Guildford Borough Council has issued an update on the museum project. There is a press statement and two reports.
The Executive Report outlines what has been happening and what is happening next. There have been two activities:
Vision for the museum
The report states "The evolving vision for the new museum, supported by the Museum Working Group, is to promote and celebrate Guildford’s history of creativity and innovation. This would be underpinned by exhibitions (both “permanent” and “temporary”) celebrating local individuals and their successes"
There was some concern at the presentation that this is too narrow. As the Friends of Guildford Museum have said "This could mean that important parts of our history would be downplayed. Creativity and innovation are important but these should not dominate teh new displays".
Deciding how to revamp an entire museum is an incredibly complex task that most museum curators do perhaps once in their entire career if at all. There are so many options that could be chosen that a decision has to be made to go down one particular route
The museum plans to take a thematic approach and tell the story of Guildford through people associated with it. I can imagine that this would be popular with visitors. 15 themes are proposed that will form the backbone of the museum. They are being called “threads” and it seems to the story of the town will be told by following these threads and illustrating them through the lives of people associated with the town.
There are risks associated with this approach which the report is well aware of and highlights
I am pleased that the report recognises the need for a flexible space. Under the section “Future Proofing the Displays” it says “The new display must work for the collection in the long-term, and the key to this will be the specification and flexibility of the space”.
The report also says that “The capital project will bring the Museum and Castle together for the first time.”. However, the ideas proposed focused on displays within the museum about the castle rather than developing the way the castle itself is presented.
I have a few comments: