A quick round up of my goings on at MGS over the past month, as we have been busy working on behalf of the sector and getting out and about.
I started March with the fantastic news that we have been successful in achieving a stage one pass from HLF for Skills for Success, a continuation of our work in the Skills for the Future programme. This is a brilliant new project, which will enable museums to take on new non-graduate trainees to undertake our SVQ level 3 in Museums and Galleries practice and for some to take on leadership training. This will diversify new entry routes into the sector with a vocational framework to leadership. MGS will also become a new assessment centre which is super exciting! In early March I made a visit to Dundee with Diana Easton (from our Board) to catch up with Dundee Heritage Trust, visit RRS Discovery and to check out the new improved Verdant Works and the restored mill house one. Yes, there is an anorak in me, and the sight of their gorgeous original Boulton and Watt engine working put a massive smile on my face! (I secretly have the YouTube film on my phone to cheer me up in dull moments… not that there many of those at MGS!)
My next visit was to the Western Isles, to celebrate the opening of the Lews Castle Museum and Archives. The building looks stunning and it was great to see some of the items on loan from NMS and the British Museum. The restored castle will soon be opening as a boutique hotel (run by partners Natural Retreats), a really enterprising way of bringing new income to the service. This theme continued the next day as myself and Board members Trish Botten and Manus Fullerton took a visit to Harris to visit two of the small independent museums there. Ravenspoint was an inspiring village social enterprise with a museum, village store, café and Youth Hostel. They have done great work re-displaying the lovely and important collections as well as refurbishing and improving their Youth Hostel. The drive, energy and enthusiasm for the project was really great to see!
We then went onto to Kinloch Museum, who have taken the social enterprise to a truly inspiring level. Here we have the museum, café, and a charity shop raising funds to support their work with local heritage. Creatively, they have installed a coin operated launderette to generate income, which is proving to be hugely popular… attracting people from as far as 35 miles away! Kinloch have ambitious plans to completely redevelop their building, which was the village primary school, making it a green and energy-efficient building, and I have no doubt they will realise their plans.
I had the privilege of being on the opening panel for the Association of Cultural Enterprises annual conference: hosted in Scotland for the first time, and boasting the largest attendance they have ever had!
Next it was over the Firth of Forth to visit the Scottish Fisheries Museum for the Industrial Museums Scotland meeting, whose great marketing campaign Go Industrial! looks fab! The Museum was looking very smart, with a newly refurbish shop and tea room, which does very well from both visitors and regular local clients.
I went from here to attend the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival, which will have some of their programme happening in the newly refurbished St Cecilia’s Hall, which holds one of our Recognised Collections.
My month ended on a real high with the Arts and Business Awards, a glittering occasion at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. We were delighted to announce the winner of the Enterprising Museum of the Year as Auchindrain Township, for their truly inspirational project, Runrig (run in partnership with Xchange Scotland). Congratulations to them: as Bob said on the night, this is the first time they have ever won anything! It is so important to celebrate and recognise the amazing work our rich and diverse museums are carrying out all over Scotland. I am looking forward to seeing some of that innovation and fun being showcased in our Festival of Museums in May.