MOSI director Tony Hill said to find new funding was a 'tough ask'
Two of Manchester's most famous museums may have to end their policy of free entry after being told they could lose government funding by 2015.
The People's History Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) currently receive hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.
But in four years that funding could be lost resulting in a cut of almost 80%.
A government spokesperson said the museums should find new sponsors to offer a 'sustainable future.'
The People's History Museum (PHM) in the Spinningfield area of Manchester only re-opened its doors in March 2010 after a £12.5m refit.
It's the only museum in the country which documents the struggle for British democracy.
People's History Museum re-opened in March 2010
Currently, 70% of its costs are met by Manchester City Council, AGMA and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).
However, the museum has now been told that, from 2015, it should seek out a new local sponsor after DCMS announced that it was reviewing its funding of 'non-national' museums.
Katy Archer, director of the People's History Museum, said they were quite "shocked" by the announcement.
"We've fought very hard to get national status as the national museum of working class people and their fight for democracy so it's something that's very important to us as an organisation."
Central funding has allowed all the country's major museums to offer free entry for some years.
Now, with their budgets under increasing pressure, museums are having to explore new ways of making up the shortfall.
"It may have an impact on our policy towards [free] admission," said Katy Archer.
"We haven't had a conversation about that yet - but it means that we're going to have to look elsewhere for sources of funding if that funding no longer exists in 2015."
The list of non-nationals includes the People's History Museum, MOSI and the National Football Museum which is re-opening in Manchester in 2011.
And while it's hoped a new cafe, gift shop and conference facilities will supplement its income in the future, MOSI faces losing up to 79% of its costs.
Director Tony Hill, said it was 'a tough ask' but he agreed that it was time for Manchester's museums to stand on their own two feet.
"You would never run a business that way and we've got to be more business-like in the way that we operate and we need to get more partners on board."
However, he didn't believe the government would leave non-national museums like MOSI high and dry.
"I think there was definitely a desire from [the Labour] government to ensure access for all to museums which is crucial for the development of the country.
"What [the Conservative-Lib Dem government] is looking for is for local museums to be aided by local entities and that might be part of the mix but I don't think national government will totally withdraw from ourselves - it might be a smaller percentage."
In a statement, a DCMS spokesperson confirmed that the funding of all its sponsored museums was secure until the end of 2014-15.
"We are now exploring whether the department's non-national museums may be more effectively sponsored through other bodies or programmes in the longer term.
"As part of the transfer arrangements the department will seek to be satisfied that new sponsors can offer a sustainable future for these museums."