Charlotte Cotton is resigning from her position as Creative Director for London Galleries at the National Media Museum, a position she took up in October 2009. The Galleries called ‘Media Space’ have been beset with delays and difficulties with raising funds but are currently due to open at London’s Science Museum in March 2013.
Cotton formulated the idea behind Media Space (described here – 45 minutes in) as a venue which represented, and employed, a wide range of media. This was a change from the previous plan for a temporary exhibition gallery, mainly used to show photography. She also specified that the proposal was for a space that operated for ten years and embraced the situation of the gallery in the Science Museum rather than in an art institution.
However, after delivering her blueprint for the Media Space in December 2009 the project increasingly ran into difficulties. In April 2010 Board members expressed their ‘strong concerns about the budget of the overall project and its feasibility’. By October 2010 speaking at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (10 minutes in) Cotton was herself expressing misgivings about the scheme: ‘I made a heart rending decision to move from the States. I hope I move back. I’m sure I will, because I’m sure we won’t raise all the money to do this project.’
Her frustrations were not only focused on the difficulties of raising money but also on the struggles within the museum, as she said at the What's Next? conference at Foam in Amsterdam in March 2011, ‘I have very extensive views on institutions and why they're not for changing. I have been through a period of my life just recently where I would go into institutional meetings and I would think about a dining table on the Titanic. Some people are ordering their entries and I’m going, “anyone want to join me on the lifeboat? Shall we get in the lifeboat?”’
Cotton's departure has come at a difficult time for the Media Museum. Its Director Colin Philpott has recently announced his resignation and is due to leave at the end of April. The post of Director will be downgraded to Head of the Media Museum, with a duty to answer to the Deputy Director of the Science Museum. This follows nine redundancies and one deleted post at the NMM since government cuts of 15% were announced to the museum group in October, 2010.
The job description for the new Head of Media Museum contains the objective ‘working with the science museum to develop and deliver Medial Space [sic] – a new exhibition and programme venue for the Media Museum in London.’ So it would appear the Museum is committed to developing Media Space.
Charlotte Cotton declined to comment.