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National Media Museum in Bradford holds spending review (UPDATED-2)

The National Media Museum (NMeM) in Bradford is undertaking a three week consultation as it launches a spending review as part of a wider restructure designed to cut running costs after visitors numbers halved in 10 years (see review aims to bring down the running costs while also looking at ways to increase visitor numbers through improved public exhibitions, events and cinema programme. There will be job losses amongst staff, including curatorial and collection support roles, and a number of staff are having to apply for a smaller number of roles. 

Heather Mayfield, deputy director of the Science Museum Group - to which the NMeM belongs - announced a 'back to basics' review to 'reconnect the museum to its audiences'. She added: 'We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for staff and will ensure that consultation will be conducted with the utmost consideration for any staff member affected.'

In a statement, the museum added: 'Visitor numbers have seen a decline from a peak of almost one million in 2001 to 500,000 in 2011 - although this decline has been stabilised over the past 12 months with the opening of the new Life Online gallery and an improved family offer at holiday periods. 'The review aims to deliver an improved public exhibition, events and cinema programme, which appeals more to audiences locally and nationally, supports its status as a national museum and increases access to its world famous collections of film, photography and television.'

A recent review carried out by the museum’s parent organisation, the Science Museum Group, found that average costs per visitor at the National Media Museum were 30% more than at the Science Museum in London, the National Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Railway Museum in York.  

The museum has been based in Bradford since opening in 1983 as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Despite reports of an 'axe' hanging over the museum the review may represent an attempt to take it back to a focus on its world-class collections under its new Head Jo Quinton-Tulloch as it addresses the relationship between Bradford and the London-based Media Space. Sadly, it seems that job losses amongst curatorial staff will make it far more difficult to realise the review outcomes which will inevitably require better curatorial support.

Update2: A report in Amateur Photographer today (see: quotes a museum spokesperson as saying that Media Space remains at the heart of the museum's strategy to open up the Collections despite the review.

As the full funding for Media Space has not been secured this suggests that some of the savings made in Bradford through cutting staff and services will be used to underwrite Media Space's future costs. 

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