Art Fund, NMDC and MA urge for more investment in museum collections and buildings
Art Fund has joined the National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC) and Museums Association (MA) in writing an open letter to urge for vital investment in museum collections, highlighting a ‘quiet crisis’ in towns and cities across the UK.
Published in today’s Times, the letter outlines how lack of investment is stultifying museums’ ability to borrow and look after works of art, present exhibitions or even carry out the most basic of repairs.
Signed by Ian Blatchford, chair of NMDC and director and chief executive of the Science Museum Group, Maggie Appleton, MA chair and CEO of the Royal Airforce Museum, and Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund, the letter can be read in full below.
As the custodians and advocates of the UK’s museums we feel keenly the responsibility we have to protect the things that give our nations their unique character.
However, for the last decade our museums have suffered swingeing cuts in local and central government funding while coping with record visitor numbers. We have put off essential maintenance, patched or repaired infrastructure that needs replacing, and rattled the tin for donations to fill the gap. But we are now at breaking point.
We understand that there will always be more pressing calls for resources, but the fires at the National Museum of Brazil, Notre-Dame and Glasgow School of Art are terrible reminders of why we must invest to protect our treasured collections.
The risk is not just of a catastrophe. In towns and cities across the UK, there is a quiet crisis. Lack of investment means that loans and touring exhibitions are becoming more difficult to secure because insurers are concerned about the protection of exhibits. Around the country leaking roofs and antiquated air-handling systems threaten the stability and preservation of collections. Digitisation projects, valuable among other things in creating a back-up record, struggle to get underway or make rapid progress.
All political parties have recognised the crisis facing our national and regional museums and have made commitments to help deal with the backlog of investment. It is time to deliver on those promises.
With investment, our museums will continue to represent the UK’s cultural influence to the world; attract tourists to our cities and regions; and inspire our children to learn. If the neglect continues, we risk losing so much of what makes us special.
The National Museum Directors’ Council, the Museums Association and Art Fund.