Open letter to The Times on 'quiet crisis' in museums 30 Sep 2019

The following letter from NMDC, MA and Art Fund was published in The Times on September 30th. It is accompanied by a longer article which you can read here (paywall after 3 articles).


As 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.

For a decade museums have suffered swingeing cuts in local and central government funding while coping with record visitor numbers. We have delayed essential maintenance, patched or repaired infrastructure, and rattled the tin for donations to fill the gap. But we are now at breaking point.

Fires at the National Museum of Brazil, Notre-Dame and Glasgow School of Art are terrible reminders of why we must invest to protect treasured collections.

The risk is not just of catastrophe. In towns and cities, there is a quiet crisis. 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 progress.

All political parties recognise the crisis, it is time to deliver on their promises of help.

With investment, our museums will continue to represent the UK’s cultural influence to the world; attract tourists to cities and regions; and inspire our children to learn. If the neglect continues, we risk losing what makes us special.