Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by Imperial War Museums [SCE 001]

Summary

IWM has made a very significant contribution to the creative economy. This can be demonstrated in the following ways:

· Film – IWM’s moving image collection was the world’s first film archive. Now, we run an annual film festival, open to students and amateur filmmakers, it is a public showcase for innovative work that incorporates archive footage from IWM or responds to IWM exhibitions and collections more broadly.

· Publishing – our collections are rich and diverse. As such, they have provided inspiration for a wealth of authors, from The Night Watch by Sarah Waters to the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker. We also publish a large range of books linked to our exhibitions and archives. These books are published in-house as well as in partnership with other publishers.

· Art – our collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world. It includes many great works of art from the British government war art schemes of the First and Second World Wars. Today we continue to commission artists such as Steve McQueen, Roddy Buchanan and Susan Philipsz, and the collection reflects recent and contemporary conflicts including Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

· Architecture – at IWM London, we are working with Foster + Partners to deliver an innovative architectural design that will transform our flagship branch. We recently opened a stunning sculptural bronze entrance at the Churchill War Rooms. Our IWM North building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is an iconic design which continues to inspire.

· Engineering – IWM Duxford is the European centre of aviation history. The historic site, outstanding collections of exhibits and regular world-renowned Air Shows, combine to create a unique museum where history really is in the air. The conservation team at IWM Duxford are primarily responsible for the restoration, conservation and maintenance of the large and aircraft and vehicle collections at all of our branches, and as such, are leading experts on industrial conservation and engineering techniques.

1. Film

1.1 IWM’s moving image collection was the world’s first film archive. Now, we run an annual film festival, open to students and amateur filmmakers, it is a public showcase for innovative work that incorporates archive footage from IWM or responds to IWM exhibitions and collections more broadly.

1.2 The festival not only contributes to the professional training of young film and television producers, it also creates greater awareness of our film archive. Many of the winning students have gone on to successful careers in the film and television industry.

1.3 We seek to widen access to our collections in many different ways. The digitally restored IWM film-The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks (1917)-the official record of the British Army’s winter campaign on the Somme in 1916 and the sequel to The Battle of the Somme was premiered at BFI’s London Film Festival on Sunday 21 October 2012. The restoration was carried out by Prime Focus with the support of the Discovery Networks, and many staff in our Film Archive and Research have contributed to this project.

2. Publishing

2.1 Our collections are rich and diverse. As such, they have provided inspiration for a wealth of authors, from The Night Watch by Sarah Waters to the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker. We also publish a large range of books linked to our exhibitions and archives. These books are published in-house as well as in partnership with other publishers.

2.2 Our brand licensing programme is growing, with IWM products featuring in Waitrose, Fenwick and Lakeland shops. The licensing programme makes imaginative use of the richness of our collections, especially the strong art and photography holdings, and draws on the historical knowledge of IWM.

3. Art

3.1 Our collection is exceptional; it is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world. It includes many great works of art from the British government war art schemes of the First and Second World Wars.

3.2 It includes many great works of art from the British government war art schemes of the First and Second World Wars, which employed the greatest artists of their day, including leaders of the avant garde. These included Paul Nash, C R W Nevinson, John Singer Sargent and Sir William Orpen.

3.3 Today we continue to commission artists such as Steve McQueen, Roddy Buchanan and Susan Philipsz, and the collection reflects recent and contemporary conflicts including Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

3.4 Important works from outside official schemes can also be found in the collection, by artists ranging from Edward Burra to Willie Doherty. The collection of almost 20,000 items includes paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture, and works in media such as photography, sound, and film. IWM also holds the unique War Artists Archive, which reveals the day-to-day running of the war art schemes and gives fascinating glimpses of the artists' experiences.

3.5 The IWM Art Commissions Committee aims to commission original, ambitious artwork on contemporary conflict, a function and principle established at the Museum’s inception in 1917. IWM has a long and important tradition of official artist commissions dating back to the First World War which have resulted in some of the greatest works of art by British artists made during this period.

3.6 Steve McQueen was awarded the commission in 2003 to produce a work in response to British military operations in Iraq. The result of this commission was Queen and Country, a work that has been widely exhibited across the UK since its completion in 2007. Commemorating the British Service personnel killed during the Iraq conflict, the project takes the form of a series of postage stamp sheets featuring photographic portraits. It is both a tribute to those men and women who have lost their lives and a reflection upon the validity of war, the structure of power and notions of national identity.

3.7 The tour of this work (at over ten national venues) included Manchester Central Library as part of the Manchester International Festival, St George’s Hall as part of the Liverpool Biennial, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

3.8 Queen and Country provides a tangible example of where and how IWM seeks to challenge audience perceptions and ideas and encourage deeper thinking about conflict, in particular through the lens of human behaviour.

"This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Queen and Country is a particularly important and meaningful work for me in that it is a collaboration with the families of the deceased and potentially with the whole nation." Steve McQueen

". . . In a very unusual way, with clarity and dignity, [this work] deals with the never changing fact that the real currency of war is not territory or fossil fuels but human lives." Bill Woodrow, Chair of the IWM Art Commissions Committee

3.9 Art commissions allow IWM to sustain its relevance to and resonance with new and existing audiences. Most recently, Roderick Buchanan has been commissioned to produce a work in response to the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

4. Architecture

4.1 In line with our masterplan for the IWM estate, we are delivering capital development plans that upgrade the visitor offer, improve the efficiency and commercial viability of our operation, and address longstanding collections storage issues.

4.2 At IWM London, we are working with Foster + Partners to deliver an innovative architectural design that will transform our flagship branch.

4.3 We recently opened a stunning sculptural bronze entrance at the Churchill War Rooms. The entrance was created by expert craftsmen to create a clear and striking entry point to a historic site of national significance (in a sensitive heritage context)

4.4 Our IWM North building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, is an iconic design which continues to inspire. It was the first building in the UK by the internationally acclaimed architect, Daniel Libeskind, who has also recently been behind the masterplan for the Ground Zero site in New York.

4.5 Clad in aluminium, IWM North’s landmark building is a visionary symbol of the effects of war. The jagged shape of the Air Shard stands out on the Manchester skyline. The design is based on the concept of a world shattered by conflict, a fragmented globe reassembled in three interlocking shards.

4.6 Daniel Libeskind commented: "When I began to work on the competition for Imperial War Museum North, I was deeply challenged by the notion of creating a place that was at once intimate and civic. A place in which the story of the significance, sacrifice, tragedy and destiny of conflict can come alive. My aim was to create a building, not only intelligently programmed for the events which were to take place in it, but one which emotionally moved the soul of the visitor toward a sometimes unexpected realization. Conflict is not simply a story with a happy or unhappy ending, but an ongoing momentum that structures one’s understanding of the future in relation to the past."

4.7 Many of our visitors to IWM North are inspired by the building itself, and through our audience evaluation programmes, we understand how important the physical design of this site is in terms of establishing, and ultimately meeting, visitor expectations.

5. Engineering

5.1 As the European centre of aviation history, IWM Duxford is both a historic site, housing and displaying outstanding collections of exhibits and regular world-renowned Air Shows, and a popular visitor attraction.

5.2 A significant part of the public appeal rests in the conservation in action work that can be viewed. The conservation team at IWM Duxford are primarily responsible for the restoration, conservation and maintenance of the large and aircraft and vehicle collections at all of our branches, and as such, are leading experts on industrial conservation and engineering techniques.

5.3 Our team of Conservation Officers and Conservation Assistants are all highly experienced technical specialists, capable of dealing with the full spectrum of restoration and maintenance tasks, using a wide variety of equipment and tools to work on a broad range of materials, including different types of fabrics, woods and metals.

5.4 Our work is supported by many volunteers, who make an important contribution to a variety of conservation projects on site. We enjoy a worldwide reputation for excellence that could not be achieved without the contribution of these dedicated volunteers who work alongside our own full-time staff.

5.5 The Duxford Aviation Society membership exceeds 600. IWM Duxford has also run an HLF-funded National Aviation Heritage Skills Initiative programme which enrolled over 1,000 volunteers, all of whom received training aimed at increasing standards in heritage aviation conservation.

5.6 We contribute to the public enquiry service, particularly through talking to visitors in Hangar 5-the conservation area at IWM Duxford where visitors can see the work in action. We exchange information, and share expertise, with a large number of internationally renowned museums and other contacts in the heritage sector at an international level. The Duxford conservation team are now working on the conservation of large objects decanted from the IWM London site as part of the preparations for the Transforming IWM London capital development project.

October 2012

Prepared 17th November 2012