Allister Malcolm, currently the resident glass artist, outside Broadfield House Glass Museum. Photo by Simon Bruntnell.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The museum, whose unique collection enjoys an international reputation, became a victim of local authority cuts on January 5, when the council told staff it would close at the end of March 2010 and its collection move to the Red House Glass Cone heritage site at Wordsley.

The aim is to save £120,000 a year - the sum the council spends annually on cleaning up graffiti.

However, The Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum, with the backing of the Glass Association, have now mounted a campaign, complete with online petition, against the move.

They have raised questions over the likely fate of the collection and just how much money will really be saved.

In a letter to ATG this week, glass dealer Nigel Benson accuses Dudley council of acting without understanding what the consequences would be.

"The extra space at the Red House Cone site is owned by Waterford Wedgwood, who are currently under administration, and who also lease the cone portion of the site to the council," he writes.

"The building(s) in question will require upgrading and overhauling to create the new, smaller museum. Security measures, new display equipment, the moving of the collections by specialists, the housing of the overspill and archive material, etc, etc., will all need to be addressed and funded.

"So where is the saving you may ask?"

Now the council have announced that they have ordered a feasibility study to be carried out over the next financial year into the proposal to move the collection to the Red House Glass Cone.

"Our aspiration is to create an improved visitor attraction based in the heart of the historic glass quarter. This would provide a more efficient running of our museum service," a spokesman said.

Glass Association chairman Brian Clarke told ATG: "We have 1000-plus online signatures already, including Reino Liefkes, senior curator of ceramics and glass at the V&A and Dr David Whitehouse, executive director of the Corning Museum of Glass."

In a letter to the Stourbridge News, Mr Benson also writes: "The council and its representatives should look into obtaining extra funding, perhaps by getting Designated Museum Standing which might allow access to national funding. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but it's easier to go for downsizing than to work for extra funding."

Other dealers, collectors and glass professionals added their own voices to the debate. Glass dealer Jeanette Hayhurst said: "What must be emphasised are the many great bequests to the museum, such as that given by the late Michael Parkington, who left many fine items which were given in good faith. These bequests should not be consigned now to storage. One cannot under-estimate either the importance of the wonderful research facility at the museum."

Dealer Andy McConnell told ATG: "The council have likened it to closing a public toilet. They are completely misguided and are showing a serious lack of joined-up thinking here. Fifty per cent of the best items at the museum are on loan and will go back into private collections."

The Red House Glass Cone does not have the exhibition space to accommodate the Broadfield House Glass Museum Collections and it is currently unlikely that funding would be made available to expand the site.

Visitors at the free-entry museum rose from 11,000 to 15,000 last year.

For an update on the museum campaign and petition log onto www.friendsofbroadfieldhouse.co.uk

• Roger Dodsworth, the curator at Broadfield House Glass Museum, will be attending the Cambridge Glass Fair at Chilford Hall Vineyard, Linton on February 22 to give a talk on the significance of the collections held at the museum.

By Joan Porter