Dorset County Museum awarded National Portfolio Organisation Status by the Arts Council

Dorset County Museum have been awarded National Portfolio Organisation status by Arts Council England. In doing so are set to share in a £1.2 million investment into the Museum of Dorset and Wiltshire.

Wessex Museums Partnership

The Wessex Museum Partnership, a consortium of four museums, led by the Poole Museum Service together with Dorset County Museum, Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum have been entrusted by the Arts Council to deliver their 2018-22 strategic plan entitled ‘Great Art and Culture for Everyone’.

The Arts Council has recognised 831 National Portfolio Organisations that meet and exceed its stringent standards of best practice, with 103 based in the South West region.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be able to renew our funding to organisations in Dorset and are proud to be welcoming three new and diverse organisations who will significantly widen the reach across Dorset and beyond”.

Dorset County Museum Director, Jon Murden, exclaimed: “We are delighted by this vote of confidence in the Wessex Museums Partnership and the Dorset County Museum. We will be enhancing our outreach and community offer across the county, developing our special exhibition programme and improving the conservation and care of our collections with this investment.

“The Museum’s ambitious redevelopment plan is to create ‘Tomorrows Museum – Making Dorset Proud’ and today’s announcement is a recognition that this statement. Everyone involved with the Museum should be congratulated as they are part of this success”. Jon added.

This award comes soon after the National History Museum confirmed that Dorset County Museum will be the first stop on Dippy’s National Tour, an event that is already looking to be a sell-out success.

Dippy arrives at the Museum in Dorchester on 10 February 2018. Tickets will be limited and launched in August but you can register your interest by visiting www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection Exhibition extended to 23rd January 2016

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011)

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011) PHG © 2015

Dorset County Museum is pleased to confirm that the current exhibition St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection has been extended and will run until Saturday 23rd January 2016.

Director of Dorset County Museum, Dr Jon Murden commented “This has already proved to be a very popular exhibition, and I’m really pleased that it will be staying in Dorset for three extra weeks, giving locals and visitors alike the chance to come and see it.”

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

Marking the centenary of George Dannatt’s birth in 1915, the exhibition explores one of Dorset’s most significant art collections – that assembled by George and Ann Dannatt.
The collection includes a largely unseen and newly conserved group of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints by key figures associated with the St Ives Group of Artists in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and John Tunnard.

The collection is one of the most significant private collections of its type, not least because Dannatt was a friend of many of the artists, and was himself an abstract artist. A selection of his own works will be included in the display, as well as archival photographs of the Dannatts with their artist friends and rare artists’ books and illustrated volumes. In addition to the St Ives Group, the collection includes works by artists associated with a poetic strain of Neo-Romanticism in Britain, including Paul Nash, David Jones, Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan, as well as interesting prints by international artists such as Jean Arp and Eduardo Chillida.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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The Place of St Ives by Brandon Taylor, Professor Emeritus of History of Art, University of Southampton

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

On Thursday 10th December at 7.30pm, Dorset County Museum invites you to come to an interesting and informative talk about British modern art which complements the current temporary exhibition at Dorset County Museum, St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection.

The talk will consider the character of ‘The St Ives School’ of painters and sculptors during the 1940s and 1950s, the nature of their links to the coastal environment, and the relation of their work to transatlantic and European tendencies of the day.

Professor Taylor is currently a visiting Tutor in History and Theory of Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. His latest publications are After Constructivism (Yale University Press 2014) and St Ives and British Modernism (Pallant House Gallery Chichester 2015).

This talk is on Thursday 10th December 2015, Dorset County Museum, 7.30pm
(doors open at 7.00pm) and is open to everyone and is FREE of charge, although we do encourage a donation of £3 to cover costs.

For further information and other forthcoming events contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

New Exhibition: St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011)

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011) PHG © 2015

Opening on Saturday, 3rd October 2015 and marking the centenary of George Dannatt’s birth in 1915, this new exhibition at Dorset County Museum will explore one of Dorset’s most significant and discerning art collections – that assembled by George and Ann Dannatt over a period of 50 years at their modernist home on the Dorset-Wiltshire border.

Left as a gift to the Pallant House Gallery, the collection includes a largely unseen and newly conserved group of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints by key figures associated with the St Ives Group of Artists in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The featured artists include John Wells, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and John Tunnard. The artist Turner visited St Ives in 1811, and the modest Cornish fishing port has been a hub for artists attracted to the quality of light, mild climate and beautiful coastal scenery ever since.

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

The collection is one of the most significant private collections of its type, not least because Dannatt (1915 – 2009) was a friend of many of the artists, and was himself an abstract artist. Born in Blackheath, London he became a chartered surveyor and freelance music critic. From 1948 he started to visit Dorset taking photographs while roaming the coast with his old artist friend John Wells. The photographs proved inspirational to his work, and many of them are held at Dorset County Museum.
In 1993 Dannatt exhibited at Dorset County Museum in association with his book ‘One Way of Seeing’. In Dannatt’s Artist’s Statement for the exhibition he explained “Every artist creates through a process of abstraction from what he sees. One of the significant influences in my work is that of the form and pattern in landscape. This influence, more fully and more slowly

evolved in my later work, found its beginnings in my response to the Wessex and Cornish scene. Where the work becomes purely abstract, where colour and texture are intrinsic, the forms still derive from this same experience.”

Dorset County Museum is lucky enough to own two of Dannatt’s paintings, Ancient Landscape 1982 and Poundbury Landscape, Dorset 1997. These will both be included in the exhibition along with a wider selection of Dannatt’s works, as well as archival photographs of the Dannatts with their artist friends and rare artists’ books and illustrated volumes.

Dannatt also spent time in Wiltshire before heading down to Cornwall in the early 1960s where he began to paint seriously. From 1970 to 1983 he was a regular exhibitor at the St Ives Penwith Gallery and from 1973 he also exhibited at the Newlyn Art Gallery. In addition to the St Ives Group, the collection includes works by artists associated with a poetic strain of Neo-Romanticism in Britain, including Paul Nash, David Jones, Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan, as well as interesting prints by international artists such as Jean Arp and Eduardo Chillida.

This exhibition at Dorset County Museum will run from 3rd October 2015 to 2 January 2016.  Standard museum admissions apply.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Dorset County Museum wins £10.3 million Heritage Lottery Funding

Cross-Section Artist Impression of Dorset County Museum Redevelopment Project - Carmody Groarke © 2015

Cross-Section Artist Impression of Dorset County Museum Redevelopment Project – Carmody Groarke © 2015

Dorset County Museum has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new Collections Discovery Centre project, it was announced today. The main aims of the project are to provide a new state of the art learning centre, better archive and storage facilities and better public access to displays of the Museum’s vast collection.

This will be achieved through the sensitive yet contemporary redevelopment of the current building, which will transform Dorset County Museum’s facilities and double its visitor numbers. There will be new gallery spaces, an area for researchers to work and open workshop spaces so the public can see for themselves the fascinating inner workings of the museum. There will also be a new shop and tearoom, accessible from the street. The award of initial stage one funding of £483,900 will enable a detailed two year development plan to take place ahead of final submission to the HLF in May 2017. This would enable building work to start in 2017 and the Collections Discovery Centre to be opened to the public by 2020.

The Museum is housed in the centre of Dorchester in a beautiful high Victorian gothic building of architectural importance which will be carefully preserved during the works. The 1883 Crickmay Building which housed the Museum originally along with the stunning Victorian Hall will be conserved, and John White’s historic sixteenth century rectory will be sensitively restored.

More than 45,000 people visit the Museum every year, along with 5,000 local school children. It is anticipated that the new Collections Discovery Centre will become a focal point for locals and visitors to Dorset alike, attracting twice as many visitors in the years to come.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said “This is a brilliant and exciting opportunity for Dorset. For the first time we will have the space to do justice to our amazing collections, whilst ensuring they are safely preserved for future generations to enjoy. We would like to thank all of the organisations and individuals who have supported us with this bid. In particular we would like to thank, Arts Council England, Wessex Museums Partnership, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council and Dorchester Town Council.”

Dr Peter Down, Chairman of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society continued “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of the Dorset County Museum to the people of Dorset, and also recognises our commitment to learning with the new education centre. This very generous grant will allow us to increase the small number of staff, and give space to the many volunteers on which the museum relies heavily. As the County Museum, we can now look forward to working even more closely with our partner museums and other conservation Trusts within the whole of Dorset.”

The Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, Patron of the Dorset County Museum Development Appeal, added “This project will enable the Museum to bring world class exhibitions to the local area, and develop its role as a cultural and community hub for a range of events and activities. By 2020, while retaining and respecting its Victorian roots, the Museum will have been completely transformed into a modern, sustainable heritage service that serves twice as many visitors, making an even more significant contribution to the local economy.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West said “From the spectacular Weymouth Bay pliosaur to the largest Thomas Hardy collection in the world, the collections at Dorset County Museum provide an unrivalled picture of 185 million years of our area’s heritage. We’re thrilled to support these plans which will transform the museum, preserve their incredible collections and finally enable visitors to get a true insight into Dorset’s past. We look forward to seeing the plans develop.”

Cllr Peter Wharf, the Dorset County Council‘s representative on the museum’s board, said: “This is really excellent news for Dorset. The museum is a real asset for residents and visitors alike and the county council has worked closely with them to help bring in this significant injection of funds which will benefit so many people. I look forward to being involved in this exciting project to develop a first class facility.”

Robin Potter, Mayor of Dorchester says “On behalf of the Town Council and the people of the town can I express our absolute delight at the success of the Museum’s lottery bid. The project will not only allow the Museum to provide a fitting home for the storage, interpretation and research into Dorset’s fascinating history; it will also become the essential cornerstone that the town’s Tourism sector has been looking for to stimulate significantly increased interest in visiting Dorchester to explore the town’s rich cultural heritage, creating more jobs and a more diverse local economy. The Town Council is keen now to do its part in helping Dorset County Museum raise the remaining, but not inconsiderable, £3 Million needed to make the scheme a reality.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: ‘This is terrific news – we are delighted that Dorset County Museum has been successful in its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ve been supporting the museum to develop the skills and capacity they need to become more resilient and our investment has helped them plan a sustainable future with vision and confidence. Now we’re looking forward to working with staff and stakeholders as they deliver this exciting project.’

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