Despite All Efforts, Wincanton Museum Has to Close in September
Wednesday 30 June 2010
by Jeff Kingaby
Posted in: Museum
Jeff Kingaby, Museum and History Society Secretary
There has been much previous press coverage concerning the future of Wincanton Museum.
The Quakers are the museum’s landlords and unfortunately they have come to the conclusion that the charitable aims of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) do not cover subsidizing a museum, however worthy the cause. This means that, while not wishing to make a profit from Wincanton Museum, the Society does need to be sure they are not leasing the premises at a loss – as has been the case for as long as the museum has been open. This decision has come at a time when there is to be much competition and pressure on public funds in the form of available operational grants for community-based projects. This means the museum has little chance of being able to raise the capital needed to cover the refurbishment needed. What is more, the number of visitors to the Museum has dwindled quite considerably over recent months.
All this has led the Committee to review the future financial prospects for the museum. Using conservative assumptions the museum is likely to face costs of £4,000 for 2011. Income expectations (even assuming the current grant level from the Authorities will continue) amount to £2,400. This creates a potential operating deficit of £1,600 for the year. Whilst this could be covered from current capital, it has been decided that this is not a commercial and sustainable decision to make.
Accordingly it has been decided to close the museum when the current season finishes in September 2010.
On positive notes the History Division of the Society will continue. There will be another series of well publicised and interesting talks starting in September 2010. The museum also plans to approach local public enterprises with a view to placing some of the more important artefacts into cabinets within their premises, thus continuing to make interesting historic presentations visible.
Furthermore the Committee plans to reorganise its energy and attentions to improving the web site – www.wincantonmuseum.org.uk – and perhaps additionally creating a “virtual museum” by photographing and documenting the majority of the items currently on display or in nearby storage.
In the meantime the museum is to remain open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings from 10.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. until the 25th September 2010, and access is available to all at no cost.
The trustees of the society are keen to thank all of the members, the stewards, and the committee for their help and support over the last two decades, and the Quakers for their generosity in having supported the museum for so long