No new museums for Britain – says government review

A review commissioned by the British government has concluded the country should stop building new museums. 

The review states money should instead be invested into the development of existing museums – particularly fixing historic buildings and digitising collections.

The report also notes the myriad of Government organisations funding the sector. It recommends that they work more closely together and suggests drawing up an action plan. The review encourages diversification – including partnering with local schools and health bodies.

The review, carried out by Neil Mendoza, is the first of the sector in more than a decade. It revealed that government funding of museums has been largely flat for a decade.

Alistair Brown, policy advisor for the Museum Association, told The Telegraph: “It is really noticeable that no new money came out of the review. There is definitely a gap between the Government ambition on this and what it is actually setting out to deliver.”

There are currently many museum developments underway in the country – including the high profile V&A Museum Dundee.

The review noted: “Museums contribute to a range of social priorities, including health, education, community engagement, and social inclusion. Analysis commissioned by the Happy Museums Project suggested that increased happiness and self-reported health can be attributed to visiting museums, with people who visit museums valuing that participation at about £3,200 per year (i.e. they would pay that amount for access).”

John Glen,  Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, welcomed Mr Mendoza’s review.

He said: “I am pleased to say that the Government accepts the report’s recommendations and will begin work to prioritise and make them a reality.

“They are a sensible set of ideas, particularly within the current financial circumstances and in light of Britain’s exit from the European Union, designed to streamline and improve how Government and its Arm’s-Length Bodies operates with, for, and towards the museums sector – helping them to remain ‘jewels in our national crown’.”

Image: V & A Museum of Design Dundee

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