Save Our MuseumsLast night I was browsing Facebook when I spotted some alarming news which had been shared by a few blogger and 'real-life' friends. The Manchester Evening News was reporting that the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI to locals), the National Railway Museum in York and Bradford's National Media Museum are all at risk of closure as a result of deficits incurred by the Science Museum group of which they are all part.
The three museums are an essential part of Northern England's cultural landscape and all have collections that are important internationally. MOSI is on the site of the first passenger railway terminal in the world. The NRM boasts The Mallard, the world's fastest steam lccomotive, and the NMM holds the first photographic negative and footage from the very earliest days of television. I've lived in spitting distance of all three during my adult life and know all of the museums well. I know every public inch of MOSI, it's one of those places that I start to miss a little if I haven't visited for a few months. The NMM is the museum I'm least familiar with and I must have visited that at least five or six times. I used to walk past the NRM on my way to work every morning and called in regularly. We even took Bud there at Christmas 2011 to board the Santa Special. All three offer free entry but blend this with good catering facilities, shops and special, charged for events and all three offer free admission to the public.
I'm not going to join in the Science Museum bashing or the North/South debate. I've also lived in London and loved visiting the national collections there. The truth is that we need all four of these wonderful museums. Our children need to be inspired in the same way I was. I'm no scientist but I adore the historical aspect of all these museums. I love to take my two, Bud and Little Miss have been in museums since they were just weeks old and Bud now knows them and has his own favourite exhibits. He will stand and watch the water wheel turn in the Power Hall for ages and loves the steam train ride at MOSI too. We've been to the pre-school sessions which are great and I've watched as children have been genuinely excited and inspired by the hands on science in the Experiment centre. When we visited the NRM he wasn't yet two but still got very excited by all the trains and the Santa story. We've never taken them to the NMM, I hope we get the chance.
It seems that the Science Museum Group's financial crisis is a high profile example of a wider crisis in the museum sector in the UK, smaller museums are closing all over the country and skilled professionals are losing their jobs too. This needs to be arrested. I don't want to have to take my children to London to visit museums, there are towns and cities which benefit from the revenue brought in by visitors to the collections in their historic homes. Manchester and York would be hit by any closures, Bradford would be significantly affected I think. It isn't fair and it can't be allowed to happen. My suggestion would be a £2 per person entry fee. Not expensive, well worth it and, hopefully, enough to save these much loved sites. If you're visiting any free museum please don't walk past that donations box, put in what you can afford, they need every penny.
I've been so pleased to see the strength of the response to the news in my online community and I know a lot of bloggers might be moved to write something in support. I've spoken to bloggers who have highlighted the closure or 'mothballing' of collections elsewhere in the country. If you have written or feel moved to write, please link up your post below and add the badge if you'd like to link back.