Costume museum’s future hanging in the balance

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THE FATE of a popular museum hangs in the balance after a meeting was held to decide whether to close the attraction in the face of budget cuts

The board of trustees for National Museums Scotland (NMS) met yesterday to decide the future of the National Museum of Costume in Dumfries, and are expected to make an announcement early next week.

The Shambellie House attraction, which displays collections of fashion from the Victorian era to the 20th century, is part of NMS and funded by the Scottish Government.

The NMS has blamed high costs per visitor and reduced funding for the potential closure, but a petition organised by Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce points out that the costs per visitor is below that of other museums run by the ­organisation.

The Save Our Shambellie petition also highlights how the National Museum of Costume accounts for only 0.65 per cent of the NMS’s annual budget of £29 million.

Concerns were first raised about the museum – which employs nine staff – back in October. Dumfries and Labour MP Russell Brown said he was concerned by the NMS’s delay to announce the decision until next week, and feared it did not hold positive news for the museum.

He said: ““We’d like a reprieve, or even further discussion of consultation with this, but I think the silence is telling us something different here at the moment.

“There’s more of a fear closure will be the outcome, which is bitterly disappointing.”

Mr Brown criticised Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop for “washing her hands” of Shambellie House last October, after she wrote to him stating the NMS board must make the final decision, and that she cannot ­intervene in the process.