Storage need sparks fears over future of artefacts - The Evesham Observer

Storage need sparks fears over future of artefacts

Evesham Editorial 15th Dec, 2018   0

VALE of Evesham Historical Society chiefs have expressed their fears items of local historic interest may be dispersed across the county unless storage can be found at short notice.

Society bosses spoke out after the Observer reported last week on Evesham Town Council’s decision to sever ties and take the collection out of the Almonry after a partnership of more than 60 years.

The Vale of Evesham Historical Society founded the Almonry in 1957 when the ‘Magnificent Seven’ came together to renovate the then derelict site to house its collection of more than 24,000 historical artefacts, documents and photographs.

The present collection now combines this with a smaller number of items owned by the council and those on loan from other donors.

In a statement to the Observer, the society described the relationship between it and the council as ‘fruitful’ with members running the Almonry until Evesham Town Council took sole charge in 1997 when the museum was combined with the Tourist Information Centre.

Since the change, the society claimed their activities in the museum in curatorial work, refurbishing artefacts, planning, mounting, enhancing the displays and sharing research materials became ‘increasingly restricted’.

The group has claimed it offered to continue its earlier arrangements, including the loan of the collection to the town council in its entirety but the offered was turned down by council chiefs. As a result the partnership will end at the end of February.

A VEHS spokesman said: “We are saddened to see the Town Council end our partnership, unilaterally and at very short notice. We thank them for their hospitality to our Society and museum at the Almonry over the years.

“We would like to apologise to our members and supporters, that the Town Council made their intentions public so soon after their letter of notification was delivered to us in confidence, and we were unable to inform them ourselves beforehand.

“The VEHS understands an offer in June 2014 of a £1.4million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to refurbish and develop the building, could not be taken up when it was discovered that the application had incorrectly attributed the entire Museum Collection to the Town Council – and the work on the building had been closely tied to the value to the public of its contents.

“The situation appeared to have been resolved when the society obtained an authoritative legal opinion on the method by which ambiguities in the attribution should be decided, and this was agreed over a series of meetings between the society and the council over the last three years.

“Ownership of the collection should no longer be an issue in grant applications.

“We will continue support the great historical heritage of Evesham – to tell the story of the Evesham, the town and the Vale, from its origins to the present day – and make our resources available where possible.”


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