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Lost Museums?


"Lost Museums?" aims to document the closure of museums by local councils from 2008 onwards. Museum closures are important as a record of the ongoing effects of austerity in the UK and how local government and public services have changed as a result of government policies.

The research project

Led by Dr Bethany Rex from the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at Warwick, this project explores the changing role of the public museum. Investigating museum closures shows us how ideas about what constitutes a museum are changing, as are ways of thinking about what museums are for, and what happens inside them.

Dr Rex explains:

“For the project, which is in progress, I'm interviewing decision-makers, former employees, anti-closure campaigners and others with a connection to these museums to build rich accounts of closure. The research aims to understand how decisions about closure are made, what is at stake in these processes and how closures are experienced by different people. However, I am also trying to avoid claiming museum closures as straightforward ‘losses’ or moments of grief or sadness that are experienced in the same way by everyone. I'm open to the possibility that for some people, the closures could be read as positive, particularly considering that some museums developed in a context of inequality. I’m interested in how we tell the story of closure without slipping into a melancholic approach. I feel this is one way of avoiding the debate about museum closure being one-dimensional.”

The artist

Dr Rex will be working with local poet John Bernard to create an artistic response to the research on museum closure.

John explains:

“My work is an amalgamation of narrative, free verse, and lyric poetry; each form invoked to reflect my experiences, my insight, my struggles, my community, and my aspirations. I endeavour to inspire my community. I have always been creatively ambitious by setting audacious goals and leaping in faith knowing wherever I land I will learn to prosper.”