Cultural exchange: Bury Art Museum earns heritage awards nomination for flying exhibition to China

By Ed Owen

Bury Art Museum has made the shortlist of a national award for a pioneering plan to export the best of the region’s art to China.

The museum was nominated in the Trading and Enterprise category of the Museums and Heritage Awards 2013 for its International Touring Exhibition Model.

The team at the museum came up with plans to ‘sell’ exhibitions commercially to international galleries, showcasing their pieces to a wider audience.

Tony Trehy, Bury’s arts and museums manager, said: “We identified this as a new way of generating revenue and extending international connections by using our most significant asset – our historic collection of art.

“We recognised that we can generate income directly from the collection and by marketing exhibitions to foreign art institutions.

“Bury Art Museum is now leading a consortium of  the Greater Manchester Museums Group generating international touring exhibitions drawn from the region’s great art collections.”

Bury is up against museum titans such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Museums Liverpool, Blenheim Palace and Titanic Belfast.

In November 2012 the first exhibition from the consortium, “Toward Modernity: Three Centuries of British Art”, began its tour of six venues in China.

The exhibition included work from artists including Turner and other paintings, prints, drawings and watercolours from the North West, and opened at The World Art Museum in Beijing as part of the UK Now festival.

The biggest ever festival of British arts and creative industries held in China, it was organised in part to celebrate the connection between China and the UK as consecutive hosts of the Olympic Games.

Bury Art Museum worked with the British Council to develop links with arts organisations in China and to learn about trade and commerce between the two countries.

The winners of the Museum and Heritage Wards will be announced at a ceremony on 15 May, hosted by Sue Perkins.

Calais sands at low water, by JMW Turner courtesy of Bury Art Museum, via wikimedia commons. With thanks.

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