Sporting museum merger

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on September 28, 2010 at 7:07 am

There’s a unique museum merger taking place in northwest England. The National Football Museum – based at Preston North End FC’s ground – has seen dwindling visitor numbers in recent years and has had funding cuts. It’s just not a viable museum any more. Indeed, many have begun to question whether it makes sense to have a national museum in a provincial town, rather than in a big city.

Meanwhile, a few miles away in the Manchester city centre the visitor experience Urbis – not really a museum per se but a very strong visitor attraction in a striking, modern building – has seen its doors closed by the city council to make way for the new museum.

While the ethics of laying off many of Urbis’s staff while they make way for the new museum remain sketchy, the match can potentially be viewed as a stroke of genius. Can you think of a city more obsessed with football than Manchester? As a mancunian proud of the city’s cultural and sporting heritage I’m excited about seeing another new museum opening in the city, after the successes of the revamped People’s History Museum, Lowry and Imperial War Museum North.

And as a museum geek I’m intrigued as to how it will happen behind the scenes. There’s not much up-to-date information about the project in the public domain at present, but as usual I’ve had a sniff around and there’s now an article about the museum merger on Museum [Insider]. I’ll keep you posted on developments …

  1. Just to correct the article in ‘Museum Insider’ and here, Urbis was not massively successful initially. It was actually quite unsuccessful (mainly due to opening as a paid attraction just as the free entry for museums policy was introduce).

    It started to pick up in 2004, and had its best ever visitor figures in its last three years. There was no dip in visitor numbers in its last year. Financial returns were also robust and improving. Equally, MCC funding cuts had nothing to do with the change of use of the Urbis building.

    I’m biased as the ex-Chief Exec of the place, but most of the correct info is public domain.

    • My error – I meant to say that there’s not much current information about what’s happening behind-the-scenes on the project. Quite often museums, heritage sites and local authrorities are very welcome to talk about what’s happening on a development project, but when I tried to look further into this I was hitting brick walls. I appreciate this is a hugely sensitive project though, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised!
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. It’s not really a problem of choice of words – the article has some very basic misunderstandings about the circumstances. Apart from anything else, Urbis closed down entirely because of the decision to move the NFM there – it wasn’t a bit of serendipity as you suggest, and I really doubt it has been reported this way anywhere else.

    — aaaand you’ve fixed the error. Kudos, but do I get a credit? As a researcher? 😉

    Anyways, for more current info it couldn’t hurt to tweet them, they have an official account which is quite chatty…!/footballmuseum


  3. You’re absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing it out. It’s a much more complex story than I originally thought.

    And thanks for the link to their twitter account. I’ll look them up.


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