Like so many other sectors of the domestic tourism industry, UK museums and art galleries have had it tough during the various lockdowns and tier restrictions.
But where there’s culture, there is hope. So, let’s look forward to some upcoming highlights around the regions.
Past. Present. Future. Derby is set for a triple celebration in 2021, marking its remarkable creative and manufacturing history that helped make the city one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. It will coincide with the 300th anniversary of the creation of the world’s first factory, at the Silk Mills, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Derwent Valley Mills becoming a World Heritage Site. And Derby’s rich history of making will be celebrated still further when the city is finally able to open The Museum of Making, on the very site of that first factory. Run by Derby Museums, the attraction will celebrate the area’s rich history of innovation, telling Derby’s 300-year history of making. https://bit.ly/35YZnAu
Elsewhere, the 18th century landscape and portrait artist Joseph Wright, better known as “Joseph Wright of Derby”, has been described as “the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution”. The finest collection of his work is housed at Derby Museum & Art Gallery, which is currently operating under government restrictions. But for anyone wanting to know more, the good news is that a new and acclaimed book, Joseph Wright of Derby: Painter of Darkness by Matthew Craske (Yale, £45) has recently been published. https://bit.ly/33wUX1P
Around 35 miles away, Stoke-on-Trent’s famous Spitfire is set to be officially unveiled in a stunning new, £6m home, at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, over the summer of 2021. The glass fronted gallery is being added to the city centre’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, so that the iconic plane – based on Reginald Mitchell’s famous design – can become more viewable to the public, as well as inspire generations to come. Featuring glass walls at the front and back, so the public can see the plane lit up at night, the new gallery is set to become one of the area’s top attractions and further add to the city’s cultural heritage. The city is forever linked with the Spitfire thanks to one of its most famous sons, aircraft designer Reginald Mitchell. The Spitfire, manufactured in 1945, is unusual in that it still has most of its original parts. https://bit.ly/2HJLxrA
Still in Stoke-on-Trent, a remarkable collection of photographs is now on show at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 focuses on the work of the pioneering Scottish photographer, geographer, and traveller. It runs through to February 14, 2021. Admission is £5, Concessions £3, Under 16s and Art Fund members free. Call 01782-232323 to pre-book. https://bit.ly/356sfEK
And it’s impossible to mention Stoke-on-Trent, these days without mentioning the Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, which was named as England’s “Small Visitor Attraction of the Year” at the Visit England Awards for Excellence 2020 in an online ceremony that took place in August. https://bit.ly/37BfCTu
In Hampshire, Jane Austen House recently announced a new Christmas experience – to be enjoyed online and onsite – voiced by Academy Award winning actress Dame Emma Thompson. The Twelve Days of Christmas – A Jane Austen Special, is available from December 16 on the Jane Austen House Museum website; and the audio will also air in the House once it reopens. bit.ly/33jwiO6
One of Hampshire’s waterside cities, Southampton, has announced its intention to bid for the title of the ‘2025 UK City of Culture’. Social media channels have been created on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and a promotional video has already been posted on YouTube (https://bit.ly/33CTJSY). Further details about the city, and its bid for UK City of Culture status can be found here https://bit.ly/30IFzOd.
Elsewhere, a £16.5m project to bring new visitor facilities to Lincoln Cathedral, one of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings and once the world’s tallest, is set to open in spring 2021. The Old Deanery has been transformed into a state-of-the-art visitor centre, with a shop and café. Within its new exhibition space, the visitor centre will display never seen before artefacts and treasures, including some unearthed during the major construction and renovation works, which help share the history of the Cathedral and Lincoln. https://bit.ly/3f0KTB6
Finally, for an insight into the life of a museum curator, here’s something very special from the Ferens Art Gallery – featuring a meeting with David Hockney; an “adrenaline-fuelled trip to Rome” with a Canaletto and a bunch of armed Italian police escorts; and thousands of people painting themselves blue in the name of art for Spencer Tunick’s ‘Sea of Hull’ photographs during the city’s time as the 2017 UK City of Culture – as Kirsten Simister looks back on an incredible 17 years in Hull. loom.ly/clkhgxQ
The museums of Stoke-on-Trent
Derby Museum of Making
Derby Museum & Art Gallery
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery's new Spitfire gallery