University museums miss out

July 31, 1998

THOUSANDS of local museums face an uncertain future despite the government's announcement last week of a Pounds 100 million injection into the sector, says the Museums and Galleries Commission.

Culture secretary Chris Smith said the money, announced in the wake of the Treasury's comprehensive spending review, will help national museums to provide free access. A Pounds 15 million fund is also being established for 43 museums designated by the commission as housing collections of national and international importance.

Tim Mason, director of the commission, welcomed the extra funding, but added: "I regret that once again an increase in government funding appears to do little to help resolve the financial difficulties facing so many other museums throughout the country."

Many university and local authority museums will continue to experience severe financial pressures, he said.

Seven university museums have so far won designated status. They include Cambridge University's museum of *oology, University College's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Manchester University's Whitworth Art Gallery, and Birmingham University's Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

According to the MGC's annual report, out this week, there are now 2,500 museums in the United Kingdom receiving 80 million visitors a year.

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