National Museum Wales could be merged with a number of other heritage bodies

MA warns against potential National Museum Wales merger

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 30.09.2016
Government proposals pose a ‘clear threat’ to museum’s independence
The Museums Association (MA) has expressed deep concern over proposals that would see some of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales’ (NMW) core functions brought under the direct control of the Welsh Government.

The Investing in the Future to Protect the Past report, which stems from a review of heritage services in Wales by House of Lords member Jennifer Randerson, sets out plans to merge NMW with other existing heritage organisations.

The report also sets out a proposal that would see NMW’s commercial activities absorbed into an new executive agency, Historic Wales, directly controlled by government.

This would ensure that the heritage bodies “are better placed to secure new sources of income”, according to Ken Skates, the cabinet minister with responsibility for culture, who endorsed the proposals this week.

The MA said in a statement: “These proposals are a clear threat to the future of the national museum as an arms-length public body, and would undermine the organisation’s ability to carry out its core functions as a national museum for Wales.

“The report’s suggestion that it has based its recommendations on best practice in Scotland and England is highly misleading. No other government in the UK has sought to directly control its national museums, nor to incorporate museums’ activities into a generic heritage organisation.

"There is no precedent for such a move, and the MA believes that the Welsh Government must guarantee the independence and financial sustainability of the highly-respected national museum as these proposals are developed further.

“Instead of undermining the national museum, the Welsh Government should now focus its efforts on delivering the recommendations of the Welsh Review of Local Government Museums – which it has ignored since August 2015 – in order to build a stronger museum sector across Wales.”

NMW has called for “clarification” from the government on the proposals, saying that any potential changes would need to be carefully considered and widely consulted on with the public and the wider cultural sector.

A statement from NMW said: “We are actively seeking clarification from the Welsh Government on its proposals for the creation of Historic Wales including its role and purpose. Any outcome needs to respect the independence, individual identity, integrity and core purpose of Amgueddfa Cymru as a national museum, a registered charity and limited company, operating under a Royal Charter.

“As an emerging nation, Wales needs strong national institutions to develop a deeper understanding by its citizens of their identity and their place in the world, and to inspire the creativity of current and future generations. For over 100 years we have been caring for the nation’s collections – a role which we will continue to fulfil on behalf of the people of Wales.”

Links

MA statement on the Randerson report

Comments

Sort by: Most recent - Most liked
Tim Schadla-Hall
Reader in Public Archaeology, University College London
05.10.2016, 18:23
Dangerous proposal and they should sort out the recommendations of the Welsh Review of Local Government Museums first and deliver on the proposals.–