In response to poor working conditions and low wages, the United Kingdom is seeing a workers’ strike across its cultural sector. Having started at the top of the month, one of the most immediate repercussions of this strike has been seen in the closure of the British Museum.
With the strike having just been initiated last week, the closure of the British Museum necessarily followed suit the next day. “Due to industrial action taking place across the public sector,” the British Museum states in a brief Tweet, “the Museum will be closed today, Wednesday 1 February.” While linking to read more, it merely redirects to their information section. Members of the Culture Group of Britain’s Public and Commercial Service union intend to join the strike en masse on February 13th.
The past year has certainly raised many eyebrows within the cultural sector in terms of leadership at museums and other institutions. Whether it be the fraud and laundering charges that have rocked the Louvre or the abrupt and seemingly unwarranted firing of long-term staff at the National Gallery of Canada, we are seeing many issues behind the veil of these institutions.
The closure of the British Museum may seem like an isolated incident of unfair worker conditions or simply a symptom of issues within the cultural sector noted by this strike, but it truly indicates a widespread situation that has been heightened since the global pandemic. More than ever, institutes have been finding ways to cut corners, and often the first target is the pockets of their employees. Between conditions like these and the unjust bubble of inflation, it’ll be no surprise to see more and more art venues without staff to underpay.