New Larne store for 30,000 museum items

A new storage facility housing 30,000 historical items in Larne is being leased by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The unit at Ledcom opened in October following approval for the off-site store to house overspill items from the borough’s four museums.

A decision on a new Museum and Heritage Service Collections Management Policy presented to a meeting of the council’s Borough Growth Committee on Monday evening has been deferred until the next meeting.

Carrickfergus Alderman Billy Ashe MBE pointed out  the policy states a council officer would have the final say on items donated to a museum in the borough.

Larne Museum

Ald Ashe told the meeting: “I have had problems with that part of the policy in the past. My job as elected representative in the area is to make sure the local community’s views are represented.

“I would like to see some sort of compromise whereby if something is controversial, elected members can decide whether we take or reject it rather than an officer who may or may not live in the town.”

Ulster Unionist Larne Lough Councillor Keith Turner said: “Twelve months ago, myself and Ald Ashe did request to see the items for transfer.”

He asked for arrangements to be made to visit the new site at Ledcom.

Alliance Ald Gerardine Mulvenna said that she welcomed the new policy adding that it was “a long time coming”.

TUV Braid Cllr Brian Collins asked for the matter to be deferred.

Under the new Collections Management Policy, no further items will be acquired unless suitable environmental conditions are available for storage and no larger items unless there is a “gap” in the borough’s collections.

Documentation will be carried out to ensure that information held in relation to collections is “accurate, secure, reliable and accessible”.

Items will not normally be accepted on loan if they must be displayed in a particular way.

The council’s Museum and Heritage Service has given an undertaking to “store and display collections in suitable environments that minimise deterioration”.

The local authority has offered an assurance it will “take the same care” of objects it has been lent as those in its own collections.

Objects not on display can be viewed at a Mid and East Antrim museum by appointment.

Since April, the Museum and Heritage Service has increased virtual access to collections and information.

The report presented to Borough Growth Committee includes a storage review which was carried out in 2018.

The review indicated “no disaster preparedness” for the store at Larne Museum.

The report said although there was secure storage with items protected from dust and daylight, there was an “overflow” of objects too large for shelves with “vulnerable” objects stored on the floor.

At Carrickfergus Museum, storage was secure with routine inspections and “selective” protection from dust. Although there was a “dedicated disaster plan”, there was no staff training.

The report also stated there was “too much” storage furniture and “vulnerable” objects were kept on the floor of the store.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: ‘Business as usual’ at flood-hit Carrickfergus Museum


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