces have been adapted by residents to suit their own interests, taste & lifestyle.
HANDEL HOUSE MUSEUM 25 Brook St, London W1K 4HB Tel: 020 7495 1685 www.handelhouse.org Tues-Sat 10-6 (Thurs until 8), Sun 12-6; closed 10 Apr; open 13 Apr 10-6. Admission £5, concessions £4.50, children £2. Handel Reveal’d (8 Apr-25 Oct 2009) To mark the 250th anniversary of his death, an exhibition in the rooms in which Handel lived & worked for 36 years (including the bedroom in which he died on 14 April 1759) explores the composer’s life & character. Among the exhibits are a life mask of Handel by Roubiliac; the score for his final piece of music–Jephtha–hand-written in 1751; & moving reports of the great composer’s final days.
HAYWARD GALLERY South Bank Centre, London SE1 8XX Tel: 08703 800 400 www.southbankcentre.co.uk/ visual-arts Daily 10-6 (Fri until 10). Admission charges vary. The Russian Linesman: Frontiers, Borders & Thresholds (until 4 May 2009) 12 MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09
2007 Turner prize-winner Mark Wallinger, chosen to create the giant Ebbsfleet Landmark project (a model of it is in the foyer), selects exhibits that examine notions of the liminal: thresholds between physical, political or metaphysical realms. Artists include Vija Celmins, Thomas Demand, Albrecht Dürer, Bruce Nauman, Giuseppe Penone & Fred Sandback. Admission £9, seniors £8, students & unemployed £6, children £4.50 (under-12s free outside school hours). Booking (fee applies) on 0871 663 2500, or via website.
THE HERBERT Jordan Well, Coventry, W Midlands CV1 5QP Tel: 024 7683 2386 www.theherbert.org Mon-Sat 10-5.30, Sun 12-5. Admission free. China: Journey To The East (2 May-19 July 2009) This British Museum touring exhibition features artefacts from one of the most important civilisations, a major influence on many parts of the world through trade & the movement of peoples. It delves into 3,000 years of Chinese history & culture, under themes of play & performance, technology, belief & festivals, food & drink, & language & writing. A specially-made film looks at the lives of the Chinese community in present-day Coventry.
Victoria & Albert Museum: Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence
HOVE MUSEUM & ART GALLERY 19 New Church Rd, Hove, E Sussex BN3 4AB Tel: 03000 290900 www.hove.virtualmuseum.info Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5; closed 10 Apr. Admission free. Follies of Europe (until 3 May 2009) In its follies, Europe has a superb legacy of idiosyncratic, often experimental, architecture. Built for pleasure & conceived with passion & self-indulgence, these fanciful buildings reflect & celebrate the individuals who created them. Photographer Nic Barlow documents examples from Baroque to modern times, ranging from hill houses in Austria to Brighton’s extravagant Royal Pavilion.
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM NORTH The Quays, Trafford Wharf Rd, Manchester M17 1TZ Tel: 0161 836 4000 www.iwm.org.uk Daily 10-6. Admission free. Captured: The Extraordinary Life of Prisoners of War (23 May 2009-3 Jan 2010) A major exhibition dedicated to the experiences of British and Commonwealth prisoners of war & civil internees during World War II in Europe & the Far East. It also looks at the lives of Italian & German prisoners in the UK & their relations with their captors. A mix of objects including coded camp diaries, the slouch hat belonging to artist Ronald Searle, & a bed sheet embroidered in a Hong Kong prison camp with the names of more than 1,000 internees - reveal personal stories & the truth behind such modern legends as The Great Escape, Colditz & The Bridge Over the River Kwai.
JERRAM GALLERY Half Moon St, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3LN Tel 01935 815261 www.jerramgallery.com Mon-Sat 9.30-5. Admission free. Katherine Swinfen Eady (12-27 June 2009) The subjects of 30 landscapes & still-lives by this British artist include Scottish farms & coastal scenery, the rolling hills of Wiltshire, & the deserts & olive groves of Palestine.
JERSEY MUSEUM The Weighbridge, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands JE2 3NF Tel: 01534 633300 www.jerseyheritagetrust.org Daily 10-4 (from 6 Apr 9.30-5). Admission £7, seniors £6.40 children £4; family (2+2 or 1+3) £20. Marilyn (25 Mar-Dec 2009)
Stage & personal costumes worn by Marilyn Monroe, with accessories, jewellery, keepsakes & trinkets that afford an intimate look into the life of the screen idol. Also on show are items from Monroe’s own collection of artwork, personal items, clothes, letters, jewellery & awards.
KELVINGROVE ART GALLERY & MUSEUM Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG Tel: 0141 276 9599 www.glasgowmuseums.com Mon-Thurs & Sat 10-5; Fri & Sun 11-5. Gallery admission free. Dr Who exhibition (28 Mar 2009-4 Jan 2010) Interactive displays & scary moments abound in this touring exhibition of props, costumes, monsters & other creatures from the Doctor Who television series. Admission £7.50, concessions & children £4.50; family (2+2) £18. Booking (fee applies) on 08444 815816 or via www.secxtra.com.
LIBRARY & MUSEUM OF FREEMASONRY Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AZ Tel: 020 7395 9257 www.freemasonry.london.museum Mon-Fri 10-5. Admission free. Freemasonry & the French Revolution (1 July-18 Dec 2009) Though traditionally non-political, Masonic lodges in England saw their relationship with the state change after 1789. An influx into their ranks of refugees from across the Channel gave rise to conspiracy theories, & lodges were forced to register lists of their members with local authorities. Among items on display are elaborately-crafted miniatures & medallions produced by some of the 120,000 French prisoners of war, some of whom established their own Masonic lodges in England.
MODERN ART OXFORD 30 Pembroke St, Oxford OX1 1BP Tel: 01865 722733 www.modernartoxford.org.uk Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5. Admission free. Transmission Interrupted (18 Apr-21 June 2009) Sculpture, painting, film, video & performance by Pilar Albarracín, Yto Barrada, David Thorne, Lia Perjovschi & a dozen other international names look at the way contemporary artists disrupt prevailing forms of art. Silke Otto-Knapp: Paintings (4 July-13 Sept 2009) Otto-Knapp works with watercolour & gouache paints on canvas using photographs as a basis of her carefully-constructed compositions. This exhibition surveys paintings from recent years, in which staged figures from the world of dance & fashion are rendered in gold & silver pigment.
MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS
early mythological & religious paintings to more symbolic & formal representations. This exhibition brings together internationallyacclaimed contemporary artists–including Bobby Baker, Gayle Chong Kwan, Anya Gallaccio, Antony Gormley, Subodh Gupta, Aaron Head, Damien Hirst & Anthony Key–who each bring a ‘dish’ to the table & show that food is still on the art menu.
No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay, Hertsmere Rd, London E14 4AL Tel: 020 7001 9844 www.museumindocklands.org.uk Daily 10-6. Admission £5 (valid one year), concessions £3, students & children under 16 free. Port of London Authority: A century of service (30 Mar-19 Apr 2009) Part of a year-long celebration of the PLA’s centenary, the exhibition gives the history & development of the organisation charged with ensuring the river remains an economic powerhouse for London & the south-east. It includes stories from staff about their working lives on the tidal Thames & letters concerning the PLA’s role in Polar expeditions during the early 1900s.
NORWICH CASTLE MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Castle Meadow, Norwich NR1 3JU Tel: 01603 493625 www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk Mon-Fri 10-4.30; Sat 10-5 (school-holiday periods Mon-Sat 10-5.30); Sun 1-5. Admission (includes castle) £6, concessions £5.10, children £4.40. Mary Newcomb’s Odd Universe: Fire, Earth, Water, Air (8 May-28 June 2009). The work of rural visionary & selftaught painter Mary Newcomb (1922-2008) whose lyrical paintings of Norfolk & Suffolk made her one of Britain’s best-loved painters.
NATIONAL FISHING HERITAGE CENTRE Alexandra Dock, Grimsby, Lincs DN31 1UZ Tel: 01472 323345 www.nelincs.gov.uk Mon-Fri 10-5; Sat, Sun & bank holidays 10.30-5.30. Admission £6, concessions £4; family (2+5) £12. Titanic: Honour & Glory (4 July-27 Sept 2009) Artefacts & interior fittings from RMS Titanic & her sister ships Britannic & Olympic reveal stories of the liner’s fateful voyage of 1912. Memorabilia includes the Engineer’s lucky teddy bear & a watch frozen by the icy water at the exact time the Titanic sank. Also on show are props & costumes from the 1997 film.
NATIONAL GALLERY Trafalgar Sq, London WC2N 5DN Tel: 020 7747 2885 www.nationalgallery.org.uk Daily 10-6 (Fri until 9). Admission to gallery free. Sainsbury Wing: Picasso: Challenging the Past (until 7 June 2009) Around 60 works by Picasso, juxtaposed with Old Masters, demonstrate how the Cubist artist sometimes borrowed themes & techniques from painters such as El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Delacroix & Ingres. Admission £12, seniors £11 (Tues 2.30-6, £6), students & children 12-18 £6, under-12s free; family (2+4 over12s) £24. Booking (fee applies) on 0844 2091778, or via website. Corot to Monet (8 July-20 Sept 2009) More than 80 sun-baked landscapes from the Gallery’s collection chart the development of landscape painting from the late 18th century to 1874–the year of the first Impressionist exhibition. It features the Barbizon School, near Fontainebleau, where landscape artists such as Théodore Rousseau & Jean-François Millet gathered to
PALLANT HOUSE GALLERY
St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE Tel: 020 7306 0055 www.npg.org.uk Daily 10-6 (Thurs, Fri until 9). Admission to gallery free. Constable Portraits: The Painter & his Circle (until 14 June 2009) The first exhibition dedicated to Constable’s portraits & the insights they bring to the artist’s work, life & relationships assembles loans from both sides of the Atlantic from public & private collections. It offers the opportunity to re-evaluate & rediscover the previously marginalised work of a painter celebrated primarily as a landscape artist. Admission £5, seniors £4.50, concessions & children £4.
9 North Pallant, Chichester, W Sussex PO19 1TJ Tel: 01243 774557 www.pallant.org.uk Tues-Sat 10-5 (Thurs until 8), Sun & bank holidays 12.30-5. Admission £7.50, students £4, children £2.30; family (2+2) £17; all half-price Tues (all day) & Thurs (5-8). Patrick Caulfield: Between the Lines (28 Mar-17 June 2009) This major survey of the work of Caulfield (1936-2005) includes rarely-seen studies that reveal the ideas & techniques behind his distinctive paintings, prints & other projects such as a large-scale tapestry for the British Library & Portsmouth Cathedral’s organ doors. Bawden, Nash, Ravilious & the British Landscape (until 31 May 2009) An exhibition dedicated to the generation of artists who, between the wars, took inspiration from the landscape of Britain, seeing it as a source of national pride & identity. It shows woodcut prints, etchings & watercolours by Paul Nash, Edward Bawden, & Eric Ravilious alongside works of their contemporaries John Nash & Ethelbert White.
NEW ART GALLERY WALSALL
QUENINGTON OLD RECTORY
Gallery Square, Walsall W Midlands WS2 8LG Tel: 01922 654400 www.artatwalsall.org.uk Mon-Sat, & bank-holiday Mons 10-5, Sun 11-4. Admission free. Pot Luck: Food & Art (22 May-26 July 2009) From antiquity to today, food has been a recurring subject in art; from
Quenington, nr Cirencester, Glos GL7 5BN Tel: 01285 750 358 www.freshair2009.com Daily 10-5. Admission £2.50 (21 June admission £4 in aid of the National Gardens Scheme), children free. Fresh Air 09 (14 June-4 July 2009) This biennial sculpture exhibition
Royal Academy: Kuniyoshi: From the Arthur R Miller collection work out of doors, & includes beach scenes by Boudin & Monet, showing the influence of the Barbizon group on the nascent Impressionists. Admission free.
NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF Tel: 020 8858 4422 www.nmm.ac.uk Daily 10-5. Admission to museum free. North-West Passage: An Arctic Obsession (23 May 2009-3 Jan 2010) The search for a lucrative short-cut sea route linking the North Atlantic with the North Pacific inspired long & heroic endeavours. The exhibition looks at the extraordinary feats & tragedies surrounding famous attempts. Drawings record early encounters with the Inuit, from an 1829-33 expedition; a flagstaff on show marks the discovery of the North Magnetic Pole in 1831; letters & relics recall a doomed 1845 voyage in which all 129 expedition members perished; & a tribute is paid to Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who in 1903-06 finally managed to sail the route between the two great oceans.
NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 13
NATIONAL HERITAGE GUIDE accessories revolutionised the world of play when they first appeared in 1934. This exhibition brings together examples of these popular toys–now collectable antiques–from members of the Dinky Toy Collectors’ Association,
SWANSON GALLERY Thurso Library, Davidson’s Lane, Thurso, Highland KW14 7AF Tel: 01847 896357 www.highland.gov.uk Mon-Wed 1-5, Fri 1-8, Sat 10-1. Admission free. Matisse: Drawing With Scissors – Late works 1950-54 (30 May-27 June 2009) This touring exhibition features 35 vibrant lithographic prints produced in the last four years of Matisse’s life, when the artist was confined to his bed, & includes many of his bestknown images, such as The Snail & the Blue Nudes.
V&A Museum of Childhood: Snozzcumbers & Frobscottle takes place in a 5-acre garden bordered by trees & running water & features works–all on sale, from £50 to £35,000–by 90 artists in bronze, glass, stone, ceramic, fabric, plastic & resin. Visitors can see how changing light, weather & surrounding foliage affect the pieces.
ROYAL ACADEMY Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD Tel: 020 7300 8000 www.royalacademy.org.uk Daily 10-6 (Fri until 10). Admission charges vary. Kuniyoshi: From the Arthur R Miller collection (21 Mar-7 June 2009) More than 150 works by the prolific Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) whose images of Japan’s traditional warrior heroes helped keep alive his country’s great myths & legends. He portrayed fashionable beauties & actors, produced comical & satirical works, & transformed the genre of landscape prints by incorporating Western conventions such as use of perspective & of cast shadows. Admission £9, seniors £8, students £7, children 12-18 £4, children 8-11 £2.80. Booking (fee applies) on 0879 8488484, or via website.
ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM Eastney Esplanade, Southsea, Hants PO4 9PX Tel: 023 9281 9385 www.royalmarinesmuseum.co.uk Daily 10-5. Admission £5.95, seniors £4.75, students & children 5-16 £3.75; family (2+4) £14.50. Return to Helmand: Royal Marines in Afghanistan 14 MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09
(until late Aug 2009) An insight into the work of the Corps, & its aims in Afghanistan, using photography, video footage, oral histories, paintings by war artist Gordon Rushmer, & exhibits brought back from the field of action. Aspects include the Marines’ range of war-time roles, life in camp, contact with friends & loved ones, & the effect on morale of colleagues’ wounding or death.
Examples of the creative range of the remarkable Bawden/Ravilious duo, who first worked together 80 years ago. Their ceramics, watercolours & graphics continue to inspire today’s designers & artists; York-based Mark Hearld offers a contemporary take on their work.
National Gallery complex, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL Tel: 0131 624 6200 www.nationalgalleries.org Daily 10-5 (Thurs until 7). Admission to gallery free. Turner & Italy (27 Mar-7 June 2009) The only UK showing for this major exhibition explores the enduring relationship between JMW Turner & Italy, whose climate enchanted the painter. It includes loans from collections in America, Australia & Europe, plus paintings, sketchbooks & watercolours from Turner’s own library. Admission £8, concessions £6.
Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2DD Tel: 0870 870 4868 www.sciencemuseum.org.uk Daily 10-6. Admission to museum free. Wallace & Gromit present: A World of Cracking Ideas (28 Mar-1 Nov 2009) This family-orientated interactive show, based on Aardman Animations’ cartoon inventor & his dog, combines objects from the Museum’s collections with Wallace’s eccentric fictional contraptions. Visitors will be encouraged to come up with their own creative ideas, & learn how to protect intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs & copyright. Admission £9, concessions: £7; family (1+2) £21, (2+2) £30. Booking (fee applies) on 0870 870 4868, or via website.
SCARBOROUGH ART GALLERY
THE SILK MILL
The Crescent, Scarborough, N Yorks YO11 2PW Tel: 01723 374753 www.scarboroughartgallery.org.uk Tues-Sun & bank holidays 10-5. Admission (valid one year) £2, concessions £1.80, children free. East Coasting: Art & Design by Edward Bawden & Eric Ravilious, with Mark Hearld (until 4 May 2009)
Silk Mill Lane, off Full St, Derby DE1 3AF Tel: 01332 255308 www.derby.gov.uk Mon 11-5, Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun & bank holidays 1-4. Admission free. Diecast delights: A 75th birthday celebration (until 18 Sept 2009) Meccano’s range of Dinky model cars, planes, ships & railway
ROYAL SCOTTISH ACADEMY BUILDING
Bankside, London SE1 9TG Tel: 020 7887 8008 www.tate.org.uk/modern Daily 10-6 (Fri, Sat until 10). Admission to gallery free. Futurism (12 June-20 Sept 2009) A celebration of the centenary of this dramatic art movement launched in 1909. The Futurists, a small group of radical Italian artists, rejected anything old & proposed an art that celebrated the modern world of industry & technology. The exhibition also looks at other art movements such as Cubism, Vorticism & Russian Cubo-Futurism, that reacted to it. Highlights include Boccioni’s bronze sculpture of a leaping man, Picasso’s Head of a Woman, Nevinson’s Vorticist piece Bursting Shell, & works by Braque, Leger, Malevich & Duchamp. Admission £12, concessions £10, children under 12 free. Booking (fee applies) on 020 7887 8888, or via website.
TATE LIVERPOOL Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4BB Tel: 0151 702 7400 www.tate.org.uk/liverpool Daily 10-5.50. Admission to gallery free. Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today (29 May-13 Sept 2009) A look at the moment in 20thcentury art when a group of artists began to perceive colour as ‘ready-made’ rather than as scientific or expressive, this exhibition is devoted to the significance of colour in contemporary art. It includes works by more than 40 artists, among them Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, Yves Klein, Dan Flavin, Angela Bulloch & Cory Archangel. Admission £8, concessions £6. Booking (fee applies) on 0151 702 7400, or via website.
TULLIE HOUSE MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Castle St, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 8TP Tel: 01228 618718 www.tulliehouse.co.uk Mon-Sat 10-4, Sun 12-4 (from 1 Apr, Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5). Admission free. Donald Wilkinson: Stains of Light (until 17 May 2009) A major retrospective of work from the 1960s to the present day, by this Cumbrian landscape artist who has also produced work in Scotland, France & Spain.
TUNBRIDGE WELLS MUSEUM & ART GALLERY Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1JN Tel: 01892 554171 www.tunbridgewellsmuseum.org Mon-Sat 9.30-5, Sun 10-4; closed 10-13 Apr. Admission free. By Royal Appointment: How Tunbridge Wells became ‘Royal’ (until 2 May 2009) The town celebrates one hundred years since it was given the ‘Royal’ title by King Edward VII, reflecting special links with the monarchy that stretch back over four centuries. Images & objects from the Museum’s collection show the changing nature of royal visits–from that of Henrietta Maria in 1629 to that of Princess Anne in 2006.
ULSTER FOLK & TRANSPORT MUSEUM 153 Bangor Rd, Cultra, Holywood, Co Down, Northern Ireland BT18 0EU
Tel: 028 9042 8428 www.uftm.org.uk Mon-Fri 10-5, Sat 10-6, Sun 116. Admission £5.40, concessions & children £3.40; family (2+3) £15.20, (1+3) £10.80. Views of the Past (until 1 June 2009) This photographic exhibition explores local life in Northern Ireland between 1860 & 1960. More than 40 images show aspects of home, work, education, health & how people passed their leisure time. Also on display are examples of clothing, medical equipment, toys & games, & utilitarian objects from homes, schools & workplaces.
VESTRY HOUSE MUSEUM Vestry Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 9NH Tel: 020 8496 4391 www.walthamforest.gov.uk Wed-Sun 10-5. Admission free. A Tale of Two Tea Sets (20 June-23 Aug 2009) The Walthamstow Tea Service, produced in the 1820s for a well-todo family, consists of hand-painted porcelain cups, saucers and bowls bearing images of local houses. The exhibition considers the changes to Walthamstow since then, and contrasts the original with a modern tea service created by artist Rachel I’Anson with pupils at Kelmscott School .
VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL Tel: 020 7942 2000 www.vam.ac.uk
chance to listen to Dahl reading his own tales, film of Blake at work in his London studio, & an interactive replica of the BFG’s cave.
Les Enluminures at Wartski: Roman to Renaissance: A private collection of rings.
Daily 10-5.45 (Fri until 10). Admission to museum free. Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence (4 Apr-19 July 2009) An exhibition bringing together around 200 objects examines the flourishing of the Baroque style during a time when great European & colonial empires were ruled by absolute monarchs & the Roman Catholic Church was all-powerful. Displays cover architecture, furniture, silver, ceramics, painting, sculpture, & textiles. The exhibition also explores the Baroque style in performance & the theatre; the public city square; religious spaces including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome; & secular spaces such as Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Admission £11, seniors £9, students & children (12-17 years) £6. Booking (fee applies) on 0844 209 1770, or via website. Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones (until 10 May 2009) Drawn from V&A & international collections, exhbits range from a 17th-century Puritan’s hat through a 1950s Balenciaga couture piece to more recent headwear by Stephen Jones & his contemporaries & the latest creations by young milliners such as Noel Stewart. The exhibition investigates the cultural & historic importance of millinery, looks at techniques, materials & processes; the buying & selling of hats & their wearing & etiquette. Admission £5, concessions £4, children under 12 free. Booking (fee applies) on 0844 209 1770, or via website.
V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery: Matthew Boulton: Selling what all the world desires
Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA Tel: 020 8983 5200 www.vam.ac.uk/moc Daily 10-5.45. Admission free. Snozzcumbers & Frobscottle (2 May-6 Sept 2009) A celebration of the coming together of two creative forces, leading into the quirky, humorous world of Quentin Blake & Roald Dahl. Original manuscripts & illustrations are on display revealing the way an illustrator works with an author. Exhibits include the Norwegian sandal on which the Big Friendly Giant’s footwear was based, a
Hertford House, Manchester Sq, London W1U 3BN Tel: 020 7563 9500 www.wallacecollection.org Daily 10-5. Admission free. Treasures of the Black Death (until 10 May 2009) In the 14th century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the population of Europe. Persecuted by local communities, who accused them of poisoning wells, many Jews buried their most precious belongings, hoping to retrieve them later. Items discovered five & six centuries later, on show here, include medieval silver vessels & coins, & the three earliest known examples of Jewish wedding rings.
WHITECHAPEL ART GALLERY 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX Tel: 020 7522 7888 www.whitechapel.org Wed-Sun 11-6 (Thurs until 9). Admission free. Isa Genzken–Open, Sesame! (5 Apr-21 June 2009) A major retrospective for this German sculptor, regarded as one of the most important artists of her generation, spans the late 1970s to today. While not generally widely known in the UK, her sculptures have been an influence on younger generations.
THOMAS WILLIAMS FINE ART 22 Old Bond St, London W1S 4PY Tel: 020 7491 1485 www.thomaswilliamsfineart.com Mon-Fri 10-6; closed 4 May. Admission free. Barry Fantoni: Public Eye, Private Eye (22 Apr-22 May 2009) Well-known for his work on Private Eye since 1963, Fantoni has been front-page cartoonist & art critic for The Times, a regular illustrator for Radio Times & The Listener & a music reviewer for Punch. He has also been a TV presenter, musician, playwright & author of detective novels. The exhibition includes his landscapes, interiors, & images of friends & lovers.
The details in this guide were correct at the time of going to press, but may be subject to change. For a more comprehensive guide visit our website–www.nationalheritage.org.uk Material for possible inclusion in the next listings (September 2009January 2010) may be sent to email@example.com MUSEUM NEWS SPRING 09 15
EVENTS THE HANDEL HOUSE MUSEUM 25 BROOK STREET, MAYFAIR, LONDON W1K 4HB Thursday, 14th May, 4pm Spring’s visit it to the home of the composer George Frederick Handel in Brook Street, Mayfair. He first moved in as the first occupier in 1723 when he followed the Hanoverian King George to London, and lived and worked there for 36 years, dying in the compact townhouse in April 1759. It was here that Handel composed most of his finest works, including The Messiah, Zadok the Priest and The Royal Fireworks Music.
Handel made use of the whole house with his servants sleeping on the top floor – where in the 1970s the rock star Jimi Hendrix lived for a year. On the second floor was his bedroom and dressing room, and on the first he composed, rehearsed and he would informal performances. From the ground floor he sold music and tickets to his concerts.
THE HANDEL HOUSE MUSEUM, May 14th, 4pm I am a member of National Heritage, Please send me one free ticket and ……. tickets at £12.50 each for the visit to The Handel House Museum on Thursday, May 14th at 4pm. I enclose remittance and stamped addressed envelope.
To mark the 250th anniversary of his death, a special exhibition opens in April, curated by Christopher Hogwood, Handel’s biographer. Handel Reveal’d will look at aspects of the composers life in detail which will be seen for the first time, looking at his health and his accounts among other aspects of his life.
On Thursday evenings Handel House hold concerts at 6.30pm. Numbers are limited to 28 seats only and sold on a first come basis. Tickets are £9, or £7.50 for concessions, each. If you wish to stay for the concert after the tour, please complete the section below and enclose your cheques for the full amount.
Among the exhibits will be a rarely seen life mask by Roubiliac, loaned from a private collection, and the scores of the final piece of music Handel wrote, Jeptha. It will also look at his eating habits – a notable gourmand, he was caricatured in his day as an organplaying pig, and called The Harmonious Bore.
Please reserve me ......... tickets for the post-tour concert.
The exhibition will also look at his patrons. Although he was never a court composer as such, he wrote for cardinals, lords and most famously kings all his life. But from middle age onwards he had a succession of health problems, including strokes, palsy and finally blindness, and the exhibition will display the sorts of surgical instruments he would have been treated with. On the evening of April 13, 1759, Handel had had guests for dinner, but after they had left he told his servants that he was retiring and “had done with the world”. He died in his bed the next morning. There will be other visits this summer and autumn, so please check our website, www.nationalheritage.org.uk
Using archaeological evidence including scrapings of the original paint and an inventory of the contents taken after his death, the house has been returned to the way Handel would have known it. Among the objects on display is a letter from Handel to his librettist, Charles Jennens, about the Messiah, and Mozart's handwritten arrangement of a Handel fugue. There are also portraits and caricatures of the great man.
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