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RCM Closure FAQs

  1. Why is the museum closing?

On the 12th January 2020, the Royal Cornwall Museum will be temporarily closed to general visitors for at least eight months in order to allow for a reboot of the museum.

Low visitor numbers and a challenging funding climate mean that the operation of the museum needs a new approach. The plan also involves using this temporary closure period to overhaul the aging roof. Serious leaks are now threatening to bring down a wall and damage several exhibits. £100,000 worth of repairs are urgently required to safeguard the collections and a contractor will be appointed in the New Year. The remaining Museum team will take this opportunity to consult with communities across Cornwall on a new vision for the Museum and how it can serve the needs of residents and visitors alike.

2. I’ve heard this is a partial closure. What will be available to the public if that is the case?

Whilst the roof is being repaired there will be a Cornwall wide consultation to shape the future of the museum. Also, during this time, areas that will not be affected by the repair works will stay open, by appointment. For example, the library will continue to be available for the large number of people who use it for research and for weekly school visits to give local children exclusive access to the historic treasures we house.

If at all possible we will hold a number of public open days.

We will also continue to run our events and lectures series.


3. Are the collections safe and who will look after the collections whilst you are closed?

Care of our collections is at the heart of our decision to temporally close. Fixing the roof to prevent further water damage in the building is an immediate priority. Finding a new model where we can afford to operate and focus more on protecting and sharing our collections is also essential.

Specifically, our Director will be accountable for the safety of the collections. He/She will be supported by professionals from South West Museum Development and Cornwall Museums Partnership to monitor the conditions and assess any immediate issues that arise.

From 1st April, the Museum will be looking to work in Partnership with other agencies such as mentioned above to look after the collections during the partial closure period. As we move forward, we will be consulting with Stakeholders and others to assess the way ahead considering reduced grant funding. This will include making the case for a medium term offsite shared storage facility.

We hope to achieve Designation for our mineral collection and will be looking to work with local and national partners to help us achieve this.


4. We a have a school booking, will we still be able to come? Will the children be safe if you are undertaking roof repairs?

There is no health and safety problem for visiting school groups and we will continue to welcome school parties as we always do.

The worst roof leak is in the Barham Room and we have some water damage in the Philbrick Gallery. Both are fixable swiftly and whilst water damage is a problem for our collections care it does not present a Health and Safety risk to visiting school groups.

The positive note for school parties is that for the 8-month period they will have sole access to our gallery spaces and will be able to enjoy have exclusive use.


5. I have a year pass what will happen to that?

 We want you to visit us when we reopen!

So, from January 12th, 2020 anyone who has bought either a membership or Friends card their cards will be extended for the remaining amount of time left on their cards from September 1st, 2020.

Please do pop in and talk to us about this.


6. I am a member of the RIC will I still have access to the Library?

We are keeping the Courtney Library open by appointment during the closure period and members will be able to use it as normal.

We will also be publishing the annual RIC journal and keeping in touch with our members through newsletters and meetings.


7. Will the café and Art shop be open?

The Truro Arts Café and Art shop is a separate business that is housed in our building. They will remain open during the 8 months closure period.


 8. Why has the museum lost funding?

The RIC is not owned or run by Cornwall Council, it is an independent charity that receives grant funding from the Council and other bodies like Arts Council England which over the years has been cut due to austerity measures.

As an Independent charity, we need to raise most of the money to look after the collections, building and staff from outside sources such as visitors paying to come in. We are not alone, the issue of underfunding is the same for many regional museums, who like us have important collections to care for in historic buildings that cost significant sums to run and maintain.

Here is a link to an open letter written to the times recently by the National Museum Directors Network 

So, we share challenges with others and our job now is to work out how to operate with less and to seek funds from different sources to help us fulfil our charitable aims.


 9. Can’t you raise more funds to keep the doors open?

Over the coming months we will be looking at our Fundraising Strategy and working with others to see how we can improve in this area. It will be a key job of work during our closure time. We will revisit public and private funding opportunities and consider a range of new patron schemes.

One way you can help is to visit the website and ADOPT an OBJECT which will help in the short term.

As importantly we need more paying visitors to come through our doors and enjoy our wonderful treasures. So as a starting point we need to why more people don’t choose to visit our museum.

The conversation we need to have with the public over the next few months is what can we do to attract more interest in our unique collections and how do we create a more successful public programme.


10. Why are your staff being made redundant if this closure is only temporary?

The RIC operates 6 days a week with 4 full time and 9 part-time and then 7 Learning Assistants when schools are in the building.

The partial closure means that 8 members of staff have unfortunately been made redundant.

A core team of 5 staff have been retained to look after the museum and to begin the change process. We will also continue to employ our freelance learning assistants who deliver our education work.

Where possible we are seeking to redeploy staff and support them to find other work.


Our volunteer team will stay with us through closure and we will look to build their involvement in the future.