The Museum of London. A glimmer of hope?
Since my last post on the subject, I've gone on being worried about the Museum of London. And there was a powerful piece this week in SALON (the really excellent e-magazine that goes out to Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries).
The redundancies are now out in the open, and basically there are cuts...and the posts of Roman and Prehistoric senior curator are being combined (and in my book those are rather different specialisms). But the question is whether this new curator will actually be appointed. As SALON reports, so far not. And that leaves anything before "modern" in the Museum without a senior scholar.
This is what SALON had to say:
"Now, following the issue of final redundancy notices on 12 April 2011, the facts have become clear. The prehistoric and Roman posts are being combined into a single Senior Curator (Prehistoric and Roman) post. However, this post has not been filled. The existing Senior Curator (Prehistoric) and Senior Curator (Roman) are both being made redundant. The post of Senior Curator (Medieval) . . . . is being combined with that of the existing Senior Curator (Post-Medieval). So, from four Senior Curators and two Curators in 2009, the number of staff responsible for the Museum's pre-1700 collections is now being reduced to two Senior Curators and two Curators, with one of the Senior posts unfilled."
Anyway, as the top brass of the Museum had been very civil to me after my first outburst, I thought I should say that I was going to blog on the subject 'again. And they did give a bit of a more upbeat report.
"The Museum is starting the recruitment for the new Senior Curator Prehistory and Roman London now, and hopes to add more Curator posts to the new structure in the future, as finances allow."
I haven't stopped being anxious about this (the phrase, "as finances allow" tends to mean "never", and somehow the combination of Roman with the Bronze Age doesnt inspire confidence). But let's hope that there IS soon a new Senior Curator (much needed to replace scholars who really did know a lot).
Meanwhile the world that museums now have to operate in makes one gloomy. It's not just that the atmosphere in the MOL recently has been pretty edgy (and not especially conducive, I imagine, to top rank research on London's history). It was a bit depressing to see the advert put out by the Mayor of London's office for a new governor of the Museum.
This was the key bit of the job description:
"You should have a keen interest in the Museum and the ability to contribute to future policy, together with experience and understanding of strategic decision-making and the principles of corporate governance in the public sector. Excellent communication and advocacy skills are essential and you will have no trouble commanding respect amongst key stakeholders at all levels.
We would welcome applications from those with strong business and entrepreneurial skills and a track record in running a commercial business, and from individuals who have experience of making a difference to successful charitable fundraising initiatives. Lastly, all applicants should have a good understanding of London and its diverse communities with a commitment to promoting diversity."
Nothing there about actually KNOWING something about the history of London.