Museum of the Citizen: an events programme at museums across the UK

November 2015 – March 2016
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The British Museum, in collaboration with our UK museum partners, is holding a national conversation about the role of the British Museum beyond Bloomsbury; Museum of the Citizen. Over the next few months UK partners and the British Museum will host a series of events examining the social, political, financial and educational value of museums working in partnership around the country.

Museum of the Citizen follows the success of Museum of the Future, in 2014, when the British Museum hosted a series of debates with high profile speakers on different aspects of the future of museums. The Museum of the Citizen events will take place at Leicester’s New Walk Museum, The Manchester Museum, Norwich Castle Museum, Dorset County Museum, Glasgow Museums, and finally the British Museum.

hese five museums are part of the British Museum’s National Programmes scheme, which works with over 200 partners around the UK to share collections and expertise. As the world’s largest lender, the Museum is committed to sharing its collection and knowledge with the broadest possible audience. Whether through touring exhibitions, partnership galleries and long term object loans or collaborative programmes to share expertise and skills, this activity creates opportunities for the public to engage directly with history and culture, both local and global.

There will be a supporting digital programme as part of Museum of the Citizen. The British Museum is keen to encourage as many people as possible across the UK to participate in the discussion. What is the value of a nationwide collection, a museum of the citizen? How is the British Museum working in partnership with your local museum or gallery? What value does the partnership bring to your local community? What might future partnerships look like?

As part of Museum of the Citizen a group of cross-party MPs have generously agreed to act as British Museum Regional Champions, representing the nine English regions and three devolved nations. The group, who are members of the British Museum All-Party Parliamentary Group, will work with the Museum to ensure partner museums are informed of all opportunities for collaboration and will act as local champions to ensure the Museum works effectively across the UK.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said ‘The bedrock of the British Museum’s national programmes is strong partnerships. Together we can enrich local programmes and attract new visitors. Museum of the Citizen will consider how these partnerships can foster a keener interest in our outstanding cultural heritage, and in museums and galleries. I’m delighted that we now have the British Museum Regional Champions scheme to help promote and grow these partnerships.’

To join the debate use

The Museum of the Citizen Programme

Leicester Museum, 13 November 2015, 5:15 pm – 7:30 pm

The first Museum of the Citizen event, Young Citizens took its theme from Leicester’s commitment to supporting young people, and creating a prosperous and vibrant place to live and work. The event explored how museums help to build a sense of place and inspire audiences, and how partnerships with national museums help to achieve these aims. The panel included Liz Blyth, Director of Culture and Neighbourhood Services at Leicester City Council, Bonnie Greer, Tim Loughton MP, Chair of the British Museum All Party Parliamentary Group and Joanna Mackle, Deputy Director of the British Museum.

Norwich Castle Museum, 19 November 2015, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

This series of presentations followed by a panel discussion will take as its themes; Norfolk’s internationally important tourism offer including the developing Deep History Coast partnership and the growing links between the museum sector and the creative industries in the East of England. This follows Norwich Castle Museum’s recent awards for tourism and the record number of visitors it saw for British Museum touring exhibitions, such as Roman Empire, Power and People. The speakers will include George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council; Chris Michaels, Head of Digital and Publishing; Julia Farley, curator of the British Museum’s exhibition Celts: art and identity; Nick Ashton, curator of Palaeolithic Collection at the British Museum; and John Davies, chief curator and keeper of archaeology at Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.

The Manchester Museum, 4 December 2015, 12.15pm to 2.00pm

This panel discussion in Manchester will focus on plans for a new South Asia Gallery at Manchester Museum developed in partnership and featuring important loans from the British Museum. The new gallery will not only be an opportunity to explore Manchester’s historical connections with South Asia, but will be a platform to build stronger international and local relationships with the South Asian community. This debate will explore museum collections’ relationships with changing local communities and how key loans from a national collection can open new dialogues with the public. The panel will include Nick Merriman, Director of the Manchester Museum; and Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester,Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the British Museum Trustees and Richard Blurton, Curator of South Asia.

Dorset County Museum, date and time TBC

The British Museum worked with Dorset County Museum to bring a blockbuster touring exhibition of Egyptian material to Dorchester in 2011. The exhibition contributed to the museum securing investment and leverage for funding. Working with the Wessex Partnership of museums this event will explore the importance of partnership in funding and entrepreneurship.

Glasgow Museums, The Burrell Collection, February TBC.

British Museum, 4 March 2015

The British Museum will host an event exploring what the context of our National Programme and what being a partnership gallery means. The event will look at three case studies from partner museums. British Museum trustee Dame Liz Forgan will lead a panel discussion looking at the value of partnerships.

Notes to Editors

The British Museum across the UK:

  • The British Museum is recognised as the museum with the largest, most long-standing and inclusive UK programme, supporting hundreds of museum partners each year
  • Last year, three million people in the UK saw British Museum objects at venues outside of London – in addition to two million people from across the UK who visited us in Bloomsbury.
  • In 2014-15 the British Museum loaned over 2,800 objects to UK venues

British Museum Partnership galleries:

Since 2003 the British Museum has worked with a number of partner museums to develop a series of Partnership Galleries. The galleries are part of the displays at museums across the UK and are developed in collaboration with the British Museum to support research and object selection. The galleries are a combination of the fantastic collections at the partner museum and carefully chosen objects from the British Museum. The galleries represent an on-going curatorial relationship with the partner museum and include:

  • Yorkshire Museums Trust, Roman York
  • Great North Museum, Newcastle, Ancient Egyptian Gallery
  • Birmingham Museums Trust, Buddha Gallery
  • Royal Cornwall Museum, Ancient Worlds Gallery
  • Tullie House, Carlisle, Roman Gallery
  • Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow, Ancient Egyptian Gallery
  • Manchester Museum, Money Gallery
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