The UK government’s Museums Review is in full swing at the moment. Submissions to government reviews are rarely very interesting, radical or original. I modestly present five ideas for their consideration.
Free entry, but at a cost
Free entry to museums seems to be an unstoppable idea. We know it has filled museums with all sorts of diverse people from all walks of life. We don’t need evidence to prove this, we can just assume it to be true, right? So how about this modest amendment to the current system: no-one leaves a museum without paying. Exit fees can be either universal or tiered to some or other variable. Through this simple measure, museums get a much-needed revenue stream, rely less on the tax-payer, and have no off-putting entry fees.
A truly “national” gallery
There is a terrible and unequal distribution of cultural resources in this country. London and the major urban centres seem to hog all the glory. It’s time for a rationalisation. I propose that we assemble together all the museum collections in the country and redistribute them to museums and galleries around the country in some orderly and rational way. My suggestion is for a chronological system along a north-south axis. The most ancient artefacts can be re-housed in museums and galleries on the south coast, while contemporary work can be sent north, to go on display at galleries in the Scottish Highlands. Museums in between house Roman/Saxon/Medieval stuff according to their latitude. The Isle of Wight will be kept free in case we discover yet-more ancient artefacts, and museums in Orkney and Shetland will display the overspill of future work by artists not-yet born.
Fixing the jobs market
Pay and conditions (along with employment opportunities) in the museums sector are pretty rubbish. This clearly results from a mismatch in supply and demand in the labour market. I have a simple solution: put a temporary end to the supply. I propose a moratorium on all museum studies degrees, traineeships and apprenticeships until all the graduates already in the jobs marketplace have found secure and meaningful employment. Teachers and trainers can use their newly acquired free time to finally publish that world-changing book they’ve been meaning to write.
Return the Elgin Marbles
To Elgin. Specifically Elgin Museum, in Scotland. It’s a scandal that these Scottish/Greek works of art are in the British Museum in London. There are frankly more than enough objects in the BM to keep you occupied and distracted as you nip in to use the free bathrooms. The Elgin Marbles were always destined for Scotland: the clue is in their name. This would not only restore justice to the cultural sector, but put the Kingdom of Fife on the map. To sweeten the deal I’m sure we can make up all sorts of claims about how it will revitalise the local economy and make everyone happy and healthy.
Kids No Longer in Museums
Whoopie! Kids are in museums! Turns out they’re allowed everywhere these days: on airplanes, in pubs, even hipster cafes frequented by Macbook-wielding freelancers with an unpaid submission to an art magazine to complete before sundown. They have won, infants are in the ascendancy. Time for a breather? How about a Kids No Longer in Museums campaign? Museums can then return to places for the quiet contemplation of art and heritage, providing us with an ever-growing realisation that we are in a godless world and our own mortality is close at hand.
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