Town gathering of some 200 demonstrates huge support for Buxton Museum

© Explore Buxton

A mass gathering organised by the We Are Buxton Community Forum (WAB) saw some 200 people come together outside the closed Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) on Saturday 8th June, marking more than a year since its closure.

WAB spokesperson Jean Ball said: “We are thrilled at the scale of the passion demonstrated by the number of people who turned out this morning in support of Buxton Museum & Art Gallery.”

The enthusiastic crowd held ‘We love BMAG’ banners and included representatives from town organisations including Buxton Civic Association, Vision Buxton, Buxton Festival Fringe and Explore Buxton. Among those attending was Ros Westwood MBE, the retired Derbyshire Museums Manager, who worked at Buxton Museum for 25 years. She said: “I come here standing on the shoulders of ten previous curators who have worked tirelessly for the town to have – at the people’s request – this museum. It was very much the people who asked for it and it is the people’s collection.”

The event follows a recent public statement from WAB, which is made up of eight active groups in the town, urging Derbyshire County Council to “to ensure that a suitable long term solution is swiftly secured with a view to establishing a viable single venue for the collection in Buxton”, whilst also supporting DCC efforts to establish “extensive and ongoing interim activities to ensure that the museum and gallery remain accessible to as many people as possible.”



People beginning to gather at the event. © Explore Buxton.

The museum, operated by Derbyshire County Council, was closed abruptly on 1st June 2023 following the discovery of dry rot in the building’s structural timbers, with the council citing a health and safety risk.

Despite the initial announcement of a temporary closure, the council recently announced that the museum will not reopen in its current premises, with the council stating it was ‘no longer viable‘ to remain in Peak Buildings. The building is now set to be sold.

Despite promises of a resolution and a ‘commitment to a museum service’ by the leader of Derbyshire County Council Cllr Barry Lewis, there has been little information about the process so far or the options for the medium and long term.

The free-to-enter museum, has been a cultural staple in the town since its opening in 1893 in the Town Hall before moving to Peak Buildings in later 1920s. It houses over 40,000 objects, including items of national significance. BMAG underwent a £1.5 million redevelopment in 2017, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wolfson Foundation, DCC, Arts Council England, and other benefactors. The museum experienced record visitor numbers in 2019 and 2022, highlighting its importance to the local culture and economy.

© Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Netta Christie, owner of Discover Buxton and a local resident, shared, “As an individual who’s gained an awful lot of pleasure from the museum in the past and as a businesswoman who owes a debt of gratitude to the museum for how they helped my fledgling business when I set up, I think we are poorer without it. The customers that were coming to us on our tours, we were able to say to them, well, if you want to go and look in a little bit more detail now, why don’t you go to the museum? If you want to go and have a look at the Roman coins we have just been talking about, go and have a look at their collection.”

Cllr Anthony McKeown, Leader of High Peak Borough Council, remarked, “We have got the Crescent sorted, the Pavilion Gardens sorted, having those attractions that can bring people in is something we need more of, not less.”

Cllr Linda Grooby also commented at the public gathering, “I’ve probably worked as hard as anybody to try to find a solution to where we can put the museum. Cllr Barry Lewis is also committed to it. We really are trying to find a good alternative. The (current) building isn’t fit for purpose, and we need a better place for the museum.”

© Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

A petition to save Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has garnered over 5,100 signatures, reflecting widespread support for preserving the its future. The community continues to rally for a solution that will keep the museum’s extensive collection intact and accessible.

For more information and to sign the petition, go to change.org/p/save-buxton-museum-art-gallery-from-permanent-closure

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