✎ The annoyance of science
10 Mar 2017 5 comments. tbs.pm/11501
The National Media Museum in Bradford is to change its name and focus again.
This time, the ill-loved venture will be being renamed the National Science and Media Museum and the “media” part all but phased out, leaving the museum as an overflow for its parent Science Museum in Kensington and featuring cast-off exhibits that Londoners have grown bored with.
I wish someone loved the Bradford museum. But nobody does – not their owners, not their staff, not their visitors, and certainly not their curators who have long treated the entire thing as a tiresome and dull job they absentmindedly took on a few years ago.
The museum opened in 1983 as a place of excitement and wonder, with a huge collection of television, film and photography exhibits being rolled out. In 1986, it gained a television gallery from the BBC, showing the history of television in some wonderful objects. For the kids, there was a working TV-am studio, a Yorkshire Television-branded newsroom and the chance to make announcements on an in-house version of Central Television.
And there it stopped.
The exhibits grew tired and, literally, dusty. The building began to show signs of wear and tear and a lack of love and dedication. Exhibits broke and were never repaired. The place became filthy – rubbish, dirt, dust and a layer of children-borne stickiness on everything. Captions began to wear away from hundreds of fingers touching them, leaving the dark, forgotten exhibits unlabelled.
And then the photography part disappeared, taken over by the V&A in London and moved to be largely put in storage so nobody could see it. The film section was always a shadow of what it might have been. The television gallery closed and the exhibits were put in storage or thrown away.
Soon the museum was an empty shell, and talk came of closing it. But instead it has been “rescued” by its owners and is now to become a branch of the Science Museum.
Fine. But that leaves the UK – the country that pioneered television – without a decent television museum. Without a state-sponsored film museum. Without anything outside of London.
It’s a crying shame and a scandal.