Campaigners are urging Moray Council to focus on the “culture value” of the Falconer Museum after it emerged that more than £15,000 has been spent on bills since its closure.
The Forres museum became a victim of council cuts as the authority looked to slash about £10 million from its 2019 budget.
The five-star attraction, which first opened its doors in the 1870s, is home to an array of items including the nationally important collection of naturalist Hugh Falconer – who was a contemporary of Charles Darwin.
Figures obtained by the Press and Journal have revealed that the local authority has spent £15,850.96 on bills between November 2019 and February 2021 for the museum that has lain closed for more than a year.
Moray Council says they still intend to find an alternative model for the Falconer Museum, however are focused on coronavirus related business support.
Friends of Falconer Museum chairman John Barrett has argued that the museum’s cultural value outweighs the financial costs of the building being open or closed.
However, officials have stressed that artefacts were still being looked after amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Barrett said: “Open or shut, the amount of money on the bottom line is tiny compared with the Moray Council’s overall budget or deficit and the need to save.
“Closing the Falconer Museum is neither here nor there.
“Moray Council is obsessed with the price of running the museum.
“Price bears no relation to the enormous value of the Falconer Museum to the people of Forres, Moray and indeed the wider world.
“Moray Council manages its budget concerned with financial price and the Friends of the Falconer Museum are talking about the value of the Falconer Museum as a cultural, educational and economic resource.”
A Moray Council spokeswoman said: “The council’s position on the Falconer Museum hasn’t changed – there is still an intention to find an alternative delivery but as we respond to the pandemic the priority for staff remains business support activity.”