Admission is to be charged for the first time to visit Wisbech and Fenland Museum as an appeal to “keep it afloat” is launched.
The museum has also launched a plea to residents, businesses, and organisations “to pledge what each can spare monthly or annually” to support it.
The 1847 building is one of the oldest purpose-made museums in Britain.
“It has never been in better shape to serve the community since its major refurbishment last year largely funded by Historic England,” said museum chairman Steve McGregor.
“But quite simply, even with admission charges, we cannot survive in our present form beyond this financial year.
“We have won one-off grants for capital projects like the recent magnificent refurbishment, but we cannot use a penny of that money to keep the lights on, our collections curated, or staff paid.
“To keep going after April 2024 we need businesses with local customers and employees, charities and individuals who recognise the treasure we have and what damage its loss would do to the town to join our new Patrons’ Scheme by pledging £1200 or £600 a year, paid monthly or annually.
“And for most people who can’t spare that much but could afford to commit £5, £10 or £20 per month to keep a precious resource for the whole community, please join our Supporters Circle.”
He said visitors of all ages from Fenland and beyond are flocking to school holidays and seasonal events, craft workshops and two current exhibitions. One is of art by local under-25s and the other the museum’s precious manuscript of Great Expectations on special display to coincide with the new BBC One classic series.
Not the Louvre! Can you guess Benjamin Zephaniah's favourite museum & object? It's @wisbechmuseum & the bust of a local man who wrote an anti-slavery essay in Latin in 1785 (Latin has its uses!). More about this on #InsideCulture Thursday BBC2 7.30. @BZephaniah Here's a taste. pic.twitter.com/jxSCeRcY8B
— mary beard (@wmarybeard) October 14, 2020
“Yet ironically the museum itself, an independent charity, is facing a £60,000 a year shortfall on income needed to pay annual running costs of £90,000 from next April,” said Mr McGregor.
“For the first time in 100 years, while under-16s and anyone in full-time education will continue to be admitted free, from May 1st adults will be charged £5 on entry, which buys a season ticket to return free each subsequent visit within the year.”
He said that when the museum lost its annual Fenland District Council grant five years ago, it was saved from closure by a small generous band of supporters (individuals and local charities mainly) who pledged a total of £35,000 each year for five years through its Refounders Scheme.
“That scheme’s time is up, and the new subscription schemes will need to almost double what it produced,” said the chairman.
* To find out how to support the museum through either the Patrons’ Scheme or Supporters Circle, ask at its new downstairs Reception Desk in open hours 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday, online via www.wisbechmuseum.org.uk, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01945 583817.
Can you help us?
While you’re here, we are asking, for the first time, for readers to support us financially by taking out a modest subscription.
£2, or £3 or even £5 will help us achieve our goals. It will mean the second year of CambsNews will be livelier, healthier, and much better placed to cover the important issues affecting our everyday lives.
Your subscription simply means we can provide and expand our news FREE to all readers (Read More)Will you help us? Simply click the link below to make a donation.