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Museums Reviews

Volume 631: debated on Tuesday 14 November 2017

Today DCMS publishes “The Mendoza Review: an independent review of museums in England” and the “Strategic Review of DCMS-sponsored museums”.

Neil Mendoza was the lead, independent reviewer. He was supported by officials at DCMS. Throughout the process Neil engaged closely with the museums sector, Arts Council England (ACE), Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Historic England (HE), and relevant Government Departments.

The Mendoza review of museums in England

The Mendoza review is the first in over a decade to examine the English museums sector. It was commissioned in response to the culture White Paper in 2016 which called for

“a wide-ranging review of national, local and regional museums, working closely with ACE and HLF”.

Therefore, it has looked at what the national infrastructure for museums is, what it could and should be, the museums sponsored directly by Government, and the challenges and opportunities for all of England’s museums. While it focuses primarily on the 1,312 ACE accredited museums, it does consider the wider context of the sector, which encompasses approximately 2,000 museums in England. The review does not cover the policy of free admission to the permanent collections of national museums as this is a manifesto commitment.

The Mendoza review proposes recommendations enabling a more strategic approach to public funding for museums from Government and their arm’s length bodies. It highlights the increased importance for Government and their ALBs—including the national lottery—of distributing funding in a more joined-up and effective fashion. The roles and responsibilities for relevant stakeholders are divided as follows:

a more strategic and focused approach by DCMS and its ALBs;

a more prominent and assertive role for Arts Council England;

a more strategic use of lottery funding for museums;

a more active role for Historic England;

and national responsibilities for national museums.

The review also sets out ideas for local authorities on how to make best use of their museums, and best practice suggestions for the sector itself.

The report is available at: publications/the-mendoza-review-independent-review-of-museums-in-england

Strategic review of DCMS-sponsored museums

Alongside the Mendoza review we publish the “Strategic review of DCMS-sponsored museums”. This is the first clustered review undertaken by any Government Department, following Cabinet Office guidelines for tailored reviews. It examines the form and functions of 16 ALBs (15 museums and the British Library) sponsored by DCMS, their functions, forms, effectiveness, efficiency and accountability. Of particular importance was establishing the extent of the leadership and co-ordinating activity these ALBs provide, nationally and internationally, identifying any areas for improvement. It should be read alongside the Mendoza review for a full picture of the role, importance and significance of the sponsored museums, especially after the UK’s exit from the European Union, and how the findings from this review feed into and support its recommendations.

Both reviews benefited from the independent challenge panel, members of which were appointed to ensure the review’s robustness and impartiality. I am also grateful to the following Government Departments who sat on the programme board: Her Majesty’s Treasury, Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Ministry of Defence. Finally, I would like to thank all those who contributed evidence to the review through the public consultation.

The report is available at: