The recent initiative, launched in November 2009 by British Pathé and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) has given cultural organisations unlimited access to archive footage and stills for the very first time. Visitors to many museums and libraries across the UK can now see historical moving footage which literally brings the exhibits and displays alive.
This joint initiative has attracted overwhelming interest nationwide, from the British Library and Royal Shakespeare Company Collection to the World Rugby Museum, The Leeds Library and the British Dental Association Museum, many museums have already begun to creatively use the footage and stills in their displays and have had excellent feedback.
Rachel Bairsto from the BDA (British Dental Association) commented, “The short film clips will be available for visitors to view in the museum gallery helping to bring to life some of our displays and adding a new dimension”.
In Islington where the question of the death penalty still divides people and where the infamous Ruth Ellis - the last woman to be hanged in Britain, was executed - Alex Smith from the Islington Museum stated, “We were putting together our new exhibition on historic crime and punishment in Islington and really wanted to have an AV presence, which always enhances an exhibit. However, in the past we have found that even for still images, the price can be prohibitive. So when we had the opportunity proposed to us we were very excited that we could access film footage for such a moderate price. The visitors are loving watching it, some remember going to the cinema and watching similar news reel in their childhood, some are just fascinated by the short stories and clips that illustrate some of the key arguments of the day”.
The joint initiative between British Pathé and the MLA was launched in November 2009 Their offer was simple - unlimited and instant online access to British Pathe’s 3,500 hours of historical and iconic newsreel footage and stills in instant, downloadable, broadcast quality for use in exhibitions, displays and public events – all for a monthly subscription of £60. British Pathé and the MLA were keen to ensure that all footage and stills were completely accessible and affordable. The team at British Pathé offer assistance to the museums and libraries helping them make the most from the extraordinary amount of content now available to them.
"This is a praiseworthy initiative which will enable us to use historic news footage to support our exhibitions, educational work and the services that we provide for researchers. Access to high quality footage and stills from the entire Pathé archive will encourage creativity as we plan for future events, and it is an important reminder of how crucial newsreels were to documenting the 20th Century.” Luke McKernan, Curator, Moving Image at the British Library
While British Pathé thought this innovative subscription initiative would prove to be popular, nobody could have anticipated just how popular. The offer - initially due to last until the end of January - has now been extended until 31st March 2010 due to overwhelming demand.
Roger Felber, Chief Executive, British Pathé commented, “For many years, we have received a steady stream of requests from museums and libraries across the UK who are keen to use British Pathé’s unique treasure chest of historic newsreel to enhance their exhibitions and displays. Ultimately, we realised that the cost of accessing this footage was prohibitively expensive for many organisations. We therefore hoped that a monthly subscription fee of just £60 would encourage many museums and libraries previously hampered by lack of budget. We really had no idea just how popular a move this would prove to be, and as a result, we have decided to extend our offer until 31st March to accommodate and assist everyone wanting to participate.”
Roy Clare, MLA Chief Executive said, “The sheer popularity of this initiative is tangible support for MLA’s intention to open up Britain’s uniquely rich cultural archives and collections – making them more accessible to people across the nation; as our Leading Museums Action Plan puts it, ‘turning keepers into sharers’. This project shows that if you can give access to film footage at an affordable price, then every organisation in this field has an option on this exciting offer. Ultimately there is substantial value and inspiring benefit for the public”.
The offer of thousands of hours of rare archive footage from the 20th Century, covering every aspect of news and social history in Britain between 1896 and1970’s has been extended until 31st March 2010 and is available to local museums, public libraries and archives. Please visit www.britishpathe.com for further details.
Notes to Editor
1. For further information and film footage, or stills, please contact
Lyn McNicol on 0797 123123 or email@example.com
2. For more details of the subscription arrangements visit www.britishpathe.com
3. The subscription is available to local regional museums that belong to MLA’s Accreditation Scheme, or are working towards Accreditation. It is also available to individual public libraries and archives operated by local authorities. Other arrangements for the national museums are being discussed at present. http://www.mla.gov.uk/what/raising_standards/accreditation
4. Leading Museums, A Vision and Strategic Action Plan for English Museums, builds on the findings of the independent review of Renaissance, and charts a future based on the museum sector working together, nationally and regionally, to three objectives - supporting excellence; promoting partnerships and building capacity. At the core of the plan is the conviction that collections are kept for the nation so that they can be shared with the nation’s people. The MLA has created the Leading Museums Group to oversee and support the delivery of the ten actions identified in the plan. http://www.mla.gov.uk/news_and_views/press/releases/2009/leading_museums_group
MLA develops National Action Plan for Museums, charting a future based on the museum sector working together on - Supporting Excellence; Promoting Partnerships and Building Capacity
An agreement between British Pathé and the MLA will allow access to the entire British Pathé film archive, for use in exhibitions, displays and public events.