HL Deb 17 May 1922 vol 50 cc470-87

LORD SUDELEY had given Notice to call attention to the present position of the movement for employing official guide lecturers in all museums and galleries; and to ask what further steps the Government have taken or propose to take for extending such employment and for the increased sale of pictorial illustrations in accordance with the Resolution passed by this House on March 9, 1921; and to move, That the Government, in carrying out this Resolution, be asked to encourage as far as possible the utilisation of the vast educational apparatus contained in all museums and galleries for the benefit of schools of every description throughout the country.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise, in the first place, to call your Lordships' attention to the present position of official guide lecturers and the arrangements for the sale of reproductions. I apologise for doing so again, but although considerable progress has been made since I last addressed you, I think that a great deal more might be done. Secondly, I am anxious to ask the Government what steps they have been able to take in accordance with the Resolution passed last year; and, in the third place, I wish to move that the Government be asked to encourage as far as they can the utilisation of the great educational apparatus which exists in our museums, and which at present is practically unused.

The present position is undoubtedly one of difficulty because no Government Department or official is specifically appointed to look after museums. The officials of the Treasury, to whom great credit is due, do as much as they can and I do not blame them for not having done more. Naturally, they cannot initiate expenditure, and very often they see clearly that our resources ought to be extended. On the other hand, they also wish to curtail any expenditure. The position of this vast property of museums and galleries is very peculiar. It is a very large property, which, in London and the provinces, is estimated to be of the value of over £80,000,000. This property is maintained by the expenditure of about £800,000. When these institutions were created it was with the object of providing a safe storage for specimens of nature and works of man for all ages in order to encourage and promote knowledge. The provision for the storage of specimens has been very well done and also the arrangement for students for research work, but the real truth is that this has occupied only a small portion of this property. The great bulk of it has not been developed at all. An enormous amount of educational apparatus which ought to be used for the assistance and help of our colleges and schools is allowed to remain waste. This is not only a waste of our resources; it inflicts a wrong on the taxpayer and ratepayer who helped to create these institutions and now contribute to their maintenance.

Since the year 1911 a certain amount of work has been clone by the system of guide lecturers. Although this movement has not been carried to the extent it should be, what has been done has shown the good results that can be obtained. I was able last year to tell your Lordships that from the commencement of these guide lecturers in 1911, notwithstanding the break owing to the war, 360,000 people had attended these lectures up to that time. There has been no return made since then, but through the courtesy of the directors of the various museums I have obtained all the figures, and I find that the figure of 360,000 has now gone up to 420,000. That is a very large number. There is no doubt that the intelligent public appreciate these lectures very much and want more of them.

Your Lordships might ask at what cost this has been done. I am glad to be able to say that practically the whole cost has been met by the system of selling reproductions, pictorial cards and photographs. The total amount spent, about £2,500, will no doubt have to be increased. At the present moment the system is working at high pressure. There are no lecturers to spare for expansion, and none to spare in case of illness. The present status and salaries of the lecturers are not sufficient. They are an important set of men; and it is most desirable you should have the best men for the work, and that they should be thoroughly satisfied. The position is this. There is a small cost which may creep up to £5,000 on the debit side of the balance sheet. On the credit side you have the profit arising from the sale of reproductions and pictorial photographs. This completely covers, or will soon cover, the entire cost, so that you have this lecture system entirely without expense to the nation. I stated last year that the British Museum had found that this was so, and I quoted a letter from Sir Frederic Kenyon, in which he said that the profit from the sale of reproductions more than covered the whole of the expenses of education.

Sir Frederic Kenyon has very kindly given me a further letter in which he is able to say the same thing in a more extended form. If your Lordships will allow me, I will read his letter. It comes from the greatest authority in this matter that you could find, and he has expressed his opinion very carefully. This is his view:— The guide lecturer system continues to work satisfactorily … Its withdrawal or its impairment would involve the loss of a valuable educational influence, and would mean that the country was getting less value than it need for its expenditure on the museum in general. The guide lecturers are to be regarded as part of the policy of making the museum intelligible, attractive, and useful to the public, the other principal part of which is the development of museum handbooks and pictorial illustrations. Each part of the organisation reacts on the other, and the cost of the whole is very much more than covered by the increased receipts. The receipts from the sales of publications at Bloomsbury alone have risen from approximately £3,400 in 1920–21 to approximately £6,200 in 1921–22. That is almost double, and further progress is hoped for in the current year. This is not a time for asking for increased expenditure; but expenditure which is so promptly remunerative should surely be encouraged to develop without restriction. I should like to say that, while this policy is so exceedingly well carried out in the British Museum, the same thing has to be applied in all museums and all galleries in the same way. It has to be done on a commercial basis, and very carefully. The counter for the sale of these wonderful reproductions must be near the door, and not stowed away in a corner.

This is another instance where it is most important that there should be some Government official to look into the whole matter and help it forward. As I have just shown, the work is very well done at the British Museum, and as an instance of that I think your Lordships will like to learn of the extraordinary way in which the system of pictorial postcards has developed. In the year 1919, 250,000 postcards were sold; in 1920 the number was 360,000; and in 1921 no less than 598,000. They are sold at a very considerable profit, and it should be remembered that it is not only the guide books which make the lectures of value and the museum a useful educational property. Considerable profit has also been obtained from the sate of other reproductions, photogravures, and colour-types. Last year they sold 27,000 guide books and 26,000 reproductions.

I should like to say that immense credit is due to the Trustees of the British Museum. From the very first they have taken up this matter con amore, and have determined to make it a success. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as Chairman of the executive committee, has taken a very strong view of the matter. He is ably supported by Sir Frederic Kenyon, who is heart nad soul in favour of this policy, and the whole thing has been exceedingly well done. My noble friend, Viscount Ullswater, whom I do not see in the house at the present moment, is also one of the trustees, and has taken a very active part in regard to this matter.

It must not be forgotten, however, that not only is this work very important, but that there are a large number of people who are very anxious to obtain information but find that they cannot easily do so. Such people would very much like to gain scientific knowledge by having it demonstrated to them in a popular form. One thing that people are craving for is information on any scientific subject through popular lectures and demonstrations. One of the special cravings at the present moment is for scientific information on wireless telegraphy. Here you have a subject of which thousands of people are very anxious to obtain some knowledge. Surely, a matter of that kind ought to be dealt with by the Science Museum. I know very well that the Science Museum is crippled because its new building is not yet erected and it is very much overcrowded.

But can there be any real difficulty in giving a series of lectures on this particular subject? I have gone into the matter with Mr. Fisher, President of the Board of Education, and he has taken it up with a view to carrying it out if possible. There are difficulties, but I am told, after making many enquiries, that, if it is done at all it could be done in this way. The Science Museum, of course, possesses the implements, and next door the theatre of the Imperial Colonial Institute could be used as a lecture room; there you have the two essentials. With regard to the lecturer, surely he could be obtained at very little cost, and an ordinary Post Office official might be employed without very great expense. Unfortunately, I am told that whilst the officials at the Science Museum would like to carry out the idea, they think that it would take some time, and I was informed that they thought eighteen months would be necessary. A thing of that sort, if it is to be done at all, ought to be done at once, and the immense satisfaction that it would give to thousands of our nation ought not to be forgotten.

I remember being told in your Lordships' House, seven years ago, by Lord Redesdale, who was then Chairman of the Wallace Collection, that guide lecturers there were impossible, and he gave all the reasons. I ventured to say that if the matter were gone into it would be found possible. I am glad to say that within three or four years the whole thing was reversed, and Lord Harcourt, who I am sorry is no longer here to help in this matter, and Mr. Maccoll, Keeper of the Wallace Collection, set about it with determination, and now you have that wonderful collection at Hertford House, with an ideal system of guide lecturers. The whole thing has worked admirably. I mention this because I am certain that in these cases where we are told it cannot be done at once, if it be taken up con amore it can be done.

I am now able to interest your Lordships, I am sure, very much, because I am able to tell you of a delightful development which has taken place and is likely to be permanent. A large number of gentlemen in the City, bank clerks and other officials, having heard a great deal about these lectures, thought they would very much like to have some interest in the matter, and at the instigation of a gentleman in the Westminster and Parr's Bank the matter was thoroughly gone into and a proposal was made by a large number of these gentlemen that they should be allowed to have evening lectures at the British Museum, they paying all the expenses. At first, you would hardly think it possible that these gentlemen, after long, strenuous days, would be able to go to a museum and find there great pleasure and relief, but so it is. This fact shows the value of these lectures and how they can be made successful. During the last three months this system has been carried out. The trustees of the British Museum readily agreed. They have done everything in their power to assist, and I think that these gentlemen have been thoroughly satisfied with what has been done. There have been no fewer than twenty lectures. I have myself attended most of them, and I can vouch for the way in which the audience showed their intelligent appreciation and delight, and for how well the lectures have gone through.

One of these gentlemen, a Mr. Whiteman, who is one of the principal organisers, has, at my request, written a letter, from which I ask to be allowed to read. He writes— All the twenty lectures have been very fully attended… The only difficulty that has arisen has been due to the necessity for limiting the size of the parties, on account of the restricted space in the museum… No charge whatever has fallen on the museum. The majority are engaged in the City during the day; many have to make a journey of ten or fifteen miles. … It is no exaggeration to say that the great majority have found an entirely new interest, and have learned to their surprise that they are able to understand subjects which they previously believed to be beyond their reach. We feel justified in stating that in our opinion, whereas we have merely dealt with some hundreds of people who are engaged in business during the day-time, and consequently unable to attend the day-lectures, there must be thousands to whom evening lectures in the winter, on the same lines, would equally appeal; but for the question of cost, we could safely say—many thousands— That is a very satisfactory letter. It was not written on the spur of the moment, at the commencement, but after three months' trial and after witnessing the delight of all those who have attended the lectures.

We now come to the National Gallery. That gallery, as your Lordships know, has never been so popular as it is at the present moment. No doubt that is explained by many of the alterations that the trustees and the director have made, but it has also very largely arisen from the satisfactory result of the official guide lectures, which have been very well carried out. They are exceedingly lucky in having a very good lecturer. Many of your Lordships have been there and know how well it is done. I have received a letter fron the director, which I am sure your Lordships will like to hear as it gives an unbiassed opinion. It is as follows:— In connection with your Motion in the House of Lords, I feel bound to tell you that from all the available evidence we have it is clear that the lectures hero are proving an unqualified success. Not only do they attract large and regular attendances of the general public, but I have had numerous instances of the interest they have aroused in those who have already some knowledge of pictures, and find by following the lectures that they have much still to learn. There can be no doubt that these lectures, together with the increased facilities for obtaining photographs and picture postcards (these have been slightly impeded in sale by the increase in postage), have immensely augmented the usefulness and interest of the gallery to the nation. That shows the position and how well the matter has been attended to.

Shall I shock your Lordships if I venture to make a suggestion? It is this. Is it not possible that before very long we may not only have the pleasure of seeing these beautiful pictures, but also that we may hear at the same time the strains of beautiful music? Why should not the National Gallery be a retreat from the distractions of life, where all may go in their moments of leisure, to enjoy delightful pictures and at the same time to find an atmosphere of culture and of art, and listen to the soothing strains of charming and delightful music? This is not a matter which is new. Your Lordships know that there is a large private gallery at Richmond, belonging to Sir Herbert Cook, which is one of the greatest and most beautiful galleries in the world, containing examples of all the masters of past ages. There we see my suggestion fully carried out. There you are able to view these beautiful pictures and at the same time to have the charm of music.

I should like to refer for one moment to the Victoria and Albert Museum. There you have an immense building in which at present, I am sorry to say, there is only one lecturer. Last year 1,200,000 people went through it, and to have only one lecturer in such circumstances is really almost laughable. You ought to have three or four lecturers. It is really a matter to be pushed forward. Unfortunately, there is no official connected with the Government able to take a special interest in the matter, and so the thing is not done. It may, of course, be a matter of money, but I have shown that every farthing you spend in the way of lectures is recouped in the profit derived from the sale of guide books and reproductions.

There is, unfortunately, a scheme on foot for the introduction of pay days at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Of course it is impossible to refuse to cut down expenditure which may be thought avoidable, but at the same time it ought to be very carefully borne in mind that in cutting down a particular item you may create a loss. Your Lordships may remember that a few years ago pay days were in vogue at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I and many others took strong steps to bring about an alteration, and after pay days had been in force for twelve years the system was brought to an end. Why was that done? Because they discovered that during those years they had obtained only (I think) £650 a year, and while they were doing that they were losing an immense amount of money from the absence of educational facilities. Hundreds of people who would have gone to enjoy the wonderful collection of works of art in that building were unable to do so. In this connection we must also consider the facilities for design offered to British artists. My noble friend, Lord Rathcreedan, brought forward that subject last year, and I have asked him to mention it when he speaks to-night. It is a matter of very great importance.

I will refer to one other museum only, the London Museum. That museum is doing exceedingly well. Its lectures and its educational work have made great progress. I have a letter from the keeper, who says— Daring 1921, a series of lectures were given with the most gratifying results. This year an extended series of lectures has been arranged with the various education authorities. The attendance at the lectures is most satisfactory, and from all sorts of schools, from elementary to public; and I consider our guide lectures and our picture postcards are both of the greatest possible value, and both enormously popular.

I desire now to touch on the question of schools. Your Lordships will understand that I am moving to ask the Government to do their utmost to utilise the great educational apparatus found in all our museums. To do so you must try to induce the schools to send their classes there. All educational authorities agree that if you send a class to a museum, and the children see the things about which they have been learning, their senses are sharpened. It stimulates the intelligence, and it does away with that brain fag and monotony from which children suffer. It is far from my purpose, in referring to the schools belonging to the London County Council, to say anything in disparagement of Sir Robert Blair. Sir Robert Blair has done an immense amount of good, and he has to deal with no fewer than a million children. But, although I know he is very anxious that children should go to the museums and receive instruction there, it is rather remarkable that during the last two years nothing whatever has been done to that end. It is agreed that the teachers themselves should be taught and that they should take the children in their classes to the museums.

Two years ago negotiations were set on foot, and for some little time continued between the educational department of the London County Council and the British Musuem. Unfortunately they suddenly came to an end. I believe an agreement on terms could not be reached, and so the idea was dropped. To allow two years to elapse without anything being clone is absurd, because the instruction of teachers is the first step that should be taken; if the teachers are not taught, naturally the children cannot go to museums. It is a very great pity, and I hope that the Government will do something to facilitate this idea being put into effect. There is no doubt that all the preparatory schools in the neighbourhood of London ought to be induced to visit our museums. It is much to be regretted that this is not done as a regular system, and that parents do not insist upon their children going through a course at the museums.

I should like to point out that this is not an axe for cutting down of expenditure; it is an axe to cut off the waste of our resources. I have already shown from the testimony of two great authorities—the greatest authority on our museums, Sir Frederic Kenyon, and the greatest authority on our art galleries, Sir Charles Holmes—that if you spend £1 in helping on this educational system you get back £1 in cash in a very short time; therefore, it costs you absolutely nothing. At the same time, the nation receives a return, not of 100 per cent., but of 1,000 per cent. in educational facilities, in intellectual pleasures, and in happiness.

Moved, to resolve, That the Government, in carrying out the Resolution passed by this House on March 9, 1921, be asked to encourage as far us possible the utilisation of the vast educational apparatus contained in all Museums and Galleries for the benefit of schools of every description throughout the country.—(Lord Sudeley.)


My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord need apologise for calling attention once more to this important matter. Personally, I think the public owe a great deal to the noble Lord for the zeal and industry with which he has pursued this question. The truth is that in this country we have some of the finest museums in the world. They are admirably arranged and admirably managed. But unless there is some means by which you can introduce the people to exhibits of such value the greater part of the utility of these museums is lost. I feel certain that every one of your Lordships would recognise at once that if you entered the most magnificent museum of specimens relating to something with which you were unfamiliar it would do nothing but excite a mere languid curiosity. If, on the other hand, it were possible for some person to explain to you what was the real meaning of each of the exhibits that you saw, from that moment the whole museum would cease to be a mere collection of dry specimens, and would become full of the most vivid and living interest.

These guides have undoubtedly rendered that service to the people. I look upon them as the keys to the gates of knowledge, and without them those gates are barred. Take a very simple illustration. Take a matter with which the noble Earl, Lord Crawford, is peculiarly well acquainted—the inspection of pictures. If an ordinary person entered the National Gallery and looked at the pictures without any instruction at all, he would be pleased with one and would think another ugly. He never would get any idea of the real value of a picture gallery in the least degree. The other day I had the good fortune to go into the National Gallery when one of these guides was lecturing on some of the early fourteenth and fifteenth century Italian painters. I followed him from room to room, and I am bound to say that the result of listening to what he said was to throw an entirely new light upon these pictures, many of which I have seen again and again. I am perfectly certain that the same thing is true of every other museum.

It is of no use merely collecting things together in a building. You must have some one to explain to those who come to look at them what is the real meaning of the things you have collected. If people go to the British Museum to see ancient historical collections it is obvious that looking at pieces of rust-eaten iron and stick conveys nothing to them except that they are curious pieces of old wood and metal. But if someone explains what they really were and the form they took in the life of the people in whose time they came into existence, these dead things become infused with a life and an interest which it is impossible for people who know nothing about it to understand and appreciate. It is for that reason that I feel very grateful indeed to the noble Lord for the work he has done in this connection. I am sure that he will not receive any unsympathetic answer from the Government, but I hope it will not be found, as he says, that the expense is of such a character as to diminish the extraordinary value of the work that has been done.


My Lords, I am encouraged to trespass upon your patience for a few moments in connection with this question partly because I know that my noble friend has given an immense amount of time and attention to this question, and that he has done so with very marked success. I take it that his contention is this: that we have as a great national asset these museums, valued at something like £80,000,000, or looked at in another way, at some £4,000,000 per annum, and yet for the sake of economising a few thousand pounds a year that great asset is not fully available to the nation.

May I be permitted to draw a parallel. Supposing that a noble Lord happened to have a large collection of a similar nature housed at his country place; that it was readily available when any one wished to see it, but that when the visitor went there and asked to be shown the china— being interested in that particular article— he was taken to a gallery and told by the housekeeper that this was the china gallery, but she must apologise for the state in which it was because it was of such value that the noble lord who owned it did not allow it to be dusted by any one but an expert who came once a year from London to put it in order. Supposing that collection was worth, say, one-twentieth part of our national treasures (that is, some £4,000,000 of money, or an income of £200,000 a year) would not your Lordships say: "Here is a man possessed of such wealth that he is able to leave a matter of £200,000 a year lying idle, and will not expend a few thousands a year in order to make this exhibit available to the public." I am sure that nine out of ten of your Lordships would say at once that he was not doing his duty, either to his class or to the nation. Therefore, seeing that the museum belongs to the nation and that the taxpayer is already paying a large sum to keep it in existence, I think that the expenditure of an extra few thousand pounds a year in order to employ guide lecturers would not be amiss.

Another question upon which my noble friend touched was the question of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He pointed out that 1,250,000 persons had passed through that museum during last year, and that only one lecturer was employed in connection with it, at an infinitesimal cost. This particular museum, as I think I pointed out to your Lordships on a previous occasion, has for its main object the furnishing of facilities to the designer, the craftsman, the student, and the manufacturer for developing all their different faculties. Yet, at a moment when commerce and the development of trade are of the greatest importance, we are starving this particular museum. It is recognised by all that we are an urban country, that the majority of our people live by trade and commerce, and that the essence of our trade is the export, trade. In order to have a good export trade you must have beauty of design, design which will appeal to the public at large not only of this but of continental countries. And one of the best methods of developing our trade and of pushing our wares throughout the world is the granting of these facilities to all those connected with it. But it is manifest that there must be many craftsmen, many students, and many manufacturers going to that museum who, for the want of proper guide lecturers, are unable to take full advantage of it. That seems to be a penny wise and pound foolish policy, and I hope your Lordships will give full and hearty support to the Motion which my noble friend has brought before this House.


My Lords, I am sure, that words of praise were never more really deserved than in connection with the work which has been done by the noble Lord who has raised this question. Although he has received scant encouragement he has, year after year, kept hammering at this one subject, convinced, as many of us are, that it is a matter of vital importance. The result of that continuous effort has been the achievement of a success which I, for one, would have thought impossible having regard to the extraordinary public apathy as to the functions of these museums and the small encouragement he has received in quarters to which he might have looked for help. He has succeeded, and succeeded in a marvellous way. But, although he has roused public opinion on a subject of great importance, still I think he would be the first to admit that he and those who are in sympathy with him are only at the beginning of their labours, and that now is the time to keep on, in season and out of season, pointing out in every possible way the folly, for it is nothing but folly, of which we have been guilty in the past, in utterly neglecting the educational value of the museums on which vast sums of public money have been expended in this country.

It is no use mincing language about it. To my mind, and I say it deliberately, it is a matter almost of national disgrace that having built up those magnificent museums, having got together world treasures in art, and vast storehouses of historical material, we allow them to lie there not physically to rot—no doubt, we keep them admirably, with the rooms centrally heated and all the rest of it—but regarded in such a manner that up till quite recently, when the noble Lord started this campaign, they were practically of very little use whatsoever. When this question was introduced on a, former occasion some years ago, I respectfully drew your Lordships' attention to how differently this matter was regarded in Continental cities and by Continental Governments. AS an example I mentioned three museums alone in the City of Berlin in which education is the paramount consideration and collection is only subsidiary. I mentioned the ethnographic and the post office and the traffic museum. What is wrong in this country, if I may put it in that way, is that we do not put education forward as the real reason for establishing these museums, but we put forward a totally different reason—namely, that they are really interesting things to get together in glass cases.

The noble Lord alluded to some cases, and I would further instance the case of the Wallace Collection. The Wallace Collection is a world wonder, but as for its educational advantages it might hardly have existed at all but for these lectures. Any of your Lordships who choose to go to that museum and follow the lectures I think will entirely agree that what was merely a collection of beautiful work has become suddenly something that we can all understand and, understanding, are the better for understanding; something that is an education to each of us, and which, but for the assistance of these guide lecturers, would be simply nothing.

The noble Lord who last spoke referred to the advantage to manufacturers. I would point, out—I may be wrong, but I do not think I am—what is a typical case, and one that shows how we neglect the materials we have. It was stated that in the Victoria and Albert Museum there is only one guide lecturer, but there is a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum which was established with a great flourish of trumpets a good many years ago—the Bethnal Green Museum. When the Bethnal Green Museum was established the newspapers were loud in their praises of this attempt to utilise some at least of the art treasures we possess, and also to utilise the samples that we had of various manufactures. They were to be utilised in the very heart of the district where work is being done by artisans, who were to be educated by this means for the purpose of their ordinary work.

Undoubtedly, in intention there never was anything more likely to be of immense practical utility from a mere commercial point of view. But I would ask any of your Lordships who have an idle moment to spare to visit the Bethnal Green Museum which was established, and rightly established, for the purpose I have indicated. Is that Museum functioning as it was intended to function? Are we getting the value from it for the money expended upon it? Are the workers there, who are mainly engaged in the furniture trade, getting the full benefit that might be derived from the exhibits in that museum? The general impression left on my mind is that it is regarded as the Cinderella of our State museums. I do not wish to do more at the moment than to advert to this particular case. I think that if we could infuse into those who have charge of the museums the spirit which has been shown by the noble Lord great public benefit would result. I cannot put the matter in as neat language as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Buckmaster, used, but I am just as convinced as he is of its importance, and if anything I can say or do could bring the matter prominently before the public I should certainly have my reward.

The truth of the matter is that at the present time we are talking of education as if it were something that would regenerate the world, regenerate England, and make us all rich in the future. I am heart and soul in this matter of education, but I think we cut a very ridiculous figure when we talk so much about education and deliberately neglect the means of education which are to our hands. It may be mere prejudice on my part, but I would suggest that more practical utility would be gained, largely to the advantage of the artisan class, if there were guide lecturers in these museums than results even from this much advertised notion of intermediate education which entails an enormous expenditure at a time when we have very little money to expend upon anything.

I would recall to your Lordships' recollection the idea that by mere words, by text books, by just setting out in cold and cheerless language historical facts, geological facts, and facts with regard to natural history and science, you do not educate. That kind of thing goes in at one ear of the child and comes out at the other. To the child Mr. Pickwick is just as real a character as one of the Pharaohs, but if you take the child to a museum and show what is left of the Pharaoh he believes in the existence of the man; his mind is interested in him; he wishes to learn something about the history of those old times; and he does learn it and retains what he has learned. One of the earliest instances we have of how you can teach profitably with the assistance of the actual objects before you are to be found in the celebrated lectures of Faraday, and those of his great successor as a lecturer, Tyndall, the man who did so much not only in popularising science but in educating people with regard to science. The work done by Tyndall in that sense was simply enormous, and the reason was that the principle was followed of placing the object before the people who were to learn. If you do that, they learn; if you do not do that, they forget.

The work that has been done is great, but until we can convert His Majesty's Government—though, perhaps, they are quite converted on that matter already—and the public into regarding these museums in the first place as educational establishments and not as mere museums, we shall not make progress. Once that principle is grasped we shall be able to get something done, but until it is thoroughly grasped we shall not be successful. I entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord in the suggestion that the assistance of some member of the Government to whom this would be a special duty would be an enormous help, but I respectfully protest against the system of letting things alone, of taking a year and a half to make up your mind upon a thing on which you should have made it up in five minutes. That is the kind of thing that has brought us into a great deal of mischief in many matters other than museums and education, and it would be just as well if we adopted the plan of looking a little bit ahead.


My Lords, the speeches to which we have listened this afternoon show that the House still takes an undiminished interest in the subject which my noble friend brings before your Lordships from time to time. Not only in this House but outside of it there have been many manifestations of public sympathy with Lord Sudeley's desire to provide a further staff of guide lecturers in our public museums. I will try to tell my noble friend what has been done since March of last year. Since the Resolution was carried, on his Motion in March last year, the Treasury have authorised the appointment of a guide lecturer at the London Museum, and from the information in possession of the Government the statement of my noble friend that this venture appears to have been successful, is amply borne out. A special point has been made at that museum for arranging lectures for the London County Council and Polytechnic schools. The Treasury, so far as I am aware, have not been asked in the interval to sanction any other appointments of guide lecturers, and in these times it is obvious that existing financial circumstances must always be considered in dealing with such applications I am authorised to inform the noble Lord that the Treasury are perfectly willing to consider in a very sympathetic spirit any further requests which are made.

Lord Sudeley alluded to various other institutions and of those which have not as yet guide lecturers. I am informed that the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum are prevented by their restricted accommodation from considering the arrangement. In the case of the Science Museum, he stated that a period of eighteen months was required for carrying out any such an arrangement, and I am not surprised, if any structural alterations have to be made, to learn that such a period may be necessary. Obviously, the matter cannot be settled off-hand. May I also say that as regards his suggestion that lectures should be given at the Science Museum on wireless telegraphy, I fancy that the present accommodation is too restricted to allow anything of the kind to be undertaken.

I am told that at the National Portrait Gallery considerable difficulty would also arise on the same head, and the trustees, who have to be consulted in all these matters perhaps more than a Government Department, have not met with any appreciable public demand for these services. However sympathetic the House and the public feel with the desire of the noble Lord for an extension of the system of guide lecturers, we ought not to shut out from our recollection that it is not everybody who goes to these museums who wishes to join a party headed by a guide lecturer. There are students and others who, obviously, are well-instructed and able to enjoy what is there without following a guide lecturer. Consideration has been given to the question of arranging lectures for children at the Bethnal Green Museum. The collection there is being arranged in order to make a better appeal to children, and when the reorganisation is complete it will be possible to organise lectures as suggested. In the meantime, special guidance will be given by voluntary helpers from time to time. It is not, therefore, strictly accurate to say that nothing has been done in the case of the Bethnal Green Museum.

Your Lordships no doubt listened with interest to what Lord Sudeley said with regard to evening lectures recently given at the British Museum to City bank clerks. In that case no expenditure fell upon public funds, and if application is made to the authorities by other institutions for a similar arrangement, the Treasury will place no obstacle whatever in the way.

With regard to the extension of the production and sale of pictorial illustrations, I am glad to say that considerable progress has been made during the year. At nearly all the institutions in question the number of subjects reproduced has been largely increased and several new illustrated guides have been issued. At the British Museum, in addition to issuing further sets of postcards, there has been placed on sale a number of larger reproductions suitable for framing. A second stall for the sale of publications was opened there in the month of July last. At the Natural History Museum a stall was opened at Christmas last, and thirteen sets of picture postcards have been placed on sale. The Science Museum are preparing a series of picture postcards. The Wallace Collection have in preparation their first series of coloured cards, and the production of coloured reproductions of pictures is being investigated both there and at the National Gallery. The Victoria and Albert Museum are also about to issue coloured picture postcards. The National Portrait Gallery are extending their list of official photographs as well as picture postcards and are working up to a complete set of all the portraits in the collection. In Edinburgh steps are being taken to arrange for the sale of photographs and picture postcards at the National Portrait Gallery, which has just been reopened, and at the Museum of Antiquities which is to be reopened shortly.

The Treasury have had under consideration the recommendation of the Committee on National Expenditure that these sources of income should be developed as far as possible on a uniform basis, and discussions have taken place with a view to making the best possible arrangements to this end. Although the details of procedure with regard to accounting and obtaining supplies have necessarily to be carefully considered, there is no question as to the desire of the Government to encourage all steps that can be taken to develop the sale of these publications.