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Aug 2015 - Council Press Statement

Council Press Statement 5th Aug 2015 - The future of Guildford Museum

Cllr Geoff Davis, Lead Councillor for Economic Development, responsible for Heritage and Tourism says: "We are committed to providing an inspiring and wide ranging cultural offering for residents and visitors and have formed a working group to consider the future of Guildford Museum."

The group includes finance, legal, property, communications and HR. An outside specialist museum consultant will also be included. Cllr Geoff Davis chairs the group, which is led by James Whiteman, Director of Environment. Their brief is to carry out a full review of Guildford Museum, its collections and the Victorian schoolroom, with the key aim to look at a new and improved museum and visitor experience.

The review will examine the current offering of a traditional academic research museum, expanding its scope to include art, themed displays, virtual displays and a visitor centre for the town. It will also look at increasing access for everyone, particularly as the current location does not have disabled access. The group will review the use of the museum buildings, which have increased significantly in value in current times. Opportunities at other Council owned properties and including potential partners will also be explored.

We will work with interested parties and the business community and look at the collections within the Museum and at the Council's Woking Road storage depot. After the review is complete we will ask the public for their views about the possible options for the future.

Cllr Davis explains: "At the present time, the annual running costs of Guildford Museum and associated services are approximately £385,000 a year. Visitor numbers have unfortunately declined, so it is important to review these services and explore reducing the financial impact for local residents.

"As part of the process to modernise the museum, it was necessary to update the notice to quit served on the Surrey Archaeological Society (SAS) seven years ago for the few offices and the library they currently occupy. SAS are in a very strong financial position with over £2.3m on their balance sheet. They operate throughout Surrey but we are the only local council offering subsidy arrangements.

"We are currently discussing their collections, both in the Museum and our Woking Road storage facility. We hope that the SAS exhibits will remain on loan in the Museum after their office relocation. We have offered SAS the Freehold interest in 48 Quarry Street and a decision on that offer is awaited".

Published on 5 August 2015.