Glasgow’s “world renowned” museums will maintain their accredited status despite a “devastating” reduction in the number of conservation staff, the city’s culture leader has insisted.
It was revealed earlier this year that dozens of jobs will be lost in an attempt to save £1.5m in the museums and collections section run by Glasgow Life.
The cuts will mean the change of displays and the frequency of temporary exhibitions at the museums won’t be as regular.
Unions had also warned the loss of skilled staff could threaten the international reputation of the museums, and during Thursday’s full council meeting, Bailie Patricia Ferguson asked what effect the cut of 40% of museum conservation staff would have on the maintenance and display of Glasgow’s collections.
Bailie Annette Christie, City Convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations, said: “The impact of the proposals that you refer to have been very carefully considered.
“Of specific concern is the retention of Glasgow Museums accreditation which is essential to secure external revenue or capital funding.
“The revised structure will ensure that we retain the services needed to maintain the accredited status. It is recognised that this level of reduction will of course have an impact on the frequency of temporary exhibitions and display changes but these decisions have been made in response to the scale of the financial challenge that the city faces.”
Councillor Ferguson said she was glad the proposals were being carefully considered, but admitted she feared the cuts would be “devastating” for the museums.
She added: “I would expect no less but I find it difficult to understand how reducing our museum conservation department by some 40%, with the loss of skills, knowledge and care for our collections that goes with it, can be anything other than devastating for our collections.
“I am also concerned about public and education projects being cut and also we have to remember that the people we are talking about worked very hard, as many officers did during lockdown, but they also delivered the refurbished Burrell collection which we are very proud of.
“We rightly claim that our collections are world renowned but I wonder if the convenor can tell us for how much longer we will be able to say that.”
Bailie Christie confirmed that it was her intention to “always maintain” that reputation. She also said that plans to renovate People’s Palace and Mitchell Library were also in place.
She added: “The decisions have been difficult, there are competing priorities across the council as we are all well aware.
“This is a city of innovation and as I said in my first remarks the concentration is on making sure to maintain that museum accreditation.
“There will be reductions in the change of displays absolutely however in reference to some of the points you raised in your question – the open museums service will remain. The structure has changed but what has been created is an integrated learning engagement team for Glasgow Life museums.
“This city is a city of innovation and we will build on that. Our ambitions still remain great. The next ambition we have is for the People’s Palace and we are currently seeking funding for that.
“Following that, the Mitchell Library is the next big project we hope to begin within the next decade. I can assure you that I have been visiting the museums recently and spoken with staff.
“Change is difficult but I have assured them of how important they are to the city, the role that they play and I can say with confidence they are still dedicated.”
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