Museums facing closure

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The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on all sectors and may, sadly, have placed some museums at risk of  permanent closure.  Your MD team are here to support you and your colleagues with the challenges your museum may be facing.

Concerned about Closure Programme

WMMD has launched the Concerned About Closure programme to identify museums at risk of closure.

If you believe your museum is facing closure in the next 12 months, please complete our brief online form to notify us. It will take less than ten minutes to complete and is best completed by the museum’s Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer or a Senior Member of Staff (either paid or voluntary depending on your organisation’s structure).

Read more.

Arts Council England, with a group of key funding, development and membership bodies for the museums and heritage sector, updated the joint statement on heritage, museums and collections at risk on 27 July 2021.

Read the updated statement on heritage, museums and collections at risk.

Throughout the pandemic we are also providing updates to DCMS through Arts Council England on museums at risk of permanent closure with permission from the museums’ governing bodies to share this information to provide oversight and trends information around risks to museums. If your museum is at risk in the coming months please contact us immediately by emailing stating when you are at risk of closure.

Museums Facing Closure: Legal and Ethical Issues

The Museums Association (MA) and Arts Council England (ACE) previously commissioned research into over 20 recent museum closures in the UK to understand how the governing bodies, the employees and the individuals involved responded.  This report provides general information on how governing bodies, museum staff and volunteers have approached closure and outlines the issues they faced and the guidance that they found useful. It is designed for governing bodies and museum staff and volunteers facing a similar challenge.

Read the full report here

MA’s Code of Ethics for Museums

The MA’s Code of Ethics for Museums sets out three key principles that all museums should support:

  • public engagement & public benefit
  • stewardship of collections
  • individual and institutional integrity

These principles, and the expectations set out in the Code of Ethics for Museums, should be observed by museums and governing bodies throughout the closure process.

Download the MA’s Code of Ethics for Museums here

Disposal Toolkit

Museums facing closure should work in accordance with the Code of Ethics for Museums when considering the future of their collections. They should continue to:

  • maintain collections for current and future generations
  • care for collections with transparency and competency to generate knowledge and engage the public with collections
  • treat museum collections as cultural, scientific or historic assets, not financial assets.

In conjunction with Arts Council England, CyMAL, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council, the MA revised the Disposal Toolkit in March 2014, to provide updated practical guidance for museums considering disposal.

Based on the MA’s code of ethics, the toolkit provides detailed advice on the process of identifying appropriate items for disposal, and ensuring that their removal from a museum collection is ethical.

The Disposal Toolkit is available to download below in both English and Welsh. The toolkit is accompanied by an appendix with guidance on financially-motivated disposal.  Download the Disposal Toolkit here


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