GLA to take over Museum of London - Museums Association

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GLA to take over Museum of London

The Greater London Authority’s (GLA) lack of experience running museums has been questioned as it is poised to take over …
Patrick Steel
The Greater London Authority's (GLA) lack of experience running museums has been questioned as it is poised to take over the Museum of London (MoL) from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

David Dewing, the director of the Geffrye Museum, said: 'The DCMS is very understanding. It is used to dealing with the best funded museums in the country, and when they have an issue there is no big debate, it gets to the point quickly.

'Within the GLA it will be interesting to see how this works. It doesn't have a track record in running these sorts of institutions. It will be interesting to see what happens with the MoL.'

Jack Lohman, the director of the MoL, was positive about the proposed move, but agreed that the DCMS had accumulated a lot of knowledge about running and sponsoring museums. 'There will be a learning curve on the GLA side,' he said.

Judith Woodward, the senior policy adviser on culture to the Mayor of London, said that the GLA was aware of the knowledge gap and that it was 'almost inconceivable that there wouldn't be a specific post created for this' but added 'we can't say for certain at this stage'.

The move to the GLA is dependent on the Greater London Authority Bill being passed in the next session of parliament. The handover is pencilled in for April 2008, so the GLA 'would hope to have some experience in place before then', Woodward said, and she added they would be liaising with the department for culture and taking advice from the MoL.

At the moment half the museum's funding comes from the DCMS - under the new arrangement this will be transferred to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and administered by the GLA. The other half is currently provided and administered by the City of London. This arrangement will not be affected by the handover.

A spokesman for the DCMS said that in the first three years after the handover, the funding would simply transfer from the DCMS to the DCLG, but 'from 2011 they will be bidding with everything else in the DCLG'.

A DCMS consultation last summer asked if the Horniman Museum and the Geffrye Museum should also go over to the GLA. This was dropped after a negative response from the two museums. But in the case of the MoL, according to Lohman, there were 'obvious synergies that come from being in the GLA family'.

The changeover will not affect the MoL's Capital City project, involving an £18m redevelopment of its lower galleries.

Patrick Steel

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