The title of this item is quite significant. If you want to revisit the borough’s museum in Camberley, you’d better do so soon. The decision has been made to close it ‘permanently’.
We wrote about a discussion paper that recommended closure very recently. Last night a meeting of the council Executive Committee agreed with its recommendations.
It’s hard to argue that, as a visitor attraction, the current museum is worthwhile. It is estimated that only two members of the public visit it each day. The aim is therefore ‘to take the exhibits to the people’. As we’ve written before, we’re less opposed to closure than are the museum’s champions. But we do believe that the museum’s entire collection should be readily assessible on-line, and be presented in an interesting and informative way. The meeting completely failed to address this, and merely vaguely talked about a website. (The meeting was assured that the museum’s catalogue of acquisitions was available on-line. It may be, but the meeting should also have been assured that the on-line catalogue is virtually useless. Thousands of items are listed without any means of searching them. You’ll find the catalogue here: http://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/residents/surrey-heath-museum/our-collection-online See if you can find references to that well known figure, Camberley Kate.)
What the meeting did agree was that, as well as continuing with the existing outreach activities (a decision which we fully support), static displays would be established in the Contact Centre and in the Square. We reserve judgement about this. GOOD displays would be good; BAD displays would be, well, bad. The word ‘static’ isn’t so different from ‘stagnant’, after all.
Interestingly, the main questionning about accreditation was raised by a non-Executive councillor. As we questionned in our recent article, is it possible to obtain accreditation without a bricks and mortar museum? This wasn’t answered – and probably wasn’t answerable – at the meeting, so a major element in the proposals put to the committee was largely meaningless. Nevertheless, the meeting voted unanimously to approve the paper.
(The meeting did acknowledge that, when the town redevelopment gets underway, it might be possible to set up a new permanent museum in the centre. Whether this was a positive suggestion, or whether it was just a way of kicking the issue into touch, is a matter of opinion.)