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Elstree and Borehamwood Museum having to store artefacts in staff's spare rooms
9:43am Thursday 6th February 2014 in News
A museum is being forced to return artefacts it cannot fit into its new building.
The Elstree and Borehamwood Museum has had record numbers of visitors since it moved into new premises at 96 Shenley Road in November.
But it now lacks room to store all the artefacts donated over the years, leading to fears the museum will have to get rid of some of its collection.
Chairman of Elstree Screen Heritage Paul Welsh said he had heard of the museum’s difficulties from volunteers.
He added: “The new museum looks great and the volunteers are doing a wonderful job.
"However, the only negative comments I have received is it is too small.
“I am also aware the collection cannot fit in, resulting in stuff being stored in volunteers’ homes and some material being discarded. That seems a shame.”
A petition has been launched calling for Hertsmere Borough Council to give the museum more room to store memorabilia by David Newstead, who runs the Borehamwood not Elstree Facebook Group.
He said Mr Welsh's comments had led him to launch the petition, and criticised Hertfordshire County Council for allocating too little space to the.museum.
He said: “The museum is simply too small, it should have been given far more space when 96 Shenley Road was built.
“If the museum is forced to get rid of some of its artefacts that would be a tragedy for the town and its history. How else are the younger generation meant to find out about our history?”
He said many residents thought the new museum was built in a “monstrosity” of a building and much preferred the old one.
David Armitage, who manages the museum, admitted it was suffering from a storage problem.
He said: “In most museums, 20 per cent of their stock is in storage and 80 per cent is on show.
For us, the lack of storage in the new building means around 90 per cent of our artefacts are on display.
“It is true I and two other volunteers who have spare bedrooms have used them to store books and photographs and we have had to give some objects back to their owners.
“However we have not been driven to throw away any of our collection as people are claiming.
"We still have storage in our old premises in Drayton Road and are currently deciding which parts of our collection will be used in exhibits for the next five years, and would be grateful to receive new donations.”
He said the museum had been “remarkably successful” in its new premises, with 2,250 people visiting in January compared to 1,500 for the whole of last year, and with 25 per cent of visitors being young.
He added: “Hertsmere Council is aware of the problem and is doing everything it can to find storage for us, even as it is undergoing building works at its civic offices.”
A spokeswoman for Hertsmere Council confirmed the authority was aware of the storage problem and was doing its best to solve it.
She said: “The new museum is a major improvement from the previous building and location which has helped to increase visitor numbers drastically.
"It’s a shame that this has been misreported in some forums as the volunteers have all agreed to the current arrangements and nothing is being thrown away due to lack of storage for instance.”