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DCMS Museums and Galleries Sector Coronavirus Bulletin 11 January 2021

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:

  • Regulations for national lockdown
  • Grants to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors
  • Clarification on when a security operative is considered to be a “critical worker”, and therefore may have access to support for children
  • Testing introduced to bolster border measures


EU-UK Trade Agreement: Newsletter 8 January

The UK signed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU on 24 December 2020.  Below is a link to download the latest newsletter with information on it, as well as slides from HMRC on the movement of goods, from BEIS on business travel to the EU, EEA and Switzerland, and from the Department for Transport on specialist hauliers.

It should be noted that this material is up to date as of 8 January, but gov.uk will be updated to reflect the latest information if there are any future changes.

This issue contains information on the following:

  • The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
  • The data protection bridging mechanism that allows the continued free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK after the transition period, until adequacy decisions come into effect, for up to 6 months.
  • The services mobility agreement with Switzerland
  • The new procedure for checking cultural object licences
  • More ports designated for CITES movements, and details on international road haulage
  • Details on the social security contributions when working in the EU, on intellectual property, the eCommerce Directive, and on public procurement






As of 1 January 2021, the UK has left the EU. Find out how new rules affect you and advice for your sector with the links from GOV.UK below:

Update documents from UK-EU Free Trade Agreement Outcome Webinar on 6 January

Below is additional information following the UK-EU FTA Outcome Webinar hosted by DCMS on 6 January 2020.

DfT – Specialist Haulage

HMRC – Borders and Customs

BEIS – Mobility

HMRC – Social Security Coordination

DCMS – Data

If helpful, we have included a brief overview here from DCMS:
While, as you are aware, discussions on data adequacy between the UK and the European Commission have been taking place since early last year, it became clear in late Autumn that the EU had left insufficient time to ratify data
adequacy decisions before the end of the Transition Period. We have therefore agreed with the EU a time-limited ‘bridging mechanism’ which will allow personal data to continue to flow as it did previously whilst EU adequacy decisions for the UK are adopted, for up to 6 months. In practice, we do not expect the bridging mechanism to be in place for more than 4 months. We see no reason why the UK should not be granted adequacy and the process concluded promptly.

As a sensible precaution, before and during the bridging mechanism, businesses and other organisations should consider putting in place alternative transfer mechanisms to safeguard against any interruption to the free flow of EU to UK personal data.

Book now for members-only webinar on Tues 19 January, 08:30 – 09:30 GMT

A Meeting Place: Online Global Discussions for Museum and Gallery Professionals

Join British Council in partnership with ICOM UK and Museums Association for a new series of online conversations for museum and gallery professionals in the UK and around the world to connect and share experiences in the current context of Covid-19.  This series of online conversations is only open to members of ICOM UK, Museums Association, and British Council international partners.


Decolonisation: Moving Towards a More Holistic Perspective and Relational Approach 

We are pleased to continue our series with a session titled Decolonisation: Moving Towards a More Holistic Perspective and Relational Approach. 

ICOM UK members received an email (via Mailchimp) last week with the link to register.  If you did not receive the email, please check your spam and junk folders.  Another email with the booking link will be sent directly to ICOM UK members later this week.  If you don’t receive the email, please contact us at uk.icom.museum@gmail.com and we will send you the link.

This event is hosted by Tonya Nelson, Director, London, Arts Council England, and Chair of ICOM UK, who will be in conversation with:

  • Miranda Lowe, Principal Curator, Natural History Museum, UK; Co-Founder, Museum Detox
  • Rachael Minott, Freelance Practitioner, UK
  • Professor Shahid Vawda, Archie Mafeje Chair in Critical Humanities and Decoloniality Director of School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Peter White, Senior Manager, Aboriginal Strategy and Engagement at Create NSW, Australia.
This discussion will be followed by an audience Q and A with questions submitted in advance. Email your questions for the panel to Oriana.Calman@britishcouncil.org before 15 January.
Together, the panellists will explore the following:
“In the past, the decolonisation debate within museums was dominated by questions of restitution of artefacts to countries of origin. However, as the conversation has expanded to consider how museums reflect the voices and experiences of a diverse range of audiences and communities, approaches have become less transactional. This session will explore the process of decolonisation through relationship building between countries, institutions, communities and people far and near.”This discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A.
This session will have Closed Captioning and a British Sign Language interpreter. The session will also be recorded and a full transcript available following the event at http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/news/all-news/a-meeting-place-webinar-recordings/page/1
Live captioning: Claire Hill, speech-to-text reporter

British Sign Language: Catherine King, interpreter (BSL/English)Please contact Oriana.Calman@britishcouncil.org if you have any access requirements or other queries.

Booking open for 2021 Working Internationally Conference for ICOM UK members

ICOM UK members can book a free place for the 2021 Working Internationally Conference taking place online 16-18 March 2021.

Each year ICOM UK, in partnership with NMDC, organises the one-day Working Internationally Conference. 2021 will be a little different. The Conference is a 3-day online event, with each day focussing on a major global issue:

  • Social Justice: Museum responses to decolonisation, restitution, Black Lives Matter, representation and youth (Tuesday 16 March)
  • Museums and Sustainability: Challenges of working in and responding to a changing climate (Wednesday 17 March)
  • The Future of Museums: Where are we now, and where do we go from here? (Thursday 18 March)

Sessions take place at the same time on each day of the Conference:

10:00 -10:10 Introduction

10:10 – 11:10 In Conversation Session

11:30 – 12:30 Live From Session + Q&A

14:00 – 15:00 Barker Langham Curated Session

16:00 – 17:00 Voices of the Future Session

17:00 – 17:10 Summary of the day

The online conference takes place in March 2021 at a time when major global issues such as the impact of Covid-19, climate crisis, Brexit, and social justice will see museums continuing to reconsider and reimagine their roles in a global and local context, and establish new ways of working.

The conference will bring together speakers from the UK and across the globe to share their insight and experience of responding to changes in the sector and the world around us.  Keep an eye on the ICOM UK website and Conference Eventbrite page for updates on speakers and sessions.

Social and networking sessions will be announced in due course.

The 2021 Working Internationally Conference is organised by ICOM UK in partnership with NMDC and with curatorial support from Barker Langham.

Interview with Mohamed Mokhtar, curator at the Abdeen Palace Museum, Cairo, Egypt

As part of our series offering ICOM UK members the opportunity to know more about museums and heritage around the world, Claire Messenger, ICOM UK committee member, talks to Mohamed Mokhtar, curator at the Abdeen Palace Museum, Cairo.


Hello Mohamed and thank you for talking to ICOM UK members.  Could you start by telling us something about your role and responsibilities at Abdeen Palace Museum?

I am working as a curator in Abdeen Palace Museum and my main responsibility is to preserve and care for the collection which has come from acquisitions made by members of the Egyptian royal family and international gifts received from kings and presidents from around the world.

Abdeen Palace was the residence of modern Egyptian royalty starting with the reign of Khedive Ismail in 1863 A.D until the abdication of King Farouk in 1952  Abdeen Palace was built following the new classical design under the supervision of a French architect named Léon Rousseau on 25 acres of land. The construction itself cost 100,000 golden pounds and its furniture cost 750,000 golden pounds.


How has the collection of the Abdeen Palace Museum developed? 

The idea for the Abdeen Palace Museum started with King Fouad in 1928.  He collected arms and medals through inheritance or bought from auction.  To display his collection, he established two museums on the ground floor of the palace. The first museum was the Arms Museum which has more the 10,000 objects – the oldest object in the collection dates back to the 14th century and the most recent artefacts are from the time of World War II. This museum, with its 13 halls, was considered a  traditional way to show visitors the development of arms particularly from the 15thand 16th century until the 20th century. Visitors can see ceremonial swords, daggers, hunting and war rifles in addition to a large collection of pistols.   King Fouad also establish a private library with a rare collection of books about arms manufacturing and use.

The second museum was the Medals and Decorations & Private Acquisitions Museum which has a collection from Egypt and other countries including Africa, Europe and North and South America.  This collection dates from the 18th to the 20th century and visitors can see objects made of precious and semi-precious stones in both gold and silver. Originally the museums were only accessed by the guests of the King, but after the 1952 revolution against the royal family, the Abdeen Palace Museums were closed

In 1998 Abdeen Palace Museum was opened to the public for the first time and two new museums were added, the Silverware Museum and the Presidency Gifts Museum.  In 2005 the Historical Documents Museum joined the Abdeen Palace Museum group, and in 2016 the Royal Hunting Hall was inaugurated. The Abdeen Palace Museum became five museums (Arms; Medals & Decorations; Silverware; Presidency Gifts and Historical Documents) with one space, especially for temporary displays.


Do you have a favourite object from your collection that you would like to share with us?

Justice and cornation sword, Abdeen Palace Museum

Justice and coronation sword, Abdeen Palace Museum

One of the most beautiful objects is the Justice and Coronation Sword which was originally owned by Peter the Great, Czar of Russia in the 17th century.  It was bought by King Farouk from an auction hall in Germany in 1948 when he paid £11,000 pounds. The sword is decorated with precious and semi-precious stones like diamonds, rubies, carnelian, and coloured enamel. This sword is amazing because of intricate decorative layers which start with a gold layer, then an enamelled one and the third is the precious and semi-precious stones.  In addition, we can see also two figures, a Roman and an African face, which raise questions about why and when these two figures were added to this sword.  Currently, I am working to publish a paper on this incredible object.


At the end of their visit, what information do you hope your audience takes home after visiting the museum?

The information that we love our audience to take to their home after their visit is to gain accurate and interesting information about the history of the Egyptian royal family and their traditions and relationships with others in Egypt and around the world.


In 2020, during the COVID crisis, what challenges has the Abdeen Palace Museum faced?

The biggest challenge we have faced during this period, like most of the museums all over the world, was closing our doors and not be able to be contact with our visitors.  So we tried to think about contacting our visitors virtually through different platforms.  Firstly, the Egyptian Presidency, which administers our museum, launched their website with new films about the presidential palaces and one of our museums, the Presidency Gifts Museum.  Now we are working to add the rest of the Palace Museums to this website. Visitors to the website can see films and can join the virtual tour inside the Palace and the Presidency Gifts Museum.


What programmes have you delivered during this time to continue to engage with your audiences?  Why did you do this and how successful was it?

Online concert performed by famous Egyptian singer Hani Shaker

Online concert performed by famous Egyptian singer Hani Shaker

In addition to the website, we started a series of online music concerts, inviting famous Egyptian singers to perform in the garden of the Palace to try to reach out to our audiences in a different but safe way.

People’s comments were very positive, and they asked to do more and wished to attend if there will be an opportunity in the future to do these concerts, with audiences. We received this feedback through different social media channels.




Please tell us about your involvement in a new Museum in Cairo called The Revolution Command Council Museum?

The Revolution Command Council Museum in Cairo

The Revolution Command Council Museum in Cairo

The Revolution Command Council Museum is a new museum located in the El Gezira area in downtown Cairo.  The Museum documents the details of the July 1952 revolution and its impact on the life of Egyptians.  I was asked, along with one of my colleagues, by our museum’s director to start a training programme for the museum staff on how to deal with visitors in the galleries and make it easier for them to deliver the information on the museum’s content to different types of visitors. We also supported them by looking at what kind of activities and programmes can be offered for visitors.  Because of the different educational background of the museum’s staff, we started with brainstorming meetings to discuss the available options.  Finally, we also talked about the gift shop and I focused on the classification of the programmes for different categories of museum audience.

I would like to thank ICOM UK for giving me this opportunity to talk about my museum and to share some links so they can see more.

The official link for the Presidential Palaces films and virtual tours.   

The link for one of the concerts inside Abdeen Palace Garden


Thank you so much, Mohamed.  It has been fascinating to learn more about your work and your museums.

If you would like to contact Mohamed his email is mokhtar_secret@hotmail.com – he’d be very happy to hear from you.

ICOM-US Webinar Series: Part 2: The Function of Collecting


Webinar Series

Join your museum colleagues to discuss what makes a museum, a museum. The very core of our existence is being questioned today both within the museum field and the broader society. We are at a transformative moment in the history of museums. Contribute to this critical dialogue in a series of webinars investigating how museums meet their sustainable, ethical, political, social and cultural responsibilities in the 21st century. This six-part series brings international museum experts together to contribute to our understanding of the challenges in our world and thoughts toward a new definition for “museum” in the United States.

Webinar Series sponsored by the US National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-US)

Register today for Part 2!

Tuesday January 19, 2021
12pm EST

The defining essential unity in museums are the functions of collecting, preserving, documenting, researching, exhibiting and in other ways, communicating and interpreting evidence of human culture and history for the benefit of everyone. Should our collections shift as our communities do? In a world aimed towards political correctness, how do we address collections as a result of power and colonization?

Danielle KuijtenCo‐Curator/Acting Director, Imagine IC and Chair of ICOM International Committee COMCOL (Netherlands)
Anne PasternakShelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum of Art  (U.S.)
Tukufu ZuberiLead Curator, Africa Galleries, Penn Museum (U.S.)

Kathy Dwyer Southern, Professor, Museum Studies Program, George Washington University, ICOM-US Board Member and Immd. Past Co-Chair
William Eiland, Director, Georgia Museum of Art, ICOM-US Board Member and Treasurer

Register per webinar to attend: limited seats available

ICOM Members: Free to attend
Non-Members: $20 registration fee

Covid-19: Stars back ‘under threat’ People’s History Museum

This article was first published by the BBC.

Stars including Sir Ian McKellen, Melvyn Bragg and Julie Hesmondhalgh are backing a campaign to secure the future of an at risk museum due to Covid-19.

The People’s History Museum (PHM) in Manchester said it has lost more than £200,000 since England’s first lockdown in March and costs £900 per day to run.

Writer and broadcaster Bragg said it was one of the country’s most important museums as “it tells the story of us”.

A crowdfunding page to cover essential costs has raised over £10,000.

The PHM is the national museum of democracy which tells the story of its development in Britain.

Director Katy Ashton said despite little revenue from visitors because of Covid restrictions since March it has developed its online offer and still continued “groundbreaking work” on issues like the pandemic, Black Lives Matter and Brexit.

She said it had dramatically cut outgoings but it still faced an uncertain future as it costs £900 a day to run.

Former Coronation Street star Hesmondhalgh said it was her “favourite museum” which “deals with ordinary people and our struggles”.

She said it was the “jewel in the crown of Manchester’s culture… and we mustn’t let it go”.

The actress played Hayley Cropper, the ITV soap’s first transgender character, and she said she was “so excited” the museum included Hayley’s red raincoat in its exhibition Never Going Underground: The Fight for LGBT+ Rights.

Bragg said: “It tells the story of us – 97% of the people in this country and their fight over centuries for their rights; for democratic rights, for voting rights, for the equality of women, for trade union rights to give everyone in this country the entitlement to live their life as full as possible.”

The museum said actor Sir Ian – star of the X-Men and Lord of the Rings films – urged people to support it along with Maxine Peake.

“We need places like PHM that look after that history and preserve it for future generations,” the actress said.

The PHM has been in Manchester for 30 years, having been at its current site in Spinningfields since 2010.

The Musée du Louvre—the world’s most popular art museum—saw 72% drop in visitors last year

This article was first published by The Art Newspaper.

Despite kicking off 2020 with a record-breaking Leonardo exhibition, like many museums around the world, the Parisian institution was adversely affected by coronavirus lockdowns.

A year ago, the Musée du Louvre was in the midst of a record-breaking Leonardo exhibition that looked likely to push its visitor figures for 2020 to new heights. But as the coronavirus pandemic began to overwhelm Europe in the spring, the Parisian museum, like many institutions around the continent, closed its doors as the country went into lockdown. Twelve months later and it has reported one of its worst attendance figures ever, with around 2.7 million visitors—a 72% drop compared to 9.6 million in 2019.

Following the first lockdown, the museum was able to reopen again in the summer with restricted visitor numbers. In total, the museum was closed for nearly half the year, open for only 161 days out of a possible 311, and lost around €90m in revenues. Around three quarters of the museum’s audience is usually from abroad but with flights grounded and an unprecedented drop in tourism to the French capital, the museum reported that around 70% of visitors in 2020 were from France.

The museum director Jean-Luc Martinez says that although the Louvre’s empty galleries saddened him and his staff, the institution’s long history (it was founded at the time of the French Revolution) is a reminder that despite hard times it is never in vain to hope for better days. The drop in visitor figures is not quite as high as the 80% that Martinez feared for in June last year.

The museum has topped The Art Newspaper’s annual survey of exhibition and museum visitors, Art’s Most Popular, for well over a decade (its record attendance was in 2018 with a whopping 10.2 million visitors). But it will likely not be the biggest loser in a year when museums around the world were, and continue to be, heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the large drop in attendance, with 2.7 million visitors the Louvre would have still been the 21st most visited museum in 2019’s attendance survey, largely thanks to the near half a million visitors who came for the Leonardo show in January and February.

The museum is currently closed because of the coronavirus lockdown in Paris, check its website for the latest opening news.

You can do virtual tours of almost every major London museum and gallery

This article was first published in Time Out and was written by Eddy Frankel.

Life without art and museums is just a whole lot of Netflix and cheap lager, that’s what self-isolation has taught me. Good heavens, I miss museums. The smell, the light, the people, the ART. I really miss art. But it’s good to know that way before everything went crazy last year, most of London’s museums digitised their collections and even created virtual tours of their spaces. If you miss those places as much as I do, especially now that we’re deep into yet another lockdown, then this might just be the balm your restless soul needs. From Tate Modern through to the Natural History Museum, here are our favourite virtual tours of our most beloved London cultural institutions.

Tate Modern

The Tate’s collection is staggering: Monet, Picasso, Rothko, all the big names. In this tour, Tate Modern’s director Frances Morris takes you on a tour of one of the Tate’s new buildings, showing you works by Louise Bourgeois, Carl Andre and plenty of others. For some reason, Nick Grimshaw’s there too. I don’t know why. I don’t like it.

The Courtauld Gallery of Art

This is a virtual tour of a museum that was shut even before the current crisis. The Courtauld’s been closed for refurbishment for ages, but cleverly created this digital tour for posterity’s sake. It’s room by room, so start at the beginning with Cranach the Elder’s ‘Adam and Eve’, scoot through the portraits of old dead people in room four and then head straight for the Impressionist and modernist delights of rooms six and seven. Van Gogh, Manet, Kandinsky? Yes please!

The National Portrait Gallery

Ah, London’s museum Marmite. The NPG is filled with stuff you either love or despise with a hatred so intense it’s all-consuming. ‘The Cholmondeley Ladies’ painting? Amazing, love it. The portrait of Ed Sheeran? I’d rather stab my eyes out with a pair of tweezers. But don’t listen to me, take the tour and decide for yourself.

The National Gallery

This one’s done in collaboration with Google Street View, so you get all the thrills of scouring your local streets to see if they caught you picking your nose, but with paintings instead. The National Gallery’s collection has some of the greatest artists who ever lived – Renaissance masters, Baroque painters and Impressionist adventurers – and there is nowhere better to lose yourself for an afternoon in London. Plus, you get to stand in exactly the right spot to see the skull straighten out in Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’. And online, there are no Italian schoolkids with giant backpacks getting between you and the Raphael. Heaven.

The British Museum

Woo, things were hotting up for a while there with Brexit. As Britain formally withdrew from the European Union, bills were being drafted in Brussels that would basically force the British Museum to give the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece. The CV crisis has put the kibosh on all that for now, so there are probably some very relieved people at the BM. But in the meantime, let’s all enjoy it online while we can (and the mummies, obviously: everyone loves the mummies).

Want more virtual art exhibitions? Have a look at this heartbreaking show we’ve part-hosted here.

Then check out more virtual tours of museums around the world.