Fears are mounting over the future funding of the National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMME).
The museum in Overton gets most of its money from the Science Museum Group which last week announced it faces a large deficit in 2014. Stark remedies include introducing admission charges or even closing a museum in either York, Manchester or Bradford.
The NCMME’s funding is ring-fenced until 2015 but an imminent government spending review is expected to bring in new cuts of up to 10 per cent for 2015-16.
Dr Margaret Faull, director of the NCMME, believes that would mean a £250,000 reduction in its grant. It has already had a 25 per cent cut.
She added: “Needing to maintain 43 acres of fragile listed buildings, an underground open to the public and the national collection of large mining equipment, there is really nothing else that can be cut without affecting either the visitor experience or the operation of the museum.”
Funding rules mean the NCMME can’t charge for entry to its national collections but it is believed any fee could cut numbers by a third. Other options could include not opening every day and mothballing some collections.
City MP Mary Creagh and Wakefield Council leader Peter Box have both raised concerns. The MP does not want a return to “the bad old days” of museum entry fees.
And Coun Box said: “This museum is an important part of not just the district’s mining legacy but the country’s, keeping the industry’s heritage alive for all generations to learn from and be inspired by. The NCMM has already been forced to make savings but further cuts could prove to be a step too far.”
But a government spokeswoman said: “It would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome of the spending review. This is an operational matter for the Science Museum Group who has to address a large projected operating deficit from 2014 onwards and is assessing a range of options to address this situation.”