UK museums hit by ‘devastating cuts’

Patrick Steel, 20.07.2011
MA survey reveals a fifth of all UK museums have been cut by over 25%
The survey, The Impact Of Cuts On UK Museums, shows that of museums being cut by 25% or more:

• Over 60% of them have cut back their public events

• half of them have reduced opening hours

• Over 85% have cut staff

Mark Taylor, Museums Association director, said: "Local authorities that have made cuts to their museums of over 25% impoverish their communities. Services have been cut and opening hours restricted - there’s a risk, in some cases, the doors will be slammed shut forever.

"Many local authorities haven’t yet made a final decision so still have a chance to do the right thing for present and future generations by not cutting so ferociously.

"The survey shows it’s a myth that you can cut funding without affecting front-line services. People across the UK have less access to the learning, inspiration and enjoyment that museums bring."

Cuts have been made without a knowledge or understanding of services and without undertaking consultation with staff who could have identified savings which would have had less impact upon the delivery and long term viability of services."
Local authority museum curator in the West Midlands

In other findings the survey found that for UK museums as a whole:

• 22% of museums are reducing their opening hours

• 30% are cutting education staff

• 46% of survey respondents expect the quality of service in their museum to decrease over the coming year

• 41% say knowledge and expertise are being lost at their museum

To download a copy of the survey, click here (pdf)

To download the survey appendix, click here (pdf)

For background to the cuts, please click here


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MA Member
28.07.2011, 11:53
We have experienced cuts over the last 12 months, and are facing more in the future, including a relocation to free up saleable assets, i.e. the building. The new facility will significantly limit what we are able to do, and as staff will not be based on site, will remove the day-to-day personal face of the museum, which previously has been one of our strongest assets. We could serve our community because we knew many of them personally, and saw them regularly. We will now be remote, and the museum will become faceless. I suppose a reduced service is better than none at all, but complete closure would be political suidicide for the current council, so I can't help but feel the service is tolerated by an authority obsessed with its own vanity, rather than embraced as it should be.
21.07.2011, 17:47
I fully agree with the local authority museum curator in the west midlands re cuts being made without knowledge or understanding of services, and without consultation with staff who could have identified savings. There is no respect for peoples knowledge and years of committment when they suddenly decide to get rid of museum staff to the retail side, all in the idea they will get a quick profit! Nevermind looking after, and maintaining the building or collections.Even security goes out the window, and anyone can walk visitors hurridly round a building by people with minimal knowledge; so lets bring in the volunteers!!!I am not against volunteers, but they just threw out alot of the old staff without any proper thank you, after they had been keeping it afloat when there wasn't proper management!(Actually they could have offered voluntary work to the staff in the first place, as I am sure some would have taken it up. For a lot of them it was dedication to the place!)
Is this what all the training in security and conservation work has come to.?It seems to have meant nothing at the end of the day!Along with years of knowledge.
I felt as if I had to comment, though I do apologise if it sounds more of a rant!!