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DCMS Museums and Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin 20 April

Below is a link to download the latest PDF coronavirus bulletin from DCMS for the museums and galleries sector, containing links to government information and advice, including:

  • Museums and galleries to reopen in Scotland from Monday 26 April
  • Reopening outdoor hospitality safely
  • Updated Staying Covid secure notice


Call for ICOM UK Committee Members

We are seeking up to five new ICOM UK Committee Members as Trustees and Directors of ICOM UK, a registered charitable company in the UK.  The new Committee Members will help ICOM UK develop and deliver the strategy to support UK museums working internationally and connect members to the global museum community.

At the online 2021 AGM, 12:00 – 14:00 BST on Thursday 10 June, ICOM UK is seeking to appoint Committee Members to the following roles:

  • Co-Chair
  • Secretary
  • Early Career Professional / Student Member (Ordinary Committee Member)
  • Representative from Wales (Ordinary Committee Member)
  • UK Blue Shield Representative (Ordinary Committee Member)

If you are interested in joining the ICOM UK Committee, please read the following information on how to apply.

Application deadline: 09:00 on Monday 10 May 2021

Download the PDF with all of the information on the roles and how to apply

Prospective Committee Members need to have a demonstrable passion for international collaboration in the museum, gallery or heritage sector and an up to date Individual or Institutional ICOM UK membership.

The ICOM UK Committee is interested in applications from sector professionals (including student members and early career professionals) with skills, knowledge and experience in the following areas:

  • Digital communication and asset management (including websites and social media)
  • Marketing and communications
  • Decolonisation and restitution
  • Strategic planning and delivery
  • Partnerships and fundraising
  • Preventative and emergency conservation planning in an international context
  • Language skills (ICOM’s official languages are English, French and Spanish)

ICOM UK encourages and prioritises applications from people who self-identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, a person of colour, as having disability, as neurodiverse, as LGBTQ+, from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, and from all ethnic minority backgrounds and genders.

2021 Working Internationally Conference videos now available to ICOM UK members and conference delegates

The 2021 Working Internationally Conference took place online 16 – 18 March 2021.

The recordings of the conference sessions are now available to ICOM UK members and conference delegates on ICOM UK’s YouTube channel via private links until 30 June 2021.  Exclusive access to the conference session recordings is one of the additional membership benefits we are offering members in 2021.

ICOM UK members will receive an email this week (via MailChimp) with links to access the videos.

Conference delegates will receive an email this week (via Eventbrite) with links to access the videos.

Please check your junk and spam email folders for the email.

The recordings of the conference sessions will be made public on Thursday 1 July 2021.

To view the conference programme and read the speaker biographies, download the PDF Conference Delegate Pack.

International Museum Day 2021 (18 May): The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine

ICOM selects each year for International Museum Day a theme that is at the heart of the concerns of society.

With the theme “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine”, International Museum Day 2021 invites museums, their professionals and communities to create, imagine and share new practices of (co-)creation of value, new business models for cultural institutions and innovative solutions for the social, economic and environmental challenges of the present.

The year 2020 has been like no other. The COVID-19 crisis has swept the whole world abruptly, affecting every aspect of our lives Some already pressing issues have been exacerbated, questioning the very structure of our societies: the call for equality is stronger than ever.

Museums are no exception to these changes, and the cultural sector is among the most affected, with serious economic, social and psychological repercussions in the short and long term alike. But this crisis also served as a catalyst for crucial innovations that were already underway, notably an increased focus on digitisation and the creation of new forms of cultural experience and dissemination.

This is a pivotal moment for our society, and we call museums to embrace it and lead the change. The time is now to rethink our relationship with the communities we serve, to experiment with new and hybrid models of cultural fruition and to strongly reaffirm the essential value of museums for the construction of a just and sustainable future.

We must advocate for the creative potential of culture as a driver for recovery and innovation in the post-COVID era!

For further information, do not hesitate to contact us at imd@icom.museum

We wish you a happy and successful International Museum Day 2021!

ICOM-CC Paintings Working Group Virtual Interim Meeting – Virtual Courier Oversight, 28 April, 16:00 BST

ICOM-CC Paintings Working Group Virtual Interim Meeting

Virtual Courier Oversight in 2020-2021

28 April 2021, 16:00 BST (London)

ICOM-CC (International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation) Paintings Working Group is pleased to announce a programme, entitled Virtual Courier Oversight in 2020-2021.

With the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many conservators working for museums and in private practice have participated in virtual courier oversight. Over the course of 2020 museum staff made valuable observations about the benefits and limitations of their approaches. Presenters working in a variety of contexts will share their lessons and insights through two short presentations. Questions and Discussion will follow.


List of Programme and Participants:

An exploration of virtual couriers at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine

Erin Damon (Exhibitions Registrar at the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine, United States)

Nina Roth-Wells (Conservator in Private Practice, Nina A. Roth-Wells, LLC, Georgetown, Maine, United States)


Needs Must: courier duties during a pandemic

Robyn Earl (Senior Exhibitions Manager, National Gallery, London, United Kingdom)

Claire Hallinan (Head Registrar, National Gallery, London, United Kingdom)

Lynne Harrison (Conservator, National Gallery, London, United Kingdom)


Please visit the ICOM-CC website for more information:

To download the announcement:

For Zoom details of the event, please RSVP with your full name, country of residence and put ‘Virtual Couriers’ in the subject line to: icomccpaintings@gmail.com

Museums Reopening: Revised Guidance

As many indoor museums plan towards reopening in late May 2021, it is worth emphasising the guidance that is out there to help support this process.

Take a look at The National Museum Director’s Council guidance, which has recently been updated to reflect the latest circumstances.

Additional resources are available on the AIM website, including a checklist that has been prepared in conjunction with Museum Development.

Unesco issues three key recommendations to help museums following report that reveals scale of Covid-19 crisis

This article was first published by The Art Newspaper.

Among the innumerable concerns expressed by international institutions are loss of public funding, threats to the security of collections and a decrease in visitors.

The Covid-19 crisis has led to a fall in funding for museums worldwide with public subsidies decreasing in 50% of the countries surveyed for a report published today by Unesco. The new document, entitled Museums around the world in the face of Covid-19, provides a “provisional assessment” of the state of 104,000 museums in the face of the pandemic, based on data provided by 87 member states of Unesco in an online survey conducted earlier this year.

“Unesco has launched a 2021 study to reassess, based on contributions from Unesco member states, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on museum attendance, budgets and activities in order to analyse the threats to the sector and its evolution in the next few years,” the organisation says.

For around a quarter of the member states—including Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia—public subsidies (state funding) remained stable. In a quarter of countries surveyed, including Belgium and Canada, subsidies increased from 11% to 20%. But for half of the states, grants have decreased, in some cases substantially, with funding dropping by at least 60% in Mexico, Palestine and Malawi. “The stakes are high, as these institutions not only work for today’s society, but also preserve the memory of past generations, in order to pass it on to the future ones,” Unesco says.

The financial consequences of the pandemic are considerable, the report continues. On average, museums lost between 40% and 60% of their budget in 2020, compared to 2019 (based on responses from museums in 52 member states). According to the report, “In regions where museums are largely funded by the market and philanthropy, such as the United States or United Kingdom, job losses have been rapid and particularly significant.”

Museums were also asked about potential “threats” with 75% of institutions saying there are “risks to their development”. Security of the collections and their conservation are a concern for 15 countries, including France, Germany and Japan. “The lockdown measures have led to an additional risk to the collections themselves, which several member states have mentioned. To prevent these dangers, Uzbekistan has developed cooperation with the British Museum to combat theft and illicit trafficking,” the report says. A decrease in visitors and revenue is meanwhile cited as a “threat” by 14 member states including Iceland and Thailand.

Indeed, 83% of the states responding to the survey closed in 2020, either totally or partially, for periods ranging from less than a month to a year. On average, these closures lasted for more than 150 days in 2020. “Museum attendance has fallen sharply in all states. Even for institutions that remained open with sanitary measures in place, the drastic decrease in world tourism resulted in a drop in attendance of 70%,” the report says.

Unesco is also concerned about the impact of the pandemic on museum education programmes but institutions have adapted to a new way of working. “The interruption of traditional educational activities (school visits, guided tours, workshops) as a result of the pandemic was a painful experience for schools. Yet, many measures have been taken for museums to continue their knowledge dissemination work, either by setting up new devices (mediation kits that can be used by families outside of museums), by using other media, or by the development of digital tools,” the report says.

Unesco has made three key recommendations in light of their research, stressing that “public authorities must act to financially support museums in this difficult period and prepare for the future.” The social role of museums as community hubs and digital development must be prioritised especially in countries where museum networks are still fragile, the organisation adds. “States have an essential role to play in supporting museums in this difficult period, through an ambitious cultural policy, not only to guarantee their survival but to prepare them for the future,” says Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay in a statement.

Bayeux Tapestry loan on hold due to poor condition

This article was first published by the Museums Association.

The Bayeux Tapestry may be an enduring artefact of shared patrimony between England and France, but its planned loan to the UK in 2022 could be cancelled amid claims of its desperate need for repair.

At 70 metres long, the tapestry has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1840, and was entrusted to the city of Bayeux in 1804 by Napoleon Boneparte. The museum housing the tapestry receives more than 400,000 visitors per year, 70% of whom are from outside of France, making it a key tourist site for the Normandy region.

A condition report published in February 2021 has complicated tapestry loan arrangements to the UK, as experts analysing the artefact found its condition to be worse than expected. Restoration of the tapestry was intended to take place in 2024, and its loan to the UK was arranged to coincide with the development of the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, its usual home.

With this new understanding of its fragile condition, movement of the Bayeux Tapestry can only be justified for its repair.

Patrick Gormond, the mayor of Bayeux, said last month that if the UK wanted to secure the loan it should be willing to pay for the €2m restoration cost. In response, Tristram Hunt, V&A director, told the BBC that conserving the work would be a “fabulous” opportunity.

A representative from the V&A told Museums Journal, however, that while the V&A is in close discussions with the Bayeux Museum about how to support the conservation project, it has no current plans to host the tapestry.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is also in full support of prioritising the protection of the tapestry, with a representative of the department commenting that “the conservation and protection of the tapestry is paramount to ensure it survives for future generations”.

French president Emmanuel Macron first announced the tapestry’s loan in January 2018, after previous attempts by Britain to secure it, for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1966, were rejected.

According to a representative of the Bayeux Museum in Normandy, the sum for the restoration of the tapestry is already expected to be paid by the French Ministry of Culture, with no chance for negotiation with the British Government.

They stated that it is too early to know anything about the eventual loan, but that the Ministry of Culture is commissioning a study to determine how to remove the artefact from its current position, the conditions in which its restoration can be carried out, and its ideal location.

The development of the Bayeux Museum is due to be completed by the spring of 2026, with the restored tapestry in place by the time of its planned reopening. This leaves the window for the loan to take place extremely small, as the tapestry’s restoration is still due to begin in 2024.

Despite these restraints, the DCMS stated that discussions regarding the loan are still ongoing, with a representative of the department commenting that “the Bayeux Tapestry is a world treasure and a symbol of the deep ties between Britain and France”.

Royal Mummies Paraded Through Downtown Cairo In Museum Move

This article was first published by NPR.

Twenty-two mummified members of ancient Egyptian royalty passed through downtown Cairo in an awe-inspiring parade on Saturday. The event, which drew fanfare to the country’s robust collections of antiquities in an elaborate procession, saw the mummies being relocated from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, about 3 miles away in nearby Fustat.

The spectacle was named The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade and comprised 18 kings and four queens, including some of Egypt’s most prominent rulers of the past. Among them was King Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most famous Pharaohs, who reigned in 12th Century BC. He ruled the New Kingdom for 67 years and was renowned for signing the first known peace treaty, the BBC reported.

The royal figures were transported in vehicles specially rigged to carry the remains and a security motorcade surrounded the convoy. Due to the fragility of the preserved pharaohs, they were placed in nitrogen filled boxes for protection. The roads along the route were even repaved to ensure a smooth relocation.

Officials hope the new museum will be a boon for tourism, a lucrative industry for the country that’s taken a big hit over years of political turmoil and recently, the pandemic, according to the BBC.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi expressed his excitement via Twitter about the relocation of the mummies. “With all pride, I look forward to receiving the kings and queens of Egypt after their journey,” he said. “This majestic scene is new evidence of the greatness of this people, the guardian of this unique civilization extending into the depths of history.”

The mummies’ new home will be in the Royal Mummies Hall at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Visitors will be welcomed starting April 18, said a Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities news release.