Agenda item

Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027


The Lead Member for Leisure and Arts introduced a report setting out the Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027 and seeking approval for the release of capital funds for initial work on the new archaeology gallery.


The Lead Member advised the Committee that:


·  The Museums’ team had worked with the Chairman and Vice-Chair of the former Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee on a Plan setting out priorities over the next five years.  The Plan was based on a review of the opportunities and discussions with a wide group of people and interested parties.  The team was now ready to implement the Plan.


·  Under the new Executive arrangements, she was responsible for this work.  Having visited the Museum and reviewed the Plan with the Museums’ Director she was now happy to present it to the Policy Advisory Committee. 


·  The key priorities for the Museums’ Service were:


To create a new archaeology gallery telling the story of Maidstone’s earliest history using items from the collections in a fresh and innovative way.


To complete a review of the Carriage Museum and its operation with a short-term goal to open the Museum using volunteer staff.


To undertake a review of Museum governance and the role of external trusts.


To provide better access for all residents to the collections and decision-making.


·  The next steps included:


Engaging with the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation and other key stakeholders.  It was understood that the Foundation supported the concept of the new archaeology gallery and was willing to help raise funds for it to complement the Council’s capital investment.


Commencing work on the design of the gallery and the report recommended that she approve the release of capital funding for the initial work.


To assist Members in their discussion on the Maidstone Museums Forward Plan and the proposed creation of a new archaeology gallery, the Chairman agreed to take floor plans of the Museum and Art Gallery as urgent items.


In response to questions:


·  The Lead Member confirmed that she had asked the Officers to consider the option of housing the new archaeology gallery in the former café area on the ground floor at the Museum.


·  In terms of developing the Carriage Museum as a Transport Museum to include the display of historic cycles possibly on loan from a private collection, the Museums’ Director said that she did think that there was potential in the long-term for the Carriage Museum to reflect more generally the science and technology of vehicles and present a more STEM-based alternative to the main Museum which was largely arts based.  However, the Museums had a carefully defined collecting policy, and it would be necessary to consider how the cycles would meet the criteria of the policy.


·  The Museums’ Director explained that the feasibility of relocating the Tyrwhitt-Drake collection of carriages to Headcorn was considered in 2015, but the project was not progressed.


·  It was noted that an options report would be submitted to Members later in the year addressing the issues of the Carriage Museum and its collections.


The Committee supported the recommendations set out in the report.




1.  That the Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, be approved for consultation with external stakeholders.


2.  That the release of funds of up to £50,000 from the Museum’s capital programme for initial work on the new archaeology gallery be approved.


Supporting documents: