In brief | Latest news and projects from across the sector - Museums Association

In brief | Latest news and projects from across the sector

£3.6m of 'national treasures' saved and Spectrum collections management standard to be translated into Welsh
Museum of the Home, which has jointly acquired Rebecca Solomon's 'A Young Teacher' with Tate
Museum of the Home, which has jointly acquired Rebecca Solomon's 'A Young Teacher' with Tate

‘National treasures’ worth £3.6m to stay in UK

Seven objects considered to be national treasures, together worth £3.6m, are to go on public display in the UK after being prevented from being exported overseas.

The objects were among thirteen cultural objects recommended for an export bar in 2022-23 by the committee which considers this issue for the government.

The annual report of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest said that the acquisition of these objects by domestic buyers and institutions was an “extraordinary achievement in such uncertain times”.

The objects that will stay in the UK include a pre-Raphaelite painting, A Young Teacher by Rebecca Solomon, which has been jointly acquired by Tate and London’s Museum of the Home.

The committee said the painting “is of outstanding significance to the study of the history of women artists and Jewish art in nineteenth-century Britain”.


The objects also include the only Victoria Cross awarded to a member of the RAF for service in the “overlooked” Far East campaign in the second world war. The medal is among a set of five acquired by the Royal Air Force Museum.

The arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson said: “Our export bar process exists to help save important items for the nation and share them with the widest possible public audience. I am delighted we have been able to save some exceptional pieces this year.”

Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota said: “I am hugely grateful to [the committee chair] Andrew Hochhauser KC, and the Reviewing Committee, for their diligence and expertise in identifying treasures that should remain in this country for everyone to enjoy.”

£25m to kick-start Barbican upgrade

The City of London Corporation has approved £25m to begin a programme of capital works to “reinvigorate” the Barbican Centre.

The funding will support the first phase of the Barbican Renewal Programme, which will revamp the 40-year-old building. This initial work will include developing a long-term masterplan, consultation, and early systems and infrastructure work.


The Barbican says that many parts of its building “require an urgent programme of replacement and upgrade”.

The corporation said the programme willtransform underused spaces” for new creative use as well as improving existing venues and spaces, while respecting the brutalist building’s Grade II-listed status.

The Barbican will be seeking “a range of additional funding sources” for later phases of the programme.

The centre’s chief executive Claire Spencer said: “We now have a great opportunity to conserve the extraordinary architectural heritage of the Barbican, while reconsidering what an arts centre can and should be in the twenty-first century, and making sure we are open and welcoming to all.”

Honorary degree for National Trust ecologist

Professor Rosie Hails, nature and science director at the National Trust, has been awarded an honorary degree from Cranfield University in recognition of her “outstanding contribution to leadership in science”.


Hails’ role at the trust includes developing its nature strategy and research portfolio, as well as advising on science evidence to support decision making.

She is also a member of a number of official bodies such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) Science Advisory Council.

From 2013 to 2018, Hails was the science director for biodiversity and ecosystem science at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. She was awarded an MBE for services to environmental research in 2000, and holds honorary chairs at Exeter and Cranfield Universities.

Hails said she was “extremely proud” to have been awarded the degree.

“The next decade is a crucial one for addressing the climate and nature crisis, and Cranfield has an important role to play in providing the underpinning science which will deliver sustainable land use,” she commented.

“This year’s graduates will enter the world well equipped to provide invaluable contributions to the future of our planet.”

Spectrum standard to be translated into Welsh

The Spectrum collections management standard is being translated into Welsh for the first time.

The Welsh Government is providing funding for this purpose to the Collections Trust, which is working with Bla Translation on the project.

The first stage involves consulting with the Welsh-speaking museum sector to agree the translation of key terms.

Bla director Alun Gruffydd said this work had to deal carefully with “the fact that English terminology for museum collections management is more extensive and offers a wider choice”.

“For example, in Welsh we use the same word for ‘lend’ and ‘borrow’, therefore this immediately creates problems when differentiating between the lender and the borrower of museum objects,” said Gruffyd.

Other key terms that museum professionals were asked for feedback on include the translations for ‘accession’, ‘entry’ and ‘acquisition’.

The finalised translation is expected to be available to download free from the Collections Trust website in early 2024.

Frieze initiatives to support arts ‘ecosystem’

The Frieze contemporary art fair in London is launching several new collaborations with cultural organisations aimed at supporting the “arts non-profit ecosystem”.

This year’s fair will see the introduction of the inaugural Arts Council Collection Acquisition Fund, which will choose one or more early-career or overlooked artists from the fair to become part of Arts Council England’s (ACE) collection.

In addition, in a new partnership with London’s ICA, a jury of leading curators will select a programme of films to be shown at the contemporary gallery throughout the week in October when Frieze is held.

Frieze is also collaborating with the Outset Contemporary Art Fund to host work in the fair’s entrance corridor by recipients of Outset’s Studiomakers Prize, which awards rent-free workspaces annually to “outstanding” graduates from London’s art schools.

The initiative marks the 20th anniversary of both Frieze and Outset. Between 2003 and 2015, the organisations collaborated on a fund that acquired 100 artworks from the fair for Tate’s collection. The successor fund, now supported by Frieze’s majority owner – the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor – will this year provide £150,000.

Another existing fund operating at Frieze is the Contemporary Art Society’s (CAS) Collections Fund, which this year will support an acquisition for Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum. The selected work will “explore power hierarchies from a postcolonial perspective”.

Eva Langret, director of Frieze London, said: “By putting an emphasis on key arts organisations and institutions that have defined the cultural landscape of the past two decades, we will look to celebrate and support their vital work.”

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