More storage space needed for museum artefacts

Precious artefacts and art work need to be moved to “alternative storage” to allow more space for exhibitions in Southend.

Southend’s artefacts are currently stored in the Beecroft Gallery and in the Central Museum, both in Victoria Avenue, but the volume of the collection is leaving little room for exhibitions.

The council is set to draw up plans for moving the collection to better storage facilities.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “The big problem is storage. Central museum doesn’t lend itself to an awful lot.

“We’re looking at alternative storage because we want to put on bigger and better exhibitions.

“A business case will be drawn up for the future.

“There has been so much stuff collected over the years. At the moment the public can go to the Wunderkammer exhibition.

“The curators went through everything and picked out some of the interesting things that had never been on display before.

“The stock room is full of stuff so it’s almost impossible to display everything.”

Some artefacts which contain Prittlewell Prince finds and the country’s largest collection of EKCO radios, were damaged during a flood in 2020.

Items from the collections were rescued on a priority basis, with most avoiding serious damage.

A report to Southend cabinet said: “Items currently stored are blocking valuable display space in prime locations preventing key elements of Southend’s history and art collection being shown. Items stored offsite are also over capacity and a flood at the venue in 2020 caused damage to part of the collection.

“Appropriate works and revised storage space need to be resolved. This could include a new collections centre feature in future years where storage and presentation for groups could be developed.”

A council spokesman added: “There are a variety of items from fine art to archeology, some of which come from the London Shipwreck Dives and the team uses exhibitions to tell new stories and rotate some of this material.

The Wunderkammer: Southend’s Cabinet of Curiosity exhibition s at the Central Museum until October 2022.

Advertisement

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter