Further criticism of museum’s hours

Montrose Museum: Changes to opening hours are 'ill-timed'.'Staff photograph
Montrose Museum: Changes to opening hours are 'ill-timed'.'Staff photograph

CHANGES to Montrose Museum’s opening hours were this week attacked by the organisation which originally founded the institution.

Duncan Macdonald, chairman of the Montrose Natural History and Antiquarian Society, said he “deplores” the proposed reduction in opening times, put forward by Angus Council three weeks ago.

From the start of April the museum will open from Tuesday to Saturday inclusive and be closed on Mondays, a move agreed by Angus councillors at February’s budget meeting to help cut costs and which also affects museum services in Arbroath, Forfar, Brechin and Kirriemuir.

At the time, Councillor Jeanette Gaul, neighbourhood services vice-convener, said that although other opening arrangements have been tried in the past, the new times will best meet the needs of visitors and that a pattern of five-day consecutive opening with no lunchtime closure “seems to be the best arrangement to meet the needs of visitors to the museums.”

Mr Macdonald said: “In common with many others in the town, Montrose Natural History and Antiquarian Society deplores the proposed reduction in opening times at Montrose Museum.

“As the Society which founded the Museum in 1843 and subsequently donated the building to Angus Council, we are sad to see any reduction in its availability. This must be damaging not only to the tourist industry on which the town greatly relies, but also to the local people.”

The idea has already been criticised and one local woman described the new arrangements as “shambolic”, particularly with the approach of the tourist season as the museum houses the town’s tourist information point and she claimed that Monday is one of the busiest days of the week in terms of inquiries.

Angus Council, however, maintained the closure has to happen to make required budget savings and there is no evidence to suggest that Monday was any busier than any other day. A spokeswoman also pointed out that Montrose Library provides local tourist information and the People’s Network is available there for anyone making tourist inquiries on the internet.

Mr Macdonald said, however, that the society’s members now want the council to look again at the issue.

He said: “At a recent meeting there was 100 per cent support for a request to Angus Council to reconsider this ill-timed proposal.

“The financial savings would seem to be negligible and the disruption to staff considerable. In addition the suggestion that Tourist Information should be located at the library on Mondays does not make sense as the staff there do not have the facilities to deal with it.

The council re-organisation starting in April might be a more appropriate time to re-assess museum opening times.”