National Trust Report Highlights Roles And Challenges For Museums

By Graham Spicer | 25 October 2006
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photo of a woman cleaning a porcelain ornament on a table

The report highlights conservation and environmental issues. Photo: Nicola Tann © 24 Hour Museum

A new National Trust report has highlighted the challenges facing modern museums and has made a series of recommendations to address them.

Museums: Policy From Practice identifies the valuable role museums play in cultural life, showing how they promote scholarship, inspire understanding of different cultures, bring history, provide vital educational services and contribute to urban and rural regeneration.

“Museums are extraordinarily diverse and they have a unique role in forging powerful links with local communities and providing opportunities for learning and skills development for all ages,” said Sarah Staniforth, the Trust’s Historic Properties Director.

The Trust is the largest provider of museums in the country and cares for more than a million artefacts and the report highlights the importance of long-term commitment and partnerships between national and local government, regional agencies and museum bodies.

photo of a living room decorated with arts and crafts style furniture

The Trust looks after more than a million artefacts at venues like Wightwick Manor with its important Arts & Crafts collection. © National Trust

It urges the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to develop a new museums strategy recognising the range of public benefits that museums can deliver. Museums are also encouraged to address the impact of climate change by reducing energy consumption and minimising the effects of flooding, rainwater damage, increased summer temperatures and changes in the range and numbers of insect pests.

In addition the Trust called on the government to look at the possibility of a permanent endowment to care for national collections and to offer tax incentives to keep important artefacts in the UK.

“Museums are a unique resource with a major role to play in delivering quality of life benefits to a very wide range of communities,” added Staniforth. “The challenges they face are not insurmountable but will require consistent, coordinated and long term action and support to ensure that the potential for museums to deliver wide-scale public benefit is fully exploited.”