The library and archive of the Wallace Collection are to remain open to the public following an internal consultation.
The west London museum had proposed closing both facilities to the public to cope with the financial impact of the Covid pandemic. The closure would have resulted in the loss of two members of staff.
A petition set up by archive professionals to prevent the “very poorly thought out” closure attracted almost 30,000 signatures.
In a statement, Wallace Collection director Xavier Bray said he was “very pleased to confirm today that the library and archive will remain open as before to any researcher, academic, art historian or member of the public who wishes to access information held at the collection”.
But he warned that a difficult road lies ahead for the institution as it counts the cost of the pandemic. “These are unprecedented times,” said Bray. “Like many institutions, the Wallace Collection has suffered a precipitous drop in our self-generated income due to the pandemic, and is now facing an uncertain financial future as we weather the next few years.”
The institution’s visitor numbers dropped by 95% from more than 450,000 in 2019-20 to 26,000 in 2020-21.
“As well as the deep sadness we feel in not being able to share our works of art with the public, the effect of this drop has been a commensurate decline in our income,” said Bray. “We will have to make difficult decisions in the future to ensure our financial sustainability.”
The institution confirmed that the library and archive will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, with the same opening hours as before the pandemic.
Bray said: “It has been heartening to hear so many voices who find the library and archive at the collection a valuable resource for research and study. We welcome this support, and hope that they might consider making a donation to help the museum in these challenging times.”