Publisher of the Month: Glasgow Museums
Glasgow Museums has a long history of publishing – Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901, and people have been writing about and publishing on the City's collections ever since. Over the years the number of the City's museums has grown to 12, plus an outreach arm and two community museums, and the publishing programme is now the responsibility of the Communications Section. The section came about as a result of Glasgow City Council's Best Value Review of Museums, Heritage and Visual Arts in 2001, and from 2002 onwards, editorial staff were recruited to join the marketing, design, photography (and taxidermy!) staff already in post.
The focus of our publishing programme, naturally, is the over one million objects held in Glasgow City Council's collections, and our authors are mainly, although not solely, our colleagues from the curatorial team. This year, as we gear up for the reopening of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glaswegians' favourite building, on 11 July, we've been very lucky to have Muriel Gray on board to take a vivid and refreshing look at Kelvingrove. (Full details of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: Glasgow's portal to the world are available on BooksfromScotland.com.)
Glasgow Museum's Communications Team
The editorial team consists of Susan Pacitti, Managing Editor, Kim Teo, Academic Editor, and George Inglis, Electronic Editor. Between us we work on publications, text for the labels, panels and trails that form part of the exhibitions at our museums, marketing and education materials, and Preview magazine, Glasgow Museums' quarterly magazine supported by the Friends of Glasgow Museums. George is also responsible for updating the Glasgow Museums website and keeping it running smoothly. Every day brings a different topic to work on!
We work with our team of in-house designers – Fiona MacDonald, Studio Manager, and John Westwell, 2D Designer, focus on publications, and we also have 3D designers (Sonja Taylor, Jacqui Duffus and So-Young Lee) plus illustrator Jeff Fallow. Photographs for our publications are supplied by our team of professional photographers – Alan Broadfoot, Enzo Di Cosmo, Jim Dunn, Ellen Howden, and Maureen Kinnear. We're extremely fortunate that over the years the collections have been well documented and photographed, and we can draw on the resources of our Photo Library, managed by Winnie Tyrrell with Jane Whannel. (Other publishers – and members of the public – may like to note for future reference that the Photo Library offers a valuable resource for publishers and for people looking for a print of their favourite painting.)
The last four years have flown by. The editorial team has been involved in the redisplay of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, working closely with cuG rators, research managers and the Education & Access section in editing and proofing hundreds of thousands of words of text. As the editors come from traditional book publishing backgrounds, this was a new approach to words: at times challenging, as we sometimes breached what might be seen as standard grammatical conventions (labels are a very specialist form of communication, almost more like the spoken word) and at times very familiar – extremely tight deadlines, for example! It's the first time that an entire museum has been displayed using this 'story' approach, and, if you have the opportunity to visit Glasgow, we hope you'll agree the results are very worthwhile.
During the three years of the refurbishment we've also been working on a raft of new titles to tie in with the reopening of Kelvingrove. We were lucky to be given a separate budget to produce these – the difficulty was in narrowing down which titles we should publish. What we publish is decided through a Publications Committee, who make recommendations to senior management for approval. The committee is made up of the editorial team and representatives from our Research, Education & Access, and Retail colleagues, and it meets on a regular basis to consider publication proposals and identify gaps in our list. All titles must be commercially viable – we are run along commercial lines with income targets to meet, so gone are the days when curators could publish long, academic treatises on obscure subjects, with low potential sales! We're committed to combining academic rigour with accessibility – we don't want readers to be put off by unnecessary jargon, and our books are lavishly illustrated – well, you know the old saying, 'a picture paints a thousand words...'.
New titles for Kelvingrove
To coincide with the reopening of Kelvingrove, we decided it would be possible to publish five titles.
Author and broadcaster Muriel Gray takes a refreshing look at Kelvingrove – the building, how the collections developed, the people, events and restoration project – and celebrates its progress from Victorian building to 21st-century museum.
Museum Detectives: Mammals
The first in a series aimed at the under-10s. The book presents a number of puzzles, and characters Duncan, Rhona, Kal, Alec, Abi and Sun (the museum detectives) take children round Kelvingrove spotting animals and looking for clues. Stickers are included so that children can stamp 'case closed' when they solve the mysteries. We're grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage for a grant towards this publication.
Glasgow's European arms and armour collection is internationally renowned, but hadn't been much published, so this is a lavishly illustrated look at the treasures in the collection. RL Scott collected many of these objects – his stipulation was that they should be the weapons and armour of real fighting men, even if they were also highly decorated artworks, hence the title of the book.
Treasures from the World Cultures Collections (title tbc)
A look at just some of the amazing objects from the world cultures collections. We've adopted a geographical approach, and our authors are curators from different disciplines, allowing us to provide, for example, both an art history and an ethnographic slant on an object.
Looking at Art (title tbc)
Pictures tell us more than what we see at first glance. For example, a geologist will look at a landscape painting and tell you what has gone on under the earth's surface to result in those hills; a social history curator can look at a scene and tell you what social and political undercurrents lie behind it. You'll never look at a painting in the same way again!
We're always happy to discuss possible projects with potential co-publishers, and recently co-published with Yale University Press (Millet to Matisse: 19th- and 20th-century French paintings in Kelvingrove), Scala (Art Treasures of Kelvingrove) and A&C Black (Patterns of Childhood: Samplers from Glasgow Museums). This allows us greater presence in the trade, and wider distribution.
Once Kelvingrove reopens, we certainly won't be sitting back and putting our feet up. We've got plans to look at guidebooks for other venues, there's the costume and textile collections to look at, Old Masters – you name it, we've probably got it and are thinking about its publishing potential. And of course, with the new Riverside Museum (replacing the Museum of Transport in the Kelvin Hall) in progress for opening in 2009, we'll be looking at publications for that soon too!
We can truthfully say, at Glasgow Museums, there's always something interesting on the go, and you learn something new every day.
- Add to BasketArt Treasures Of Kelvingrove: Highlights From Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum - Paperback
Selected from a collection that comprises 3000 paintings, 12,500 drawings and engravings, and 300 sculptures, this title showcases such outstanding works as Bellini's 'The Madonna and Child', Rembrandt's 'A Man in Armour', and Botticelli's 'The Annunciation'.
- Add to BasketKelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum: Glasgow's Portal To The World - - Paperback
Author and broadcaster Muriel Gray takes a vivid and refreshing look at Kelvingrove and its collections - and the events, people and city that shaped it - from the competition to design it in 1891 to its recent spectacular restoration.
- Add to BasketOne Million Days In China - - Paperback
A guide published to accompany the 'One Million Days in China' exhibition of Chinese art and artifacts at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.
- Add to BasketPatterns Of Childhood: Samplers From Glasgow Museums - - Paperback
Glasgow Museums have one of the finest collections of samplers in the UK. This text presents a short introduction to the Glasgow Museums' collection of samplers and an essay on samplers in general - why they were made, construction methods, use of different stitches and other instructive uses.
- Add to BasketProvand's Lordship And Old Glasgow - - Paperback
An accessible guide to Provand's Lordship in Glasgow which reveals the building's historical significance both for the city and for Scotland as a whole.
- Add to BasketThe Real Fighting Stuff: Arms And Armour In Glasgow Museums - - Paperback
Tobias Capwell looks at the different types of armour in Glasgow museums, the stories behind some of the weapons, and explores some of the myths surrounding the way we used to fight.