Thursday, 31 March 2011

Save our museums!

I've just returned from a protest at Church Farmhouse Museum, Hendon. It opened and closed its doors to the public for the last time today - at least, in the capacity of a free museum for Barnet residents and visitors.

Still, I say, save our museums!

It's not just about Church Farmhouse Museum. It's about the whole idea of having publicly funded archives and historical educational materials.

Barnet council is going to go through the motions of some negotiations with people who want to set up a trust and run CFM on volunteer labour. Hendon and District Archaeological Society might be interested in taking it on. All these schemes will come up against the fact that Barnet council wants to close the museums, yes, to save the small sum it costs the council to run them, but, mainly, in order to flog off the buildings, or let them out at commercial rents.

Barnet Museum volunteers are still in the thick of their fight to keep Barnet Museum in the building it is in, and propose to pay the council a peppercorn rent. We should throw our weight behind their campaign.

Barnet council's Tory group have little regard for history, and they don't believe residents have the capacity to appreciate it. In short, they take us to be philistines like them. We can, we must prove them wrong!

There are some more pictures here.


David Duff said...

Dare one ask how many visitors it received last year?

Gerrard Roots said...

Church Farm received 9,000 visitors in 2010. Since 3rd January 2011 to its closing date it has received 3,500 visitors, all of whom wanted the museum to survive.

MickeyN said...

Barnet Museum receives some 4000 visitors a year in public access periods (what used to be called "opening hours" ie Tues pm, Weds pm, Thurs pm and Sat all day). The Museum is now planning to open on Sundays.

Added to this, Barnet Museum frequently hosts school visits (usually on Mondays) and will often open for specialists, researchers etc at other times. Also curator and archivist work is carried out throughout the week.

This is ALL carried out by volunteers. Barnet Museum has no paid staff.

Even the Council officers' own report to the Cabinet budget meeting admitted that closing (or cutting the funding to)the Museum would make Barnet a less desirable place to live in.

Barnet Museum is good people doing a good thing. And for much much less than the cost of a single Cruise missile.

Citizen Barnet said...

Well said, Mickey.

Between the two of them, Church Farmhouse and Barnet Museums cost Barnet council about £150,000 a year.

If we are talking about other things we'd rather not spend money on...

How much does MetPro security owe to HMRC? £245,000. Roughly how much money have they had out of Barnet council? £275,000.

(Why is MetPro - or a company almost identical to it - still working at Barnet?)

David Duff said...

So if (and I take your figures with a straight face) the two museums had a total of 13,000 visitors and they cost £150,000 to run then a charge of £1.50 per head sounds sensible to me. Or better still, combine them into one building and let the other.

MickeyN said...

David Duff - thank you for the benefit of your economics advice - straight out of the the Rams manual of "know the cost of everything and the value of nothing". A little background - Barnet Museum is the museum of the town of Chipping/High Barnet, moving it to Church Farmhouse is therefore pointless as the collection is not Hendon-centric.

Even a small charge is likely to lose some visitors NOT because they don't value the Museum but because they already have to pay for every other bloody thing in the borough. We don't want to lose those who are least able to afford our service. Many of our visitors are already generous with donations.

Other boroughs and National Museums are free; why? because culture, heritage and history are valued in some places.


David Duff said...

Ah, but Mickey they do value it. The ones who never visit are telling you that they, like the those poor, oppressed kiddie-winks, would only go if they were forced to. The ones who wouldn't go for £1.50 a time are telling you that they value it only at £0.0 per head!

Just admit it, this is yet another nice, middle-class project for nice middle-class people to enjoy - so long as everyone else pays for it.

MickeyN said...

David Duff - this is rather patronising to the thousands who visit and have signed our petitions.

BUT it certainly is a new defence of the Council's philistinism - Class Warriors!!!!

David Duff said...

Ooh arrr, but we do things better down 'ere in the west country:

"[A]Tory-run council in Dorchester about to blow £15 million on an unpopular office and library complex so big that it has been dubbed “Buckingham Palace”? [...]

West Dorset District Council already has adequate offices and Dorchester already has a library. This spending is not essential. Local taxpayers are so angry that they will march through Dorchester this morning to demand that the council stop wasting their money. Yes, at last, a march AGAINST public spending!
The protest will be led by an (unarmed) Challenger tank."

In a poll over 2,000 voted against and only 157 in favour. According to reports if this goes ahead, in the next march the tank might be armed! Oooh arrr!

Rog T said...


David Puff is what is known in the wonderful world of football blogs as a WUM. I suspect that he has a tendency towards being a stalker as well, given his obsession with Vicki's blog.

You should try reading his blog. It is the finest cure for insomnia known to man. It would most certainly have been the second blog in my list of crap London blogs, but for the fact that he's a yokel.

David Duff said...


That's Yokalist, that is, Rog, and I'm sorry but I may have report you to the old Bill for your blatent Yokalism. See, one law for you Metros and another for us Yokels, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Gerrard Roots said...

Having worked at Church Farmhouse Museum for over thirty years I, unlike David Duff, actually know something about it. Its audience was not all 'nice middle-class people', but nice people of every class, united in an interest in the history and culture of their area. As the majority of these visitors were from Barnet borough, they had already paid for the Museum's upkeep through a-tiny- proportion of their Council Tax: why should they have to pay for it again by an admission charge?

Free admission to museums is, as the Victorians understood, a mark of a civilized society. The mark of Cameron's fatuous 'Big Society' is likely to be no museums at all.

I would have rather enjoyed showing David Duff around Church Farm: he might have learned something.