Arts Council England
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Working together to protect museums and collections at risk

Please note, on Tuesday 27 July 2021, the Arts Council and 16 museum funders and sector bodies published an updated joint statement on heritage, museums and collections at risk. Read the updated statement >

Arts Council England, with a group of key funding, development and membership bodies for the museums and heritage sector, recently (27 July 2021) published a joint statement on museums and collections at risk.

Although many museums are thriving, significant numbers are facing serious challenges to their long-term sustainability. There is growing concern that continued public access to some public collections and museums is at risk, and we want to ensure that we are providing museums the best guidance possible on this issue.

We, alongside sixteen other organisations and networks across the UK, have agreed to a co-ordinated approach to help support our colleagues who have concerns about the future of their museums or collections.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum © Matt Austin

Kate Bellamy, Director of Museums, Arts Council England, recently said:

“We hope that museums in crisis will get in touch so that we can work together to provide appropriate advice. Museums and their collections play an important role, enriching people’s lives and our knowledge of the world. We will do our part to ensure there is a thriving museums ecology right across the country, working imaginatively and collaboratively to make a difference.”

What are the challenges?

These vary, but economic sustainability is often key. The range of factors includes:

  • cuts in funding and support
  • less capacity and loss of expertise within a reduced workforce
  • loss of Accredited status and associated benefits
  • threat to and loss of collections, for example through sale
  • ​​loss of buildings, for example as landlords seek to sell off assets

Who’s involved?

The seventeen organisations and networks behind the statement are:

  • Arts Council England
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund
  • The Museums Association
  • Army Museums Ogilby Trust
  • The Association of Independent Museums
  • Collections Trust
  • English Heritage
  • Historic England
  • University Museums Group
  • Art Fund
  • National Museums Directors’ Council
  • National Trust
  • Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Northern Ireland Museums Council
  • The National Archives
  • ​​The Museum Development Network
  • The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales

Download the joint statement >

Further resources

Museums Accreditation Scheme

Museum Development

Museums Association’s Code of Ethics

Museums Association’s Disposal Toolkit

Association of Independent Museums’ Hallmarks

Future proof museums

Museum Closure Guidance

For museums within Arts Council’s National Portfolio, advice and guidance on Financial Intervention funding and support in exceptional circumstances is available here.


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