As you might know, we have spent a lot of time over the past three years looking at the future of the museum and what it should offer the people who live and work in Maidstone. We’ve had those discussion inside Maidstone Borough Council, with our partners and interested groups and with members of the public at various consultation events.
Out of this we produced a plan for the transformation of all of Maidstone’s Museums and a vision of museums that are modern, exciting and genuinely belong to the people of Maidstone and not to the staff or a few volunteers.
Following approval from members of the Economic Development and Leisure Committee, we are now at the exciting stage where the talking is about to become action. By 19 November 2019, I will be submitting a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the first stage of funding towards a £5million project. We’ve been working with partners like Maidstone Museum Foundation and Innes Associates architects as well as the Council’s Conservation Officers to see how we could make our, beautiful but confusing, building more accessible to people who find it difficult to climb a lot of stairs. We think we’ve come up with the beginnings of a plan which includes:
More level access to rooms and small platform lifts where necessary
A new route round the museum
New spaces for changing exhibitions and events on the ground floor
New display galleries
We have looked hard at our displays! Apart from Ancient Lives, our Egyptian and Greek gallery which opened in 2018, it’s been a long time since many of our galleries have been updated. Museums have moved on in the last few years and so some big changes are needed. The really exciting part of this project for us here at the Museum is how we will be getting as many people involved as possible.
We want to hear from you if you would be interested in taking part as a volunteer carrying out research or talking to other people about the project (we always give training), sitting on advisory panels, sharing your memories and stories or even taking part in on-line polls. We especially want to hear from people whose voice isn’t always heard in museums so if you’re Black or Asian, have a disability, have moved here from somewhere else or are part of the LGBTQI+ community do get in touch.