Museum news: Nottingham Castle closes and the British Museum brings ancient Egypt to Middlesbrough

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

Nottingham Castle closes

Nottingham Castle has closed to visitors until further notice, just 18 months after the site reopened following a three-year, £33 million transformation of its galleries and grounds (see CA 385).

Nottingham Castle Trust, which ran the attraction on behalf of the city council, has gone into liquidation, and in November released a statement paying tribute to the ‘immense dedication of staff and volunteers’ and thanking the ‘thousands of visitors that have been through our gates’. They highlighted that, while improving, visitor numbers had been ‘highly unpredictable and significantly below forecasts, mirroring the difficulties seen across the whole cultural sector.’

IMAGE: Tracey Whitefoot

The site has now been handed back to Nottingham City Council, which has pledged to reopen the site as soon as possible. In a statement, Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis (portfolio holder for leisure, culture, and planning) said: ‘The council’s immediate priority is to work with the appointed liquidators to support those staff at the Castle who have been affected by this sad news, and to safeguard the site and its collections while it is not operational… Once we have a clearer picture from the liquidators, we will explore all available options together with our key partners the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, and others to develop a fresh business model.’

British Museum in your classroom

A new pilot project has seen the British Museum partnering with Middlesbrough Museums and two local primary schools to create ancient Egyptian-themed displays that will feature in an exhibition currently running at the Dorman Museum.

Entitled ‘The British Museum in your classroom’, the initiative aims to improve access to historical objects and cultural experiences for children and young people outside major cities. In the pilot undertaking, pupils from St Joseph’s RC in Middlesbrough and Billingham South Community Primary School were able to select an object from the British Museum’s collections to be part of their display, and to meet Loretta Kilroe, one of the BM’s curators of Egypt and Sudan, via Zoom for advice and guidance on how to set up their exhibition.

IMAGE: British Museum

The chosen object – an ancient Egyptian canopic jar (above) – represents the first time a British Museum object has been requested for loan by schoolchildren. Its selection also revealed an unexpected insight into the artefact’s past: hundreds of years ago, someone had placed the wrong lid on the jar, something that was only realised by museum staff during the recent project.

Some of the pieces from each school’s display will be included in Ancient Egyptians: secrets of the afterlife, which is running at the Dorman Museum until 26 February, and which was also created in partnership with the British Museum.

The Dorman Museum is open 10am-4pm Tuesday to Sunday. Entry to the museum and the exhibition is free; see www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/news/dorman-museum-reveals-secrets-afterlife-ancient-egypt for more details.


Injecting Hope: the race for a COVID-19 vaccine

Science Museum, London
Until 7 January 2024


Medieval Britain in Colour: 500 years of illuminated manuscripts

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Until 22 January 2023

The Afterlife of Mary Queen of Scots

Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow
Until 5 February 2023

Legacies of Empire

National War Museum, Edinburgh Castle
Until 29 January 2023

Hampi: photography and archaeology in southern India

British Library, London
Until 22 January 2023

Refugees from National Socialism in Wales: learning from the past for the future

Until 29 January 2023
Aberystwyth Arts Centre