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Renaissance in the Regions

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

The Museums & Galleries Commission as it once was, renamed Re:source, now renamed again, to the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council.

Mission:

To provide the strategic leadership, advocacy, and advice to enable museums, archives and libraries to touch people's lives and inspire their imagination, learning and creativity.

 

MLA is working to a strategy called 'Renaissance in the Regions' designed to change the structure of Britain's Museums, and to provide more money for Regional Museums.  MLA is also working to tie together a disparate group of organisations that have hitherto worked separateky.  Museums and Archives clearly have common ground - being repositories of precious things.  While Libraries do care for rare books much of their energy is directed towards lending, books, videos and DVD and the encouragement of literarcy which has not much common ground with Museums.  

These changes have destroyed the existing structure where Museums were supported by hands-on Museum friendly Area Museum Councils. In their place, the MLA have set up Museum Hubs and 'strategic' cross-domain 'single regional agencies'.

The Hubs were originally intended to be regional centres of excellence based at a regional museum, but such is the complexity and friendly rivalry than the hubs are now cooperatives of large museums, who have been given a pastoral role over the other museums in the area. The London Hub for example, consists of the Museum of London, Geffrye Museum, Horniman Museum and the London Transport Museum. However, the Hubs do not want to take on the role of the now, defunct area museum councils. The regional agencies are designed to be 'strategic' leaving no one to take on the much praised role of the AMCs.

The hierarchical model they were working to was itself flawed. National, Regional, Designated and University Museums, then 'local and community museums' is an insult to the many independent museums that are often large and innovative.

The designation scheme began as a goodish idea to provide extra money for exceptional collections existing in museums without the resources necessary to do them justice, but it has proliferated with any obvious rhyme or reason so that there is often no clear difference in quality between a designated and a non-designated collection. Why for instance, should the Wordsworth Collection be designated while the Freud Collection isn't?

Ultimately, it leaves the Museum world in a tangle, needlessly complicated and bureaucratic.

 

   
 

 

Read Kevin Flude's criticism of 'Renaissance in the Regions'

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Lecture by Kevin Flude - prepared for 'Creative Practice in Narrative Environments'

MA course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design & developed for University College Worcester

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