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Museum of Electricity to close now!

December 6, 2012

This week Christchurch’s Museum of Electricity was closed with almost immediate effect.  The Dorset museum was operated by the electricity company SSE, it seems the Perth based business felt it could no longer support a small museum on the south coast.   The museum was situated in an Edwardian power station and no doubt required significant investment to fit the profile of a successful FTSE 100 company.

One issue this closure does raise is the importance of keeping in touch with the aims and aspirations of your key fundholders and governing body.  This is particularly true of company museums like the Museum of Electricity.  Since privatisation the UK electricity sector has changed dramatically, with massive changes in company ownership, mergers and acquisitions.  More often than not a company museum will struggle to keep pace with the resulting change in priorities. Keeping in touch with their governing body can be hard, especially if head office may have moved out of the region.  Often companies see their museums as ways of promoting their product or providing a community asset or even a type of philanthropy.  It is interesting that SSE sponsorship currently concentrates on English rugby and Sailing (in Dorset), but apparently no arts or heritage now.

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