Booth museum faces cutbacks - Museums Association

Booth museum faces cutbacks

Brighton's Booth Museum is one of several smaller museums facing cutbacks
Gary Noakes
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The Booth, one of the first local museums in the country to be designated as having a collection of national importance, looks certain to have opening hours cut when Brighton & Hove City Council votes tomorrow on a package of spending restrictions.

The Booth currently opens five full days plus Sunday afternoon, but is set to close on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The museum’s keeper of natural sciences, Gerald Legg, said the only other keeper, who is part-time, was due to retire in March and would not be replaced immediately.

The Booth’s ecology, insect, fossil and mineral galleries house 500,000 specimens, including some of the earliest known dinosaur bones.

“Because of the importance of the collections we get a lot of enquiries. It will not help having the place shut up,” Legg said.

The council also wants to close Brighton History Centre, a public archive in the city’s main Museum & Art Gallery, but Museums Journal understands the council’s cabinet may back down on this.

Other small museums currently under threat include two Canterbury museums and The Segontium Roman Museum in Caernarfon.

Canterbury City Council will vote on Thursday 18 February whether to close its Roman and West Gate House Museums as part of a £3m cost-cutting programme.

The council’s head of culture Janice McGuinness said the council was hoping to open West Gate on specific days and to find a commercial partner for the city’s Roman pavement.

The Segontium, open since 1924 and said to be one of the world’s best-preserved Roman fortresses, may not re-open in the spring.

National Museum Wales has halted funds to a trust that, since 2003, has run the museum. Talks are underway over the possible relocation of exhibits.

A spokesman for CADW, the Welsh Assembly’s historic environment division said: "We remain hopeful that a solution regarding the future of the centre can be worked out."

Update
18.01.2010

The Booth Museum proposals were voted down at the cabinet meeting last Thursday and the museum will remain open for five full days, plus Sunday afternoon.

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