Museum bodies call for action on a ‘quiet crisis’ in funding and building maintenance 8/10/2019

NMDC, the Museums Association and Art Fund have written a joint open letter to Government describing how infrastructure maintenance in museums has reached breaking point, following a decade of cuts. Published in The Times, it argues that delayed essential repairs risks disasters like those experienced at the National Museum of Brazil, Notre-Dame and Glasgow School of Art, but that there is also a ‘quiet crisis’ as digitisation projects stall from lack of funds and collections are placed at risk by dilapidated buildings. SMG Director Sir Ian Blatchford said that in regional museums alone, around £200m is needed for essential work, with a ‘separate dialogue’ needed about national museums. These problems are also making insurance for museum loans more difficult, because of the risks of bringing collections into buildings with poor air conditioning and other infrastructure risks. Examples can be found across the country – Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has wiring which dates back to First World War and storage at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery was flooded by sewage in the summer. Derby Museums Director Tony Butler told Radio 4 “It’s a knife edge. We’ve got stores where we’re constantly moving around buckets to catch rainwater that’s coming through the roof. I’ve got one museum store where the floor collapsed and it had museum objects that are balancing on broken floorboards…we’re not saying that museums will shut tomorrow, but it does feel like at the moment we are literally papering over the cracks.” NMDC (open letter) Times (paywall after three articles), BBC Radio 4 (begins at 21mins), Museums Journal,