The proposals aim to harness the full visitor potential of the museum, seize on the increasing tourism opportunity resulting from Dover’s emergence as the UK’s second busiest cruise terminal, and to ensure that the museum forms a key part of the regeneration of Dover Town Centre.
The programme is due to start by the end of this year with a full audit of the Museum collection, the majority of which is in storage spread across a number of sites in the District and not normally accessible to the public. This will take around two years to complete and will be led by the appointment of a new Museum Collections Manager, supported by two apprentices/research assistants.
The collection will be entirely reviewed and catalogued, and a new collections policy will ensure that the collection’s focus remains relevant to the District’s heritage and future development, and enabling the stores to be rationalised. This will reduce the storage space required and enable the Museum to vacate storage space in the Maison Dieu, in preparation for that building’s restoration following the District Council’s successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
The review of the Museum collections leads into a wider DDC/KCC partnership project looking at how the Dover Discovery Centre might be developed into a cultural hub, including space for the Museum to expand through the creation of:
- Temporary exhibition space so that more of the Museum’s collection can be put on display, and so that the District has the capacity to show visiting national exhibitions
- Joint archive and study centre so that the public/students/researchers/ businesses have access to the District’s significant collections of historical documents and records
- Expanded on site storage provision at the Museum where valuable items of the collections can be properly protected and maintained.
Dover Museum is one of the oldest museums in Kent. It was founded over 150 years ago and moved from the basement area of the Maison Dieu to the current location in Market Square in 1991. It contains the award winning Bronze Age Boat Gallery housing the oldest boat in Europe, a wonderfully diverse collection highlighting the fascinating history of Dover and the wider District, and last year was visited by 26,417 people. Entrance is free, with special arrangements for student/school groups with education forming a key part of the Museum’s offer.
Cllr MJ Holloway OBE, Cabinet Member for Tourism said: "This ambitious programme will transform the Museum making it a key part of the District’s overall tourism offer, and ensuring its development complements the exciting and far reaching regeneration plans for Dover Old Town. The appointment of the Museum’s new Collections Team will kick start the programme with a full audit of the extensive collection. Over the coming months we will be updating and consulting stakeholders and residents as the programme progresses."