Main menu

Skip to content

Working Internationally with UK Museums

Join Today

Please complete DCMS survey on preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) would like to hear from you to understand how creative and cultural organisations are preparing, or not, for a potential no-deal Brexit.

This 5-minute survey will inform how government can best support the creative and cultural sectors in these critical times.

We urge you to complete DCMS’ survey to ensure your concerns are heard.

Click HERE to complete the survey.

The survey will close on 24 August 2019.  

Connecting ICOM UK members for Kyoto 2019

ICOM UK is always looking for ways to connect our members and help build networks of people.  For the ICOM Kyoto 2019 conference we set up a WhatsApp group for members going to Japan.  It is a simple idea that has taken off and we now have 24 participants and growing.

The idea was to share useful information before travel and circulate conference updates and tips during the week.  We have asked the group to consider blogging and tweeting to give members feedback from the conference.   The ICOM UK ‘contingent’ going to Japan includes our Chairperson – Tonya Nelson, Secretary – Catherine McDermott and Student and Emerging Professional Rep – Arran Rees, along with the following members:

Hannah Hawksworth, Senior Touring Exhibitions Manager, National Gallery

Gordon McKenna, Standards Manager, Collections Trust

Rebecca Bailey, Head of Education and Outreach, Historic Environment Scotland

Alex Kanavagh, Exhibitions Manager, The British Library

Katie Eagleton, Director of Museums, University of St Andrews

Lucia Gunning, Teaching Fellow, UCL

Matthew Henkel, former Vice-Chair of ICOM Germany

Stephanie Fuller, Director, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

Kate Smith, Collections Manager, David Livingstone Birthplace /Museum

Laura Jones, Culture in Crisis International Coordinator, V&A

Renata Peters, Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Megan Gooch, Research Leadership Fellow, Historic Royal Palaces

Sophie Smith, Director, Narrative by Design

Laura Pye, Director, National Museums Liverpool

Francoise McClafferty, Policy and International Relations Officer, National Museums Liverpool

Kate Fernie, 2Culture Associates

Elisa Palomino Perez, Pathway Leader, CSM UAL

Foteini Aravani, Curator, Museum of London

Yu Yin Huang, Doctoral Student, UCL

If you are going to Kyoto 2019 and would like to join the WhatsApp group, please contact us at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com

The Best in Heritage – Projects of Influence

25 – 27 September 2019

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Presenting a comprehensive overview of best practices globally, this year’s Best in Heritage conference will feature 42 museum, heritage and conservation projects coming from 5 continents, that have been awarded in the previous year. The participants will have the opportunity to get up-to-date with current trends and developments, engage in discussions and network. The event is organised in partnership with Europa Nostra and ICOM, whose members can register with privileged fees.

Further information here. 

Tonya Nelson, Chair, ICOM UK, leading sessions at Kyoto 2019 on decolonisation and restitution


Tonya Nelson, Chairperson of ICOM UK, will lead two concurrent panel sessions at Kyoto 2019 on decolonisation and restitution.

Decolonisation and Restitution – Moving towards a more holistic perspective and relational approach

14:30-16:00, Monday, 2 September

16:30-18:00, Monday, 2 September

The aim of these two concurrent sessions is to enable participants to develop a holistic view of decolonisation which includes, but is not limited to, issues of restitution. The session will help participants trace and map new and different ways of seeing and thinking around these issues; and provide new methods of creative problem solving and new approaches to conflict resolution. These sessions will also be used as the basis for understanding how ICOM as an international network can support relationships building among communities of interest and facilitate knowledge exchange.

View the Kyoto 2019 programme at https://icom-kyoto-2019.org/schedule.html

Workshop “Curating climate. Museums as ‘contact zones’ of climate research, education and activism, October 2019, Oslo


October 28-29th 2019

Klimahuset / University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Who: People working in the museum and heritage sector, researchers, artists, activists and policy makers.

Programme Description:
How do we narrate climatic change in a museum environment and initiate dialogue across its stakeholders? How can museums become ‘contact zones’ where science and education, activism and entertainment, debate and tourism interact productively?

Further information here.


Museums to visit in Kyoto

This article was first published by japan-guide.com. 


As the imperial capital and center of court life for over 1000 years, Kyoto has naturally played a central role in the development of Japanese culture. The modern city continues to take pride in its cultural heritage, offering an interesting set of museums devoted to history, arts, crafts and more. Here’s a selection of some of the city’s most prominent museums listed below.


Kyoto National Museum

One of four national museums across the country, the Kyoto National Museum focuses on traditional Japanese art. It features both, exhibitions from its permanent collection and various temporary special exhibitions. Special exhibitions are shown in the museum’s brick building from the Meiji Period, while the permanent collection is housed in a modern building newly opened in 2014.


The Museum of Kyoto

This museum offers a very attractive permanent exhibition about the history of Kyoto, although its floor space is relatively small, and information in English is limited, making it difficult to fully appreciate without Japanese reading skills. In addition, special exhibitions are held periodically.


Raku Museum

The Raku Museum features pottery created using Raku family techniques and traditions. Many of the ceramic works are related to the tea ceremony, especially tea bowls, but also vases and water vessels. The family put down roots in the location of the museum in the Momoyama Period and was favored by tea master Sen no Rikyu.


Nishijin Textile Center

Nishijin Textile Center, named after the city district and local kimono weaving technique, offers interesting displays on kimono, and a kimono show is held several times a day. Last but not least, there is a large shopping section.


Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto

Often referred to by its initials, MOMAK, the Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto changes the works on display from its permanent collection every couple of months. There are also special exhibitions organized in conjunction with other museums or groups. The museum building itself is a modern construction that was completed in 1986.


Kyoto Railway Museum

Opened in 2016 by JR West, this is one of Japan’s three great railway museums alongside JR East’s Railway Museum in Saitama and JR Central’s SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya. It covers the history of railways from steam locomotives to the shinkansen.


Lake Biwa Canal Museum

This interesting museum is dedicated to the construction of the seven kilometer long Lake Biwa Canal, which runs between Kyoto and Biwa Lake to the east. The canal was a massive project and was completed in the late 1800s. The museum displays maps, models and tools.


Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum

Gekkeikan is one of the largest sake companies in Japan. The Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum was established in Fushimi, the same area as the company’s original brewery, and displays traditional tools and methods of sake brewing. There is a free sake tasting at the end of a visit to the museum.


Toei Uzumasa Eigamura

The Eigamura is part of the Toei film studios in Kyoto. It also serves as a theme park, where visitors can see first hand the sets that are used to film popular movies and TV dramas set in the Edo Period (1603-1867).


Kyoto International Manga Museum

The Kyoto International Manga Museum serves as both a facility for manga research and an exhibition space. The museum has a massive collection of manga that can be browsed by guests, and there are also special exhibitions on themes related to international manga.


Benin gets €20m loan for new museum to show restituted heritage

This article was first published in The Arts Newspaper


Benin is preparing a new home in the city of Abomey for 26 objects of art and cultural heritage looted by French troops in 1894, which France’s president Emmanuel Macron pledged last November to return to the West African country. The institution is due to open in 2021, on the 116-acre Unesco World Heritage site of the royal palaces of the former Kingdom of Dahomey, the AFP reports. The French Development Agency, the public funding group that supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, will loan €20m towards construction.

Gabin Djimass, Abomey’s tourism chief, told the AFP that the objects, which include a throne from the kingdom and bronzes, “are a chance for the survival of the site. They will allow us to build a new museum and make the royal palaces more economically sustainable.” France is still working with Benin on the restitution, the French minister of culture Franck Riester said recently, and there still is no set date for parliament to discuss and approve the iniative. The objects are currently in France’s national collection—which has around 5,000 objects from the Kingdom of Dahomey—and are held at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris.

Macron commissioned a report on the restitution of colonial-era art and artefacts held in European museums that recommended that French museums restitute objects in their collections that were taken from museums of objects seized “without consent” from former colonies in Africa. The controversial report, which sent shockwaves through the European museum world, was picked apart at a symposium in Paris earlier this month.

A new programme at the School for African Heritage in the capital city of Porto-Novo is training a dozen people, who are already involved in the cultural field, for the Abomey museum project. “At a museum there is more than just the curator,” the programme’s teacher Richard Sagan, a specialist at the National Agency for the Promotion of Heritage and the Development of Tourism, told the AFP. “There is a whole chain of trades, from skilled technicians and craftsmen.”

One of the programme’s participants, Messie Boko, currently a guide at a museum in Porto-Novo, said to the AFP: “It is our duty to know how to spread this heritage.”

ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant Scheme is open for applications


Applications are now open for the 2019-20 ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant Scheme.

ICOM UK, with support from the British Council, is pleased to offer travel grants to support UK organisations seeking to build reciprocally beneficial international projects and partnerships.

The 2019-20 ICOM UK – British Council Travel Grant Scheme will enable recipients to undertake an international visit to meet with colleagues and share skills, expertise and experience.  The Travel Grant Scheme supports museums who are starting to develop mutually beneficial international projects and partnerships.

Applications will be considered for grants up to £1,500 per organisation or consortium for visits beyond greater Europe and up to £700 for visits within greater Europe.  The total amount of funding available for 2019-20 is £28,500.

The grant will cover the cost of travel, including international and local transport, visas, accommodation and subsistence.

Case Studies from previous grant recipients can be read on the ICOM UK website http://uk.icom.museum/resources/case-studies/



Deadline for applications: 09:00 Monday 14 October 2019

Successful applicants notified: w/c 28 October 2019

Travel must be completed by: 30 June 2020


The eligibility criteria, guidelines and application form are available on the ICOM UK website at http://uk.icom.museum/about-us/bursaries/

€3.1m Creative Europe funding hangs on Brexit deal

This article was first published in ArtsProfessional 


“Our carefully laid plans…would be wasted” if the UK leaves without a deal, says an organisation awarded €1.3m to lead a collaborative project.

The EU’s Creative Europe programme made grants worth nearly €3.1 million to 11 UK-led applications this year, even though these projects would be thrown into disarray in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

About half as many UK-led projects sought Creative Europe funding for Cooperation Projects this year than in 2018 – but the programme says this trend is not down to concerns about Brexit.

Creative Europe received 27 UK-led applications for €9.6m in funding this year for the programme, which encourages creative collaborations between organisations across Europe. In 2018, 52 UK-led projects requested €18.4m.

Altogether, 34 projects involving the UK have been granted €3.9m, compared to grants totalling €2.1m for 40 UK-led and involved applications in 2018.

But this year’s UK projects hang in the balance: in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Creative Europe funding will cease.

The Government has guaranteed that it will underwrite the full costs for UK organisations. But all the organisations involved, including European partners, would have to overhaul their plans to press on with the UK no longer part of the formal partnership.

Overall decrease

Head of Culture at Creative Europe Desk UK Christoph Jankowski said the drop in UK applications should not be taken as a sign of a “Brexit effect”.

There were 30% fewer applications across Europe overall, Jankowski said: “There’s no trend for the UK that goes down; it’s a European trend.

He believed the UK was “not just as good as it has been but more ambitious” because organisations continued to seek funding for big projects.

Jankowski said the UK remained a “desirable partner” for other European countries. Looking at the number of applicants involved in the large-scale projects selected for 2019, UK organisations tie with Germany for first place, he noted.

‘Artistic urgency’

Leicester-based cultural development agency ArtReach has been awarded €1.3m – the sole grant for a large-scale, UK-led project.

LIBERTY, a multidisciplinary collaboration between organisations in 10 countries that focuses on young people’s perceptions of the future of Europe, depends on the UK not leaving the EU without a deal, ArtReach Founding Director and Chairman David Hill said.

“In that event our carefully laid plans and substantial preparation for LIBERTY, not to mention our partners’ work, would be wasted.

“We expect the contract to be signed in August and we await with bated breath what happens. As a charity, we have to make sure we’re not at risk [financially], in the event of no deal, for any commitment we have made.”

Despite this, Hill was optimistic about the future of the project: “I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t still commission artists from our partner countries, but we wouldn’t be coordinating the partners’ activities in their own countries.”

He acknowledged some potential Cooperation Projects applicants may have been dissuaded by the current political climate – “It’s not just about Brexit; there are challenges around EU [countries] in their relationship with Europe”.

But he said such challenges actually inspired ArtReach’s project: “It’s not just about being successful in securing a large grant but the artistic urgency in exploring this issue.”

Commitment to collaboration

In the event of no deal Brexit, the involvement of UK organisations with Creative Europe projects would be at the discretion of the EU. But Jankowski said the determination of arts organisations to continue cross-border collaboration meant the projects are likely to outlast Brexit.

“Organisations have been ramping up their activities; they have been reinvesting in their relationships across the Channel and centring fears that there may be less mobility, less opportunity.

“Projects leave, projects change, artistic directors change within organisations. If you run a three or four year project, there are a lot of risks. Brexit is just another risk to those partnerships.

“The fact that the UK is still being selected shows there is no bias against the UK and UK organisations. That shows an enormous amount of solidarity and trust around making European collaboration work despite Brexit.”