Work is continuing at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to protect, pack and move exhibits and artefacts and clear space across the building for structural investigation work to begin.
Peak Buildings, which house Buxton Museum and Art gallery, has been temporarily closed for building structure investigations by Derbyshire County Council’s Property Services. Museum staff are currently removing 1,500 artefacts from display so the investigations can begin. Many of these items have been in Derbyshire for hundreds or thousands or even millions of years so every care is being taken to ensure they get packed and moved safely.
The museum and art gallery in Terrace Road, which is part of the Peak Buildings complex, has been closed temporarily since the beginning of June following the discovery of dry rot in structural timbers and floor joists.
Detailed investigations need to be carried out which will involve removing parts of ceilings and taking up some floors, making it essential that rooms are cleared first of any artefacts, exhibits, exhibition cases and art works, and meaning the building cannot be open to visitors.
The affected areas include the Wonders of the Peak exhibition and the Boyd Dawkins Study room, with all contents from these areas needing to be packed away and securely moved to safe areas, which could be in other parts of the museum or off site if this is considered necessary.
Museum staff are currently undertaking the packing work where it is safe to do so, and will be supported by specialists as appropriate, for example in lifting and moving larger or more fragile items.
In 2017, Buxton Museum was redeveloped at a cost of £1.5m with help from Heritage Lottery Fund, Wolfson Foundation, Derbyshire County Council, Arts Council England and other benefactors. The Wonders of Peak exhibition was completely transformed along with other areas in the museum and and in September 2017 the Duke of Devonshire officially re-opened the attraction. This subsequently helped to raise the profile of the museum and last year turned out to be one of its most successful years yet. 2022 saw record visitor numbers with 30,000 people through the door, an increase in social media followers as well as the best year ever for visitor donations – £5,300, double the amount they had ever received before.
Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change Councillor Barry Lewis said he remained determined that the museum and its collections would be supported and was working with officers across the council to ensure the future of the service in the longer term would be secured. He has also met with affected staff to assure them of the council’s commitment to the service.
Councillor Lewis said: “While it has been completely necessary to temporarily close the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to allow investigations to take place, and we know how disappointing and frustrating this is, I can assure people that there is absolute commitment to supporting the museum and securing the long-term future of its collections.
“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes currently, but only when the internal investigation work is completed will we be clearer as to the building’s condition and what it might entail to rectify the issues.
“We fully acknowledge the importance of the service’s presence in Buxton and will do all we can to protect this valuable asset. We are exploring all the options available to us, but unfortunately there is no quick fix. We will provide updates on progress when we can.”
While it is not possible currently to put an exact timescale on the work, from packing, moving and storing, through to the investigation and potential remedial work, it is acknowledged that the museum and art gallery will be closed for a considerable amount of time.
Results from the investigation work will be used to determine what structural work would need to be carried out to the building to bring it back into use, and the potential costs involved.
Alternative venues to provide a temporary museum service in Buxton are currently being explored.
While the museum remains closed, staff are working hard to find alternative ways to deliver the service, and the museum events programme has continued in other Buxton venues, with more information available at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery Facebook page and also their blog here.
You can keep up to date with the latest updates and what’s on at Buxton Museum on their Facebook page and also their blog here.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton, SK17 6DA
T: 01629 533540