Kirklees Council proposes closing three museums - Museums Association

Kirklees Council proposes closing three museums

Museum service to be cut by £531,000 for 2017-18
Patrick Steel
Kirklees Council is proposing to close three of its museums to make budget savings of £531,000 by 2017-18.

The council has not indicated which of its five museums it would close under the proposals but Tolson Museum, Oakwell Hall, Red House Museum, Bagshaw Museum and Dewsbury Museum are all under consideration.

Huddersfield Art Gallery would remain open, but it seems likely its budget would be reduced as the council’s funding for museums and galleries is cut from £1m this year to £491,000 in 2017-18.

Council documents released today indicate that it will be working with its museums and galleries to help them “shift to a more commercial model” to try to avoid the closures.

Overall, the council is aiming to make reductions of £152m from its total budget by 2017-18, with £83m of savings by the end of this year.

The leader of the council, David Sheard, said: “We are putting this information out in full, earlier than ever before, so people have the chance to come forward with alternatives, but at a time when they can be costed to make sure they are viable.”

It is not the first time that Kirklees Council’s museums have been threatened with reductions or closure: councillors voted against proposals to close the Red House Museum in 2012, while a review of the council’s art works with a view to possible sales was voted down earlier this year.

Museums Journal understands that a clawback clause was included in a £419,500 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, awarded to the council for the refurbishment of the Bagshaw Museum in 2009, that could be triggered if the museum closed.

An HLF spokeswoman said: "The council has not been in touch with us yet [over the proposals], so it is too early for us to comment."

The proposals will be the subject of a public consultation beginning in September, and the council will make its final decision on the budget in February 2015.

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