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Museum Saved!

Before Christmas on 6th December I
sat with representatives of several other interested bodies to hear the
Head of Culture & Enterprise, Janice McGuinness present to us the
plan for the future of the whole museum service, including Herne Bay.
There had been indications that the news might be good, but this was
confirmation, the museum was indeed saved and the campaign had made a
significant impact on the chain of events that led to the new policy.

new commercial approach which has assured the museum a future includes:
a £2 entrance fee for non resident adults, a complete overhaul of the
retail and shop area, efficiency measures within the museum including
greater staff empowerment, a proactive approach to attracting outside
funding and much closer links with the community.

The Museums,
Libraries and Archives Council were instrumental in helping to formulate
the fresh approach. Their review of the City Council’s whole museum
service highlighted all these issues and reserved special praise for the
potential level of community support as demonstrated by the campaigns
triggered by the original council proposals to close three museums out
of six.

The council has listened to these campaigns and all the
interest groups who have had input into the subsequent review procedure.
In Herne Bay it was quickly evident that our ad-hoc campaign had to
turn onto something properly constituted so that we could have a voice
in the proceedings. Friends of Herne Bay Museum was the result and up to
now has been exclusively engaged in the campaign and the consultation
process. This is a victory for the whole community, without those 2000
signatures and the blizzard of emails and letters, we would not have had
the weight behind us during the talks, and Herne Bay would have been
left without a voice, well done, everyone and thank you.

future is exciting, if the council is as good as its word and adheres
seriously to the recommendations of the MLA review, then lots of things
then become possible. One of the most common complaints from people has
been that, apart from the gallery space, “the museum never changes”. There is a general perception that “there are things in storage that we never get to see”. One of the complaints I most often hear is “there isn’t enough information on the things that are on display”.

on all these complaints we can now begin to press for. By spring next
year the restructuring within the museum will have taken root and we can
start to build relationships that will lead to creative solutions. I
truly believe that the museum will be recast as a much more open and
receptive body with a human face.

So with the new year come
opportunities, ideas please people. What have you ever wanted to see or
do in the museum? Have you ever expressed frustration or disappointment
at some aspect of the museum or its shop? Which bits of the museum do
you like best and want to stay as it is?

Please let us know, we
need to put together a list of wishes, hopes and ambitions, however mad
your idea, put it in an email or in a letter and send it to:

FoHBM Newsletter, 1 Mickleburgh Hill, Herne Bay, CT6 6AA or email: MuseumFriends@HerneBayMatters.com

David Cross, Secretary

January 2011

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