The British Museum

Now that I have got deeper into John Tusa’s description of the role of trustees in his new book On Board: The Insider’s Guide to Surviving Life in the Boardroom, I have discovered that he provides a particularly fascinating textbook account of changes at the British Museum, which was at the time, and remains, one of the key places of management change over the last twenty years. John was a trustee from July 2000 to 2009, so was both a participant as Deputy Chairman and had a ringside seat. There is only one bit of it surprised me. It says the trustees debated the issue of charging for entry in March 1999. The chronology of this would have been odd, except as a threat to introduce them, as, although the incoming labour government had been keen on compulsory entrance charges, Geoffrey Robinson as Paymaster General had been convinced by the economic, let alone the political, arguments in favour of free admission, so by 1999 it had become an orthodoxy of government policy in national museums, not a heresy, as it thus far remains.

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