Running your own museum is a romantic dream - preserving a bit of history while employing some of the local community. But this is a major leisure industry, comprising 1,500 museums nationwide and new ones constantly opening, from the Kew Bridge Steam Museum to the Cotswold Countryside Collection. It's a cut-throat world where every paying visitor to your museum is one less for your rival down the road. Council grants aren't guaranteed, and will anyway cover only part of the outgoings. Most museums use volunteers to keep costs down, and raise cash through entrance fees, on-site cafes and shops, and by hiring out their premises. Take advantage of Museum Week between 15 and 23 May (information line 11-21 May on 01795 414 731) to find your unfilled niche. Meanwhile, here's the annual running costs for a small, local museum:

Attendants compulsory Salaries and training for seven full-time and four part-time staff, pounds 141,000.

Making an exhibition Most museum buildings are leased from the local authority, but as the infrastructure gets older, repair bills get higher, pounds 15,000. The local authority usually pays building insurance, but you'll need insurance for staff, visitors and contents, pounds 4,000. Gas, electricity, water rates, Council Tax bills, pounds 20,000.

Restoration dramas Local museums tend to go for DIY conservation. Specialist restorers are employed only when absolutely necessary, pounds 400.

Collector's (other) items Printing, stationery and postage, pounds 15,000. Accountant and legal fees, pounds 6,000. Telephone, fax, Internet, pounds 5,000. Running bank account, pounds 2,000. Waste disposal, pounds 1,000. Subscriptions to relevant publications (Porcelain Thimbles Monthly, etc), pounds 300.

Forthcoming attractions Advertising and promotion, and attendance at trade shows, pounds 25,000. Tea and sandwiches for the local dignitaries to secure next year's grant, pounds 300.

Old curiosities shop Shop stock: postcards, arty bookmarks and tenuously museum-connected fluffy toys for all those school parties, pounds 20,000.

Total pounds 255,000

Comments