Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Expand your vision

Posted in Great Britain, Other general stuff about railways, Politics by Chairman Pip on 17 June 2013

While the green shoots of recovery may be poking through, it is the case that we remain in the Age of Austerity, and that means cutting public spending ever more. At least, that is the case when it comes to the current Chancellor, which seems to have led to the current story regarding the financial state of the Science Museum Group. This is a conglomerate of four national museums dedicated to science, engineering and industry in various cities around the country, specifically:

Because these are national museums, they all have free entry and, as a consequence, the majority of the SMG’s money comes from the direct grant from central government. The upcoming spending review has led to the SMG’s parent department, Culture, Media and Sport, agreeing a 5% cut on its museum expenditure. However, the SMG has said that budget cuts may force it to close one of its northern museums, while charging entry fees could well lead to fewer punters through the door. This got me thinking though. While museums are certainly cultural centres, and thus appropriate expenditure for the DCMS, especially given that they have a large tourist market, a case can also be made that they are certainly educational establishments, and centres for business and trade investment, and thus could receive funding from both the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. But, as the educational centres that they are, they could also be ideal to form partnerships with universities, especially given that successive governments have long sought to increase the number of people entering science and engineering professions. Indeed, the Museum of Science and Industry had a close relationship with the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology for a long time. Would it not be possible to improve the funding for the SMG museums by increasing the number of bodies that provide funds? That would also mean that the SMG was less vulnerable to cuts in government expenditure than it is by having the bulk of its money coming from one source. Then we can ensure that free entry (which is no doubt a boon in attracting punters) can be maintained. Why not?

“Hopes rise that National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon will be spared the axe”


2 Responses

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  1. chocolateeclaire said, on 18 June 2013 at 12:10 am

    Good idea – I bet a lot of universities would be very keen to be involved with a great many museums and discovery centres around the country. It also occurs to me that students studying on Science/Engineering-related courses may be interested in doing voluntary part-time work at the museums and helping with the running of the museums. I’m not suggesting redundancies but, instead of hiring new paid employees, a partnership with a university could lead to volunteers who could keep the museums going very well and not for money but for their love of the subject they’d be dealing with.

  2. Neil T. said, on 18 June 2013 at 9:46 am

    Actually the National Media Museum already partners with the University of Bradford and Bradford College. (I work for the university)

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