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Friday, 11 February 2022

Questions and Answers

 This is a very difficult and worrying time for those concerned that Swindon is destined to be a dormitory town for others with no facilities within the town. When we were told the museum and art gallery at Apsley House was to remain closed, with no obvious replacement, we were very concerned and felt this was a very bad idea. In fact no one has said it is a good idea. 

There are many concerns felt by residents about this state of affairs, some of them were voiced by Carole Bent, in her second round of questions to the council, I felt it was helpful to publish them here:

Pls confirm what consultation was undertaken with the public prior to the decision being made to close Apsley House, the home of the Museum & Art Gallery.
The Council took the decision to move the collections from Apsley House to the Civic Offices, from unsuitable premises to improved accommodation.
The civic offices will provide improved accommodation suitable for the delivery of a modern museum service with improved accessibility and from a central location.
To provide the best possible outcomes for the collections, local residents and visitors, it was determined that the best solution would be to find a medium term solution, until plans for the Cultural Quarter can be advanced.
Over the years there have been extensive discussions about relocation plans for the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.
Pls confirm what consultation / engagement was undertaken with the public to explore options to display our Art Gallery & Museum collections prior to deciding to keep Apsley House shut.
The Council took the best decision for the operation of the service and improving access for all visitors.
Discussion took place with the Arts Council as a key partner and our accrediting body, there has been extensive public discussion following the consideration of two reports at Cabinet in the second half of 2021.
Q3 )
Pls clarify where a full list of contents of the Museum & Art Gallery collections can be accessed by members of the public (as recorded on 18th March 2020 )
I understand that for security reasons, SBC may choose not to publicise the locations where these are being stored, but believe that it is fully acceptable for a list to be provided on request.
A full list of all items held in the collections of Swindon Museum & Art Gallery is not currently accessible to members of the public.
It is not a priority to create such a list at this time.
Similar lists do not exist for either of Swindon Borough Council’s other owned and operated museums (STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway and Lydiard House Museum).
To create a publically accessible list of all items within the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery collections would take a considerable amount of staff time, at a point where staff are actively working to create a fully accessible, centrally located museum and art gallery at Civic Buildings, which will offer better access to our collections than was previously available at Apsley House.
A list of the works held as part of the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art is accessible through the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery website
Swindon’s Collection of Modern British Paintings and Swindon’s Local Art Collection can also be viewed on the ART UK website.
Is SBC aware of decisions being taken to donate art works , intended for Swindon to other Towns / City Museums & Galleries instead - due to concerns over current plans ?
Is SBC concerned about the impact of this for the development of the collections / future bequests?
We are not aware of any decisions taken by owners of artworks over their intention to donate artworks to other museums or art galleries rather than to Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.
Since the decision was announced to move Swindon Museum & Art Gallery to Civic Buildings, we have received several gifts to our permanent collections.
Given that staff are actively working to create a fully accessible, centrally located museum and art gallery for Swindon, which will offer better access to our collections than was previously available at Apsley House, this should provide the reassurance necessary for future donors.'

Regarding the last answer, I will publish an email I received on this matter:

'Firstly, we are totally disgusted with Swindon Council's attitude to the Museum (and the Arts in general) and just don't want to hear any more about their woeful inadequacies.

It had been our intention to offer our Studio Pottery collection to Swindon Museum. (Over 600 pieces) This is now out of the question. So, we are now in touch with the Centre of Ceramic Art in York on this matter. '

I've included a couple of paintings by LS Lowry, Winter in Pendlebury and A Procession, in an exhibition 3 years ago at our gallery.

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