Hampshire County Council
Executive Member - Recreation and Heritage Item 8
21 September 2005
Westbury Manor Museum - Revitalising Fareham's Community Museum.
Report by the Director of Recreation and Heritage
Contact: Chris Edwards 01962 826703 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How the conclusion in this report fits with the Corporate Strategy
This scheme will impact on the delivery of all Corporate Aims, focusing most immediately on:
Aim 1 - maximising life opportunities: the proposal provides widespread access and security improvements, extensive changes to the ground floor of the museum and the creation of a new orientation gallery on the first floor together with flexible spaces for community use.
Aim 5 - improving services: these proposals will provide new facilities that enable improved service delivery.
1. Overview of the project
1.1 Fareham's museum opened in 1990 and is housed in Westbury Manor, a Grade 2 listed building located on Fareham's main shopping street. The original high quality displays have served the community well, with an annual average of approximately 32,000 visitors over the last ten years. The time has now come for further development, both to meet current user needs as a local history hub in South East Hampshire, and attract new audiences linked to a programme of community outreach. The project has, in part, arisen from the current review of museum provision within Hampshire at local, countywide and regional level, and is an integral part of Hampshire Museums' role as the lead partner in the SE Regional Hub.
1.2 The underlying philosophy for the development focuses on improving access for all, through the creation of flexible spaces and displays to accommodate new audiences and collections. We aim to maximise our potential for closer interaction with partners in the County Council's Recreation and Heritage Department (in particular building on strong links with Libraries and the Records Office) as well as developing partnerships further a field, to enable the delivery of an inclusive community engagement programme.
1.3 The vision for the space is to break down all physical and intellectual access barriers, giving local people a sense of ownership of a live space, rather than simply a preserved historic building. Within the space there will be opportunities to explore the local story at different levels, by providing a range of resources; from lively interactive displays and a programme of related activities and workshops, to reserve collections and an easily accessible portal to the county's rich collections of objects, archives and associated material.
1.4 Over the last fifteen years, the museum has been proactive in engaging local people in a range of initiatives, from community exhibitions, to creative writing inspired by collections. This project aims to increase intellectual access, by updating displays and interpretation, wherever possible involving local people in the process. The proposed improvements to physical access are the latest in an extensive programme of upgrades to the building since opening as a museum in 1990. These have included the use of sound in interpretation, refurbishing toilets to DDA standards, addition of a mechanised opener on the front door, and ramping of all emergency exits.
1.5 The project involves widespread access and security improvements, extensive changes to the ground floor of the museum and the creation of a new orientation gallery on the first floor, acting as a springboard to other social history displays in adjacent galleries.
2. Scope of the Works
The project comprises the following elements:
2.1 Improvements to physical access
After consultation with Hampshire County Council's Access Officer, and Fareham Access Group, an overall improvement plan for physical access to the museum was produced. This includes, the installation of a platform lift, ancillary ramping work, the installation of a sound field in the community learning space and purchase of a portable induction loop for use in other parts of the building, the integration of an accessible PC terminal (with People's Network access) and study furniture in the community learning space. The creation of new graphics, interpretation and displays will follow current best practice in terms of accessibility.
2.2 Creation of a community learning space and resource room
At present no designated space for education activities exists at the museum. The aim of this space is to provide a warm, welcoming space for community engagement, offering flexible modes of operation and a diverse range of activities that inspire learning all (from easy access and reserve/handling collections, to a space for lectures, seminars, individual study and workshops). Over the last 15 years the museum has provided initial access to local studies resources and it is envisaged that this project will build on this, to provide a portal to the wider collections of the county (historic objects, archival material and other resources), so that the space becomes a hub for local studies.
2.3 The "Pride of Place" Display
The temporary exhibitions gallery is in too high demand for many local groups and individuals to exhibit their work, collections or achievements. We want to create "Pride of Place"; an additional micro display facility consisting of a high quality showcase and small display area, supported by new technologies, for people and organisations to publicise their achievements and engage with the challenge of exhibition making.
2.4 "Journeys through Time"; a new Fareham timeline gallery.
By displaying key local objects in a familiar timeline format, this new orientation gallery will provide visitors with a sense of time and place, before exploring more detailed displays in the rest of the museum.
Interpretation will use a variety of methods (layered information, interactives, models, visitor generated labelling based on their reactions to displayed objects), to engage a wide range of people, supported by further resources in the community learning space and resources room.
2.5 Relocation and redisplay of local clay industries material.
Over the last 2000 years, the exploitation of local clay has been important to the local economy. We aim to rationalise and relocate the existing display (using a variety of interpretative methods) to provide a more focused display celebrating this important industry as part of Fareham's past.
2.6 Refurbishment of temporary exhibitions gallery
The existing programme includes hired exhibitions, Hampshire County Council collections based touring exhibitions and locally generated exhibitions on community history themes. Hampshire County Council provides one of the highest quality touring exhibitions programmes in the UK, and we want to develop this gallery to be able to reflect the diversity of the programme. Buildings works associated with the installation of the platform lift will provide an opportunity to update display facilities, lighting and cases which have been in constant use since 1990.
2.7 Refurbishment of Coffee Shop Gallery
A moderate refurbishment of the museum coffee shop gallery will provide an opportunity to redisplay our local topographical painting collection and incorporate recent acquisitions of more contemporary material in this important picture collection.
2.8 Improvements to Security
Upgrading alarm system, Installation of CCTV and other preventative measures to meet conditions of lenders and improve the safety of collections and visitors
3. Funding and Timing
3.1 The total estimated cost of these proposals is £200,000 including fees.
Funding has been identified from the following sources.
Recreation & Heritage Capital Programme 04/05
PBRS Capital Programme (Access Improvements)
Fareham Borough Council
DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Grant
3.2 Subject to the necessary approvals, it is planned to start preparatory works in the building in late September 2005 with the main access improvements programme, including the installation of a platform lift, taking place in November 2005.
The major part of the gallery redisplays will then be completed, and the museum will reopen in May 2006.
3.3 As the project is being developed in the existing museum building, there will be no additional staffing or premises running costs.
However, some of the new services, such as public internet access will result in a small additional cost but this will be managed within the Fareham Museum Joint Management Committee budget.
The improved displays and facilities will enable the museum to benefit from support from the Education and Business plans for the South East Hub.
4. Consultation with Local Member
4.1 The Museum is managed under an Agreement between Hampshire County Council and Fareham Borough Council and the Joint Management Committee fully supports the proposals. The County Councils representatives on that Committee as the project was developed were County Councillors Bryant and Ellis, both of whom represent Wards in the Borough of Fareham.
That the project outlined in this report, costing £200,000 of which £50,000 will be provided from Hampshire County Council funds (£25,000 Recreation and Heritage and £25,000 Policy and Resources) be supported by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage.
Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers
The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.
NB the list excludes:
1 Published works.
2 Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.