maxwell museums revamped + latest news
This newsletter has had a refresh. It's bringing you even more news
In this edition: BP at the BM, Young V&A opening, Olafur Eliasson’s new work, Berlin museum attacked, National Trust scone challenge.
maxwell museums will be five years old later this year. It’s evolved since I first hit send back in 2018, and I like to think I’m always trying to make it the best it can be.
So I’m excited to today unveil a revamp — a small-refresh with big improvements. It’s still the Friday edition of this newsletter you recognise, the one that brings you all the news you need to know from the past week. There’s now just more of it. I’m packing nearly double the number of news stories into each week’s edition, so it’s now an even more carefully curated rundown of what you need to know. But it won’t take you longer to read — the word count has actually gone down slightly. It’s a full digest for busy people.
I’m also today relaunching my sponsorship and advertising options. maxwell museums is read in 61 countries around the world. Readers work at museums like the British Museum and V&A, in cultural organisations like Art Fund and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and in media outlets like the Observer and the Daily Telegraph. Each week this newsletter lands in inboxes — and you can be part of it. Find out more about sponsorship and advertising here.
I’m proud to say that I think this new refresh means this newsletter now works even harder for you, my brilliant readers, who keep me publishing week-in-week-out. I’d love to know what you think of it. Hit reply to this email and tell me your thoughts. And if you’d like to support my work, you can make a one-off or monthly donation here. Even £3 a month makes a big difference.
Now read on to see what’s new!
Need To Know
BP or not BP?
Fresh doubts have been raised over whether BP will continue to support the British Museum. The Guardian reports that the latest five-year contract between the two parties expired at the end of the recent Hieroglyphs exhibition, meaning no deal is currently in place.
Under a Freedom of Information request, the British Museum revealed that between October 2021 and December 2022 there was no correspondence and no discussion about signing a new funding deal. But neither body is commenting on the future of the relationship. Culture Unstained, which obtained these disclosures, said “Either it is stage-managing the exit of a polluting sponsor… or it has made the indefensible decision to allow BP to remain a partner of the museum.”
The report suggests the museum’s ambitious £1 billion “Rosetta project” renovation plans might lead to a renewal of the sponsorship, even if in a less high-profile form. Details on these plans are expected this Spring. (Read more)
Young V&A announces opening
The V&A Museum of Childhood is dead. Long live Young V&A. The opening date of the UK’s new national museum designed with and for young people has been revealed: Saturday 1 July. The renamed and revamped museum will welcome visitors again after a three-year closure, and £13 million worth of work.
It’s promised to be packed full of hands-on experiences, and designed with and for children under the age of 14. Highlights will include sensory playscapes, a performance stage, an ‘Imagination Playground’ construction zone (me neither) plus dedicated exhibitions and 2,000 objects from the V&A’s collection.
The museum’s first exhibition has also been announced. Japan: Myths to Manga — opening in October — will take viewers on a journey through Japanese history to explore how landscape and folklore have influenced popular culture, technology, and design. Tristram Hunt, V&A Director said Young V&A’s plan “is to foster Britain’s next generation of artists.” (Read more)
Big bucks for Smithsonian’s new museum
The Smithsonian has revealed that a huge $55 million (£46m) has been gifted to support its proposed American Women’s History Museum — despite the fact it is yet to be given a location.
Fashion designer Tory Burch, the Walmart billionaire Alice L. Walton and the philanthropist Melinda Gates are among the major donors. “Together, we will create a museum that celebrates the women who have helped build this country,” Lisa Sasaki, the museum’s interim director said.
But the timeline for completing the museum remains uncertain as officials jostle for a prominent spot on Washington’s National Mall promenade that might instead go to another new Smithsonian institution, the National Museum of the American Latino. Congress is yet to designate who will get this prized spot. Despite the wait, 14 employees are working with an annual operating budget of nearly $2 million to create a wishlist for the institution’s collection. (Read more)
News from the UK
New Blockbuster | China’s lost century will be the subject of a major new exhibition at the British Museum this summer. 300 objects — over half on loan from around the world — will help showcase the resilience and creativity of individual people during a period of intense violence and turmoil during the 19th-century. (Read more)
Back Open | The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s “Modern Two” site will reopen next month. It was shuttered six months ago after telling the Scottish Parliament it was battling to “keep the lights on” due to the economic crisis. It reopens after securing a 9.8% increase in funding from the Scottish Government. (Read more)
Emergency Sale | The National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull has sold £3 million worth of its collection in order to stay afloat. Director James Hewing has spoken of the heartbreak of selling off some of the objects in its care, but said "It's partly because we received no help" after being overlooked for pandemic support. (Read more)
New Direction | There’s going to be a big shake up of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The body — which distributes £300 million of lottery money annually to heritage organisations — will no longer encourage new builds, and will intensify its investment in high streets, parks and gardens. “The fund will prefer the reuse of old buildings” its Chair has said. (Read more)
Coming Soon | Blockbuster artist Olafur Eliasson is to install a major new artwork on the Cumbrian coast — his first ever permanent work in Britain. It’s going to be a huge circular sky mirror which will reflect the sky at lowtide. You’ll have to wait though. This newsletter is told the timeframe is “within the next two years.” (Read more)
News from around the world
Canada | The Art Gallery of Ontario has announced the full details of its massive expansion. The £62 million project (wow!) will see a new wing for contemporary art built, adding five floors and 13 new galleries. It’ll be named after Canada Goose Chair Dani Reiss, who’s donated £22 million to the project. (Read more)
Germany | A museum in Berlin dedicated to LGBTQ culture was attacked by gunshots last week. The Schwules Museum said that windows, signs and an artwork on the exterior had been shot at. A member of the museum’s board said that staff face threats every day. (Read more)
Italy | Museum ‘starchitect’ Daniel Libeskind is to chair a jury to select the design of a new €75 million (£66m) science museum in Rome, due to open in 2027. Meanwhile, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples announced a major new wing AND an Alexander the Great exhibition will both opening this spring. (Read more)
Chile | A new moai — one of Easter Island’s iconic monolithic statues — has been found in a dried out lake. The lake bed has only been accessible recently after it began drying up in 2018. Researchers say the Rapa Nui people may have tried to move the statue during a previous time when the lake was dry. (Read more)
Australia | A boozy bash at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney resulted in a partygoer damaging an artwork by the South Korean artist Do Ho Suh. At an after-work private function, one reveller knocked into the piece, pulling down two of the doorways which made up the work. “Definitely going hard for a Monday night!” one guest said. (Read more)
Best of the rest
Opening Big | 52,000 visitors flocked to the £15 million revamped Manchester Museum in its opening week. Queues were a daily feature.
Opening Late | Madrid’s Prado Museum has announced that from 4 March it will stay open late on the first Saturday of every month — until 11:30pm!
The A-List | Paul McCartney, Elton John, Jools Holland and Tom Hanks posed for an iconic photo with David Hockney at the opening of his new show.
Trust Treats | A woman has completed a decade-long project to eat a scone at every National Trust site across Britain. That’s 244 locations - and lots of cream.
Museum Living | Fancy living above a museum? Of course you do. Why not snap up the penthouse above London’s Fashion and Textile Museum — it’s only £1.3 million!
You Here? | Want to advertise right here to boost brand awareness and enjoy clicks to your content? Drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoyed reading this while eating a giant chocolate chip cookie - oh dear.
Thank you Maxwell.