Shambellie House to close

THe battle to save Shambellie House, Scotland’s smallest national museum near New Abbey, has failed and National Museums Scotland will now close the costume museum because it is ‘simply not sustainable’.

National Museums Scotland say it costs £220,000 a year to run and attracts just 10,000 visitors a year, which is less than one per cent of the total number of visitors to Scotland’s five national museums. Time was called after a reduction in public funding to National Museums Scotland due to the recession meant Shambellie’s low visitor numbers and high operational costs made it uneconomic to keep open.

The decision to close the site has been taken following full consideration of a range of options for savings across all National Museums activity as well as comments received directly from the public and at meetings with stakeholders in Dumfries and Galloway. The site will not reopen for 2013.

Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown said: “Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown said, “This news will come as no surprise to many people and is particularly devastating for the people employed at Shambellie, at a time our region already faces an employment crisis. Although National Museums Scotland have gone through a token consultation exercise over the past few weeks, it was clear that unless the Scottish Government intervened, Shambellie would close. This decision shows that once again our region is the forgotten part of Scotland in the eyes of the Scottish Government. SNP Government Ministers will say it is a matter for Museums Scotland, but the reality is the Scottish Government own Shambellie House and the buck stops with them. They could have intervened to stop the closure, but failed to do so. Their announcement of a feasibility study is too little, too late. It shows they have no idea what they are now going to do with this historic building and they are trying to wash their hands of any responsibility. The museum should have been kept open pending the outcome of any study. It looks worryingly as if the Scottish Government are trying pass the running of Shambellie House from the Scottish Government to the council and local people will be concerned that they will be forced to pick up the bill for a building. “

Galloway MSP Alex Fergusson added: “While there was a degree of inevitability about this announcement it nonetheless comes as a great shock that it has been made. Many of us have criticised the decision on the grounds that alternatives have not been properly investigated. In that light, it now seems like the Scottish Government is adding insult to injury by making £20,000 available for a feasibility study into the future of Shambellie House, to be carried out in partnership with the Council. While I can only welcome that funding, this is exactly the type of study that I believe NMS should have carried out long ago, so that we could have been fully satisfied that all options had been looked at before the decision to close was taken”.

!I do not believe that all options have been looked at, and cannot hide my disappointment at the way in which this decision has been reached.”

Bruce Minto, Chairman of the Trustees of National Museums Scotland, said: “It is with great regret that we have taken the decision to close the National Museum of Costume. While this has been an extremely difficult decision for the Board of Trustees, we are clear that in the current challenging financial climate it is a necessary part of a range of cost savings which ensures the long-term future of our national collections.”