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People pack the waterfront but TMAG keeps doors shut

The Mercury,  December 30

 

ON one of the busiest days of the year on Hobart’s waterfront, the state’s premier tourist attraction, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, was closed.

 

Community and Public Section Union Tasmanian general secretary Tom Lynch said the closed doors at TMAG were proof the Hodgman Government’s mantra that the state was “open for business” was just spin.

Yesterday’s closure and new shorter opening hours have led to the state’s peak tourism body to call for an independent business review of TMAG.

 

The museum’s Board of Trustees decided to close on Mondays from November and shut an hour earlier, at 4pm, to help cut costs.

The redeveloped TMAG, which cost more than $30 million, was reopened in March last year and attracted more than 560,000 visitors in its first full year of operation.

“Our members report they are forced to turn away children and tourists on a daily basis because of the early closing time,” Mr Lynch said.

 

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania is urging the Government to commission a review of TMAG.

Chief executive Luke Martin said yesterday’s closure reaffirmed the need for a sober and critical analysis of the museum’s operating model.

 

“TMAG is a wonderful feature of Hobart and sits alongside MONA and Mt We­llington as one of our most visited attractions,” he said.

“For the museum to be closed today, when the Hobart waterfront is swarming with visitors, rudely highlights the problem.

“The fact Hobart’s number one attraction will close daily at 4pm over the height of the daylight savings peak tourist season when the city is buzzing is plain embarrassing.”

Mr Martin said it was wrong to point the finger solely at State Budget cutbacks, pointing out TMAG’s budget had not been cut this year and the museum had been generating large overruns yearly for some time.

“The problem is the former government funded a sensational redevelopment of the facility but never factored in the extra costs of operating a much larger and more frequented attraction,” he said.

“Last year, TMAG only generated around $100,000 of its $7 million in revenue from museum users. The rest came straight from state coffers.

“Other state museums around the country generate much greater levels of revenue from museum users while still, in many cases, maintaining free general admission.”

 

Arts Minister Vanessa Goo­dwin said TMAG was run by an independent board.

“I would encourage the trustees to consider all options that would enhance TMAG’s sustainability and provide the best visitor experience possible,” Dr Goodwin said.

 

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