The British Museum Closed Its Doors Due to Protests

The British Museum Unexpectedly Closed Its Doors Due to Countrywide Protests For Better Working Conditions and Pay.

Feb 5, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The British Museum
PCS members on strike.


The British Museum had to close its doors because of the “Walkout Wednesday” strikes, taking place all over the U.K. A few days ago, the museum spokesperson said they come prepared, and that they have a strategic plan for the shortage of staff. Now, we can see everything didn’t occur as planned, so the museum had to close its doors for a couple of days.


“The strike affects our ability to open safely” – The British Museum

The British Museum
Members of the PCS Culture Group picketing in front of the British Museum in London. Courtesy of PCS.


The “Walkout Wednesday” strikes are taking place all over the U.K. Cultural workers from many institutions joined the strike, protesting against poor pay, working and labor conditions. This closure happened just a few days after its workers said they will join the protest on February 13. This includes around 100 people who are part of the Culture Group of Britain’s Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union.


Also, the civil workers, part of the government department which leads cultural policy in the U.K. announced their strike, which started two days ago. PCS union members started protesting in front of The British Museum yesterday morning. Some of them remained near the U.K.’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.


PCS strike


The museum released a statement on why they needed to close its doors to the public and visitors.  They said the PCS union members are on nationwide protest because of the public sector’s dispute. “While [the strike] is outside the control of the Museum, it does affect our ability to open safely to both our visitors and staff. We took the decision to close the Museum today”, the museum said.

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Workers Suffer Because of Austerity Measures

The British Museum
The British Museum on November 22, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


The British Museum also said this wasn’t an easy decision, and they apologised for any inconvenience. But, museum representatives declined to comment on whether any of their employees are going on strike. Gareth Spencer, president of the PCS Culture Group said the cultural workers’ payment had to suffer because of austerity measures.


“Security guards and front-of-house workers at The British Museum have had enough of low or below inflation pay rises”, he also said. PCS is one of the biggest unions in the United Kingdom. This union represents about 200,000 civil servants and other government employees. One half of them is joining the protest.


Protests in the U.K.


The PCS president reflected on the government policy towards museums and their employees. He said the government uses museums as made-up talking points for the culture war. “We want a fair deal for all our members across the U.K.’s museums, galleries, libraries and for cultural workers in the civil service”, he added.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.