May 8, 2006

Lack of funds for museums to make new purchases

Posted at 12:35 pm in British Museum

Various sources in the press have criticised a fall in the budgets that museums can use for acquisitions of new artefacts. Some sources complain that more money is now being spent on making the museums more accessible which was once spent on acquisitions. This is blamed on a culture of political correctness & people suggest that museums are loosing sight of their original core aims.
I would present an alternative point of view however – at present most of the major museums in Britain have far more works in their collections than they can ever manage to display – so should they really need large budgets to acquire yet more artefacts to push others into a store somewhere. I would suggest that budgets should only be increased at a point in time when the anti-deaccessioning rules governing most of the nation’s largest museums are relaxed to the extent that they can actually have collections of a more manageable size before they think about making more acquisitions. An even more radical notion might be that some of money from the sale of artefacts could be used to fund new acquisitions, or that exchanges could be made between museums so that they could enhance & re-focus their collections.

The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times
May 07, 2006
Richard Brooks: Biteback


On Thursday, the Art Fund, which helps raise money for works of art, will produce some alarming figures about acquisitions from a survey of 300 galleries and museums.

Over the past decade, government money for the big five (British Museum, Tate, National, National Portrait and V&A) to spend on buying has fallen by 90%. Instead, more cash has been diverted to politically correct access and social inclusion.

The government-funded National Heritage Memorial Fund, set up as a last resort to save art works and great houses, has also seen its funding drop by 35% over the past decade. But the most startling statistic is that the heritage lottery last year spent just 1% of its £320m budget on art acquisitions. And by 2008, that budget itself will be slashed to £200m.


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