Lottery ‘blockbusters’ swamp old exhibitions

The graphics and exhibition design of museum collections are in danger of being cast into the shadow of large National Lottery projects, says the Museums Association.

According to association director Mark Taylor, museums are “laying off staff and not employing outside designers as much as they should to improve the presentation of other exhibits”.

His views are echoed by a spokesman for the Museum & Exhibition Design Group: “The big new blockbusters will bring visitors in, but many come to see existing exhibitions. There is a danger of graphics and interiors for these being forgotten.”

The MA has published The National Strategy for Museums, a series of pleas for Government action in anticipation of the Department of National Heritage’s review of museum policy, due to be released by 11 July.

Key recommendations include stemming the decline in funding to local authority museums and a “more supportive” application procedure for National Lottery funding, such as agreeing to projects in principle subject to detailed feasibility studies.

Taylor praises the National Lottery for the major design projects it has funded, but points out the increasing difficulty in “caring properly for collections”, which he says are often “out of date in their design and shabbily maintained, especially in comparison to smart new extensions”.

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