steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Beyond South Ken

Of course, it's very annoying that they're even thinking of closing one of our national museums to make ends meet - but within that general annoyance there's a more specific one, exemplified in this Guardian headline: "Science Museum's northern outposts under threat of closure". Lest we blame the subeditors, these museums are also referred to as "outposts" in the main article.

Since when were Manchester, Bradford and York, or the national museums based there, "outposts"? That's the kind of word you might expect Caesar to use of a dispatch from Housesteads, or Victoria of the latest report from the North-West Frontier. Would a Washington-based newspaper write of a national museum based in Chicago as an "outpost"?

Words are important, because they both betray and reinforce the London-centric worldview of those who make these decisions. It's not just about words, though. While the Science Museum Group claims to be considering "all options" to help balance the books, there's one option that hasn't even entered its head - and that is, closing the Science Museum in London; or, better, relocating it somewhere less expensive. Birmingham, the city of a thousand trades, would seem an excellent candidate, though I'm sure there are others.

Why is that not on the list of "all options"? Does it even make the list of Conceivable Things? London is already well served for national museums, after all. Hell, South Kensington is well served! Moving a major national museum to a different part of the nation would boost Birmingham's (or wherever's) tourist trade while having no perceptible effect on London's, help rebalance the economy, and save money into the bargain. What's not to like?
Tags: current affairs, maunderings
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