UCL Culture’s controversial proposal to reshape UCL museums

In 2018, UCL Culture announced a consultation for a proposed re-structure. It’s controversial for many reasons. The site presents relevant documents (which the unit choose to not circulate to its stakeholders. It also argues in favour of rejecting this proposal.

Round 1: first proposal and initial call to action. Feb 2018. This was presented to staff in the unit on 13 February 2018. The consultation period lasts 30 days, until 13 March 2018. More than 270 stakeholders submitted letters in the consultation recommending rejection of this proposal.

Round 2: decisions after the consultation. Mar 2018. In sum: no decision, stakeholders told to wait.

My position: This proposal must be rejected. I’m an academic at UCL. I don’t think this is a minor managerial restructure. I believe  this is a significant reorientation of mission. And I think it goes in the wrong direction.

What can you do?

The original consultation period has ended. You may like to comment further.

Site authorship

Professor Joe Cain created this site. I’m an academic at UCL. I am not an employee of UCL Culture. I have 20+ years experience working with UCL museums and collections. I have collaborated with UCL Culture staff and advised various groups. They gave me an award in 2013! I oppose this proposal to restructure. I think it’s a car crash, and I am embarrassed it is so poor. I tweet @profjoecain.

9 thoughts on “UCL Culture’s controversial proposal to reshape UCL museums

  1. I am not an academic but have been a serious student of Egyptology for twenty years. I support the museum and it has been a serious and uselful research tool. The proposed changes would seriously undermine the integrity of the museum. There fore I object to the proposals.


  2. As I understand it you get a shiny new outreach building promoting the cultural profile of your institution and dumb down on the expertise behind it. I think the word for this is ‘shallow’. It’s a triumph of packaging over content that would certainly win a marketing award for the likes of Kraft/Mondelez, but not what one would expect from London’s most wide-ranging research university.


  3. I am really concerned at what UCL Culture is proposing, which seems to me reducing teh specialist academic expertise across several UCL museums in the name of providing a more ‘integrated service’. Academic expertise in museums should not be underestimated – it is what makes the collections useful for the diverse communities who want to access them. The Petrie Museum (which I know best) actively engages with school groups, students, academic researchers, film crews, tourists, and more. It can do so because it has an expert academic staff who can not only curate the collection properly but communicate meaningfully with these diverse audiences. To take away that academic expertise is the equivalent of turning a bespoke Savile Row tailors into Primark. And once the academic expertise is gone, it is hugely difficult to restore, to the detriment of everyone, including UCL and its academic community. I strongly urge UCLC to think again, and to extend this consultation period so that others can have a meaningful say


  4. The Petrie Museum is one of the most important ancient Egyptian collections in the world, I was shocked to read about the proposed restructuring and the effects it will have. If this happens in London at UCL I wonder what will happen soon to other relatively small collections in the UK and worldwide. Please, do think twice before undermining the efficiency of such an important museum.


  5. This is an ill thought through proposal, that has been has been circulated in a rush to avoid any consultation. It ignores the impact that this restructure will have upon teaching and research in the collections. It removes skill, expertise and the ability of UCL culture to deliver it’s services to the University and public. Stafff and students are supposed to be UCL Culture’s primary audience. It is deffcult to see how this will be the case after this re-structure. There statements that don’t represent the reality of the current situation e.g. conservation at UCLC does not just focus on loans , but is an organised ongoing programme across several of the museums. As well s contibuting conserably to remedial consertion across al UCL cultural assets. I would urge that the period of consultation is extended and that the re-structure itself is reconsidered.


  6. Terrible restructuring. The Petrie Museum is a world class assemblage that must be kept by professionals and maintained as a discrete collection. It is an unparalleled resource for Egyptology.

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