EFFECTIVE CONSULTANCY IN MUSEUMS, ARTS AND HERITAGE

 

Current projects

I have been asked to evaluate two heritage projects for Europa Nostra and I also currently working on the evaluation of an exhibiton and related events  by the artist Joanne Berry at Derby Museum in 2011.  Jo works in a range of media and has won an award from the Wellcome Trust for a residency at the Royal Derby Hospital and for her work in strengthening the links between arts and science.

In January I visited Madrid. The Prado was stupendous, not just for the fantastic wealth of Spanish paintings but also the Italian and northern European galleries. It was a memorable experience to be able to spend so much time in the presence of the greats like Velazquez, Zurbaran and Goya. As well as visiting the other major museums (Reina Sofia and the Bornemisza Thyssen) I discovered several smaller ones,the Fundacion Lazaro Galdiano and the Museo Sorolla, which were fascinating and of a less intimidating scale. The latter was situated in the house/studio of one of Spain’s most popular artists, active in the early 20th century.

During November-December 2009 I was again asked to do an evaluation for Europa Nostra, this time in Wales. The project was entitled Songs from Stones and was an initiative of Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government historic environment service. It took place in Anglesey, an area rich in prehistoric remains. Using visual imagery, story and music in different ways, including workshops and film, it was a highly imaginative way of engaging the local community and also casting new light on how the inhabitants of these ancient sites may have lived. The image from the project is by Sean Harris ((c) Sean Harris, courtesy of Cadw).

Over the summer of 2009 I undertook an evaluation and review of the Cafe Artistique programme of talks for artists by Axis, the online agency for artists; this followed a review of their website in January. I devised and evaluated an online audience survey through Survey Monkey, extensively canvassed the views of users and contributors to the programme in England and Wales and also met with potential supporters. The report was praised as ‘…a really clear and stimulating read.’

I had the opportunity to make a research visit to Copenhagen in January to see the city’s galleries and museums. I was particularly impressed with the wide-ranging approach to social history at the National Museum and the art museum at Louisiana, a superb set of old and new buildings on a beautiful headland not far from the city. On a Sunday afternoon it was packed with visitors, including many with children. Copenhagen has great charm and I would like to make another visit.

I successfully tendered to join the Heritage Lottery Fund’s RoSS (Register of Support Services) during the summer and on 1 December I attended a briefing session in Manchester. I am now registered as a Mentor, Expert Advisor and Associate Monitor in the museum and heritage fields.

During November I delivered a report on the arts element of a major regeneration scheme in Yorksire and I was also commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool. The Bluecoat has recently reopened after completing a refurbishment, involving the repair and restoration of the historic fabric of this unique 18th century building, and the creation of a new wing. The new building (by the Dutch architects biq) is architecturally uncompromising but complements the old very successfully through its subtle use of good quality materials and the restrained massing and elevations. This was for a Europa Nostra award they have been entered for and it is my fourth evaluation for this organisation, which promotes heritage across Europe. The image above is by Stephen Meller and shows the new gallery wing (All rights reserved).

From October to May 2009 I provided project support for two museums under the Unleash the Power of Your Collections scheme funded by Renaissance in the Regions North West. I was assigned to work with Hat Works in Stockport, where I helped them with a new interpretation project,and the the Weavers Triangle in Burnley who are creating an improved Visitors’ Centre.

In May 2008 I was commissioned to deliver a Collections Development Report for Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle. This is under the auspices of Renaissance and involved the entire span of their collections: History, Natural Sciences and Art. It will set out recommendations for future the development of the collections, displays and interpretation. This was delivered in January 2009; it was welcomed by staff and described by a senior curator as ‘…the most thorough and considered report we have had done for the curatorial section in my time here’.

Recent projects

In December 2007 I assessed the National Trust’s application for a Europa Nostra award for their Footprint Project visitor centre in Windermere, Cumbria. This extraordinary building sets new standards for combining sustainable materials and inspirational design.

© 2006-2007 Scott Mackie & Alison Platt. All rights reserved

© 2006-2007 Scott Mackie & Alison Platt. All rights reserved

In November I joined Euclid, the UK’s EU cultural agency, for a feasibility study of the Mediterranean Art Project, commissioned by the Malta Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This is a 15m euros scheme promoting culture-led tourism and urban regeneration in Valletta and includes the creation of a sculpture park and craft village in an historic site.

I was commissioned by a major art gallery in the West Midlands to design and manage a Benchmarking Survey on salaries for gallery Visitor Services staff, involving nearly 30 venues. This was successfully delivered in November and is being used as part of a review to improve public services.

I became a Curatorial Advisor for the MLA North West in September, giving me an opportunity to work with organisations in the region.

Previous projects

Appointed to the Heritage Lottery Fund Directory of Expert Advisors (July 2007).
In June invited to sit on the board of SHISHA, an organisation based in Manchester giving a voice to contemporary arts and crafts of South Asia.

Assessment of Compton Verney House in Warwickshire, a £65m art and conservation project, for Europa Nostra award.

Commissioned to write the entry on Financial Planning for a new edition of Touring Exhibitions Group Exhibition Manual, published on the web.

Assessed HLF-funded heritage project (Chambré Hardman museum in Liverpool) for Europa Nostra award. The museum subsequently won an award against Europe-wide competition.