Museum Wales: weakness in Welsh Government’s management of public bodies

Published 26/06/2024   |   Last Updated 26/06/2024   |   Reading Time minutes

Problems at the very top of one of Wales’ most prominent national institutions has revealed significant weakness in the way public bodies are governed.

The Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee is extremely concerned about governance arrangements at Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales which failed to resolve a dispute between two senior people - the former President and Director General - at a £40,500 cost to the Welsh Government.

In total, the pay-outs to individuals and the legal costs of numerous tribunals have cost the public in excess of £750,000.

The issues were examined by the Committee as part of their scrutiny of Amgueddfa Cymru’s accounts for 2021/22 which is published today, Wednesday 26 June. On the same day, a petition calling for increased funding for heritage and history institutions, including Amgueddfa Cymru, will be debated in the Senedd after gathering over 12,000 signatures.   

Failures in governance

During scrutiny of Amgueddfa Cymru’s accounts for 2021/22, the Committee was alarmed by evidence of failings within the organisation’s internal processes. It raises questions about the Welsh Government’s involvement in the saga and how it intervenes when such issues arise at publicly funded institutions.

Mark Isherwood MS in the Siambr

Mark Isherwood MS, Chair of the Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee says:

“The Committee is deeply concerned about the processes employed during the dispute between the former President and Director General, particularly the interactions between Amgueddfa Cymru and the Welsh Government. It is evident that further measures are necessary to prevent a recurrence of such issues at any public body.

“The processes in place at the time where wholly inadequate and the matter should have been resolved at the earliest opportunity, avoiding significant unnecessary costs. The fact of this failure is amplified today, considering the grave financial problems facing Amgueddfa Cymru.”

The President’s new role

The Committee questions the Welsh Government move, in the wake of the dispute, to appoint the former President, Roger Lewis, to a new role leading a governance review at Cadw. Whilst acknowledging that the former President was not found to have breached the terms of his appointment, the Committee is concerned about the transparency of the process.

Committee Chair, Mark Isherwood MS, says: “The Committee questions the rationale of this appointment, within the same culture and heritage sector, given the issues at Amgueddfa Cymru. A more robust appointment system is required by Welsh Government, with increased transparency and accountability around appointments like these in the future.”

Future challenges

A new Chair and new Chief Executive have been in post at Amgueddfa Cymru since September and November 2023 respectively. It is acknowledged that Amgueddfa Cymru is now fully focused on the significant challenges it faces for its future, which are a cause of great concern for the Committee.

Mark Isherwood MS, says: “It is concerning to hear about the challenges facing Amgueddfa Cymru in meeting budgetary pressures, which is likely to lead to a significant loss of jobs at the organisation, as well as a risk to our national collections and sites of national importance.

“In future scrutiny, the Committee will want to know how Amgueddfa Cymru is responding to these pressures, and how the Welsh Government is going to safeguard these vitally important sites and collections.”

The Senedd’s Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee has published its scrutiny of Amgueddfa Cymru’s accounts for 2021/22 and the report is available online.

The Petition Committee’s debate about future funding for heritage institutions such as Amgueddfa Cymru will take place in Plenary on the afternoon of Wednesday, 26 June, and is available to watch live on 


More on this story 

Read the report Scrutiny of Accounts: Amgueddfa Cymru 2021-22

Inquiry: Scrutiny of Accounts: Amgueddfa Cymru 2021-22