Government cuts funding for Manchester museums

Article published: Thursday, November 18th 2010

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced cuts to two of Manchester’s most popular museums, forcing them and five others throughout England to seek alternative funding to avoid potential budget crises.

A banner from the PHM's collection of trade union and political banners, which is the largest in the world.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and the People’s History Museum (PHM) are already carrying cuts of 15% of DCMS funding as part of October’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The complete cutting out of the museums from DCMS funding, which will take affect at the end of the 2014-15 financial year, was announced by the DCMS as a single sentence on a page in their business plan for the next four years.

The note, which appeared on a page titled “Strengthen Cultural Organisations”, read: “Identify options for relinquishing control and sponsorship of each non-national museum currently funded by DCMS”.

In a statement a DCMS spokesperson confirmed that the funding of all its sponsored museums was secure until the end of 2014-15.

“We are now exploring whether the department’s non-national museums may be more effectively sponsored through other bodies or programmes in the longer term.”

The DCMS will continue funding “national” museums, such as the Tate or Imperial War Museum. However in a statement published on their website, PHM director Katy Archer took issue with the idea that their museum was non-national.

“The People’s History Museum continues to be the national centre for the collection, conservation, interpretation and study of material relating to the history of working people in Britain and their campaign for democracy over the past 200 years. We are passionate about our national remit and responsibility to tell a national story and will continue to do so.”

Although DCMS funding makes up only 20% of their budget, she admitted that the cuts are large enough that the museum may have to rethink its policy on free admission.

MOSI faces losing up to 79% of its funding. Director Tony Hill admitted that finding new sources was a “tough ask”, but suggested that the museum would have to operate “more business-like” in the future. This will likely revolve around the museum’s new £8.5 million redevelopment, which it is hoped will provide the space and resources to draw funding from conferences and other commercial events.

In a statement the PHM thanked the public for messages of support and said that any future campaigns to secure funding will be announced via their website and newsletter.

The other museums facing cuts are the Horniman, Geffrye and Design museums in London, the National Coal Mining Museum in West Yorkshire and the Tyne and Wear Museum in Newcastle.

Tom Fox

More: Culture, Manchester


  1. Campaign against museum funding cuts – meeting at 4pm on Saturday at the PHM

    Comment by Grace Fletcher-Hackwood on November 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm
  2. Is it any surprise that these two Manchester Museums have been targeted? PHM in particular was a Labour project – could anybody seriously imagine the Tories funding an institution which celebrates the Chartists, trade unionism, the struggles for democracy and the welfare state? The Tories have no reason to support museums in Labour heartlands – for they know they will lose no votes over it. You cannot help but reaching the conclusion that this is a political decision. That another one of them is the National Coal Mining Museum is instructive.

    Comment by Withingtonian on November 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm
  3. The PMH is a fantastic museum and a brilliant archive, and it’s a testament to Manchester that one of its main attractions celebrates the history of protest. The largest collection of political banners is just so much cloth to Tories.

    This is at least partly political – the fact the National Coal Mining Museum is getting cut is darkly comic – and I doubt the current inhabitants of the DCMS know where Tyne and Wear is.

    MOSI is also well worth a visit – Manchester isn’t represented by all that Urban Splash and New Labour bullshit, but really old trains and exhibitions about cholera. Wandering aimlessly around Spinningfields teaches you a lot about ingenuity, exploitation and protest!

    Comment by ragnor on November 18, 2010 at 10:09 pm
  4. Sign the petition at:

    Comment by tom on November 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm
  5. Bloody typical that Manchester is getting a new ‘museum of football’ in the former Urbis building, while more educational museums like MOSI and PHM face cuts.

    Comment by GS on November 23, 2010 at 9:31 am
  6. […] its popularity and critical success, the museum was targeted by the government for budget cuts last year. As part of the October Spending Review the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) imposed […]

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