Thursday, 22 October 2009
Oscars at the NRM
The NRM's latest press release is a good news success story. See http://www.nrm.org.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/2009/whiteroseawards.asp . They have won two Yorkshire tourism Oscars. Two facts stand out: the oft repeated but undeniably true, this is the most visited museum outside London and 2008/09 proved a bumper year in that regard. There is praise for the "continued re-inventing of the wheel" and in that context the Railway Children wins one of the awards. Staff at the NRM appear justifiably pleased with this achievement and I have no wish to underplay that. What it appears to say is that they can put on a show. This is the case in partnership with other professional colleagues like the Theatre Royal or the operators of the Wheel. Even so wise management will realise that if you keep scoring hard on the visitor number front but behind the scenes ramp up years of backlog in your curatorial tasks, a tension will develop. That in my judgement has happened at York and although steps to resolve this have been taken with the building of Search Engine there is still a long way to go. I remain fascinated though little the wiser really why if at one level the museum is so successful, then at another level it has had such a rate of senior staff turnover in this last year.