This is a very important issue, which has been concerning me for some time.
I was aware of the examples you mention. In Halifax (West Yorkshire) the
industrial museum closed to individuals and now only opens for pre-booked
Other museums have (as you say) "watered down" their industrial exhibits in
favour of new "hands on" science exhibits. I am all for catering for and
encouragng the younger visitor but in some cases this approach has gone too
far. For example the new Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre at Marsden assumes
that all visitors have no prior knowledge of canals and only want the
basics. It is so lacking in historical background on the Marsden area that
the National Trust have put together their own excellent set of display
panels in their own building in the former stn goods yard which you can view
free of charge!
One of the issues affecting all museums is that whilst grants are/were
available for capital projects, there is less cash available to provide an
operating subsidy. Thus some museums have been able to build extensions and
new displays but can't afford to staff them! The position has probably been
exacerbated by the availabliity of lots of Millennium Fund grants in the UK
over the last couple of years.
I also get the impression that industrial musuems are regarded by many in
the educational sector as old fashioned and not of relevance in a "high tech
fast moving" world! The secret seems to be to package IA as "Heritage" -
things under this banner seem to attract more interest!
Just a few thoughts anyway.
York UK (a "heritage" city with a railway museum!)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Automatic digest processor" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Recipients of IND-ARCH digests" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2002 12:05 AM
Subject: IND-ARCH Digest - 9 Nov 2002 to 23 Nov 2002 (#2002-32)
> There is one message totalling 38 lines in this issue.
> Topics of the day:
> 1. Closure of Industrial Museums
> Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 17:17:00 -0000
> From: Tony Woolrich <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Closure of Industrial Museums
> Hi Everyone,
> Does anyone have anecdotal evidence for the closure and the
> dispersal of the collections from Industrial Museums? Also the
> sending of museum artefacts to the scrap man. I am particularly
> interested in the UK context, but would be interested to learn about
> the problem elsewhere.
> If I can get enought information I would like to write this up for
> publication somewhere, since its a problem which does not appear to
> have been disussed in the national press. Industry is a major part of
> our heritage and if we cannot properly do justice to it in our museums
> our culture is the poorer for it.
> Why are industrial museum suffering? Is it that private museums
> cannot afford to keep going. Is it that curatorial staff lack a technical
> background to properly appreciate what they have got?
> In recent years the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum was
> closed, and the Mining musum at Chatterly Whitfield went bankrupt. I
> know of other museums where the industrial collections have been
> watered down to free up the space for social history or hands-on
> science exhibits. I have heard rumours of a number of museums
> suffering but I would appreciate some facts about it, so do you know
> of any journal articles I might read, please?
> I have cross-posted this to other groups, so if you get it twice, my
> End of IND-ARCH Digest - 9 Nov 2002 to 23 Nov 2002 (#2002-32)
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.422 / Virus Database: 237 - Release Date: 20/11/2002