Fringe Box



Letter: Notice to Quit the Museum Was Badly Handled

Guildford Museum 02From Mary Alexander

Dr Mary Alexander is a former collections officer at Guildford Museum.

The Surrey Archaeological Society founded Guildford Museum in 1898, giving it county-wide collections. There was talk of a town museum and the town council began collecting their own objects from 1905, but all the objects were, and are, treated as one collection.

The borough council took over running the museum in 1933, after a councillor paid for the purpose-built main gallery in 1911. This was a perfect partnership, and not unusual; several other county archaeological societies are housed in county museums.

Sadly, the current management of the museum cannot see, I believe, beyond a limited view of a borough council running a borough museum. If the management had embraced a partnership with the society perhaps the two Heritage Lottery Fund bids would not have failed.

The notice to quit has apparently been badly handled and it seems that Guildford Borough Council does not fully understand what it has done. If it means that the society must remove all of its collection from the museum then the displays will be half empty.

Cllr Davis says that “no decisions have been made yet” but a decision has been made to evict the society and to break-up a fruitful partnership of over 100 years. The society has been given a pitifully short time to dismantle their headquarters, their 6,000 volume library and a room full of local history archives, paintings and drawings.

A lack of vision has caused the museum to decline in the last few years. It needs new management with a vision to make the best of its substantial assets, not decisions to destroy them.

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