19 Dec 2022

Museums Aotearoa calls on government to recognise significant value of sector

12:53 pm on 19 December 2022
Room with archives. The archive corridor with cupboards leading to the light. 3D illustration

Photo: 123RF

Museums Aotearoa is calling on local and central government to recognise the national significance of museums or some may need to close their doors.

A new study commissioned by Museums Aotearoa has found some museums have an average operating deficit of almost $280,000.

It also found museums and galleries were responsible for caring for 45 million items with a total value of $3.6 billion.

The sector body said years of decreasing visitor donations, coupled with rising operational costs, was causing widespread financial strain.

Museums Aotearoa chief executive Adele Fitzpatrick told Morning Report the research proved the true value of museums and the wide impacts they have - not only for society but for New Zealand's economy.

Adele Fitzpatrick is the chief executive of Project Crimson, which leads Trees That Count.

Museums Aotearoa chief executive Adele Fitzpatrick. Photo: Jason Mann Photography Ltd

Museums of all sizes were at risk of having to close - with some large ones unable to attract the funding for large exhibitions and low visitor numbers.

They also did not have the volunteer base like some smaller museums did, Fitzpatrick said.

Councils have long used visitor numbers to quantify the success and interest in museums - but Fitzpatrick said it was a poor way to measure value.

"What we are asking for is central government to recognise the significant value that it receives from the sector."

It was a "financial reality" that some museums may have to close their doors.

"Many of the museums that I speak to on a daily basis are pretty worried about what's coming up."

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