the Cartoon Museum needs your help
plus: Colston's back on dry land, and the Duchess of Cambridge wants your lockdown photos
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hello again. the news feels like its running at light speed right now. the world of museums is no different: my news roundup below includes 3 stories that have broken in the last 12 hours. i know that sending these newsletters every 2 weeks means there are plenty of stories you might be missing in between. i’m really keen that maxwell museums keeps you updated with all the latest news you need to know, so i’m introducing a new ‘catch up’ edition to go out in the weeks either side of this main edition. it’ll round up the news links just like it does below - and nothing else - so you won’t miss important stories. and it means you’ll now get an update from me every week. so keep an eye on your inbox. i’m very excited, so if you have a friend or colleague you think might also like this, then please share my newsletter using the button below.
i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: there is a massive financial crisis happening right now in museums that is going to go on and on. independent museums are the first to bear the brunt (others will follow), so this week i spoke to Joe Sullivan, Director of the Cartoon Museum, to find out how they are coping and why they’ve launched an emergency crowdfunding campaign to save them. i hugely appreciate Joe’s candour. do please give it a read.
let’s dive in.
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catch up // NEWS
ICYMI: the statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan outside the Museum of London Docklands is no more. BBC News
meanwhile in Bristol: toppled statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled out of the water of the city’s harbour at dawn today and is heading for the local museum. Sky News
and the plinth? Bristol based Banksy has an idea of what to do with Colston’s newly vacated plinth. Bristol Live
terrible news: 500 jobs are due to be slashed at the National Trust for Scotland and historic sites mothballed for 2 years. The National
first class history: Royal Mail and the British Museum have launched a collection of new stamps celebrating Roman Britain. ITV News
got a spare £1m? British Airways is selling off its art collection to raise much needed cash. Hirsts, Emins and Rileys will all reportedly go under the hammer. Evening Standard
new arrivals: stunning (and MASSIVE) new public artworks have been unveiled inside the new terminal hall at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, including one of largest mosaics in the world. artnet news
très bien: the Eiffel Tower is reopening after its longest closure since World War II. France 24
HRH NPG: the Duchess of Cambridge has celebrated the 12,000 “amazing” entries to her coronavirus photographic project for the National Portrait Gallery. but in a new video message, she urges for more entries. MailOnline
‘dazzling’: the National Gallery in London has acquired its first painting by the Spanish impressionist Joaquín Sorolla. The Guardian
pandemic makeover: the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has released new greetings cards of its masterpieces, but with added 😷. CNN
all 8 Roman Britain stamps released by the Royal Mail in collaboration with the British Museum
listen up // INTERVIEW
while every museum is facing a financial crisis due to coronavirus, independent museums are likely to be the hardest hit (in the short term at least) because they make the majority of their income through ticket sales. for some it is going to be a fight for survival. the Cartoon Museum in London is one such institution. after a £1 million move to a new home in Fitzrovia in July last year, it began 2020 with record visitor numbers and an aim of doubling annual attendance within 3 years. in March, it closed its doors and furloughed its entire staff. new Director, Joe Sullivan - who only started in the role five months ago – talks candidly to me about the struggles they face.
how was it when you first closed the Museum back in March?
We initially made the decision to stay open as long as possible, because as a small independent, virtually all of our money comes through the door. But we didn't expect the closure to be quite as extensive as it's been. I didn't expect visitor numbers to go downhill so quickly. We could see people losing confidence in coming to a public site, and then I think on the last day before we closed, we had five people through the door. It just dropped off a cliff.
how long will the legacy of this period go on financially? are you going to have to hole in your budget for the foreseeable future?
Yeah. This is going to be at least three years, through to 2023. I think that's when we'll start to fully come out. And I think the reason for that is that it will take a year to get us back towards full visitor confidence and full numbers. That puts us back a place that we were in this January . It's something that will linger for quite a while.
you set up a fundraising page to raise the £150,000 you need to see you through until at least the end of the year. how’s that gone, are you happy with where it is at the moment?
We’re really thankful for the support we’ve received so far, but we were hoping for a larger response overall. What we're probably struggling with at the moment is converting people from "oh the Cartoon Museum is good" to "I want to donate to them." We've had several hundred pounds donated by various people, which is really great. But the scale is the problem at the moment. So we're still working on other fundraising ideas.
are you worried about other museums: the competition for money and attention?
I think the main worry when it comes to competition is for grants. I fear, actually, that the funding bodies might prop up and elongate the lives of museums that would otherwise have gone out of business pre-coronavirus, and who will then probably go back out of business because they were already on course for that. But in the meantime other museums, which previously were absolutely fine and just needed their support to get through six months, will also be left by the wayside and you end up with a wider variety of closures.
museums and other industries like pubs are saying that it's not economical to be open unless you can get the numbers in. is that something you are worried about? that you'll need to guarantee a certain number of visitors in order to make it economical?
It likely won't be the case that we're going to open back six days straight away, because we won't be able to afford that. But we’ve got really no choice but to open and hope people come in. And if people don't come in, we'll put staff towards other income generating activities and things like that. But we will probably have an 80% drop [in visitors] at least.
when do you think you might be reopening?
We're aiming for October or November, I think it's most likely to be November because once the furlough period ends we kind of have no choice but to bring staff back in some capacity.
the new home of the Cartoon Museum in London
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last up // AND FINALLY
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