The future of Bury Art Museum is uncertain after Bury Council launched a review of its museum provision amid soaring costs.
The Greater Manchester council says it needs to find around £29m in cuts and efficiency savings from its overall budget in the next financial year and has opened a public consultation on the museum service’s future.
“The increase in the council’s costs is forecast to be far in excess of any organisation’s ability to drive efficiencies and maintain the same level of service,” it said in a statement introducing the consultation.
The council said one of the reasons for the review was because culture provision “was the service least prioritised by residents” in an initial budget conversation over the summer.
A council report found that the museum is in a “state of disrepair and visitor numbers have regrettably reduced and not yet recovered post-Covid”.
The museum is housed in a Grade II listed building that requires around £1m in repair work, particularly to its roof. The council says it is currently applying for a grant to cover the repairs.
The museum service also provides a Tourist Information Centre, which operates from the reception of the Fusiliers Museum.
The council says it needs to save around £250,000 on service costs for the year 2023/24, and is seeking ways for the museum service to become self-financing.
Proposed options for the service include greater commercialisation, expanded digital provision, partnership delivery and repurposing of the museum space.
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, councillor Charlotte Morris, cabinet member for culture and the economy, said: “Bury Art Museum is a treasured part of our heritage at the heart of the town’s culture quarter.
“We are considering creative ways through which we can reduce the running costs of the service and building, but which will also support our ambitions in a new culture strategy which will be published before the end of the year. The next step is an options appraisal to look at the current and future use of the building to understand how we can reduce costs and/or drive income, while also supporting creative talent in our borough to thrive.”
The public consultation closes on 15 December.
Bury Art Museum
Bury Art Museum comprises a museum, art gallery, library and sculpture centre. It was purpose-built for the Wrigley Collection of oil paintings, watercolours, prints and ceramics collected by the local paper manufacturer Thomas Wrigley, and now houses around 60,000 objects. The building was given to the borough in 1897 and opened as a museum in 1901.