Grantham Museum is at ‘real risk’ of closure if it does not receive the support it desperately needs from the local community.
Since reopening as a charity five years ago after being forced to close in 2012 due to Lincolnshire County Council budget cuts, it now relies entirely on a team of volunteers and community donations to keep it open.
Retail director Alison Paxton said: “It costs £25,000 a year to run. We hold a variety of events, talks and workshops to try and raise some of the funds, but we are reliant on community donations.”
Despite having a dedicated team of volunteers who are passionate about the town’s history and work tirelessly to create exhibits including D-Day, Dambusters, Margaret Thatcher and Sir Isaac Newton, Grantham Museum project director David Burling says it is not sustainable.
He said: “As well as some corporate sponsorship and donations, the museum is relying on office rentals to generate the money needed to keep it open. We should be focusing our time on exhibiting the story of Grantham and this is not sustainable in the long term. If we lose the office rentals, we will be left with no choice but to close the museum.”
David is concerned that by hosting regular events and exhibitions, the public assume that the museum is doing well.
He added: “People might think that we are managing comfortably but we are far from it. If Grantham wants a museum, then it simply cannot be taken for granted. Our mission is to build a sustainable museum that educates, informs and inspires all generations, but we need everyone to get behind us.”
In an effort to try and secure its future, the museum board has been planning ahead.
He added: “We would still like to maintain free entry to make the museum accessible to everyone and we are in talks with InvestSK about the heritage quarter and how we will fit into it. If we can get a committee together, we are aiming to put in a heritage lottery funding bid in 2019, but we need to try and keep going until then.”
If the bid is successful, the museum will undergo a substantial redevelopment over the next few years, including developing an interactive ‘time machine’ which will allow visitors to travel back in time in Grantham.
David added: “We get a lot of people asking whether we can feature Aveling Barford, Marco’s engineering firm and Granada cinema, but space has always been an issue. With the time machine, it offers the visitors a completely immersive experience, allowing them to submerge themselves in Grantham’s history from start to finish. It will be engaging, appeal to all ages and we can replicate all of the content online.”
The time machine is just one of the many features that the museum is planning including creating a mobile app and other forms of interactive technology showcasing Grantham’s heritage to help make history more exciting for the younger generation.
David said: “It is time to step up what we have to offer. We can keep the museum going but we need help from the Grantham community and businesses. Not just short term support, but long term. If not, then we are always going to be at risk of closure.”
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