Edinburgh museums to open all week, all year round

Museum of childhood. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Museum of childhood. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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CITY museums and galleries which saw visitors and income plummet after their hours were cut are to return to seven-day opening all year round.

The council-owned Museum of Childhood, City Art Centre, Museum of Edinburgh, Writers Museum, People’s Story and Queensferry Museum were all reduced to opening five days a week in October 2016.

But visitor numbers fell by 21 per cent – or as much as 32 per cent at the City Art Centre – and income from retail sales and donations dropped by 25 per cent.

Culture convener Donald Wilson said last month the venues would be restored to six or seven day opening for the summer and festive periods to match demand.

But now the council has found an extra £95,000 for the museums and galleries and says they will open seven days a week, 10am-5pm, all year round, from June.

Councillor Wilson said following the lessons of the drop in visitors and income, the restoration of seven-day opening would an enhanced visitor experience and access to Edinburgh’s great cultural legacy even at off-peak times.

“This will give consistency and confidence regarding opening times that I have no doubt will increase footfall and also income over the year.”

He said 11 new members of staff would be taken on and the success of the new opening times would be reviewed in six months.

Tory culture spokesman Max Mitchell said the decision to open seven days a week all year round was “fantastic”.

He said: “We are very much up for this. It is a positive thing for the city.

“Culture is often seen as something people might be a bit begrudging about spending money on. But this is positive for residents, tourists and jobs.”

And Green culture spokesman Alex Staniforth also welcomed the move.

He said: “It has always seemed that reducing hours was a bit of a false economy and I’m fairly confident that footfall and income will match the longer hours.

And he argued if the council was allowed to levy a tourist tax it could boost the museum and galleries even further.

He said: “With additional income which a transient visitor levy could bring in, the museums could really start to see some investment: investment which would benefit visitors and residents in equal measure.

A council spokeswoman said: Work is currently under way to enable a seven-day, 10am-5pm, operation to be in place ahead of the busier summer months.

“A report will go before the culture and communities committee next month to ratify the council decision to implement the new hours of operation.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com