Review urged on museum standards

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(First Edition)

MUSEUMS should monitor and review their intellectual standards, the Museums and Galleries Commission said yesterday, writes David Lister.

The statement by the commission, the government quango that funds the national musuems, is one of the first indications of official concern about the state of scholarship and research following the radical changes at institutions like the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums.

A report by the commission sent to David Mellor, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, says: 'All museums should state and monitor in their corporate plans and annual reports the intellectual standards at which they are aiming.'

The report, on the status and future of Britain's museums, calls for increased purchase funds, help from the forthcoming national lottery, better training for staff, an official review of funding arrangements for university collections and a national and local government policy on museums.

But significantly, in the light of claims of a decline in scholarship, the commission adds: 'Our concern for collections is not confined to their acquisition and physical care. They must be interpreted and displayed, which means they must be understood and be the subject of research and scholarship. 'We are concerned that scholarship is increasingly perceived as under threat.'

The report estimates repair costs for the 12 national museums and galleries at pounds 1bn, with a further pounds 1bn needed for other museums.