Background to the report

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport sponsors 15 museums and galleries in England, 13 of which are national museums. The museums are arm’s-length bodies of the Department, which is responsible for overseeing them. The Department provides the museums with funds (grant‑in‑aid) to contribute towards their running costs. Its capital grant-in-aid funding is for museums’ spending on investment and creating future growth, and includes spending on maintenance.

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Effective maintenance of this estate is an important and costly challenge for the Department and its museums. It enables the museums to deliver their statutory responsibilities, which typically include: preserving and exhibiting their collections; making them available to the public; and promoting public enjoyment and understanding of their subject matter.

Content and scope of the report

The NAO became aware of museums’ concerns about the condition of their estates through its financial audit work. In light of these concerns, this investigation sets out the facts about the maintenance of the museums sponsored by the Department.

This report covers:

  • oversight and funding arrangements for the museums and galleries;
  • understanding of the museums’ maintenance issues; and
  • funding the maintenance of the estate.

This report was prepared before the spread of Coronavirus in the UK and does not consider the impact of the closure of museums, or any emergency financial support to the sector.


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