Thursday, 29 October 2009

The New Director is Announced

At is the announcement of the new director. First impressions count and these are good. The gentleman is standing in front of a Garratt locomotive. Not at the NRM but near his existing institution (I think it may be Gorton works?). The successful candidate is Steve Davies MBE. He is described as having a passion for railways and he is currently head of the Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. That runs at least three major railway themes: Liverpool Road Station of the Liverpool and Manchester, Garratt's from Beyer Peacock and Woodhead. But also such a museum is good at seeing the railway in its context and that will be an important task at York. The same press release also noted that the retiring Director Andrew Scott will continue in his pro tem role as the head of NMSI until the summer of 2010 (earlier posts explain this convolution).

For an appreciation of Steve Davies when he arrived at Greater Manchester look at .

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Oscars at the NRM

The NRM's latest press release is a good news success story. See . They have won two Yorkshire tourism Oscars. Two facts stand out: the oft repeated but undeniably true, this is the most visited museum outside London and 2008/09 proved a bumper year in that regard. There is praise for the "continued re-inventing of the wheel" and in that context the Railway Children wins one of the awards. Staff at the NRM appear justifiably pleased with this achievement and I have no wish to underplay that. What it appears to say is that they can put on a show. This is the case in partnership with other professional colleagues like the Theatre Royal or the operators of the Wheel. Even so wise management will realise that if you keep scoring hard on the visitor number front but behind the scenes ramp up years of backlog in your curatorial tasks, a tension will develop. That in my judgement has happened at York and although steps to resolve this have been taken with the building of Search Engine there is still a long way to go. I remain fascinated though little the wiser really why if at one level the museum is so successful, then at another level it has had such a rate of senior staff turnover in this last year.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

A potential candidate

It's amazing what can come to mind when sitting in the hairdresser's chair. Regular readers of the blog are perhaps not surprised to find I was thinking who might be the next director of the National Railway Museum. At once for all those who love Britain's railways, a most important job and, as you might be able to deduce from the blog, a task with some challenges ahead of it. Who might be willing to take up the chalice?

I don't feel well qualified to name names, certainly not in the plural. And I have absolutely no knowledge. But sitting in that hairdresser's chair, a name did come to mind. Back in front of the computer a quick bit of net searching found a public profile and for those interested in a little bit of speculation, perusing that profile may make it clearer as to why, if she put her name forward, I think she would be in with a chance.

The link is . It looks as if she is back in Britain and possibly available. As I re-iterate, I am privy to no more knowledge than any other likely reader of the blog. If I had to bet on it I would reckon, she would be in with a 10% chance of pulling it off. That's quite a good chance. But this is no personal endorsement just a reading of the runes about a very well qualified museum professional who may well be seeking the next career move. Do I know the lady? Our paths have crossed once or twice but not since 1991. IF it did come to pass, you could say that you read it here first. When an announcement is made - and I learn about it - I hope to say something.