Scottish industrial museums struggling to survive - Museums Association

Scottish industrial museums struggling to survive

Industrial Museums Scotland survey identifies need for support
Profile image for Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens
High Mill at Verdant Works
High Mill at Verdant Works Dundee Heritage Trust

Industrial museums in Scotland are becoming increasingly concerned about their future sustainability following the Covid crisis, according to a recent survey.

The survey was carried about by Industrial Museums Scotland (IMS), which represents 15 organisations that care for the nation’s industrial heritage. It found that two thirds of IMS members have reopened their museums, with two more reopening next week.

Compared with 2019, visitors figures are down 47%, retail has fallen 48% and catering income is down 44%. All IMS members believe that this is not sustainable in the mid- to long-term.

While income is about similar this year to the last financial year, this was a time when independent museums had the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) and emergency grants to support them. Half IMS members are still making use of the JRS, but this ends in September.

“The survey highlights the ongoing struggle that our members face and, as with all surveys, there will be museums that are not achieving the figures stated and are in a perilous situation,” said IMS chair David Mann. “We will need further support for years to come to get museums back to the level they were at in 2019 and delivering all the positives that most people now realise that we are exceptional at delivering, such as dealing with isolation and supporting local communities.”

The survey found that, on average, IMS members can manage for another 49 weeks based on current reserves before having to wind up. More than 60% say they will need core funding to remain financially viable while three quarters would like project funding to helped them become more sustainable.

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