Starting a new Chapter for Hertford Museum
Jeremy Deller on his Front Row spot last night (May 17th) gave the museum gentle approval before the announcement of the Art Fund shortlist on May 19th. Whatever the result the museum has had a fantastic run and it was good to hear his enthusiasm for the Friday Country Market and Rhubarb crumble and to hear his laconic remark ‘so Hippos were once common in Hertford’ . For me it’s been an exciting beginning to my curatorship and whether the Art Fund prize money comes our way or not (announcement is scheduled for June 15th so watch your Twitter feeds for reminders to vote for us in the next few days) it’s put us on the map for those who have never been to Hertford or enjoyed its Hippo reserve!
First impressions of the museum for a new boy coming in as curator are of the really interesting collections and remarkable library of papers, photos and books. The supportive Town Council which funds us may be part of the long suffering public sector but we have a true partnership with them and have already opened a dialogue about how much more we can do together to reach the community. Extra money has been voted in the current year to retain our wonderful Learning Officer and for our part there can be some help offered at the Castle to improve what is done there for youngsters and to enrich displays in the Robing Room.
How many readers knew that Sainsburys had arranged to vary their planning consent for the McMullens Brewery site? A Heritage Cetre is now proposed as part use of the Victorian Building and we have been in touch to see what we can do to help. Fingers crossed that Sainsburys recognise that we have collectyions and expertise to offer as well as a strong community link – maybe we could be offering creche facilities side by side with workshops for mums out for the weekly shop and planning and creative half hour as part of their day. We are nothing if we’re not a community museum and the Art Fund Prize is already adding immeasurably to our credibility for the Sainsbury project and in the Town generally.