Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Museum - the past and the future

Sometimes being a councillor is great fun. Yesterday I was asked to open the new shop and office at the Farmland Museum at Denny Abbey near Cambridge. The Abbey dates back to the 12th century and is a showcase of different architecture through nearly a whole millenium.

In the museum we saw demonstrations of farming, cheesemaking, eel fishing, basket making and working steam engines. My middle one particularly enjoyed milking the "cow"!

Sadly like many places this museum struggles for funds. Raising money for capital projects or "improvements" is often possible with many grants available - but it is not so easy to get funds for on going "revenue" spending, for example salaries - that is needed just to keep the place going day to day. The educational officer has this year taught over 3,000 children about their history and the countryside - but funding for his post is about to come to an end. School trips are put off because of "risk assesment" paperwork and the cost of transport. Many museums rely on income from those "pocket money" goods in the shop to keep them alive - not very sustainable.

If we want to educate our future population about their heritage - and their countryside we must try to preserve the present.

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