Royston museum under new management
- Credit: Archant
The running of Royston's museum is to transfer to a newly formed charitable trust, from April next year.
The Royston Museum Trust has been created by the town council and local history society.
A joint statement said: "Royston Town Council and Royston & District Local History Society are pleased to announce the creation of the Royston Museum Trust Charity Number 1196386.
"It is our joint intention that the Trust will take over the management of the museum from the town council in April 2022.
"With the opportunity for external funding from organisations such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Trust’s objective is to develop the museum to better serve the community."
The museum, known today as Royston & District Museum and Art Gallery, is located on Lower King Street. It has been funded and managed by RTC supported with many grants and donations from groups, organisations and visitors.
Its origins stem from when Royston & District Local History Society was established in 1965 - as its main aim was to set up a museum in the town. In 1976 a small room at the back of the Royston Town Hall opened as a museum and was staffed by volunteers.
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In April 1984, the museum was opened in its current location on Lower King Street. The building had originally been a Sunday School but was later used by the American airmen stationed in the area during the Second World War.
The museum has just under 20,000 objects in its collection that help tell the stories of the past people and places in and around Royston. It has enjoyed wide support from RDLHS, which owns the collection, the Friends of Royston Museum, many volunteers and the local community.
Collections include photographs, paintings, costume, toys, social and industrial history items, and bound copies of the Royston Crow - not forgetting the Royston Tapestry.
A Board of Trustees has been established who will manage the museum - these have been nominated by Royston Town Council, RDLHS and Friends.
Town councillor John Davison heads up the trustees. Others on the board are Rosemary Bateman and Martin Kaszak of Royston & District Local History Society, Cllr Iain Leggett, Cllr Philip Smith (Friends nominee), Brian Bylett (treasurer) and Ros Allwood, North Herts Council's cultural services manager.
In addition, the museum trust will appoint members of the public with specific skill sets that will help the museum into the future.
RTC is to continue providing core funding under a Service Level Agreement. Many local authorities have taken this step with their museums.
With external funding, the Royston Museum Trust can have more ambitious plans to redevelop the museum as a centre for the local community, celebrating Royston's stories and its people, past and present, through new displays and interpretation, supported by a programme of events and exhibitions.
Trustees chair, Cllr Davison said: "The last two years have been a difficult time for the museum with very limited opening hours. The museum trust will now recruit a full-time museum development manager to drive the plans forward, and it is hoped that they will be in post early in 2022.
"Additional staff will be recruited soon after. With this in mind, the museum will remain closed to the public until the early spring of 2022.
"This will give the volunteer team time to do much-needed housekeeping behind the scenes and create a temporary exhibition of local photographs in preparation for reopening. We will, of course, be keeping everyone updated on social media throughout this period.”
Rosemary Bateman, who is treasurer of the Friends as well as being a museum trustee, said: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the local community and beyond who have supported the museum over the years, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the museum in the spring."
Despite the museum being closed to visitors for this period, everyone will have an opportunity to view the unique Royston Tapestry in all its splendour online.
All 25 metres of this remarkable embroidery have been professionally photographed, and viewers can see the beautiful stitch work and colours from the comfort of their own homes.
It is available to view on the museum's website at www.roystonmuseum.org.uk.