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Museum of London statement

8 October 2020

The Museum of London began talks with colleagues today in response to the financial impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the future sustainability and efficiency of the organisation.

The Director of the Museum of London, Sharon Ament, said:

“It is with deep regret that the Museum of London today announced that it is entering a period of consultation with staff and our recognised Trade Union on proposed redundancies.

The museum closed completely for five months and following our re-opening, we have experienced low visitor numbers, averaging only 20% of last year’s performance. Our self-generated income streams, which form an important source of funding for the museum, generating £3.5m income each year, have been badly affected.

The museum has already undertaken wide-ranging cost-saving actions to try to plug the budget gap since the pandemic began, which include cancelling costly major programming; implementing a recruitment freeze; significantly cutting department budgets and voluntary reduced remuneration for Directors. We have also taken advantage of the government’s Job Retention Scheme (where we topped up staff salaries to 100%) and of business rates relief. Neither of these government support packages will be available next year, and despite our efforts to lower our expenditure there remains a significant shortfall between our sources of income and our cost base resulting in a £2m saving needed next financial year. This now means that the museum must take some very difficult decisions.

The museum has entered consultation with colleagues in our Visitor Experience and Commercial teams as well as the Executive Board about a senior restructure. At this initial stage, it is anticipated that restructuring proposals, including revised rotas and voluntary options, will affect up to 28 FTE; this is 34% of the visitor experience and commercial departments and 10% of total museum staffing.

This is not a decision taken lightly; our colleagues are our greatest strength – capable, creative and passionate about what they do – and we are working closely with our Trade Union to ensure transparent and open communication through this challenging time.

The financial impact is already severe and anticipated to last beyond this year. This will be the first phase of an ongoing review of all other areas of business, which will take place over the coming months across all departments and at all levels in order to ensure our long-term financial stability.

By prioritising the financial sustainability of the museum, we will be able to continue to enhance the understanding and appreciation of London and all its people – past, present and future. In doing so, we are able to welcome as many people through our doors as is safe at the current time, maintain digital activities with a reach around the globe and support thousands of schoolchildren in their learning about the capital’s history.

We continue to develop plans for the new museum at West Smithfield, one of the most significant cultural projects in Europe. Now more than ever, museums play a crucial role in our society as spaces that are responsive to the world that surrounds them. A new museum for London at West Smithfield will deliver significant economic and social benefits, contributing to London’s post COVID recovery. Supported by long-term funders and partners, we are confident that as plans progress, we can serve more people in ways that are even more impactful in the future.”