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Dear Colleagues

Some of you will already have heard from Petrie Museum and/or other UCL colleagues but we wanted to bring the issue to a wider audience, and to an audience that understand the vital importance of the Petrie Museum to the Egyptological world.
A significant staff restructure proposed by UCL Culture’s Senior Management Team (SMT) will have a significant impact on the long-term future of the Petrie Museum.

Amongst many changes, the Senior Management Team propose to make 8 redundancies across the three museums run by the Department, which includes FIVE Museum/collections-based staff. Job descriptions have been rewritten for those whose jobs are intact, but the bottom line is that there would be a drastic reduction in experienced, qualified staff to run the museums. The redundancy of museum staff, some of whom have worked with the collections for over 15 years, means that the loss of collections expertise will have a major impact.

Let me make that clear. The Petrie Museum currently has a Museum Manager (redundant, the post to be centralised to cover all three museums), an experienced Visitor Service Officer with an unparalleled 20 years of experience at the museum (redundant, to be replaced by a central pool of front of house staff). A Public Engagement Officer (moved to central shared services), a part-time museum assistant (moving to central shared services across the collections).

In addition we will lose the Senior Conservator (redundant and not replaced), leaving only one member of (non-specialist) conservation staff working across all four collections. If this restructure goes ahead, there will be no qualified conservator for archaeological material across the whole Department and so the Petrie Museum collection is being placed in significant risk. As our Collections Assistants will also be centralised, this will put museum loans and particularly research availability at severe risk.

The role of curator – currently filled by Dr Anna Garnett – appears to be safe and we are told she will remain based in the museum. However, no-one has explained how she is supposed to fill her own role without the support of an in-house manager and museum assistant, and with only non-specialist front of house staff on a rotational basis is anyone’s guess. She has been told that she will have more personal research time – this would seem to be an impossibility if she is covering gaps left in the museum by the proposed restructure.

Those of you who have worked at or with the Petrie Museum in your respective research and teaching capacities, or as museum curators for whom we have arranged loans or other facilities, or people who simply value the museum, will know just how hard a limited staff work to offer you support in your teaching, research, museum visits, and exhibition loans. Under the proposed new restructure, it is apparent that the only permanent full-time member of staff in the Museums will be the Curator, thus our capacity to host classes, and to facilitate loans, research visits and tours will be significantly impacted.

We are currently in the consultation phase of the proposed restructure, and we have until 5pm GMT on March 13th when consultation closes to submit our written comments and suggestions. Prof. Joe Cain (UCL) has usefully created a WordPress site which includes the formal documentation relating to the restructure, which may be of interest:
The proposals will fundamentally change the museum’s role as we know it.

This proposal fails to recognise the global importance of the collection as one of the most important collections of Egyptian material outside Egypt as demonstrated by the number of international visits we get from researchers. The museum’s Art Council Designation as a collection of national and international significance has been totally ignored in this plan. The Petrie Museum will effectively cease to be a centre of research excellence despite UCL’s claim to be one of the top universities in the world – ‘London’s Global University’!

We want everyone involved in the world of Egyptology to be aware of these proposed changes. If you feel that they will impact on your own work, or would like to write in defence of our amazing museum, please consider writing to the Provost of UCL, Professor Michael Arthur, (, copying your reply to the Director of UCL Culture, Simon Cane ( and please also copy Prof. Joe Cain into your email ( which he will then add to the book of submissions he will be providing to UCL Vice-Provosts.

I would be more than happy to answer any queries, or to provide any further information, or relevant contacts. Our wonderful staff in the Petrie Museum are fighting this proposal as a team not as individuals, and we are being supported by colleagues in UCL and in the wider community. Your support would be appreciated.

With best wishes and many thanks for your support,
Jan Picton

Jan Picton
BANEA/LCANE London Diary Editor, membership.
Secretary, Friends of the Petrie Museum.
Teaching Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
Deputy Director, Gurob Harem Palace Project,
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Tel: 07761 823129