The Museum of London's Archaeology in Action gallery

Museum of London confirms 11 redundancies

Rebecca Atkinson, 19.04.2011
Plans also underway to set up archaeology service as stand-alone charity
The Museum of London (MoL) has confirmed that it has made 11 voluntary redundancies and is looking to set up Museum of London Archaeology (MoLA) as a stand-alone charity. 

A spokesman said MoLA would eventually be set up as independent charity, a move that would give it “greater commercial potential”. Meanwhile, the museum is also reviewing the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), which is a free-of-charge repository for archaeological finds from the Greater London area. Although there are not currently any plans to break-up LAARC, it may introduce a charge for holding material.

The MoL has also announced it has made 11 roles redundant, including three senior curator posts of pre-history, Roman history and photography. Two collections care experts and six front-of-house “hosts” have also taken voluntary redundancy.

A spokesman for the museum said that, as a result of the voluntary redundancies, there would be no need for any compulsory redundancies during the next financial year. “We were also able to save the key post of textile conservation, which was at risk of redundancy,” he added.

Another senior curator post (of social and working history), which is currently vacant, has now been cut. Last year, the medieval senior curator and senior curator of oral history posts were deleted.

The museum is currently redeveloping its Roman gallery, and a new senior curator post has been created to cover pre-history and Roman history. The spokesman said outgoing staff were given the opportunity to apply for this role, but it will now be advertised externally.

The museum has not had just one curator look after these two fields of history for more than 20 years, but the spokesman said this “was not a return to the 1980s”.

“We have just relaunched the Museum of London, we’re developing augmented reality and we’ve had success with our smart phone app,” he added. “The fact is, we’ve had to face cuts of 10%, which means a £1m decrease in our budget and we can’t reduce our programme activity further without impacting visitor experience.”

He added that the redundancies and the changes to the museum’s archaeology service were not related, and that MoL was not shifting away from representing London’s pre- and early history in favour of “modern” history.

But a source close to the museum said: “Will the surviving [pre-historic] department be fit for purpose - a question that will be asked by the MoL in forthcoming reviews, no doubt, and we expect yet another tranche of reorganisation and possible job losses. This is only just the beginning.”


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27.04.2011, 20:50
It is the march of the morons working its way through the museum sector. Short-sighted, yes, ultimately counter-productive for service delivery, definitely, although the trouble is it takes a while before the effects of stagnation become noticeable. I have seen similar developments in my museum service, and the stagnation has started. I think that even the senior managers are beginning to realise that something might be slightly amiss. Exhibitions of anodyne artists, or just plain dumb populist subjects, that are supposed to be crowd-pullers. Interestingly there appears to be intelligent life forms out there, audiences who are rather more discerning than the managers think.
MA Member
27.04.2011, 09:37
It is disturbing to think how museums are going to cope in the future given the false economy of cutting curatorial posts. I appreciate that research and care of collections might not be a big money-maker, however museum trustees need to understand that collections need to be cared for in order that they will last. Cuts to curatorial departments are going to have a vast negative impact on the services museums can provide.
MA Member
22.04.2011, 17:04
Quote 'a new senior curator post has been created to cover pre-history and Roman history. ... The museum has not had just one curator look after these two fields of history for more than 20 years, but the spokesman said this “was not a return to the 1980s”.'

No, it's a return to the 1940s or 1950s, when the old London Museum indeed had just one curator to look after the prehistoric and Roman collections. On the other hand, when the Museum of London opened in 1976 it had a department with FOUR curators to look after its prehistoric and Roman collections - and separate departments with three or four curators each for its medieval and for its Tudor and Stuart collections. As the collections have increased in size the number of curators and their status within the organisation have been reduced.