A petition has been launched to save Mosi from closure

Science Museum Group would close one site if 10% cut goes ahead

Geraldine Kendall, 05.06.2013
Director warns that budget deficit would leave no other choice
The Science Museum Group (SMG) is considering plans to close one of its northern sites if an additional 10% cut proposed under the government’s upcoming spending review goes ahead.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, SMG director Ian Blatchford said: “We are investigating a range of options but if an additional 10% cut is made when the spending review is announced at the end of this month, there would be little choice other than to close one of our museums, since our structural (year on year) deficit would rise from £2m to £6m.”

He added: “I would rather have three world class museums than four mediocre museums.”

Blatchford ruled out introducing admission charges at any of the sites to save costs because “government policy precludes it”.

Listen to Ian Blatchford on BBC Radio Four today

In addition to the Science Museum in London, the SMG is responsible for the Museum of Science and Industry (Mosi) in Manchester, the National Railway Museum in York and the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The group, which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has dealt with a 25% cut in real terms to its budget since 2010 and has axed 89 posts in that period.

The SMG held a crisis meeting earlier this week with councillors from York, Bradford and Manchester to explore options for the regional museums. Bradford council leader David Green has slammed what he described as “a north-south divide in terms of resources and decision-making”.

Councillors are proposing that funding obligations for the museums transfer to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with an increased focus on scientific and educational work. The science budget under BIS has faced less severe cuts of 10% since 2010.

In a joint statement, council leaders for York and Bradford said: “We are keen to encourage increased collaboration across these museums and with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They are important contributors to our educational, tourism and cultural offer.”

Museums Association director Mark Taylor said the closure of any of the science museums would be “unthinkable”.

He added: “It just shows that the government's assertion that all is well and frontline services can be maintained is very wide of the mark. If the spending review due at the end of this month is as bad as we fear, this could be just the beginning.”

The Manchester Evening News has launched a petition to protect Mosi from closure.

The SMG’s plans will be put forward to trustees in the autumn.


Campaigns have also now been launched to save the National Railway Museum and the National Media Museum.


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07.06.2013, 19:08
I agree with Anan 15:04 that the leadership the nationals have shown is letting the sector down badly. By cutting services to communities, outreach and regional areas of the UK, they have sent a BIG message that is elitist and self serving. Directors and senior staff spend far too much time cosying up with bankers and big business, but do they need to act like them, 'the Loreal effect' mentioned below? Too many appear in lifestyle magazines!! While we are talkiing about cuts to museums I also feel there is a need to look into the National's expenses and bonuses for senior staff.
MA Member
07.06.2013, 15:04
Why not look at the 'option' of closing the Science Museum in London instead. It is in a prime South Kensington sight, so the building could be sold/leased and proceeds from that would make the other museums sustainable in the long run. If there is a hold or covenant on the building in terms of it usage/science, I am sure Imperial College next door would be interested. MOSI could be expanded to include some of the collections from London and salary costs would be reduced as extortionate London wages won’t need to paid – just good wages for good staff. Audiences would benefit from increased resources being spent on exhibits and not going on huge costs associated with running such a massive outdated building in London.
Oh hang on I know why that isn’t an option. All the senior staff in London won’t want to move to the ‘cultural dessert of the north' will they? I wonder if the Science Group even considered that option. Did they dare to think the unthinkable? Something tells me no they didn’t. They want solutions that still put them at the centre. Shame on you.
And lastly I am most annoyed by this as it pitches museum against museum. The London Nationals have direct and influential relationships with DCMS. I fear they will get the cash and regional museums will suffer even greater cuts, meaning many will close. The Directors of National Museums should be lobbying for the whole sector, not only looking after themselves.
And the reason I am writing this anonymously – well rumours are rife out there at the moment that feed on fear. Speak out and you have a mark against you for getting future work, as you are seen as a trouble maker. I for one can’t afford that. I hope the National Directors/Science Group are pleased they have created such an atmosphere of fear when they could easily have worked in a different way and rallied the sector.
MA Member
06.06.2013, 12:36
Bradford have also started a petition for their museum
06.06.2013, 12:11
I'm afraid Ian Blatchford is suffering the Loreal 'I'm worth it' effect. Get real! Senior management are just part of a huge team of staff and volunteers who win funding; they are not worth the huge pay differentials (compared with vast majority of poorly paid staff) and bonuses they receive at all!! In fact the squabbles and petty place seeking among senior management often obstructs progress and demoralises staff!!

Blatchford's idea of the North was revealed while he was at the V&A; he argued that the proposed V&A branch in Blackpool would increase the number of lower social economic visitors, which was to overlook the fact that there are roughly the same percentages of lower social economic audiences (around 50%) in Blackpool as there are in London. He obviously thinks the North is full of poor people! His answer to audience development and cuts is essentially the same: move the issue North and leave London alone!!
MA Member
06.06.2013, 10:34
By closing any one of these sites SMG would be doing a grave disservice to Northern culture as well as the culture of the UK as a whole. It seems ridiculous that SMG took on MOSI just to put it at further risk. By a lack of forward planning they are now risking three amazing museums not to mention the many jobs involved. I can't imagine how staff are feeling this morning, effectively being pitted against their colleagues in other venues in order to retain their roles.
I also can't help but feel these sites have such commercial potential that surely they can continue to operate at their current excellent standard. Why does closure have to be the only way? Other museums around the country are having to adapt to the changing climate.
Incidentally the phrase 'regional outpost' is how the Guardian defined three of the largest Northern Museums with designated collections. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jun/05/science-museum-northern-outposts-threat-closure
MA Member
05.06.2013, 18:32
05.06.2013, 15:59
These museums are not "regional outposts". To say they are is patronising to the institutions, the staff that work in them and the towns in which they exists. This statement just goes to show the Londocentricity that at times seems endemic in this profession. This in turn seems to validate SMGs arguments to close the museums.
05.06.2013, 16:25
Hi anon, apologies for using that wording - it was not intended to give that impression and I have changed it now.

05.06.2013, 17:03
Thank you for correcting this so quickly.