The multivalent future life of The National Gallery

Publication of the latest National Gallery Strategic Plan 2021-2026 will take the organisation through to its 200th birthday. The plan is very much a product of the pandemic, recognising the change over the past year, challenges and opportunities that the gallery has gone through and actions it needs now to mainstream in its operations to thrive into the future.

The Gallery sees itself as embarking on a newly enhanced commitment to engage with the widest audiences globally in innovative ways, and wants to demonstrate how art is transformative, enhancing culture and society. It intends to develop income streams through a range of digital channels and offerings, rework the visitor welcome and orientation in the Sainsbury Wng, and foregrounds the research credentials of the Gallery as a hub for an enhanced and diverse community of practice.

There is much to applaud here, not least the optimistic and engaging tone in which the strategy is written. As a connoisseur of strategic plans and annual reports, there are also some sentences which may baffle and amuse. My favourites for this plan include:

It is this multivalent life, always finding new ways to share our art, that defines the Gallery and will continually redefine it in future.

Strategic Plan, p.5

Multivalent? There’s a word you don’t see every day!.

…we will diversify the social media channels we serve to include programmes we do not already use (TikTok, Snapchat) as well as doubling down on the ones we do.

Strategic Plan, p.10

Doubling down? A phrase with history… but also a gamble.

Threave Castle: the visitor experience

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The ferry to Threave Castle © David Gill

Heritage sites need to be understood in their wider setting. And the visitor experience for those making their way to Threave Castle includes a walk along the river and then a ferry across to the island (included in the entrance fee).

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Peregrine near Threave Castle © David Gill

Peregrine falcons have been nesting in the castle, and HES staff were more than helpful in pointing out a female perching in a tree on the far bank.

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Ospreys on the Threave Estate © David Gill

The Threave estate (NTS) also has an osprey viewing platform.

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Threave Castle © David Gill

The ferryman helpfully pointed out a possible archaeological feature emerging from the waters due to the drought conditions. Is this a geological feature or perhaps traces of a ford across the river?

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Threave Castle © David Gill

The NTS and HES teams work together to make this a highly rewarding site.

Brading Roman Villa: protection and display

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Brading Roman Villa © David Gill

Brading Roman Villa is displayed within a purpose-built structure that allows visitors to walk above the excavated remains. The walkways are suspended above the remains and the main load is taken by the roof. Objects found during the excavations are displayed in cases around the route.

This replaced a earlier roofed structure whose supports can be seen alongside the remains.

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Brading Roman Villa © David Gill

The villa is preserved under the main structure. To the left is a cafe with a link reception and shop.

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Brading Roman Villa © David Gill

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Brading Roman Villa © David Gill

 

New perspective on Sutton Hoo

View over the Sutton Hoo burial site (April 2015)  © David Gill
View over the Sutton Hoo burial site (April 2015)
© David Gill

The Suffolk Heritage Forum met at Sutton Hoo earlier today. There was an opportunity to climb the temporary tower close the mounds to obtain a better view of the burial site. The outline of the ship was very clear from this height, in part helped by the different colour of the grass. It was also possible to make our the anti-glider defences from the Second World War that cut across the field system. The viewing platform provided wonderful views over the Deben and Woodbridge making the relationship between the river the burial site much clearer.

Viewing platform at Sutton Hoo (April 2015) © David Gill
Viewing platform at Sutton Hoo (April 2015)
© David Gill