I AM one of those people who tends to get completely lost in museums, art galleries and stately homes.

I don’t mean in a literal sense – I actually have an excellent in-built satnav, I’ll have you know – but I can spend hours and hours (and hours) poring over exhibits and paintings.

My long-suffering wife and children will tell you that I tend to immerse myself totally in collections and have an insatiable appetite for the detailed explanations that accompany them.

They will often have moved on to the next room while I’m still absorbing the information displayed in the second cabinet. And it’s not unknown for them to be halfway through lunch in a museum café while I’m heading back to re-read something in the first room to check I understood it in the context of something I’d just seen on the next floor.

I don’t tend to discriminate on a subject basis, either; if I’ve taken the trouble to visit a museum, I tend to feel I should do it justice, whether it’s stuffed with hundreds of remarkably similar fossils, dozens of variations on the same agricultural implement or amazing hands-on, interactive galleries.

I fervently believe these places are enormous wells of information that have a crucially important part to play in exciting a thirst for knowledge and understanding in our children.

We are the products of our past and, as the saying (attributed first to Bernard of Chartres in the 12th century…) goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants. If we want to create the giants of the future, we must provide them with historical context as well as open their minds to the endless possibilities.

But, in our present-day “I want it now” culture, with its lust for instant, technologically-based gratification, we are in danger of losing touch with the importance and value of our history. So, for me, every penny spent on protecting and developing our museums and art galleries is an investment in the future of our species.

Back in the 1990s, the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television was the jewel in the city’s crown, internationally renowned and often cited first when people were asked what they knew about Bradford.

It was hugely responsible for improving the district’s image at the time and for turning the city into a genuine tourist destination, illustrated by the fact it was attracting a million people a year.

In 2013, that situation changed dramatically and Bradford was in real danger of losing this huge asset entirely. As the National Media Museum, it had lost some its lustre and visitor numbers were declining.

Pressure on public funding led the director of the Science Museum Group, Ian Blatchford, to announce it was planning to close one of its three northern sites. A lack of investment, combined with a general decline in museum visitor numbers nationally, put the NMM in the firing line.

The Telegraph & Argus, with the huge support of City of Film director David Wilson, launched its Stop the Cut Campaign to save the museum. With the help of 45,000 petition signatures and the backing of big media names such as Martin Scorsese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and John Hurt, we pulled it off.

Part of the deal for keeping the museum alive was that Bradford Council put money in to support it but that would only happen if its £1 million contribution was matched by the Science Museum and a new focus was placed on working with the district’s young people on science and technology.

Three years on and a report to be discussed at City Hall today shows that the agreement worked, with a new name, a refreshed offer (including the super Wonderlab), a significant increase in visitor numbers and thousands more children engaged with science.

It may be that, at some stage, the deal will need to be repeated if we want to keep it alive for the next generation. Surely, even in these straightened times, it will be money well spent.

* …And even small ones can make a big contribution

IT’S GREAT to see plans going in to save at least some of the historic, Grade II Listed, Wapping Road School building. Given how it has been left to rot, it is unrealistic to think it could have been properly restored. At least the proposals by the LIFE Church should save some of its history and retain its education connections.

It would be even better if they could see their way to giving over part of the site to a small museum dedicated to Margaret and Rachel McMillan’s important contribution to state education…

* Hankering for more openness is not always the best answer

WHEN the old Broadway/Petergate development was demolished to make way for what eventually became The Broadway shopping centre, it opened up a fabulous vista. The removal of the concrete structures from the ’sixties and ’seventies left a huge plaza that cast the Cathedral and Little Germany in a striking light, prompting calls for it to be retained.

A similar notion has now afflicted some people in Keighley, who are calling for the space left by the bulldozing of the former North Street college building to be kept as a town park.

In both cases, it was a nice idea but wholly unrealistic in the face of central commercial land values.

The Broadway has been a boon for Bradford and I’m sure that, in time, Keighley residents will feel the same about the planned police station/public sector hub planned for their site.