northern spirit

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'Northern Spirit: 'Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums (Laing Art Gallery) in partnership with the International Centre for Culture and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University. Delivered by Julie Milne, Curator of the Laing Art Gallery, at the Museums Association Conference October 2010.


  • 1. Northern Spirit Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums (Laing Art Gallery) in partnership with the International Centre for Culture and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University Julie Milne Curator of the Laing Art Gallery

2. The Project The redevelopment of an important permanent display - Art on Tyneside - at the Laing Art Gallery and the study of how people construct identities in reference to place (North-East of England) and its visual representations. Funding: HLF 250,00 DCMS capital 300,000 Newcastle City Council 100,000 DCMS Wolfson 225,00 AHRC Museums 345,637 3. Laing Art Gallery Newcastle Upon Tyne TWAM: 12 museums and galleries across Tyne and Wear Laing opened in 1904, major art museum of the North East Collection fine and decorative arts designated as outstanding Exhibition programme of historic and contemporary art Visitor figures 270,000 per year 4. Art on Tyneside Ground breaking in its time (1991 ) placing art in an accessible and contextualised format that reached new audiences Displays included mixed media, sound, interactive puzzles, clear text and historical context 19 years old , still valued by visitors display needed updating and relevant for new audiences in a City which has seen huge cultural change over the intervening years 5. Northern Spirit Celebrates the art of the North East. It includes works by internationally important artists : John Martin, Victor Pasmore and Thomas Bewick alongside glass, silver and ceramics. The displays tell the stories of the lives of the artists and makers, and their relationship to the North East 6. Aims of Northern Spirit To build on the success of AOT and enable people to experience the collections in new ways by improving interpretation and the public space To reinstate and enhance the original gallery space in terms of architectural integrity To foreground the quality of the collections that are of and about the North East Ensure that users have a stake in the development of the Laing offer and to participate in the interpretation of the historic collections 7. Reasons for partnership working Provide additional resources, access to research expertise and new perspectives. To specifically support the redevelopment of a gallery at the Laing Art Gallery To develop staff (and the organisation) through engagement with an academic team To further develop the relationship between TWAM and ICCHS 8. Challenges faced in establishing or maintaining partnership/how these were overcome Distinct research and gallery aims (research outcomes vs display outcomes) Construction of joint project documentation with shared aims Joint project board with shared chairing etc Practical issues re sorting out budgets etc Open discussion; strong trust relationship between partners and commitment to solving problems Difference in timetables Open relationship, discussion of issues, strong trust relationship Different working methods/styles between academic and practitioner teams Open relationship, discussion of issues, strong trust relationship 9. How the experience of partnership working compares to your expectations More collaborative More reflective More consultative Interpretation closely woven together 10. Benefits of the Partnership Complementary expertise Staff development - curatorial - concept tested Worked together to target particular audiences and shared specific techniques that are appropriate Access academic research - whilst staff are engaged in knowledge based activities all the time, we are generally not resourced to carry out academic research at this level Added richness and depth to interpretation with new perspectives from participants


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