Historic structures in Ireland may lose protection

Ireland, milestoneArchaeologists are speaking out against a plan by the government of the Republic of Ireland to “delist” historic and archaeological sites that date to after 1700.

This would mean there will be no government protection for many of Ireland’s historic homes, holy wells, and other bits of architecture, such as this funky milestone at Howth, photographed by William Murphy.

The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland said in a public statement at the end of last year that deep cuts in heritage management threatened to undermine the government’s plan to promote tourism as part of Ireland’s economic recovery. While funding to protect historic structures has gone down, funding to promote cultural tourism is up. Not funding some of the very things that tourists come to Ireland for, the Institute says, “is akin to spending money on a new car but finding that you can’t afford to pay for the petrol.”

The economic crisis has led to belt tightening in many countries. Some Dutch museums are planning to sell part of their collections to survive, while the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum may close in Baltimore.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum may close next year

Edgar Allan PoeBaltimore’s most famous literary landmark may close next year due to budget cuts.

The Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum hasn’t received money from the city for two years. Since that time it’s managed to limp along on private contributions, but they aren’t enough to keep it afloat. Now the curator says if something isn’t done, the museum will probably close in June 2012.

Although the museum gets around 5,000 visitors a year, the money they spend doesn’t cover its $85,000 annual operating budget.

Poe lived in the house from 1832 to 1835 and wrote several stories there, including Ms. Found in a Bottle and Berenice–A Tale.

The Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore gives a more detailed description of the problem and has started an online petition that already has more than 6,000 signatories, including mine. I’d be proud to have your name next to mine on the list.

The Poe house has been in danger before. Back in 1941 the Society saved the house from demolition, and now some local businesses and artists are raising money to keep the museum going. Perhaps readers will rally once again to save a piece of horror history.

[Photo courtesy Midnightdreary]

Museums plan to sell collections to survive

museum, museums
Museums in The Netherlands have received some bad news–national funding for arts and culture will drop from 900 million euros to 700 million in 2013. Now museums and other institutions are scrambling to figure out how to survive.

The Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam has come up with a controversial plan. They’re going to sell off their African and American collections in order to raise money.

While this has caused an understandable uproar, it makes sense in some ways. The Wereldmuseum’s main collections are in Asian and Pacific art, such as the Korwar figurines from New Guinea pictured above courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. These will not be sold. Other museums in the country are known for African and American art, so the Dutch and the tourists won’t be left without. It’s also a major opportunity for museums that still have decent funding for new acquisitions, assuming there are any.

There are still plenty of downsides. The Wereldmuseum and any other institution that tries this tactic will lose some of the diversity of their collections. It makes it harder for them to participate in the exchanges of artwork that help create bonds between different museums and the creation of major exhibitions. The sale will probably also see some of artifacts leave the country or go into private hands, and out of sight of the general public.

For the Wereldmuseum in particular it means losing some of its unique character. The collection is partially made up of objects brought back by Dutch traders, who in past centuries were one of the major economic powers on the high seas and traded to all corners of the globe. At the moment the collection reflects that. To secure its future, the Wereldmuseum will have to discard some of its past.

It may even undermine its own name. Wereldmuseum translates to “World Museum”.

Christopher Robin’s bookshop closing

A bookshop opened by the original Christopher Robin of Winnie the Pooh fame will close, the BBC reports.

The Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth, England, was opened in 1951 by Christopher Robin Milne, son of Pooh author A.A. Milne. The bookshop became a destination for Pooh fans, even though Christopher Robin often hid from visitors. He died in 1996, and the current owners say that a slump in sales and a rise in rent has led them to close.

This sad story is being repeated in bookshops all over Europe and North America. As sales move online, bookstores are having a tougher time dealing with the economic crisis than most businesses. Many towns are being left without an independent bookshop, as indeed Dartmouth will be once The Harbour Bookshop shuts its doors. Some towns don’t have any bookstores left at all. Earlier this year, Laredo, Texas, with a population of a quarter of a million, saw its last bookstore close.

That’s sad. Bookstores add to the cultural value of their neighborhood and can even be tourist attractions. Gadling’s own David Farley has written about why bookstore tourism matters. Books make great souvenirs or gifts. Looking through my own shelves I often recall the trips where I bought certain titles.

So the next time you hit the road, please, drop into the local bookshop. You’ll be doing good for the local economy and you’ll bring home a nice memento of your trip.

[Photo of courtesy Celine Nadeau]

Business travel is back and growing fast

Business travel

Business travelers shelled out more cash in the fourth quarter of 2010 than they did in any other since the recession kicked in. The latest report from the Global Business Travel Association shows an increased spend of $4.2 billion over the previous quarter. For all of 2010, business travel spending ticked up 3.2 percent – far ahead of the 2.3 percent originally predicted.

Now, hopes for 2011 are even higher. Business travel spending is expected to grow 6.9 percent this year, relative to an original forecast of 5 percent.

According to Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO, “These are very heartening signs. Business travel spending is coming back at robust levels, indicating the shape of things to come – namely more travelers on the road, an improving economy, and a positive environment for continued job growth.” He added, “Thanks to increasing corporate confidence, companies are investing more in business travel which will further stimulate business activity and economic growth.”Increased travel prices are part of the reason for this, the GBTA explained. The association noted that “[r]ate analysis based on an aggregate of airfare, lodging, meals, ground transportation and car rentals shows travel prices in 2010 increased by 2.5 percent and are projected to increase between 2 percent to 4 percent for 2011.”

Some of the gains are also coming from business travelers crossing borders. Lat year, international travel spending climbed 17.3 percent year over year, with another 7.9 percent expected this year. International travel growth is expected to outpace the overall trend.

Finally, good vibes are contributing to the increased flow of cash. McCormick said, “Group travel, events and conferences are large expenses with long lead times. Companies lacked the confidence and clarity to make these longer-term investments when the economy was struggling, but these increases are further evidence that companies are feeling much better about investing in business travel and face-to-face meetings once again.”