National Museum Wales should charge for special exhibitions, says review

Museum also advised to appoint a commercial director
Jonathan Knott
Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales – NMW) should charge for special exhibitions and appoint a commercial director to overhaul its revenue generation efforts, a review commissioned by the Welsh government has recommended.

Simon Thurley, a former chief executive of English Heritage and director of the Museum of London, was asked in March by the Welsh economy secretary Ken Skates to review the museum’s operations and finances.

Thurley's recommendations, published yesterday, included appointing a “high calibre” commercial director to introduce “appropriate charging regimes, customer relationship management systems, membership schemes and management improvements in catering and retail to expedite and develop the museum’s commercial offer”.

NMW, which runs seven sites across Wales, already charges for some temporary exhibitions, such as its current show on dinosaurs at National Museum Cardiff.

The museum and government were also advised to urgently work on rebuilding trust with staff and trade unions, following a prolonged industrial dispute.

NMW has restructured its workforce and pay arrangements in recent years as it has sought to address cuts to its budget. In June last year, David Anderson, the museum’s director general, wrote a letter to Skates asking for his support in addressing its financial challenges.

Thurley said that the museum and government should “seek to acknowledge and understand the causes of current frustrations on both sides”.

He recommended that the museum and government should develop a 10-year vision for NMW, with a five-year focus and a three-year funding agreement.

And he called on the government to provide transitional funding to help the museum develop a “resilient business model for the future”.

The review also urged the museum to adopt a more global approach to interpretation, and build partnerships to develop its role in tourism in Cardiff, Snowdonia and Caerleon.

Ken Skates said: “I remain absolutely committed to enabling our heritage institutions to maximise the economic benefits that they bring to the people of Wales.

“We will now work closely with Amgueddfa Cymru’s board of trustees and senior management team to determine how best to take the review and recommendations forward.”

David Anderson said he was pleased that the positive contribution made by Amgueddfa Cymru was acknowledged in the review. He added: “We recognise the need to make improvements in certain areas of our work including income generation and industrial relations, and Dr Thurley’s observations and recommendations provide a helpful framework to help us address these.”

The executive summary and recommendations of the review were published yesterday. A spokeswoman for the Welsh government said that a full report may be released at a later stage.

Links and downloads

Links to executive summary and recommendations of Simon Thurley’s review

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