Croome Court

Anniversaries: five of the best museum and heritage milestones of 2016

By Adrian Murphy

This year has some truly great anniversaries including the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, which will see a global celebration of the bard’s life and works. Here M+H Advisor picks five of the best anniversaries to look out for in 2016

Shakespeare 400

On April 23 it will be 400 years since Shakespeare died and events will be taking place across the globe. One of the big celebrations in the UK will be Shakespeare 400 with a host of events led by a consortium of leading cultural, creative and educational organisations, coordinated by King’s College London.

In April Shakespeare’s school and guildhall will open up to visitors for the first time following substantial renovation. Then, in July, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust will open a fresh chapter in the story of William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon with the transformation of the historic New Place site, which was home to Shakespeare and his family for 19 years during the prime of his life.

At Compton Verney from 19 March to 19 June a dedicated exhibition will open – Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy. The show will focus on those pivotal Shakespeare plays which have motivated artists across the ages – from Singer Sargent, Fuseli, Watts and Romneyi to Tom Hunter and other contemporary artists – exploring the enduring appeal of the Elizabethan playwright.

Capability Brown 300

Landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s rich legacy of work ranges from Highclere Castle, the fictional home of Downton Abbey, to the well-known estates of Chatsworth, Blenheim and Stowe, to hidden gems such as Milton Abbey, Weston Park and Compton Verney.

And 2016 will see many events as part at of the 300 anniversary of his birth at locations across the England and Wales including Capability Brown and the Landscape created for Blenheim Palace,  is a special exhibition, which opened at the weekend and will runs until 2 May. Another special exhibition, The Empress and the Gardener, will see a collection of drawings by Brown’s surveyor John Spyers on loan from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will take place from 28 April to 4 September at Hampton Court Palace.

As well as this the Capability Brown designed Croome Court in Worcestershire, which has recently been renovated, is currently holding a design competition to design a new archives room, which will open in November.

Battle of Hastings 950th anniversary

The famous 1066 Battle of Hastings’s 950th anniversary will see a special battle take place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 October with more than 600 soldiers reenacting the bloody encounter, which consequently led to the Norman Conquest. English Heritage are currently working on the re-presentation of the 1066 site including the opening up of the Great Gatehouse of William the Conqueror’s abbey.

A new exhibition inside the Great Gatehouse will explore the lead up, location and legacy of the battle including a blow by blow account of the day itself, from dawn to dusk.  New interpretation will also be installed in the visitor centre and across the battlefield. The project is just one part of English Heritage’s programme – ‘1066: Year of the Normans’ – to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Fitzwilliam Museum 200

Celebrating the First 200 Years: The Fitzwilliam Museum 1816 – 2016 exhibition which opened at the beginning of the month will explore the University of Cambridge museum’s past, present and future. A timeline of the first 200 years will introduce key themes and characters, while displays of objects will show how the collections have developed over two centuries.

The exhibition runs alongside a new book The Fitzwilliam Museum: A History. For the very first time, this will tell the full 200 year story of the Museum. The triumphs and challenges of successive Directors, the changing nature of the Museum’s relationship with its parent University, and its dogged survival through the two World Wars. It will also shed light on the colourful, but previously little-known, personal life of Viscount Fitzwilliam himself.

50 years of University of Leicester School of Museum Studies

From 22-23 April the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester will hold its 50th anniversary conference with the theme – The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now, which will see many museum directors and academics discuss how the museum of today is less local and more global.

The School of Museum Studies has grown over the years into as a place where researchers, practitioners and postgraduate students from around the world come together to think creatively and critically about museums, galleries and heritage.

The School has been at the forefront of practical museum and heritage courses and has more recently offered free Massive Open Online Courses entitled Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century Museum in collaboration with National Museums Liverpool.