Durham Light Infantry Museum to close - Museums Association

Durham Light Infantry Museum to close

Cuts proposals at Dudley and Coventry also cause concern
Patrick Steel
Durham County Council voted last week to close the Durham Light Infantry Museum from 1 April 2016.

The collection, which belongs to the museum’s trustees but is under the care of the council, will be moved to storage facilities in nearby Spennymoor in February. The council is in discussion with Durham University over the possibility of a five-year agreement that would see part of the collection on display at Palace Green Library.

Seven of the museum’s nine employees face redundancy, but the council would like to see two part-time education staff kept on “to support the loan, interpretation and education services with the collection”.

The museum had 39,359 visitors in 2014-15, while its operating costs in 2013-14 were £396,984. The new arrangement will see the operating budget reduced to £70,000.

Council officials are preparing a separate report looking at the future of Durham Art Gallery.

Meanwhile Dudley Council’s cabinet is to vote today on a proposal to close Dudley Museum and transfer its collections to alternative premises. The council will also review opening hours at the Red House Glass Cone. The proposals would save the council £764,000 by 2018-19, part of a total of £20m in savings across the council over the next three years.

Khurshid Ahmed, Dudley Council’s cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: "The line in the budget to move the displays from Dudley Museum and Art Gallery to an alternative venue are proposals at this stage as part of a whole raft of suggestions in response to the unprecedented reductions in council funding from central government.

“The museum proposal will form part of a wider consultation on the budget until early next year before any decisions are taken."

Culture Coventry is bracing itself for a £250,000 cut to its budget from 2017 as part of Coventry City Council’s mid-term financial strategy, leading the trust’s chief executive Gary Hall to warn that further cuts could “have an impact on how we operate as an organisation”. If further cuts go through, Hall said he would consider introducing charges at Coventry Transport Museum.

Museums Journal understands that Hall also told the council’s Scrutiny Coordination Committee last week that the Herbert could face closure if the cuts go through.

Ann Lucas, the leader of the council said: “We’re clear as a council that closure is not an option we want to see.

“The council is happy to work with the organisation to help it identify a way forward and will make sure Culture Coventry explores all the options available.”

Coventry is preparing a bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

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