St Albans Museum collection could be sold if Town Hall bid fails

St Albans Museum.

St Albans Museum. - Credit: Archant

Failing to move the city’s museum to the Town Hall could result in the disposal of some of the collection according to a concerned local resident.

And her fears appear to be supported by the district council’s own website on the Renaissance Project, as the scheme has been named, which suggests that would be the case if the switch to the Town Hall doesn’t go ahead.

The website points out that the current Museum of St Albans, built in 1898, ‘has many limitations, including its location and facilities’.

Should it not move to the Town Hall ‘collections will be disseminated partly into storage and the balance disposed of’.

The Renaissance Project has been set up in partnership with the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Herts Galleries to push forward the creation of a new museum and gallery at the Town Hall.

St Albans council has already committed £2.25m that will come from the proposed development of the current museum site for housing and the scheme has been bolstered by lottery funds.

The resident, who did not wish to be named, pointed out that the website suggested that should the museum close, those objects which would not fit into storage would be disposed of.

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She said that the store was already full and any disposal of the collection begged several questions, not least selection of which articles would go.

She also warned that if the council intended to use the disposals to raise finance, the museum could potentially lose its accreditation and ability to obtain grants in the future.

The resident added: “Since the vast majority of the collection is given in trust or as bequests, this will necessitate a considerable amount of officer time, not only from museum professionals but from the legal team as well.”

Describing the Museum of St Albans as ‘no longer fit for purpose’, Richard Shwe, the council’s head of community services, said: “As any responsible organisation would do, we also need to plan for a situation where a new museum and gallery in the form currently envisaged does not in the end come to fruition.

“In this eventuality, the museum collection will be stored until detailed plans are finalised for its future long-term care. This may involve the continued storage of part of the collection and the disposal of some items through, for example, donations to other museums.

“However, we have already come a long way in making this new museum and art gallery project a reality and there is currently every reason to be confident of its success.”

* £56,000 has been awarded to the council in preparation for the move to St Albans Town Hall.

The Museum of St Albans is set to close later this year and the grant from Arts Council England will enable it to continue in various forms, including as a pop-up museum, until the Town Hall is ready to house it.

The grant will also be used to train staff and improve the way volunteers are involved.