Today is a dark day for three Northern English Museums and museum’s in general. One of three museum’s facing closure along with Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester and York’s National Northern Rail Museum, is Bradford’s Film & Television Museum.
I first visited Bradford on 1993, on a recommendation by Barry Norman on BBC One’s Film ’93, and as a teenager becoming enamored with all things film, I loved it. At that time there were three or four floors of exhibits, showcasing the history of photography and film leading up the set of TV-AM, and the attached Pictureville Cinema, hosting an IMAX and England’s sole surviving Cinerama screen.
I watched the first act of This Is Cinerama (1952) here, glimpsed my first IMAX projection booth and on a later visit enjoyed the Ray Harryhausen exhibition. On my return visit in 2007, the tone had shifted and not for the better in my view. The focus was more on education spaces and promoting the next revolution in TV at the time, HD, and this left the four floors of exhibitions relegated to just two and the experience was diminished somewhat but still, film and photography museums are not as common place as art galleries and the days out were special.
He is a quote from an article in the Telegraph & Argus, a local paper from Bradford, England.
“The National Media Museum in Bradford is one of three northern museums under direct threat of closure, the director of the Science Museum Group warned today.
As well as the Science Museum in London, the group runs the National Media Museum, the National Railway Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.
Its director Ian Blatchford said the prospect of a further ten per cent cut in Government funding meant “almost certainly” that one of three northern museums would have to go.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Mr Blatchford said the cuts would increase the group’s £2 million a year deficit to about £6m a year.
Asked if that would mean the closure of a museum, he said: “I have to say, with a very heavy heart, it really does. We have done lots of boring and sensible things, awful things like cutting staff, procurement, raising more money.
“But cuts of that level bite really deep into our flesh so it means not only big cuts in the Science Museum in London but one of our three great northern museums almost certainly would also have to close.”
Pressed on which museum was most likely to shut he said: “It is a very difficult question to answer because we are having that discussion at the moment.
“You are comparing three great cities, York, Bradford and Manchester, very different cities with different economies and different universities.
“We just haven’t decided yet.””
The loss of any of these three museum’s would be a tragedy, certainly my local one which isn’t Bradford, rather Manchester’s MOSI which I have visited as a child and took my own children to as well, but I feel that Bradford might be saved for the same reasons that I feel that it has let me down. It has become a teaching a learning resource as have most museums but to what extent I don’t know but with so much of the exhibition space being turn over to this, it’s possible that it’s producing results and in this economic climate, results are everything I suppose.
But saying that, Britain is very London-sentric and there are several museums and institutions in the south, which is seen by many to be culturally superior to the north for some reason, with the British Film Institute (BFI) springing to mind, so this may lead people to think that a northern film museum is a waste of time and money.
But what would happen to the Cinerama Screen? Or the host of events, though specialised, which are held at the Pictureville cinema which is attached to the museum? Time will tell but the loss of such a unique screen, the 146 degree curved Cinerama screen being the ONLY one in Britain, will be tragic to the film preservationists.
Hopefully a solution will be found in which all three can be kept open but at the moment, it’s not looking good.