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Stowmarket: Museum of East Anglian Life has positive future - new director

06:00 27 January 2014

Dr Nick Winterbotham who is the interim director of the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket

Dr Nick Winterbotham who is the interim director of the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket

Archant

The new interim director of one of Suffolk’s biggest attractions has said it has a “bright future” as it under goes a business review while facing challenging budget cuts.

Nick Winterbotham is heading up an appraisal of the Museum of East Anglian Life as Suffolk councils assess how much they can afford to give out in grants.

The 59-year-old has taken over from Tony Butler who led the museum, based in Stowmarket, for nine years. He said that everything was “up for grabs” and it is his job not to “drop the ball” as the attraction had a “fabulous” world-wide reputation.

“The things that we have got to deal with is the fact that the local authorities who support us, and always have done, are under the cosh,” he said.

“There’s a limit to the amount of support that they can give to the museum. We are looking at what we are good at, what we could be good at and what people would like to see us doing and make sure we do not lose the ground that we have achieved over the years.”

The museum receives around £135,000 a year from Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council. But both have been assessing how much they can afford as they continue to face cuts to their government funding.

Despite this Mr Winterbotham, who worked as chief executive of the Thinktank science museum and Millennium Point attraction in Birmingham for six years, said the museum was in “better shape than most”.

He warned that museums were under pressure and more had closed in the last recession compared to the previous two.

Visitor numbers at the museum went up when Mr Butler was in charge from 26,000 to 40,000 a year.

A permanent museum director is expected to be announced in the summer.

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