Alistair Brown considers the history and future of civic museums. While there is a risk councils may see them as financial liabilities, can they become our greatest local assets?
'Looking at the recently announced shortlist for this year’s Art Fund Museum of the Year prize, you might think that civic museums and galleries across the UK were in rude health. The contenders are a fascinating bunch, with museums from every nation and no representatives from London.
But take a closer look at the list and you might notice something odd. For not a single museum on the shortlist is what we would recognise as a local authority museum. Two of the shortlisted museums are branches of national museums: St Fagans Museum (part of National Museum Wales) and HMS Caroline in Belfast (a branch of the National Museum of the Royal Navy). A third, the V&A Dundee, is a collaboration between the national museum in London, the city’s two universities and the local council. The remaining candidates are the Pitt Rivers Museum, operated by Oxford University, and Nottingham Contemporary, which is an independent trust.' ... Keep reading in Apollo Magazine