Museums lose education services

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MORE than half of museums have suffered substantial cuts to their educational activities, or expect do so in the near future.

A survey of 172 museums, conducted by the Museums Association, claims that their education services are under serious threat and could disappear if help is not forthcoming from the Government. But Mark Taylor, the association's director, said it was also up to museums to become better at marketing their services to schools.

He said the next two years would be crucial for museums, who fear that as more schools take control of their own budgets, previously managed by local authorities, poorer schools in particular may decide they cannot afford museum services.

Mr Taylor argued that the Government should help museums over this transitional period by providing extra funding in the short term. During this period, museums could improve their marketing techniques and, where possible, reorganise their budgets so that education posts were funded directly by the museum. Only 10 to 15 per cent of Britain's 1,500 museums had paid educational posts, and numbers were falling. But in spite of reduced staffing, schools were making increasing use of museums.

'This is why it is so important to have trained educational staff at museums. Children come to museums to learn, and unless the museums can . . . make them feel welcome, they simply won't come,' Mr Taylor said.

Responding to Change: Museum education services at the crossroads; Museums Association, 42 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R OPA.