Medieval London. Museum of London

Museum of London in redundancy row

Simon Stephens, 08.03.2011
Museum denies "most" pre-modern senior curators to be axed
The Museum of London (MoL) has refuted suggestions that curatorial staff are being unfairly targeted in its planned budget cuts.

Concerns about the level of redundancies were raised by Mary Beard in her Times Online blog on 25 February, which had the headline “Slash and burn at the Museum of London”.

In the article, the University of Cambridge classics professor said she had heard of a plan “to make most of the senior pre-modern curators at the Museum of London redundant”.

Following Beard's article, a Save Museum of London Curators Facebook page was set up and a post was put up on the Council for British Archaeology email list.

The MoL is making savings of about £1m in 2011-12 when its projected budget will be £14.9m. But a museum spokesman said that under current proposals only three curatorial posts are to be lost out of a total of 27.

“There is no plan, as Mary Beard writes, to make ‘most’ of the pre-modern senior curators redundant,” an MoLspokesman said. “Reviews and negotiations are ongoing. But the museum has proposed losing one senior curator post out of the four existing senior curator posts in the pre-modern department, plus two senior curator posts out of the four existing history posts [one of these posts is vacant and has been for the past two years].”

The MoL is implementing 10% cuts to almost all departments. The spokesman added that all redundancies were voluntary at this stage and are spread across the organisation. Final decisions about job losses are expected in early June.


Mary Beard's blog Slash and Burn at the Museum of London

Save Museum of London Curators Facebook page

Council for British Archaeology email list post


Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
23.03.2011, 18:58
What does that tell us about the service/sector we work in? It tells us that we are aware that negative comments in a public forum about the respective services we work for is probably something that breaches an employer's policy, and that it could come back to haunt us in ways that we really don't want it to. It also means that despite the tough times and cuts we are dismayed about (and the fears and complaints are well justified, total agreement), we still value what we do, want to press on as best we can, and help bring about the better times that sooner or later will transpire. You can only dumb down and cut so much before the visitor offer becomes stale, and even the managers figure that one out eventually.
MA Member
23.03.2011, 17:11
So the few important posts that require specialist knowledge are being reduced. Perhaps savings could be made by removing one or two high-level managers? Even reducing their wage a little?

Amazing how many of our comments are anonymous. What does that tell you about the service we work in?
18.03.2011, 21:30
The cuts and haeomorrhaging away of expertise are happening across the heritage sector. If the march of the managerial moronic philistines continues I think that no-one in the sector will be unaffected, which as already pointed out, will be a travesty, and everybody is the poorer. Probably there will be plenty more stories like this in the coming months. My service's story? A recent re-structure (pre global financial meltdown) saw curatorial capacity and authority reduced in favour of......wait for it.......even more managers! Remaining curators getting fed up with added workload, leave or retire early. Posts unfilled, or made part time. A great museum brought to its knees. Stagnation, and little prospect of serious display development, exhibitions, research and acquisitions unless the situation is remedied. Mary Beard is 100% correct in her blog, regarding who is in charge. "Socrates in the Boardroom" by Amanda Goodall is an interesting read; basically its thesis is the experts should be in charge.
09.03.2011, 20:09
I would urge those reading this to consider a bigger picture, take a look at the mass redundancy’s within English Heritage due to a loss of 32% of their funding, the closing of sites in the winter months will have a devastating effect on the site staff, there is a proposed properties management restructure that will mean the loss of many posts and many within feel there will be such big holes in this structure that it will fail to deliver an effective method of managing so many sites. Then I move on to the collections curatorial and conservation departments that are still waiting to hear their fate. How bad can it be? How much knowledge will be lost? The human cost in lively hoods and loss of accumulative expertise/ knowledge is beyond the pound note! It is a national travesty.
09.03.2011, 15:16
Whilst it may be that "only three curatorial posts are to be lost out of a total of 27", the loss of curatorial expertise from the pre-modern department at the Museum of London will be phenomenal. The broad-brush 10% cuts translate into 50% cuts to the history posts and this is unacceptable. The Department of Archaeological Collections and Archive, already miseladingly renamed from its previously simple "Early" department has already been vigorously shaken down; to allow further cuts would be not just short-sighted but incredibly reckless.