V&A’s National Art Library under threat

Two-thirds of staffers expected to lose their jobs

Librarians at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Nationl Art Library face significant job cuts, with two-thirds of staffers expected to lose their jobs. 30 librarians have been informed that they will be reduced to 10. The cuts come as part of a major restructuring of the museum.

The National Art Library, one of the world’s leading art libraries, has holdings of around a million objects, including the Leonardo notebooks. A petition has been set up protesting the decision, with more than 7,000 signatures at the time of reporting.

Last month, the Guardian reported imminent cuts at the V&A, with the curatorial division said to have to make cuts of 20 percent, and other specialist departments under threat. ‘It’s hollowing out the expertise of the museum. Experienced technicians who are invisible to the executive board of the museum are going. Very experienced conservators are leaving or have left,’ one insider told the paper.

The plans set out by director Tristram Hunt included the replacement of curatorial departments based on material specialism, with ‘cross-disciplinary’ staff working on time periods and geography. Hunt said, in a blog post: ‘the ravages of the last year have created one of the most significant financial challenges in the V&A’s long history’.

Last month, the Wallace Collection’s proposal to close its library to the public triggered a backlash, with almost 30,000 signing a petition protesting the decision. Following an internal consultation, the library and its archives are to remain open to the public. But its director Xavier Bray warned of ‘difficult decisions in the future to ensure our financial sustainability’.

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