IWM director: 'difficult decisions due to funding cuts'

IWM director: 'difficult decisions due to funding cuts'

The Imperial War Museum has defended its decision to change how it runs its library and archives in a response to parliamentary concern at the moves.

In a letter from the IWM director general Diane Lees to the Culture Media and Sport committee (CMS), she asserts that the changes have come as a result of "significant reductions to government funding".

The letter was written as a response to MP John Whittingdale, the chair of the CMS committee. In a letter to the museum sent in December last year, now published in parliamentary records, he said: "While we are conscious of the considerable constraints on the finances of even nationally important and internationally renowned institutions like the Imperial War Museum, my committee strongly believes that the resources of major institutions should continue to be made available to the public. It is therefore very concerned that these proposals should be brought forward at this time, when the national focus on the centenary of the First World War brings the Musuem's collections, and collective expertise, into the spotlight."

Lees, in her response, identified government cuts to funding as the key reason for changes at the organisation, saying: "IWM has successfully managed significant reductions to government funding (a one-third cut in real terms over the past five years) with no major change to frontline services or wholesale redundancies."

She added: "In responding to the reduced and reducing funding position which is affecting all publicly funded bodies to a greater or lesser degree, some difficult decisions will need to be taken to ensure the ongoing sustainability of Imperial War Musuems."

The CMS committee letter and Lees' response, released this week, were both sent before the IWM announced the results of its consultation into changes, which will see cutbacks to access to its archive, and a charge for some researchers. A number of job losses are also expected.

Although the cuts were not as deep as originally feared, the moves have been heavily criticised by some historians and academics.