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Rescue letter to Museum of London

Rescue letter to Museum of London

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In response to emerging news of curatorial cuts
In response to emerging news of curatorial cuts

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Published by: Rescue - The British Archaeological Trust on Apr 19, 2011
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04/19/2011

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Mr M. Cassidy CBE MBAChairmanBoard of GovernorsMuseum of London150 London WallLondonEC2Y 5HN14
th
March 2011Dear Mr Cassidy,
Re: Potential Cuts at the Museum of London.
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chair of RESCUE – TheBritish Archaeological Trust to express my concern at the reports thatthe Museum of London is to dismiss a senior member of the curatorialstaff while at the same time deleting the post of curator of medievalcollections which has been frozen since 2009.RESCUE believes that the strengths of a museum, particularlyone with the responsibilities of the Museum of London, lie equally inthe quality and experience of its curatorial staff and in its collections. The importance of the collections held in the Museum are not in doubtand they have a high level of significance not only for London but forthe country as a whole. Given London’s position as a city with globaleconomic and political significance it is no exaggeration to say that thecollections are of international importance. To lose senior curatorialposts in such an institution will inevitably undermine the position of themuseum as a national centre of excellence in research andpresentation and will severely compromise the ability of the remainingstaff to deliver the kind of high-quality service that the public and thehistorical and archaeological professions have come to expect from theMuseum of London. More specifically we are concerned that the loss of curatorial experience and expertise will compromise the institution inthe following ways:
An unreasonable burden will be placed upon the survivingcuratorial staff who will be expected to shoulder an unreasonableworkload which will include that of their former seniorcolleagues;
 
 The ability of the remaining museum staff to deliver theMuseum’s responsibilities in its primary or ‘front-line’ serviceswill be significantly degraded. These include the delivery of services to educationalists and academic researchers at all levels(from the amateur/voluntary sector to the post-doctoral andprofessorial), the development and presentation of authoritativeexhibitions on-site, public lectures and other ‘outreach’ services,including contacts with the press and mass media andcontributions to national and international touring exhibitions;
 The absence of in-house staff with the necessary level of knowledge and experience will inevitably lead to otherdepartments within the museum having to seek the assistance of outside specialists with inevitable cost implications for theMuseum as a whole and an overall lack of internal consistency inthe Museum’s activities.RESCUE believes that with tourism, and specifically heritagetourism, likely to play a useful role in the nation’s recovery from therecession and the effects of the banking crisis, this is a time wheninstitutions such as the Museum of London should be investing inassets such as their skilled curators and conservators in order to beable to present ever more challenging and effective exhibitions andresearch opportunities to a global audience. It is deeply regrettablethat this does not seem to be understood by those responsible forplanning for the Museum’s future. We very much hope that theseproposals will be reconsidered and look forward to your response. Yours sincerely
Diana Friendship-Taylor (Mrs.)Chair RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust
Cc:
 Jack Lohman
Director, Museum of London 
Boris Johnson,
Mayor of London,
Alderman Michael Bear

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