Agenda item

Maidstone Museum Archaeology Gallery Update


Prior to the introduction of a report by Councillor Russell, the Lead Member for Leisure and Arts, providing an update on progress towards the creation of a new Archaeology Gallery at Maidstone Museum, Mrs Fran Wilson, the Vice-Chair of the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation (the Foundation), addressed the meeting.


Mrs Wilson said that the Trustees of the Foundation hoped that the Committee would agree that the new Gallery was a very exciting project and would prove to be an asset for the Museum and contribute in a significant way to the regeneration of the Town Centre.  The Trustees also wanted her to clarify that the Foundation had responsibilities to its donors in relation to the funds it had raised.  For example, the Foundation had to ensure that donors’ conditions were met, and that the funding was used for the purposes specified in the grant applications to them.


On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman thanked Mrs Wilson and the Foundation for the funds raised.


The Lead Member for Leisure and Arts advised the Committee that:


·  A Project Board had been established to oversee the project.  Members of the Board were tracking progress of the project with monthly meetings and a work schedule against which individual Officers could report progress or advise of concerns.  So far, no impediments to scheduled progress had been encountered.  However, the project timescale was very tight.


·  The appointment of an exhibition design company was underway with the assistance of the Council’s Procurement Team.  An invitation to tender had been issued and interviews with the four top scoring tenderers would take place the following week.


·  Following the success of the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation in raising £100,000 to match an offer from the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust, the Foundation had now agreed to attempt to raise an additional £30,000 for the purchase and installation of a platform lift as it had become clear that the location of the Gallery at the bottom of a short flight of steps was likely to be a barrier to visitors with mobility issues.


The Museums’ Director took the opportunity to update Members on the storyline for the Gallery, the artefacts to be used and the way they would be displayed and interpreted.  It was noted that there would be a move towards the use of scientific research to support and illustrate the narrative.


In response to questions, the Lead Member for Leisure and Arts advised the Committee that press releases would be issued at the appropriate time to publicise the new Gallery.


Members agreed that the new Gallery was an exciting project and wished to thank all involved for the progress to date.  Members particularly wished to thank the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation for its success in raising funds for the project and the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust and the Kent Archaeology Society for their offers of funding.  It was noted that the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation had already thanked all those who had responded to its fundraising campaign.




1.  That the report be noted.


2.  That the Maidstone Museums’ Foundation be thanked for its success to date in raising funds towards the cost of creating a new Archaeology Gallery at Maidstone Museum.


3.  That the William and Edith Oldham Charitable Trust and the Kent Archaeological Society be thanked for their generous offers of funding towards the cost of the project.


Note:  Councillor Hastie entered the meeting during consideration of this item.  She said that she had no disclosures of interest or of lobbying.


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