Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Preserving Pottery in Stoke

In Museum [Insider], new content on June 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

There’s an interesting new project taking place at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent.

Facing financial difficulties in a tough economic climate as a working factory making specialist goods, the pottery has ended up entering into a deal with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, a major charity which cares for the built heritage of the nation. In a bold economic move they have secured funding which has enabled them (or their subsidary at least) to purchase the site of the Pottery.

Over the next few years they will refurbish the parts of the site that are in need of attention, meanwhile leasing part of the factory back to the pottery. Some of the vacant buildings will become a new visitor centre, while others will house commercial operations.

This all means that the factory gets to stay open; the workers get to keep their jobs; new jobs get created; the buildings are preserved and the whole area gets an economic boost. Oh, and we get a new museum/visitor centre as well!

Clever, eh? Win win for everyone. So in, fact it’s more than preserving pottery – it’s promoting growth. There’s an article all about it on Museum [Insider] now, of course.

There are a few interesting project funding models like this around in the heritage sector at the moment. I’m sure there’ll be an article out about that before too long. Watch this space …..


‘Glasgow Guggenheim’ is here

In Museums on June 23, 2011 at 10:12 am

This week the new Riveside Museum in Glasgow has opened its doors to the public. I got to pay the site a visit a few weeks ago when they were in the process of putting the finishing touches to the display. It’s a magnificent building, standing proudly at the edge of the city in an area of redvelopment. It’s a striking, modern space from the new superstar of museum design, Zaha Hadid.

In the past this project has been dubbed the ‘Glasgow Guggenheim‘ due to its architectural similarities with the Bilbao museum. That’s not necessarily true inside, but the flow and curves of the roof here and the striking position on the riveride do certainly draw comparisons between the two buildings.

The glass window to the right of this picture faces out onto the river, while the rest of the building snakes away in a large S-shape, with another huge glazed facade at the ‘front’ of the building. And due to the clever work of the strucutral engineers on this project, there are no supporting columns anywhere in the interior of the space – that amazing roof is entirely self-supporting.

The museum is proud to tell us that they presently have on display twice the number of objects that were on show in the old transport museum – and being inside this space, you can tell. It’s packed with objects from floor to ceiling, although it’s interesting to note that hardly any of the interpretation is against a wall. Event Communciations have masterminded the interpretation and display, allowing objects to tell stories in a variety of ways using installations on pedastals, many of which can be moved out of the way or replaced in the future, alowing for the display to be amended and updated in the future.

I strongly recommend you go see it for yourself.

Windows. No, not Microsoft …

In Dulwich OnView, new content on June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Hmmm, windows are rather interesting things aren’t they?

Thin pieces of glass – a very fragile substance. They allow us to peer out and they allow us to see in. Stained and decorated they can become works of art. And straight-edged frames allow us to create ever-changing pictures on the walls of our homes.

What of the metaphor of a window?
They have been used in various shapes on TV (by Playschool), as a brand name for Microsoft and as the settings for a variety of works of art.

I’ve started a new series of articles for Dulwich OnView based around the Rembrandt painting in Dulwich Picture Gallery Girl at a Window. I found myself wondering who she was and what she was looking out at. Indeed the enigmatic nature of this painting is part of its appeal why it has been so popular at DPG over the years.

So, my take on this is called Boy at a Window. In each article over the next few months I will be looking out of a different window and musing on why the building in which it is situated is interesting or significant to me. The first two pieces are online already on DOV:

Boy at a Window: Dulwich Picture Gallery
Boy at a Window 2: Brockwell Hall

There’ll be more to follow. If you think of a window in Dulwich you’d like me to look through, then give me a shout.


A Castle Fit for a King (once again)

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on June 2, 2011 at 10:15 am

King John’s Castle in Limerick is preparing to start work on a major redevelopment project.  Built by the nasty King John of England almost 800 years ago, the castle has not been performing quite as well as it could do as a visitor attraction and heritage centre. So Shannon Development – a regional developement agency in south-west Ireland – has received 5.7 million Euro in funding to work on the site, improving the visitor offer and facilities, including reworking the interpretation of the site.

I spoke with the project manager at the castle and wrote the piece up for an article on Museum [Insider]. The site is planned to stay open during the redevelopment work, which is expected to be complete by summer 2012.