19th July 2022


Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027






5th July 2022

Lead Member on the Executive for Leisure and Arts

19th July 2022





Will this be a Key Decision?





Not Applicable

Final Decision-Maker

Lead Member on the Executive for Leisure and Arts

Lead Head of Service

Director Finance and Business Improvement

Lead Officer and Report Author

Museums Director



Wards affected



Executive Summary


The Maidstone Museums Five Year Forward Plan lays out the priorities for the coming period with identified actions and measures of success in providing an accessible and sustainable service for residents and visitors.



Purpose of Report


The purpose of this report is to highlight the business priorities and success criteria for Maidstone Museums from 2022-2027 and to seek approval for release of capital funding to enable work to commence on the proposed new archaeology gallery.




This report makes the following recommendations to the Lead Member on the Executive for Leisure and Arts:

1.   That the Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027 be approved for consultation with external stakeholders.

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




Maidstone Museums Forward Plan 2022-2027







Impact on Corporate Priorities

The four Strategic Plan objectives are:


         Embracing Growth and Enabling Infrastructure

         Safe, Clean and Green

         Homes and Communities

         A Thriving Place

We do not expect the recommendations will by themselves materially affect achievement of corporate priorities.  However, they will support the Councilís overall achievement of its aims in A Thriving Place


Victoria Barlow, Museums Director

Cross Cutting Objectives

The four cross-cutting objectives are:

         Heritage is Respected

         Health Inequalities are Addressed and Reduced

         Deprivation and Social Mobility is Improved

         Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability is respected

The report supports the achievement of the Heritage is Respected cross cutting objective by ensuring the sustainable running of Maidstone Museums.

Victoria Barlow, Museums Director

Risk Management

The plan accords with budgetary and other resource allowances. Performance Indicators will allow success to be measured


Victoria Barlow, Museums Director


The proposals set out in the recommendation are all within already approved budgetary headings and so need no new funding for implementation.

Section 151 Officer & Finance Team


We will deliver the recommendations with our current staffing.


Mark Green, Head of Finance and Business Improvement


Under Section 3 of the Local Government Act 1999 (as amended) the Council has a statutory duty to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The Maidstone Museums Five Year Forward Plan lays out the priorities for the coming period with identified actions and measures of success and therefore meets this duty in respect of the museum service.

Interim Team Leader (Contentious and Corporate Governance)

Privacy and Data Protection

Accepting the recommendations will increase the volume of data held by the Council.  We will hold that data in line with our retention schedules.


Victoria Barlow, Museums Director


The recommendations do not propose a change in service therefore will not require an equalities impact assessment

Equalities & Communities Officer

Public Health



We recognise that the recommendations will have a positive impact on population health or that of individuals.


Public Health Officer

Crime and Disorder

The recommendation will not have a negative impact on Crime and Disorder.


Mark Green, Head of Finance and Business Improvement


On accepting the recommendations, the Council will then follow procurement exercises We will complete those exercises in line with financial procedure rules.

Mark Green, Head of Finance and Business Improvement

Biodiversity and Climate Change

The ongoing decarbonisation study will detail measures the Museum can take as part of its strategy to become net zero by 2030, the study will include looking to reduce energy bills by improving insulation, LED lighting, and heating systems, as well as the potential for further onsite renewable energy generation, water waste reduction and EV charging infrastructure.

James, Wilderspin, Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager





2.1††† The Business Plan for 2022-2027 (Appendix 1) sets out the vision and the strategic aims for Maidstone Borough Councilís Museum Service over the next five years and explains how the museums contribute to the Councilís overall priorities.


2.2        This Five Year Plan reflects the overall outcomes of the museumsí 20 Year Plan:


         The delivery of a high quality service

         Creating a sustainable and resilient organisation

         Caring for and creating access to our collections for present and future generations

         Inspires, educates and challenges visitors and users

         Ensuring that the museum is accessible to all and has the power to transform lives through the use of its collections

         Developing and encouraging a forward-thinking and innovative workforce

         Working to nationally recognised standards.



2.3        The plan was developed through a review of existing practice, a review of the original Transformation plans after the failure to secure £4m from Lottery Heritage Fund, staff discussion and workshops both prior to closure for the Covid lockdowns and after. Once a draft plan was outlined, the museum management team consulted with the elected members with the leading responsibility for the area at the time, being the Chair and Vice Chair of the Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee to discuss their ambitions for heritage in the borough and how these might be met. That discussion highlighted the following priorities:


1.   To address the quality of displays and storytelling through, initially, the redisplay of the museum and Kent Archaeological Societyís archaeological collections to tell the story of Maidstoneís earliest history with themes that affected the shaping of the borough such as migration, industry and agriculture.


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


3.   To review the governance of the museums and the role of external trusts in the operation of the museum and to slimline or strengthen those relationships where appropriate.


4.   To provide better access for all residents to collections and decision-making through the audit and cataloguing of collections, upgrades to the museumsí collections software including online versions, new exhibitions and one-off displays as well as the establishment of user panels working on, initially the new archaeology gallery.






Key milestones in the successful completion of these objectives and the 5 Year Plan are highlighted below:





Launch of volunteer recruitment campaign


Complete review of museum marketing by external media adviser to increase footfall and spend


Commence volunteer-led regular openings of the Carriage Museum with the first to coincide with Maidstone River Festival

July-Sept 2022

Complete specialist archaeological object research for new gallery to identify rare and important items in the museumsí collection

September 2022

Report to PAC and Executive Member on options for the future of the Carriage Museum. Action Plan will follow on from decision.


Implementation of recommendations from museum marketing review


Complete review of museum governance and relationship with Trusts

15-Dec 2022

Procurement, appointment and contract agreement for Exhibition Design Specialists completed


Production of Community Engagement Plan to ensure the involvement of residents in future plans and developments completed

November 2022 - August 2023

Scientific analysis of human remains and artefacts for new gallery to identify where people and objects came from to Kent and how the environment affected them


Action plan for Community Engagement Plan implementation begun


Application made for continuation of funding from Arts Council England/DCMS for Learning Service


New visitor feedback surveys introduced to direct future service improvements

Jan-June 23

Iterative design process including initial concepts through to final design of gallery

June to November 2023

Specification, procurement of AV and interactive designers and content production for new Archaeology Gallery


Refurbishment of area for new Archaeology Gallery completed while the museum is closed to the public


Start of fit out and install of Archaeology Gallery


Launch of new Archaeology Gallery


Replacement of museum's cataloguing software Adlib inc online version for public browsing




Underpinning all this work is the continuing need for the museum to find a secure financial footing and sustainable ways of working as well as the day-to-day delivery of a high quality service.




3.1    Option 1: Proceed with the Five Year Plan as outlined in this report.


3.2    Option 2: Do not proceed with the Five Year Plan.


3.3    Option 3: Propose modification to the Five Year Plan.





4.1    The preferred option is to proceed with the Five Year Plan as outlined in this report.† This will ensure that the actions set out start to be implemented at the earliest possible date and is consistent with the Councilís overall strategic objective of making Maidstone a thriving place.



5.       RISK

5.1    This report is subject to further consultation and has no risk management implications. Any risks arising from consultation will be assessed separately.




6.1     The recommendations in this report are consistent with the development of the Museumís plans as outlined at meetings of the former Economic Regeneration and Leisure Committee.† Further consultation will now take place with key stakeholders.


6.2†† This issue was considered by the Economic Regeneration and Leisure Policy Advisory Committee at it meeting held on 5 July 2022.† The Committee supported the recommendations set out in the report.






7.1     The Forward Plan will be released for consultation with key stakeholders including the Maidstone Museum Foundation, Kent Archaeological Society, schools and residents via specific interest panels (such as for young people) and via the museumís website.






The following document is to be published with this report and forms part of the report:

         Appendix 1: 2022-27 Maidstone Museums Forward Plan