The Georgian House Museum is one of the museums Bristol council has earmarked for closure

Bristol council looks to close four museums

Rebecca Atkinson, 07.01.2014
Other local authority museums hit by cuts and closures
Bristol City Council has proposed closing four of its museums as part of a spending review to cut £90m over the next three years.

The council runs six museums, including M Shed and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. But it is considering closing Blaise Castle House Museum, the Georgian House Museum, Kings Weston Roman Villa and the Red Lodge Museum unless it can find external organisations to run them independently.

If external support is not possible, then the museums will be closed and their collections removed to storage. The closures would save the council £162,000 in 2015/16.

Bristol’s mayor George Ferguson unveiled the budget cuts at the end of last year, alongside his vision for the city over the next three years. 

Although the vision states that cultural events should be accessible to everyone and not just those living or able to travel to central Bristol, Blaise Castle and Kings Weston Roman Villa are located outside the city centre. They are also located in areas with high levels of deprivation.

A public consultation over the city council’s full budget proposals ended at the end of December and a final decision will be made in February.

The council also wants to reduce spending on administration at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and review and reduce its archive service. These measures could save £100,000. 

Elsewhere, a number of other local authority museums were hit with the threat of funding cuts and potential closure in the run-up to Christmas.

Croydon Council’s budget for 2014-15 includes plans to reduce funding to Croydon Museum and Archive by £10,000 – equivalent to 10% of its budget. And Bradford Council announced plans to close the Manor House Museum in Ilkley or transfer it to a community management scheme in order to save annual costs of £60,000.

The future of the Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville is also uncertain after Leicestershire County Council cut its annual subsidy.

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon is also facing closure. Cambridgeshire County Council said the museum costs £30,000 a year and will close by 2015 if an alternative owner is not found. And Rhondda Cynon Taf Council announced the closure of the Cynon Valley Museum in the second phase of its public service cuts.

In Essex, Uttlesford Council has agreed that the Saffron Walden Museum will close to the public on Mondays from this month. The museum is also to temporarily suspending some enquiry and research services for human history collections to allow staff to concentrate on work relating to a new storage facility being built at another site.

And in Shrewsbury, councillors have approved plans to charge entry to the new £10.5m museum and art gallery. It is not clear what impact the charge will have on visitor numbers.

Comments

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Renate Haupt
MA Member
Archaeologist, Bournemouth Natural Science Society
19.02.2014, 09:51
My great great grandfather was an antiquarian collector and archaeologist; to my knowledge his collection is still housed at Ilkley Museum, but not for much longer if Bradford Council have their way.
So in spite of successive governments (and councils) saying that there is a need for museums in the community for local people and visitors outside the locality to visit, in practice the smaller independent museums seem to bear the majority of the brunts of local government cuts.
I cannot believe that this is progress!