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TVMG Website Launch

11 October 13 -- jsuess

This morning we attended the launch of the new Thames Valley Museums Group (TVMG) website, hosted at the River & Rowing Museum with special guest Minister Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries and MP for Wantage.

The Thames Valley Museums Group is a collaboration of 60 museums in the region, including the Oxford ASPIRE Museums. Together they secured Arts Council Strategic Funds for a joint digital marketing project. Led by the River & Rowing Museum, the group built a portal website highlighting for visitors all the cultural opportunities on their doorstep in the Thames Valley, with the aim of encouraging the millions that already visit museums within the region to see what else is available. The website is complimented by flat screen units displaying a short video featuring highlights from the Thames Valley Museums, which participating museums will put in their galleries from today. With this first stage a success, the group hopes to continue to build on strong platform and look to move beyond existing visitors to attract new audiences.

Ed Vaizey addressing TVMG delegates at the River & Rowing Museum.

Paul Mainds, CEO of the River & Rowing Museum, welcomed delegates to the event and explained the origins of this collaborative project, and its future ambitions:

“We are delighted to be launching the Thames Valley Museums Group’s new Marketing initiative today and we are grateful to both Ed Vaizey MP and Arts Council England for joining us today and their support. 

With over 60 museums across the three counties, Buckinghamshre, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, we must have one of the greatest concentrations of museums anywhere in the world, certainly outside any major city. The challenge for us was to connect both existing visitors and tourists to the opportunities available. 

With smart phones and tablets transforming the way in which people search for information we felt we needed one site to draw everything together. It is truly a portal with a double purpose – visitors benefit from easy access to the websites of all the museums in a specific area, and museums will benefit from increased visitors. This project is designed to make an interest in one museum lead to the discovery of another. 

We are hugely grateful to Arts Council England for their support and above all to the individual museums that make up the Thames Valley Museums Group. It is great to have the combined expertise of so many colleagues working together on this project. Such collaborative working is a very positive sign, not only for the future of this initiative but also for other TVMG projects in the future. It is bringing their collections to a wider audience which is what this project is all about!”

The website was then officially launched by Ed Vaizey, who commended the project:

"I am delighted to be launching this excellent initiative. Using the power of cross marketing and the internet to increase attendance in a manner that benefits not just one but all is fantastic. Over five million people already visit these museums every year and it is exactly this sort of collaboration that will further increase visitor numbers, encourage greater opportunities for international tourists and showcase the sheer range of subjects these museums cover. 

Regional museums reflect the very best of the UK's rich and diverse heritage. It's fitting we are launching this scheme here in the River & Rowing Museum, which has recently been recognised by The Times newspaper as one of the top 50 museums in the world and has a great reputation as a catalyst for new ideas."

He later echoed these remarks on Twitter:

Finally Moira Sinclair, Arts Council’s Executive Director for London and the South East, addressed the gathered delegates:

"We are delighted to be able to support the Thames Valley Museums Group as they work collaboratively towards raising the profile of and engagement with museums across the three counties. It is really important to see that digital marketing will play an intrinsic role in this project, expanding the reach of the participating museums; something that is invaluable for the smaller organisations. In the long term, we hope that this will help deliver greater sustainability for all those organisations involved as they start to benefit from greater visitor numbers."

Moira Sinclair was joined at the launch by two of her colleagues: John Orna-Ornstiein, the new ACE National Director for Museums, and Michael Cooke, the Arts Council’s Museums Relationship Manager for the South East.

Several museums from the TVMG partnership brought objects from their collections to the event to share with other delegates and the press. Dr Shailendra Bhandare, Assistant Keeper for the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean Museum and responsible for South Asian Numismatics, brought a number of Oxfordshire bank notes from the museum’s collection.

Bank notes have been around in England for around 300 years, as the banking system grew up around the Industrial Revolution. There were small bank notes everywhere in the country, offering finance for the local area. The Bank of England started producing bank notes in the 20th century, but their influence initially didn’t spread much beyond London and Lancashire. The last provincial bank note was issued in 1921.

The bank notes on display today were issued in Burford, Banbury, Witney, Wantage and Henley, all in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The collections included a particularly rare £10 issued in Whitney in 1913, as 20th century notes are usually rarer than those from the 19th century.

Banknote from Whitney, 1913, Ashmolean Museum.

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