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Curatorial Training

Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Arts how many public museums and galleries currently sponsor candidates for curatorial training; and if he will make a statement.

This information is not held centrally. The Government recognise the importance of museums training, and have supported the establishment of the Museums Training Institute, for which £400,000 is being provided in the current financial year.

I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for the funds that he has made available through that quarter. Nevertheless, is he not concerned at the large number of museums and galleries employing untrained staff, many of whom would like to be trained? Unfortunately, there are not enough places where they can go to be trained. Will my right hon. Friend consult our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science with the aim of making such places available, funded wherever possible by public museums and galleries?

I will look further at my hon. Friend's suggestion. He has taken a persistent interest in museums and galleries. I very much hope, however, that the £400,000 of taxpayers' money for the establishment of the Museums Training Institute will enable us to strengthen considerably the training available for management and volunteers, and also for attendants—thus raising still further the high standards in our museums.

In view of the enforced early retirement of Dr. Juliet Clutton-Brock, what arrangements will be made for curatorial training in archaeo-zoology and related sciences?

The hon. Gentleman has, as always, shown his capacity to ask the most penetrating question, and to expect Ministers to answer in specific terms. I shall look into the matter. I will, however, make the general point that it is important to find ways in which we can raise the standard of professionalism in our museums. That is not to say that that standard is not high already, but training facilities are inadequate and we need to do a great deal about that.