Following heavy torrential rain in mid August, Egham Museum has been closed for over a month due to flooding. However after just over a month of closure, the museum may soon re-open once a new curator is found.
Egham Museum is a free entry historical exhibition museum which includes various exhibitions – the most popular of late being the Magna Carta exhibition in light of the recent 800th anniversary of the signing of the document. Egham Museum attracted around 3,000 people over the summer to visit the Magna Carta exhibition and commemorate the anniversary.
The museum however is not always this popular and attracts other business by offering courses to the community (job/careers workshops etc). Egham Museum also acts as a bridge of communication between the community of Egham, the university and the surrounding residents. The Museum manages to sustain itself through volunteers and donations, including the donations given to them by the local council.
Runnymede Council have faced some debate over the decision to fund the museum with a £40,000 sum in order to pay the wages for a new curator and to sort out any issues with the flooding ensued from the heavy rainfall. Council member Mark Nuti has stated that “It is only due to the fact that we had the Magna Carta crowd coming in to the museum that there was a significant amount of business over the summer…it will be another 800 years before the museum has the same amount of publicity again”.
Another member of Runnymede Council , Mike Kusneraitis counter-argued that the money would help in “sustaining a community asset”. The Museum has been open since 1968.
There has also been talk about moving the artifacts from Egham Museum over to a bigger museum in Chertsey as a feature of their museum.
Ex curator of the museum, Dr Matthew Smith, who now works at Royal Holloway University, wrote that “It was saddening to have to close the museum as it is such a valuable part of Egham town, however it is a relief that the collection survived relatively unscathed… I truly wish the museum the best success on re-opening”
Though the plan has been provisionally agreed to put the money into the museum and employ a new curator, there is still an ongoing debate as to how sustainable this will be over a long period of time. The low amount of business that Egham museum receives in correlation with the £10,000 rent a year it costs the council already may prove unmanageable and lead to a permanent close to the historical site in Egham town.