The National Gallery

Have your say on security

Rebecca Atkinson, 15.09.2010
Do you have a security-related question that you need help with? Or do you have a view on the future of security that you want to get off your chest?

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23.09.2010, 10:24
I sympathise with Clive's perception that a museum's primary role is to conserve its collections. If only that were the case. I read Clive's statement and I think it is actually rather quaint, which is more a reflection on the state of the UK's museums, especially the regional/local authority services, and how I have become normalised to it, rather than a comment on Clive's point of view. I work in museum conservation, and my experience over the years, and all the more so now, is that when museums are in survival mode, it is conservation that is cut, and curatorial capacity. Income generation, statutory education and visitor numbers are what matter most according to way things are structured now. Maybe there are too many museums, I don't know. Maybe there are too many managers. This is much is certain, the name of the real game is intellectual capital, and it is curators who generate it, and create the value that preservation systems are meant to protect. They do this with passion and a sense of public service. Without them all the access and education officers in the world would have nothing to work with. The cart has been in front of the horse for too long. Speaking for myself I feel like butter spread over too much bread. Also, my experiences with security system projects is mostly not good, and that is mostly because of cost cutting and poor management on the part of the organisation commissioning the project.
Clive, Managing Director, Euronova Ltd
MJ Subscriber, MP Subscriber
17.09.2010, 10:11
I was taught that a museums primary role is to conserve its collection, yet I fear it must be getting increasingly difficult to meet this goal. Cuts, fear of cuts and just trying to be a good officer in these hard times forces compromises. As a supplier of security systems and advice provider to museums I see some good decisions on conservation and security for example shutting a gallery when by keeping it open would lead to an unacceptable risk, I also see some bad decisions like not keeping up with alarm maintenance contracts (no names here of course) even before high profile touring exhibitions are due. I realise you are under pressure and jobs are at risk - just ring and we can work something out - but doing nothing, it could be negligence?