Author Topic: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery  (Read 1625 times)

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Offline Drone

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Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« on: October 19, 2010, 07:07:10 pm »
Quote
Review of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery with a view to finding alternative ways of displaying the collection

To include an outreach and education programme. Saving £80,000

Swindon Art Gallery is located in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. It includes a collection of 20th-century British art, one of the best in the country outside London. The collection was established in 1944 by a local benefactor, H.J.P. Bomford, through a significant donation of artworks.

Artists in the collection include Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, L S Lowry, Paul Nash, Steven Pippin, Terry Frost, Howard Hodgkin, Gwen John, Augustus John, Maggi Hambling, Ivon Hitchens, Christopher le Brun, Lisa Milroy, David Leach, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. The media include paintings, photography and studio pottery.

The museum contains very important collections of archaeology, geology, social history, photographs and documents.

As of two weeks ago, the museum and art gallery is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. From April, the museum and gallery are likely to be closed permanently with no idea if or when we will ever get the new gallery or museum mentioned in Promise 27.

The jusitification for the closure is that so much of the collection is in store and it lacks access to the upper floors for those in wheelchairs.

For the past five years, the museum and gallery  has operated with a tiny, decreasing budget, very few staff and zero political support. it now faces closure.

What do TS-ers think?
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Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 07:29:44 pm »
Don't forget Dr Morrison of the Naked Ape and Watching People he has a painting or two in there! I think that the arts have been and are neglected in Swindon. It has started from a very low base when compared to collections in other similar industrialised towns. Swindon had one industry and the GWR was not really into being an art benefactor.

Will it remain closed? Almost certainly likely, I have been there more than a few times, but how many other TSrs have? Or Councillors for that matter? I think that it has suffered from its location and being a cultural "Cinderella". I think that a town with the aspirations of Swindon, should have more museums and galleries.
All posts on this forum are my own and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline Drone

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 06:39:53 am »
It's an amazing art collection and the museum contains some fascinating objects from the history of the town.


Cutting £80,000 from the budget means losing all staff and volunteers and spending nothing on ensuring the paintings are kept safe and looked after until they are ready to be displayed again. There is no plan or timetable for when a new gallery might be set up - I'd encourage everyone to go along while they still can!



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Offline Muggins

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 09:05:35 am »
During those consultations on what we'd like to see in our town centre, many said a proper concert hall, a proper art gallery, library etc and there was an embroyonic plan to put them all in one new purpose built building and to face that building with the portico from the Baptist Tabernacle, somwhere up by Regent's Circus.  Good it was! 

Steve is right, in as much as although the Arts are not neglected by the people of Swindon, maybe they have been by the council.  Having said that the council have ignored the things that could give it the kudos it craves - too busy going the business interest route, it's been said here before 'knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing'. 

Having had a VERY successful Big Arts day at comparatively very little cost, they claimed it as the biggy at ther recent SSP COnference.
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline poemogram

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 09:39:28 am »
obviously part of the re-furbished mechanics could house swindon's museum and gallery - probably most of it as well as a cafe where a one pound cup of tea is possible...

see wot i did there..

to commemorate the urban myth that SBC might once have bought it for a pound..

such a massive disgrace that none of our world famous and world class homegrown -self-grown GWR artist - Ken White - is bought by and displayed by our Council..disgrace I feel

museum in that historical tourist attraction quarter around mechanics and railway village would be fitting..

...with several income -generating non-exploitative activities and baubles to boot

so there we have the mechanics answer...now simply add a touch of reality, real-politique..

or shall we just go for broke...put away negative thoughts and personalisation and politicalisation of the issue ..and go for it

why not throw in Richard jefferies Museum serious re-vamp and of course nip in our very own Hammerman poet , Alfred Williams (who wrote the iconic tome "life in a railway town" a must read for all swindonains available at the town's seemingly decreasing but lets not let it Library service..

elevenses and muesli time for me now..chow

Offline Jean

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 10:14:16 am »
I echo what everyone else has said about the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery - - any other Council would have been singing the praises of this valuable resource and promoting it like mad rather than reducing the work-force year by year. I happened to visit at the end of the school summer holidays and it was buzzing with visitors. Reducing the open days will lead to inevitable closure unless some savior comes along - another Mike Pringle, for example.

All support for the Richard Jefferies Museum was withdrawn by the Council 20 years ago. Volunteers from the Richard Jefferies Society have kept it open to the public and 90% of the exhibits belong to the charity. I personally dig deep into my pockets and work hard to make it attractive to visitors. Mike Pringle, the director of the Swindon Cultural Partnership (now part of Forward Swindon) got involved with this museum nearly 2 years ago and is doing a great job in progressing the setting up of a development trust to keep the place going. He isn't a pen-pusher, he has been out there fixing gates, putting up fencing and laying paths in his own time. He organised a cream-tea event in the garden on National Heritage Day (September 12). We had over 180 visitors in the Museum and about another 100 who stayed in the garden. It shows what can be done on limited resources - Mike got planning permission to put up some A-boards at Coate Water to let them know what was going on at the Museum. Most people who visit Coate Water don't know that the Museum is there. Advertising works!!

It doesn't help that the Information Centre in the town centre displays no information about Swindon Museum and Art Gallery or the Richard Jefferies Museum. All we hear about is STEAM. If you ask at the information desk, they disappear and find a leaflet! If you don't know these museums exist in the first place, how are you going to find out!!!

The Council gets hot under the collar when Swindon is treated like a joke by the rest of the country - it is not a cultural desert; it is rich in cultural resources that have been neglected by Swindon Council for decades. Shame on them.   

If you have never visited SMAG or the RJM, you are in for a real treat.

Jean
Live simply so that others might simply live

Offline Drone

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 05:05:25 pm »
That's good to hear about the progress being made at RJM. It's a lovely museum and fascinating collection.

I would like to promote all Swindon's museums: STEAM, the museum and art gallery, Richard Jefferies and Lydiard House. Everything from modern art, to a stately home, to a historic birth place to the wonders of GWR. STEAM may have a few more leaflets at the Information Centre, but all the museums need a little more love and promotion. They do well on limited resources but we should be proud of just how good they are and just how much they achieve!
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Offline Steve Wakefield

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2010, 06:42:13 pm »
Museums are not just a collection of artifacts or a place to store something people belive deem is historical. Steam is a conference venue and for instance has a lego event and model railway event all bring in droves with the exhibits as a backdrop numbers are up.

For example Drone who ran the bars at the Big Arts Day and how much of that money went to Lydiard? How much does the conference centre pay to Lydiard? I am sure Cllr Keith Williams will be able to tell us that one.  The comment of they al need a little love and promotion is fine. However they need to take advantage of people who want to spend their money. If Steam can turn in money from its conference facilities why can't Lydiard do the same? or does it?

Years ago I would visit my local museum as apart from the reference library that kept encyclopedias under lock and key I could view lots of artifacts as I could not touch them as they were behind glass. I could not photograph them so I would go downstairs  to the Reference Library and then get a pedia out and trace the drawing or the outline of  the photo contained within it.

Today I can wiz onto the net, or you tube or images etc I do not need to visit a museum and look at something behinad glass. Sad but true. Today we want to touch it, feel it, sense it, as that is how we learn best, like Victorian sideshows at the fair that have faded away into history. I beleiev museums will follow that route unless we give them more than a little love people want an experience now I believe. I am sure there are teachers out there that will tell you they take children to museums and attractions that excite the senses.

Big Pit in Wales is an example of that as well as STEAM exhibits behind glass are mixed with sensory experiences. My Grand daughter found the scrap heap at Big Pit very interesting and took many photographs of it and aspects of the museum etc that were different.
All posts on this forum are my own and do not represent the views of any council or any political party.  :banana:

Offline Drone

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Re: Closing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2010, 06:51:19 pm »
As I understand it, Big Arts Day cost approx £50,000 and so Lydiard Park wouldn't have made anything. Their budgets probably went on the litter picking afterwards.

The conferencing at STEAM is done by the council. The conferencing at Lydiard is a private company. Not sure how much it makes, but I think the money goes straight to the council's coffers. It doesn't subsidise the park or museum.

As for STEAM - excellent business model. The LEGO fair made almost £50,000 for the council and the visitor numbers are through the roof. Not sure why the other museums aren't run by the same person, who seems to know what they are doing.

Agreed about museums being more hands-on. Bristol is building a big museum that Swindon could elarn a lot from. It's going to be the museum of the people of the city - their stories, objects, memories, etc.
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