Changes proposed to Surrey Heath Museum

Surrey Heath Borough Council announce proposed changes to Surrey Heath Museum

Surrey Heath Borough Council is developing plans to make its heritage service more accessible to the Borough’s residents and visitors.

The area’s heritage collection, including thousands of artefacts and archives, is currently based at Surrey Heath Museum in Surrey Heath House, Camberley. However, much of the collection remains in storage for the majority of the time, and consistently low visitor numbers mean that future plans involve ‘taking the heritage to the people’ rather than relying on the public to visit a single physical location.

A discussion group with key stakeholders has been set up by SHBC to engage and consult on future plans with those who are passionate about the area’s heritage.

The proposals include adopting a ‘museum without walls’ approach, replacing the current fixed location with a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions at various locations across Surrey Heath – bringing local history, including our ‘hidden history’, to the heart of the community.

Existing work to catalogue the collections online would continue, so the public can explore the collections from the comfort of their own home, school or workplace – with online booking of materials a potential option for individuals, local schools and community groups who wish to take a closer look.

Current outreach programmes such as schools workshops and reminiscence sessions, family activities, local history talks and walks will continue to be offered, with potential to extend them according to demand.

It is hoped that a combination of the above changes will lead to the current Museum’s collections being more accessible, reaching more people, and being appreciated and enjoyed rather than stored away.

Surrey Heath Business Portfolio Holder, Cllr Craig Fennell, said: “This is an exciting prospect for the future of Heritage Services in Surrey Heath. We are proud of our area’s history, and want to share the fascinating stories and artefacts with as many people as possible. Our overall aim is to raise the profile of Heritage Services in the Borough, increase engagement with the local community, and make them fit for the 21st century.”

Surrey Heath Museum is working towards gaining Arts Council Accredited museum status – this position will not be affected by the outcome of the discussion process.

SHBC Senior Heritage Officer, Gill Barnes-Riding, said: “We are looking forward, and want to adapt and improve Surrey Heath’s Heritage Services to suit the needs of future generations.

“Some of the proposals are a natural progression of work that has been underway for several years at Surrey Heath Museum, such as cataloguing our collections online, and extending our outreach work in schools and community groups. We are keen to work with the community on this exciting project, and welcome ideas and input from interested parties on how we can improve our services even further.”

For more information on Surrey Heath Museum please go to www.surreyheath.gov.uk/museum

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