Will Cardiff residents end up paying for Huw Thomas’ military medicine museum?

Britannia Park, Butetown, future site of the Military Medical Museum

Cllr Huw Thomas the leader of Cardiff council claims his plans to locate a military museum on a park in Butetown won’t cost anything to the city or its residents. But is this really the case? Does the military museum have a viable business plan? Or will the city’s residents be bailing it out in years to come?

Local campaigner, Lyn Eynon has researched the financial viability of the military museum. In his objection to the plans, which are attached below, he asks a number of questions about how the museum will pay its own way.

The military museum claims it will attract 225,000 paying visitors a year by 2025.

But how credible are these visitor number predictions, asks Mr Eynon and provides the following comparisons:

 The US National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), previously the Army Medical Museum, once attracted up to half a million visitors a year on the National Mall in Washington but now attracts only 50,000 visitors at a US Army site near the Capital Beltway, despite free admission and free parking. At Cardiff Bay, MMM will be outside a barracks location but some distance from the UK’s major population centres. Unlike NMHM, it will charge for admission.

  Over the last year, 170,827 visited Techniquest, which is the UK’s longest established science centre104, with a mission since 1986 to embed science in Welsh culture through interactive engagement that has found wide resonance with parents, schools and public bodies. It is hard to see military medicine having the same appeal, particularly with families and schools, who have been at the core of Techniquest’s public. 105

  The Doctor Who Experience had to close in September 2017 as numbers fell . A family ticket price of £49 did not suffice to bring in enough revenue to be self-sustaining.

“If the viability of the Museum will depend on income from paying visitors,” says Mr Eynon, “a more credible case should be provided on predicted paying visitor numbers, the expected entry fee, and the anticipated revenue. The number of visitors will depend on the entry fee, so cannot be determined without knowing that. Attractions which raise charges to boost income risk entering a ‘death spiral’ as visitor numbers fall further.”

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