SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod and SNP Councillor for Abbey Ward Rob Davidson today (Monday) expressed their dismay at the announcement by National Museums Scotland that the National Museum of Costume at Shambellie House will close.
Dr. McLeod, who spoke in a members’ business debate on the subject and arranged a meeting between South of Scotland MSPs and Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said:
“I am totally dismayed that the NMS Board has decided to close Shambellie in the face of so much cross-party opposition to the idea. NMS have their reasons for closing the museum but I do not think that it is a good decision for Dumfries & Galloway.
“I know that a lot of work was also done locally by the Council to find a way forward which would allow Shambellie to remain open as an attraction but increase income by raising the profile of the museum and increasing visitor numbers. It is deeply disappointing that NMS has decided to proceed regardless.
“I do welcome the Government funding for a feasibility study. Shambellie remains in public ownership and is a possible resource for the region. If we have lost the battle to save Shambellie, then we must now look at what we could do with it for the future.
“In addition, NMS have said they are committed to bringing national collections to Dumfries & Galloway in the future. I will be saying very clearly to them that they have considerable ground to make up in their relationship with the region and their proposals will have to be good.”
Cllr. Davidson, who attended three meetings with senior management of NMS added:
“From a Council point of view we were keen to work with NMS to find a way of keeping Shambellie open, working with local colleagues in the Chamber of Commerce and tourism industry. We met representatives of NMS in Edinburgh and at Shambellie and made every effort to work with them. I am deeply disappointed that those efforts have failed. This is not good news for New Abbey or for the staff who work at the museum.
“There are a number of issues that we need to look at next. The house and immediate grounds are publicly owned, so it may be possible to have some future visitor attraction based there. Working out what that might be will need resources so I welcome the fact that the Government will fund that work.
“There is also the question of the future relationship the region has with NMS. I’m under no illusion however that the offer will need to be substantial. Their starting point is the 15,000 visitors that attended Shambellie and working together we need to improve on that in the future.”