Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Museum Campaigners Told Artefacts Will Be Safe

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Museum Campaigners Told Artefacts Will Be Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: Hugh MacKnight Reporter @hughmacknight

REASSURANCES have been made that the future of a historic museum collection is in safe hands.

A special meeting of Durham County Council heard plans for the future of the DLI collection to provide a fitting and lasting tribute to the regiment. The authority says it plans to continue to honour the region's military history at a time when it must find nearly another PS140m of savings from its yearly budget.

In a near-two-hour session the council's cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture, Coun Neil Foster, corporate director for neighbourhoods Terry Collins, head of culture and sport Steve Howell and chair of the DLI Trustees James Ramsbotham tried to allay fears expressed since the move away from the collection's current Aykley Heads home was announced in October.

At an open meeting they heard: | The council is continuing to consult with campaigners, veterans and other interested parties about what can be done to honour the regiment; | Durham County Council has received backing for its plans from the Army Museums Ogilvy Trust, which said the authority's plans "demonstrate a clear commitment to the collection"; | The DLI collection will be kept together, not broken up, and be more publicly accessible than before. This will include a free exhibition on the History of the DLI - compared with a PS5.45 adult entry fee for the current museum - for at least five years.

| The proposals will also include a new, not currently available, "on demand" service for families who wish to see artefacts at Sevenhills. | Moving the collection will allow curators to spend more time focussing on their work, rather than having to deal with an aging building, meaning they can concentrate on bringing the DLI story to the widest possible audience. With the museum vacated, the building will be assessed and if appropriate declared surplus to the requirements of the council's culture and sport department; | The site of the DLI Museum will see memorial benches remain, with the council open to exploring if a new permanent memorial could in the future be created at Aykley Heads. | Discussions have taken place over ashes which have been scattered near to the present museum, with options for how to sensitively handle those remains being explored; | | As part of the proposals the council has made a commitment to the DLI collection to invest PS70,000 a year in funding for at least five years, at a time when it must find nearly PS140m more in annual savings. That would include education officers being kept on; | | A programme of events, including plays, musical performances and an interactive theatrical experience, have been commissioned alongside the already announced History of the DLI and Somme 1916 exhibitions; | The art gallery currently housed alongside the collection will see exhibitions taken on a countywide tour in 2016 while a permanent home is found for it. …

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