Tuesday 8 February 2011

Last minute meeting called : Margate Museum's Future

No idea why it was necessary to call such a last minute meeting in the afternoon midweek to discuss something as important as the future of The Margate Museum.

This came through from TDC's Sharon Sebastian on the ever confusing Creative Margate gmail address. That's Creative Margate (TDC, KCC, MRP) not Margate Creatives (the group of Margate based Creatives) btw.

I'm particularly worried by the suggestions to move the archive to Maidstone!

Margate Museum can hopefully get some force behind it like the Margate Caves group and take things forward. After all isn't this supposed to be the era of Big Society? Safeguarding the contents will be the first task.

"From: creativemargate@gmail.com

Dear All,

Further to our most recent conversation, you may be interested to hear that a meeting has been called by museum volunteer Christine Luck tomorrow afternoon at 2.00pm in Margate Museum.

This will provide an opportunity to continue the discussion started on the 24th January (notes of which are attached). [I've pasted it below to save you opening a Word doc. Ed].

Many Thanks

Sharon Sebastian


How can we best utilise Margate Museum? Notes of a Meeting held at Winter Gardens Jan 24th 2011

Conversation initiated by Christine Luck

Notes taken by Sarah Wren

  • Museum closed for 2 years due to resources
  • Now being opened occasionally by volunteers
  • Use the ‘youth cult’ theme? Eg the clothes of youth cults displayed in the museum
  • Is the museum the right building – is it DDA compliant? Is it the right place for historic archive – space for research?
  • Current building connected to Margate’s past
  • Is the current building fit for purpose?
  • How do we engage people with the museum eg artist in residence
  • Need to look at the museum in a new way – not about stuff in cases
  • Paper-based archive is currently poorly stored/taking up too much space
  • Picture archive owned by council - remove from museum and store elsewhere or sell them?
  • Need to work out which parts of the collection could be interactive or are too precious to handle. Use other techniques - video, new display methods, need a donation box.
  • Margate Museum Trust – this the starting point?
  • What about resources for insurance, heating, staff etc.? £3 per head not going to cover costs.
  • Need a new model of finance / operation – look at current good practice
  • One museum for Thanet?
  • Archive – move to Maidstone/KCC or to Whitfield? Is this too far to go?
  • Annual themes – manageable/achievable
  • Estimate £1m to re-build current building. Big commitment.
  • HLF bid? Who writes the bids – the new Trust??

  • Do guerrilla stuff/events that build support/engagement and underpin the need to raise funds (eg calls for submissions that bring the exhibitions to life).
  • Can we put an extension on the current building?
  • Need a designer to design the space?
  • How do we resolve the current lease issue etc? Being restored in April 2011?
  • Real issue with funding. Only income generator is archives.
  • How can we utilise Margate museum?

  • We all want the Museum open
  • Secondary considerations – What is the content? Is the current building appropriate? Where does the archive go?

Next steps: Set up trust

Guerrilla projects to create/generate interest

Fund raise – duty to trust

Turner Contemporary opens on 16th April 2011 – can we set up Trust by then??"


  1. Setting up a trust without any input from the Margate Civic Society and the Margate Historical Society by people who have no knowledge of the History of Margate is madness.

    After two years of closure and all someone can come up with when referring to the archive and a valuable art collection is as quoted.,
    "Paper-based archive is currently poorly stored/taking up too much space, Picture archive owned by council - remove from museum and store elsewhere or sell them?" realy does sum up how dire the approach to history and heritage is becoming. Surely TDC cannot condone this ?

  2. The picture collection contains hundreds of works from prints, oils and watercolours to advertising posters and ephemera - it could certainly fill a gallery on its own. How it is not an integral part of the collection in the Margate Museum is a mystery...

    And once in the county archive, any material will from then be seen only by the very few people with time and transport, and not one of them will be a visitor to the area, enjoying the history. Not one.

    Just putting these thoughts in a list of discussion points is dangerous when TDC are looking for ways to offload responsibility, costs and culture, as they apparently always are.

  3. As a member of the FOMC Commitee I have been pleasantly surprised by the widespread goodwill and support for our campaign so far. Now is the time for all good men, women and children to come to the aid of whatever heritage this old town has left. It would be very easy to let this moment slip and then the caves and the museum would be sunk past all sound just like the Jetty and the hippodrome and the grand hotels. As has been suggested elsewhere I think a contribution of £1 from each visitor to the Turner Gallery would secure the immediate future of both the caves and the museum. Considering that the council has already pledged a million pounds of public funds to rebuild the Scenic Railway it seems small beer. Talking of which maybe Frank Thorley would like to make a contribution, or Jimmy Godden. Or perhaps not. We don't want an accident that costs us another million quid to put right. Anyway I will gladly stand with a bucket outside the Turner- no sniggering please! We must endeavour to persevere and not lapse into cynical sniping(like me). I shall try to attend the meeting at 2pm and I encourage anyone who cares about the life of this town to do so. If that archive leaves it will never return. It was bad enough that the entire reserve stock from the town library was sent to Maidstone to make room for the dismal "facilitaters" at the Gateway (to the hell of TDC!) Oh dear I think I'd better lie down for a bit.

  4. And whatever became of that wonderful painting of the Jetty that used to hang in the foyer of the library? (when it was a library not a cattle market!)

  5. The painting now hangs in one of the function rooms in the winter gardens (it was mentioned in the local press when it was moved there a couple of years back).

  6. Anyone see David Chipperfield and TC gallery on last night news at ten?Awesome shots from windows and building

  7. Yes I saw it, & it was even more warehouse-like than I expected inside (admittedly the view was nice, though I suspect it's even better from Arlington House).

    R.I.P. 'The Ship'!

  8. Does anyone know whether KCC / TDC have a "plan B" if this fails?

  9. The TC that is, not the museum.

  10. Zumiwebb, the art collection was inherited from the Borough of Margate after local government reorganistion in 1974. Which is mostly from the Rowe Bequest and the Parker Collection purchased by the borough. Also there are some additions to the art collection as a result of purchases by TDC, the Clint painting being a example.

    The Margate Museum collection was built up by donations mostly of items from the public and local business since 1987.

    The archive was developed from 1994 under East Kent Maritime Trust management by volunteers, Margate Historical Society and Margate Civic Society, this also includes donations from the public and business and bequests. Plus some items from the Borough of Margate. Most of the Borough of Margate historic archive came from the borough library in Victoria Road and ended up in the Local studies dept in the Cecil Square library.

  11. I should have also added that items added to the Margate Museum collection also came from the Tudor House when it was closed as a museum.

  12. And finally, the Margate Charter Trustees have a civic collection. Like the town silver, a collection of paintings,prints plus civic and local historic items which are not under threat.

  13. Whatever happens - please can the museum be made interesting. We need things that are actually worth the visit. Can't wait for TC to finally open!

  14. What happened at the meeting?

  15. couldnt agree more with tony beachcomber, TDC have.. and always have had a total disregard for margates history and would quite happily bin any archive material if it happened to be getting in the way..but im sure if someone from "TC" told them it was a good idea to look after it, they would at least pretend to ...possibly...

  16. I have just searched for the Margate Museum website only to find that the museum is closed! I will be making my first visit to the UK for 18 years and the museum was on my list of to-do's. My great-great grandfather was the hotelkeeper of the Pier Hotel in Margate in 1871 and was hoping to find archival and pictorial information about the town at that time. My grandfather was a signwriter who worked all over Kent and painted many pub signs and I was also hoping I might find some of his work. It's fairly obvious that a lot of the local people are unhappy about this flippant and dismissive treatment of their heritage but may I just add that that disapproval resonates all the way to Australia! You can't just put history out for the council rubbish collection - it has a way of coming back to bite you in the bum!

  17. You're out of luck Heidi, though the good news is that you'll be able to watch a video of people walking around a boating pool in a brand new art gallery in the near future instead...

  18. Hi,
    If this blog is still active can someone please give me the address for the Margate Museum? I'm so disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to visit when I was in the UK last year. It seems that I missed it's re-opening by volunteers by only a few days.