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Yes, it’s all about money…But it’s not all gloom!

Yes, it’s all about money… No apology for returning to the subject of money inspired by last month’s visit to ABBA The Museum in Stockholm. After all, the Chancellor’s additional squeeze not just on the Culture Department’s budget but on local authorities is producing squeals of protest around the country. Once again the national museums and arts organisations have escaped relatively lightly and are on the whole, but see below, in a position to continue with their programmes buoyed up by sponsorship. Not so for the smaller, regional and independent museums around the country whose plight is well documented by the Museums Association. They will undoubtedly feel the impact of additional local authority cutbacks, as spending on the sick and infirm is pitched against leisure and cultural facilities. But it’s not all gloom Manchester Museum has created world headlines (well I read the story online in a Swedish daily today) about its moving statue. The BBC did a wonderful interview with the curator who tried to provide a logical explanation for the little Pharaoh turning perhaps it was due to vibrations – all proved by time lapse photography – but it is obviously Egyptian spirits. (You can see it on BBC online). Congratulations to the Museum on a wonderful summer story – this will run and run, or turn! Ship Ahoy And more good news from Portsmouth, where the new Mary Rose museum is pulling in large crowds. My “correspondent” in the South West, Sue Runyard, went on the first public day with her father. She reports, “The ship is easier to see than before, and will get easier when they are able to remove the air ducts. There are hundreds if not thousands more objects on display – very satisfying. Lots for children, and well-trained helpful staff – as you would expect from naval organisation. It is quite dark inside, and dad found that difficult to cope with, as many elderly people will. Recommended.” And she is going again, with me, hopefully before the school holiday rush. Back to Manchester etc The Science Museum’s announcement that it might have to close one of its regional museums went down as a lead balloon in the cities affected, Manchester, York, Bradford, as you might have expected. Was this a tactical move to create public interest and support in the face of anticipated cuts? If so, I think it misfired, made the London museum look as though it was just concerned about the flagship and not the important specialist collections around the country, and the people!

Lots of good shows for the tourists The weak pound and Britain’s many attractions mean we are in for a bumper tourist summer. Already crowds picnic on the newly revealed Parliament Square (all the tents and protesters have now gone) and queue up for Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and of course the museums. Tate Britain is set for a blockbuster with its much heralded Lowry exhibition. The National Gallery is not far behind with the gentle and popular Vermeer with the emphasis on music. At the V&A it’s all about Bowie but there is something else as well….? Tate Liverpool is competing strongly with a brilliant Chagall exhibition. So where to go next? How about a trip to the newly refurbished William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow who walked away with the Art Fund Prize for Museums, £100,000, well deserved. (Your blogger is delighted to be a trustee of the Museum Prize Trust.) And then there is Mary Queen of Scots just about to open at the National Museum Scotland. Watch this space – your blogger is off to Edinburgh in a couple of weeks and will report back.