Local De Morgan Museum Awarded National Accreditation
The De Morgan Museum, based at Cannon Hall in South Yorkshire, has been awarded Accreditation status for the first time.
Home to a large and beautiful collection of Victorian Pre-Raphaelite paintings and ceramics by artists William and Evelyn De Morgan, it was in serious threat of closure and being forgotten five years ago.
Thanks to a major overhaul of its operations, exhibitions and the creation of a new digital guide, the De Morgan Museum has been awarded Accreditation status.
Working in partnership with Barnsley Metropolitan Council and staff at Barnsley Museums, the new De Morgan Museum forms the unusual offer of a museum-within-a-museum.
Awarded by Arts Council England on behalf of the UK Accreditation Partnership, the Accreditation is the benchmark for well-run Museums and Galleries.
The Accreditation gives a stamp of approval that the new De Morgan Museum is being properly managed and governed to the nationally agreed industry standard. Showing the Museum takes proper care of its collections, sharing them with visitors and keeping them safe for future generations.
Accreditation opens up exciting funding opportunities, allows museums to host touring exhibitions and gives access to professional advice and support. It also gives confidence to donors and sponsors who wish to support the Museum in preserving heritage and inspiring future generations.
Digital has been at the heart of the development of the new De Morgan Museum as a way to improve accessibility, engage with new audiences and enrich onsite and online visits. As part of this plan, a digital guide featuring audio and video content has been launched.
The new digital guide is now available through Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and cultural app created by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Bloomberg Connects app, available for download from Google Play or the App Store, makes the De Morgan Museum accessible for either onsite or offsite visits through photo, audio and video features offering insights into Evelyn De Morgan’s symbolic paintings and William De Morgan’s beautiful ceramics. The digital guide ensures that this new Museum makes the art of the past available for audiences well into its exciting new future as an Accredited Museum.
The De Morgan’s were unusual artists who used their artwork to advocate against the social inequalities of their day. This started at home in an equal marriage, where Evelyn was the main breadwinner and supported in her professional ambitions by her husband William, who was an active campaigner for women’s suffrage. The new De Morgan Museum galleries are organised by theme, welcoming visitors to contemplate the social and political climate the works were created in and how they might be relevant today.
One gallery presents artworks which centre on the common theme of transitions and asks visitors to consider a painting by Evelyn De Morgan called The Waters of Babylon (1883). She painted Pslam 137 from the Bible, which describes the Jews in exile from their homeland. The attention to detail focuses on the physical agony of those in the picture, caused by their separation from home. The artwork connects with people and allows them to discuss the refugee crisis in our lifetime.
Working with communities to identify important themes in the artworks and actively speaking to audiences was just one reason De Morgan was selected for Accreditation status. Other themes in the Museum include scientific invention, feminism, and climate change.
There is a historical foundation for the present-day partnership between Barnsley and De Morgan, as the artist, Evelyn De Morgan’s mother was born at Cannon Hall. So, in 2016, when the De Morgan Foundation had lost its long-term public space in Wandsworth, South West London, Barnsley Museums stepped in to help by offering a new public display space for the collection. Following a major refurbishment, new displays, the creation of a digital guide, plus a huge amount of work behind the scenes, the unusual Museum was recognised as a well-run, viable museum by the Arts Council in November 2022.
Sarah Hardy, Director of the De Morgan Museum said: “Achieving Accreditation for the first time at its new Museum is a huge milestone for the De Morgan Foundation, especially considering it is a tiny, independent charity which receives no Government funding and has only myself as a member of staff. This accolade has provided a solid foundation on which to build our future plans. Being awarded Accreditation status demonstrates to the public that we are working hard to care for and promote this unique collection in perpetuity. I hope that everyone in Barnsley will be very proud to count De Morgan as their new local Museum.”
Jean McMeakin, Chair of the Trustees of the De Morgan Foundation said”
The Trustees of the De Morgan Foundation are delighted to have achieved formal Museum Accreditation from Arts Council England for their new museum in Cannon Hall. We look forward to building on our successful collaboration with Barnsley Council, our valued partner, and extend our thanks to all the supporters of our museum.”
Liz Johnson, Director Museums and Cultural Property at Arts Council England said: "We’re delighted that the De Morgan Museum has been successful in gaining their Accreditation status. This means that their Collections will be looked after and maintained offering inspiration, enjoyment and learning for the local community and visitors to enjoy now and in the future.”
Councillor Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “To have not one but two museums based in Cannon Hall is something we are incredibly proud of. With both free to enter they make for an interesting and inspiring trip out. The collections in the De Morgan Museum are both beautiful and have a real connection to the area and its surroundings. That they are being cared for a displayed in Barnsley is a huge honour.”
More information about the Accreditation scheme can be found here.
For more information about the Gallery visit www.demorgan.org.uk