Herne Bay Museum is changing its image and its name in a bid to change its “moribund” image. Almost 50 people went to a meeting of the Herne Bay Museum Trust at the town’s Retreat Hall on Friday and learnt how the museum will be brought into the future once the trust takes on its management.
The need for volunteers was stressed, as was the list of jobs that needs to be done. Some of those are ‘front of house’ – meeting, greeting and explaining what is on offer to visitors – while others will be behind-the-scenes administrative and curatorial activities.
Perhaps the strongest message, though, was that the museum needs modernising. David Cross, secretary of supporter organisation Friends of Herne Bay Museum, outlined plans for the ‘refreshed’ museum and galleries.
He also launched the museum’s new name and branding – it will now be known as ‘the seaside museum Herne Bay’ – and showed an artist’s impression of how the museum may soon look. Mr Cross said:
“Feedback revealed that the museum has a very moribund image with the public. For years now the complaints were that the museum never changes, it is very dated, exhibitions are not as numerous and there are fewer activities than there used to be. For whatever reason, overall the museum has a pretty negative image.
The management is moving to the trust and the museum is to be run for and by the community – we feel that this change needs to be flagged up. People need to see the visual evidence of significant change. Without it, the announcement of new management arrangements could be seen as superficial.
There was a tendency in the Eighties and Nineties to drop the word museum in favour of things like heritage centre or discovery hub. We feel this is the wrong approach and, instead of dropping the word, it needs enlivening by associating it with favourable things and emotions.
‘Seaside’ is a positive word with a feel-good image and no negative overtones. As a coastal museum in a seaside town, it occurred to us to call it The Seaside Museum Herne Bay. Most of the artefacts and stories in the museum already fit this identity. There are many museums in seaside towns, none, as far as we can ascertain, calling themselves the Seaside Museum.
We are all very enthusiastic about the new name and convinced that signalling a new start in this way would be a considerable advantage, especially in terms of marketing and public profile.”