Museum shuts temporarily as Coronavirus outbreak worsens
Sheffield 1200 16/03/2020: The BGI, which operates the National Videogame Museum, announced it was temporarily closing the Museum with immediate effect in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ian Livingstone CBE, Chair of the BGI and NVM founder patron, said: “We are immensely proud to run one of the most interactive museums in the country and we take great care over hygiene standards, but we owe a duty of care to our visitors and staff during the current Coronavirus outbreak. Before the Museum records its first case, the charity’s trustees have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the National Videogame Museum to protect our community and our people. The National Videogame Museum is now under threat. As a new charity, we have no safety net of public funding to support us through the Coronavirus outbreak. We call on the government to help support at-risk organisations like ours now.”
The National Videogame Museum hosted over 40,000 visitors including scores of schools in 2019. It runs exhibitions, events, workshops and other school sessions linked to the national curriculum. Its mission statement is to create unique playable exhibitions about videogames; inspire children about what games mean and how they are made; reveal career paths into the UK’s fastest growing creative industry; and encourage everyone, whatever their background, to play, understand and make games.
The BGI’s Director of Culture Iain Simons said “Our decision to suspend the Museum will protect our visitor community and our staff until it’s safe to reopen. This is a particularly difficult decision for us, coming just after a record half term with over 2,500 visitors in 10 days and before a full programme of events, workshops and new exhibitions rolling into the Summer”.
The NVM is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to the collection and preservation of videogame culture and is one of the leading institutions in the world in this field. The charity is mostly funded by visitor ticket sales, with additional patronage from some games companies and individuals, and grants from private trusts and foundations. It currently receives no public funding for running the Museum.
“Like many independent museums, our funding has always been tight, so we are hugely grateful to those individuals, companies and trusts that have stepped up and supported us as we launched our Museum in Sheffield. Despite videogames being one of the most loved and consumed cultural forms in the world, public funding to support them is minimal. The BGI, an educational charity, is working to change that through the NVM and other programmes, but the risk with Coronavirus is that a whole class of cultural institutions like ours could disappear if funding is prioritised towards bigger, better known and already well-funded organisations.” said Rick Gibson, BGI CEO.
The charity announced the decision as other organisations voluntarily suspended public spaces. The charity hopes to raise sufficient funds to re-open after the Coronavirus has peaked later this year.
Notes to Editors
A press pack including images and video of the galleries is available here.
If you would like to interview BGI trustees and staff, please contact Conor Clarke on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07939 465667.
Ian Livingstone CBE
Ian is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry and has a long track record of working to support the growth of the sector. He co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop in 1975, and co-created the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in 1982 which have sold over 17 million copies to date. He designed Eureka, the first computer game published by Domark in 1984, and joined the company in 1992 as a major investor and director, overseeing a merger that created Eidos plc in 1995, where he served as Executive Chairman until 2002. At Eidos he launched major franchises including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He co-authored the Next Gen review in 2011 published by Nesta, recommending changes in ICT education policy to bring computer science into the national curriculum as an essential discipline. He is a serial angel investor in multiple UK games studios, chair of Playdemic and PlayMob, and Member of the Creative Industries Council and Creative Industries Federation. He was appointed OBE in 2006, and has also received a BAFTA Special Award, a British Inspiration Award, the Develop Legend Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Bournemouth University and an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Abertay University, Dundee for his contribution to the UK computer and video games industry. He was appointed CBE in the 2013 New Year Honours list.
Iain Simons, Culture Director, the BGI
Iain co-founded the National Videogame Archive of the UK in 2008, directs the GameCity festival, which he founded in 2006, and founded the National Videogame Arcade which became the National Videogame Museum and moved to Sheffield in 2018. As well as developing curatorial and interpretive strategies for the BGI and the National Videogame Museum, he speaks about videogame culture internationally for a wide variety of audiences and has written for both the popular and academic press, as well as several books including Difficult Questions About Videogames (Suppose, 2004), Inside Game Design (Lawrence King, 2007) and a History of Videogames (Carlton, 2018) with Professor James Newman.
Rick Gibson, Founder and CEO, The BGI
A games strategist for 20 years, Rick founded 2 pan-industry campaigns: Games Up?, which successfully campaigned for the introduction of Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), a relief that has paid out over £500m to UK games companies since it began in 2014; and for the foundation of the BGI itself, which won the support of over 560 games and cultural organisations and he founded in 2019.
About the National Videogame Museum
The NVM is run by the BGI, a registered charity number 1183530 that educates the public about the art, science, history and technology of videogames. The NVM celebrates videogame culture and allows the public to play most of its exhibits, which include games consoles, arcade machines and other interactive experiences, including games designed exclusively for the Museum. The Museum displays the UK’s only permanently accessible collection of over 100 videogames as well as a large collection of game memorabilia and ephemera. Formerly the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, the Museum has welcomed over 120,000 visitors, including hundreds of school visits, since it opened in 2016. The Museum presents a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions that are scheduled up to 2 years in advance, some of which tour the UK. For more details about the NVM, please visit: http://www.thenvm.org