Clydebuilt's collection returned to the Scottish Maritime Museum when the Braehead site closed in October

Scottish Executive agrees to fund industrial museums and develop national strategy

Patrick Steel, 13.12.2010
Response to Museums Think Tank report indicates ’good show of commitment’ says MA
Responding to recommendations by the Museums Think Tank, the Scottish Executive has agreed to directly fund the Scottish Mining Museum, the Scottish Maritime Museum and the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

It has also welcomed the formation of a Federation for Scottish industrial museums and the establishment of a forum to provide advice and support on the development of a national strategy for Scottish Museums.

However, it has not taken on the Think Tank’s key suggestion that a National Development Body should be established as the key single organisation to develop and deliver strategy for the sector, saying: “The Think Tank process was not to advocate wholesale change but rather to provide a greater sense of direction for our museums and galleries community.”

Instead, the Executive has asked Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) to develop the national strategy, and it is envisaged that MGS could, in principle, become the National Development Body.

A spokeswoman for National Museums Scotland said: “The report provides a useful starting point for the sector to work more closely together.”

MGS chief executive officer Joanne Orr said: “We are pleased that a way forward for Scotland’s museums and galleries has been identified.

”At MGS we have many years of experience of working with the sector and have built up significant knowledge and expertise as a result. We look forward to working with partners across the country to support and develop a sustainable sector for Scotland’s museums and galleries.”

Maurice Davies, the MA’s head of policy and communications, said: “I think it is great that the Scottish Executive has confirmed funding for three industrial museums at the same time that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is trying to wriggle out of its responsibility for funding museums in a comparable situation in England. It is a good show of commitment.

“It is also good that there seems to be a commitment to sticking with Accreditation in Scotland. If they can come up with a new structure in the forum and the National Development Body that really brings together nationals and non-nationals then that would be a great thing.

“In this model the National Development Body is not a membership organisation, and doesn’t have an advocacy role, suggesting a more active role for the Scottish Federation and potentially the MA, if Museums Galleries Scotland doesn’t continue as a membership body.

“In any case, the MA would be delighted to play a part in the forum, particularly because of our strong interest in collections and workforce, which are identified as key areas in the report.”

Download the Museums Think Tank report (pdf)

Download the Government's response to the report (pdf)

Update
15.12.2010

Mark Taylor, the MA's director, has written an open letter to Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish culture minister, to offer help and assistance and to play a part in the forum.

Download the letter here (pdf)

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