Imperial War Museum

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by Noel Burgess, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Geho

    Geho Member

    [SIZE=9pt]David [/SIZE][SIZE=9pt]Cameron reopened the museum in July 2014 he said: “.You have created something fitting and lasting – something of which we can all be proud.”[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=9pt]And what a fitting centrepiece this is – a national focal point in which we can all take great pride.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=9pt]“You have created something fitting and lasting – something of which we can all be proud.”[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=9pt]Nov 2014 The Imperial War Museum’s Prospect union branch today launched a petition calling on the government to reverse a £4m cut in annual funding, which has left it facing the closure of its unique library and the loss of 80 jobs, just months after the fanfare of IWM London’s reopening following a £40m refurbishment [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=9pt]thanks to DC's government ideas[/SIZE]

    Remember that next May 'the cut backs have removed the fat now attacking the bone.'
  2. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Everyone loves a crisis. Especially when a national institution is involved. But this current mess at the IWM was predictable and underlined by a number of worrying developments of late... so a few steps back are required.

    There was recently a furore over Orphan Works, the IWM claimed they could not display them due to Copyright Law. They wanted to unpick Copyright law and increase accessibility to the public - when asked if this would be in a similar way to how the US NA did it, they declined to comment.

    Problem was this problem was manufactured as the IWM knew it could already display such items freely thanks to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:

    Director General Dianne Lees just ignored this:
    Diane Lees, director general of the Imperial War Museums, said: “Many organisations want to make original unpublished works such as diaries and letters accessible to the public. Because they are still under copyright protection, they cannot do so without seeking permission from the rights holder. This is even more problematic if the rights holders are untraceable.”
    Rather odd that such pragmatic guidance was ignored and then flouted as a scandal with #2039 on Twitter claiming sympathy. It was clear that monetisation and commercialisation was the big prize here, not accessibility.

    Currently the Library story has still not been picked up by a National, but several factors are key:
    1. The IWM wishes to increase profits to £5m
    2. The Archive will not close, but will not have Library Access.
    3. These cuts were well known before hand. This is not a surprise.
    4. The IWM has attempted to monetise assets charging far greater amounts for commercial reproduction in books, TV etc.

    So for all this to happen after a £40m revamp (regardless of how good or not it is) is a rather curious thing to slip through planning. Especially after the Director General Dianne Lees boasts that all the changes happened after they sat down and had a 'Big Think'. [Orwellian undertones here.]

    2011 - 2015 Corporate Narrative Plan

    The IWM: As much of a relic as Spitfires and Doodlebugs

    Alan Borg states in the above interview in the Guardian:
    "Although the millions of people who go through the galleries are important," he says, "and we hope they go out thinking, it's the documents and film departments which are really vital. The important thing is to have enough money to keep the academic and collecting sides of the museum operating."

    So cashflow through the documents and films sections are key - so when why cut the Library and the staff needed to run it so? Why cut the programmes which are the raison d'etre of the IWM.

    Well photography and film is moving to 'a digital platform' according to the Corporate Plan of 2014 - 17, but it is already clear they have priced themselves out of much of the market. They cannot compete with other institutions, so instead of cutting prices and reacting to market forces the IWM is calling foul.

    A set charge could be applied to Archival usage - but that has never (seemingly) been mooted.

    Anyway getting back to the Petition, it was lodged by Andy Bye who works for the Prospect Union. Who is dealing with the matter, so it seems genuine enough.

    From this it is clear that a general cut back of education resources will be occurring. It seems the Archive is ringfenced but access to Library materials will not be (a bizarre state of affairs).

    The Bookseller has run an article:
    Where an unnamed IWM Spokesman said:
    "The change programme seeks to ensure IWM can continue to respond to challenges and opportunities, build on our successes to date, improve and update ways of working across the organisation and reduce IWM’s net expenditure by £4 million per annum to account for changes to funding and increases in pension contributions. IWM aims to achieve the expenditure change by reducing costs and increasing our income through further commercial activity... The consultation period for the organisational restructuring element of IWM’s change programme has now begun. We are working closely with those who may be affected by the change proposals and will continue to do so until the end of the year. Any announcements regarding changes at IWM will be made early next year.”

    So going through the waffle... to make up for a drive to reduce expenditure by £4m they will cut the Library, staff and education programmes. So how does this sit financially?
    Its back to the Commercial Plan 2014-17
    In 2012 - 13 they made £3,000,000 profit. When £2,500,000 was predicted. Nice going. 33% of turnover.
    Growth is wanted to achieve profits (per annum) of £4,000,000 in 2014 - 15 and £5,000,000 by 2017.
    Pretty massive stuff.
    Looking at Annual Report for 2013 - 2014 you can number crunch staff figures
    But for me, I always like looking at the top. Director General Dianne Lees was on £160-165,000 a year including a £20k pension pot (reduced from £60k), a £10k bonus and nearly £9k of accommodation allowance.
    Very nice handshake deal there.

    Considering 'Change Directors' and others... its clear that there exists a great deal of pointless chaff within the IWM... not necessarily in the education sectors, for some reasons Branding/Marketing are escaping the potential chop.

    Dianne Lees would have known of the funding changes for a long time, and it is certainly arguable that this is another manufactured crisis by senior figures at the IWM in order to guilt public donations, or Government intervention and secure greater funding. While maintaining aggressive commercial practices that the market is clearly rejecting.

    So I don't think it is worth signing that petition, as it seemingly gives them free reign to do as they wish, or is evidence of gross-mismanagement.

    brithm likes this.
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    By contrast The National Archives is not allowed to make a profit.

    The current reading room at IWM is not attractive and the copying policy is very restrictive.

    The thing about orphan copyright licensing is that it will be seen as a money making opportunity, so just scrap the library thing and sell licences to view digital copies of the documents. Dress it up with a lot of twaddle about working with partners, sprinkle on plenty of diversity, add two tons of bullet points, witter on about the direction of travel, and laugh all the way to the bank.

    Still the Chancellor's view of a £1.7 billion pound bill is that nothing is quite what it first appears to be, so it may be that he will think the same of a petition.

    It all seems to be rather fishy at the moment. I do hope so.
    Swiper and brithm like this.
  4. zahonado

    zahonado Well-Known Member

    Interesting reading ... I was considering donating material, but don't think I will if it is all going to be marketed and sold. Not what people imagined would happen to their diaries, letters and so on. This commercialisation, branding etc is a fantasy pursued by a political ideology that no one really wants to buy into. A nonsense. However a small charge to users of the library might be an idea, although it looks as though they are not actually that hard up.
    brithm likes this.
  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    The Tank Museum charges £10 to visit their Library: totally reasonable but they are a Registered Charity. I personally would be totally prepared to pay a similar amount to visit the IWM which I assume is also a Registered Charity and that is because it would be a personalised service. Nothing in life is free and I believe taxpayers money is there to ensure continuation of the Library/Archive/etc service and not to provide personalised services. Full commercialisation of their Collection is totally unacceptable and I will not now be donating items pending the outcome of their current shenanigans.
    brithm likes this.
  6. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Having been there post-refit I was very disappointed with it, especially when compared to how it used to be. I didn't bother going into the WW-1 gallery as my allotted time slot was 2 hours after I arrived (I got there at around 11am) and the change is such that it didn't take me anywhere near 2 hours to look around - so I left and went to the Churchill War Rooms which was much more interesting even if you have to pay to get in, something I am more than happy to do if it helps to keep the museum up to a good standard.
    The Lord Ashcroft & Holocaust Exhibitions are the exception and the former has been placed in a much bigger area with additional items to compliment the medals but on the whole, it isn't as good as it used to be by a long chalk. Dumbed down would describe it well enough.
    Here is a review I put on the GMIC Forum (apologies for the photos not being available but you need to be a member to see them) and another member's reply...
    brithm likes this.
  7. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I have been disappointed for some time with IWM with the way they deal with their collections and exhibits, especially with the refurb which I believe was unnecessary.

    I believe exhibits pertaining to the First World War could have been brought into the main room and replaced after next summer without any refurbishment. It was a great open space and is now claustrophobic. Too much emphasis on profit rather than making military history accessible and interesting using the resources they already have the library with a huge variety of books, documents, oral testimony and film etc.

    The catalogue is lacking certain details misspelt places and names, if you are looking for a certain regiment, name or battle etc you may miss it for whoever has logged these items have not kept it within that certain category.

    I am going on a tangent here but since the beginning of the summer I have been trying to get a quote for photocopy of a document but it is now November and I have not received a reply whether by email or phone even with my incessant emails and phone calls, these are the sort of things that let down IWM.

    Swiper's breakdown of the situation helps a lot and smacks of overpaid managers thinking they know best. While a simple solution is to get rid of the library at the beginning it will later transpire the Library was needed as well its staff and the decision would ultimately backfire. Sadly National Army Museum has gone the same way, one thing I use to admire about NAM was that it employed ex-army to do security, who better, but then began to use a private security firm.

    I have attached some photos from 2012 of the IWM before the refurb.

    Attached Files:

  8. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    Hang on.... "allotted time slot" - since when (and for how long) is that in effect?
    brithm likes this.
  9. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    I can only assume that it is in effect during the busier periods, i.e. the summer tourist season. It may well be possible to just enter and wander through the WW-1 exhibit at will if the visitor numbers have reduced during the autumn. But during the summer there were staff at the main entrance handing out tickets to everyone who entered and the ticket gave the allotted time slot. I entered at 1100 and my time was 2 hours later but when I left at around 1215 the allotted time for people entering the museum was 3 hours. The allotted time slot is for entry into the WW-1 exhibit, not the actual museum.
  10. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic Patron

    Here is the paradox of this thread. Visitor numbers (headline grabbing, substantiation of all they've done and highly profitable especially in any Shop they have) versus Research and donation of potential exhibits etc (minority interest, loss-making and tedious to form-fillers). The difficulty they will eventually face is that they need the latter to provide the foundation for the former. If they continue with this, they are building their house on a bed of sand. But hey....the senior managers don't care because the former pays their salaries and provides their Pensions. The exception, of course, is that those who staff the Library and Research Room, will be thrown out and it is also in them where the future lies.

    Bottom line: I will not now be donating any items (and I do have some which will be of interest to future generations), I will no longer recommend anyone else to donate items (and I do get asked the question) and I can testify as to the brilliant service offered by their Library (because I have visited in the past and wish to visit again in the next few months).

    Note: I could name a name re my comments regarding the Library but will not do so in a public forum.
    dbf likes this.
  11. Clive Wiley

    Clive Wiley Member
    One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the Imperial War Museum is under threat.
    The Museum is facing an annual deficit of £4m because of cuts in government funding.
    It has drawn up proposals to:
    • close its unique library and dispose of the majority of its collection
    • cut important education services
    • cut 60-80 jobs
    • close the widely emulated ‘Explore History’ facility in London.
    The Museum’s library gives ordinary people access to research materials on all aspects of British and Commonwealth involvement in conflict since 1914.
    Prospect trade union believes the world's leading authority on conflict will be irreparably damaged by the £4m deficit.
    It has launched this petition to help ensure that the Imperial War Museum continues to provide for, and encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and ‘wartime experience'.
    Please show your support by signing today.
    Imperial War Museum Library
    The Imperial War Museum Library is a collecting department in its own right and plays a key role in helping IWM staff do their jobs - curating exhibitions, helping to identify and understand artefacts and furthering their own knowledge.
    IWM aspires to be a highly-respected authority on its subject matter, but this will be impossible without a library.
    Once the Library and its professional staff are gone, the damage will be done.
    It will be impossible to replace this unique collection of primary and secondary printed materials and the dedicated people who care for them and make them available to the public - remotely or in person.
    The Library acquired its first item in April 1917 - a programme for a 'Dick Whittington' pantomime staged by the 85th Field Ambulance in Salonika - and has been a vital part of the Museum ever since.
    The Research Room
    The Research Room, available to all for more in-depth research, will continue to operate but at a reduced level, and without access to library materials.
    These materials are vital for providing context to personal papers and interviews and are the most commonly used items in the Research Room.
    IWM attracted 433,000 learners in 2013-14 and 256,000 children took part in its on and off-site education programmes.
    School educational visits to the paying branches at Duxford, HMS Belfast and Churchill War Rooms, with on-site teaching sessions led by museum and education professionals, are under threat.
    The Museum is justifying the cuts at these original historic sites because of changes to the national curriculum and their ‘narrower exhibition focus’.
    Formal education bookings at Duxford are steady and IWM London is already full to capacity.
    ‘Explore History’ attracted 55,000 visitors in 2013. It is a popular resource open to all, seven days a week, allowing the public to explore IWM’s collections and find out about objects or subjects not on display.
    Westminster government funding
    IWM was founded in 1917 as a place of study and memorial. Its London museum was refurbished at a cost of £40m and re-opened in July 2014. Demand for its services has never been higher.
    IWM is successful in generating its own revenue - less than 50 per cent of its funding comes from the Westminster government, but that income is vital to the organisation's future.
    IWM has faced funding cuts over several years but has not yet suffered the mass redundancies and reorganisations that have occurred in other national museums and galleries.
    But the cuts announced in November 2014 will put the Museum’s educational and research functions in danger and experienced professional staff will be forced to leave.
    Prospect fears that this is only the start and that further damaging cuts are likely unless there is widespread public support to maintain adequate levels of funding.
    Please sign our petition and consider making a donation to IWM here: highlighting that your donation is a response to Prospect's petition.

    Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
    Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport

    The Rt Hon George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

    I, the undersigned request that you urgently reverse current and future cuts to the Imperial War Museum's annual operating grant in aid.
    Since it was founded in 1917 the IWM has been recognised internationally as a leading authority on conflict. Following a...

    Read More
  12. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Merged your thread with an existing one Clive.
  13. Clive Wiley

    Clive Wiley Member

    Thanks Owen, i hadn't seen it on here , i saw it in Private Eye today , took me ages to find the petition. i have sent it to friends and family on FB
  14. rac1944

    rac1944 Junior Member

    Apologies for a sideways topic but I hope you will share the horror at the news that the IWM's library faces closure and its staff a very uncertain future. If you share that horror please consider signing the online petition at and please pass on to one and all, thank you. A decision appears to be due before the end of the year which leaves just a brief opportunity to register our support.
    brithm likes this.
  15. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I've decided to push on with my research at the museum now, based on the possibility that this may well turn out to be correct. There isn't much there for me really, but better safe than sorry.

    The big one is Wingate's own personal papers. There are rumoured to be previously censored reports contained within these papers which I would like to have a look at.

    Like many others have mentioned, I will not be handing over any of my research to the IWM unless things change dramatically for the better. I have always felt that it was somewhat like a 'black hole' for veterans accounts and memoirs anyway. Documents are locked away never to see the light of day again.

    If it was not for the fantastic efforts of the late Rod Suddaby, most of the veteran accounts at the IWM would be impossible to access and lie untouched on back room shelving.
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  18. I think that if the library is not saved the question needs to be asked about where the books will go/how will they remain accessible?

    One option would be to put them with the British Library collection at St Pancras although with many items located offsite this is far from ideal.

    Another would be to make the items available through the archive reading room but again with a limited number of places and the books treated as archive items rather than in library conditions.

    Surely they are not proposing for this collection to become totally inaccessible or perish the thought disposing of the library collection?

    brithm likes this.
  19. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I for one hope that if the:
    Sittings (so you must pay twice or you wreck half a day's work)
    Reduced hours

    Come with free refills of bottomless Coke.

    I'm not sure if they are running an Archive, or reopening it as a bizarre form of Nandos.
  20. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    My god, the fight has to continue. I had a long and deep conversation with two Professors and a member of staff from Sandhurst on Saturday (no names, no packdrill, etc.) It was pointed out that the IWM cannot divest its research facilities and library under its charter - but when you get "museum professionals" (this generation of lots of paper qualifications in 'heritage' but no knowledge or particular care for the subject of the museum, just how to run a budget) you will magically find more than one way to skin a cat.

    Stop this madness.
    Swiper likes this.

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