Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

TDC artefacts - the good news it is all sorted.

Last night I attended a meeting of the TDC artefacts management review task and finish group. The result being very positive and full credit must go to all the TDC Councillors and TDC officers involved for realizing there has been a problem in the past with the collection and for dealing with it . Last night TDC members agreed policies  that will ensure the management of the collection will remain on a professional footing and in doing so will become a huge asset for the area. Never again will the collection allow to drift into a moribund state ever again. I do think for an area that places heritage tourism as part of its regeneration plan, this has to be  a plus and at the meeting some very good planning was outlined.
There were one or two points I did pick up on. Firstly the policy is all based around the Margate Museum and its statement of purpose and when I asked a question of what ratio of the collection is from Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the villages the answer was 2%. So out an estimated collection of approximately 6,000 objects excluding photographs and printed material , 120 items  are attributed to  Broadstairs and Ramsgate. It does not sound at all good but then I am not surprised because in the past Margate has been a recipient of  collections from some very generous donors whereas Broadstairs and Ramsgate has not.Also after local reorganization in 1974 Broadstairs did retain its town council and some of its assets. Ramsgate was different because Kent County Council took over the entire collection within the library and TDC took on the contents of Albion House. So this does account for the low numbers on the TDC books.
Regardless of their original origin the new TDC policy does list all the Broadstairs and Ramsgate items on the Margate Museum books. Also in the same policy these items can be either donated or loaned to a Broadstairs or Ramsgate venue in the future. So in effect the Margate Museum is looking after these items until such a time they can be rehoused. I suppose it cannot be indefinite because as Margate museum develops they are going to need the space but then if they are going to need the space the easier it would be to transfer items to Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
Today I saw Richard the Town Clerk at Ramsgate Town Council explaining what went on at the meeting. First to explain what TDC has on its books belonging to Ramsgate at Margate . Also under the new Margate museum policy the museum will not now accept items from Broadstairs and Ramsgate as it has done in the past. So items could be redirected to the town councils in the near future.
Finally, I will be doing a report for Ramsgate Town Council for members to consider.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

TDC artefacts , a conspiracy theory ?

Being in possession of the agenda for the TDC artefacts meeting tomorrow I now have this tremendous feeling that I was right after all regarding the position regarding the TDC publicy owned collection of artefacts. The situation has been so  bad in the past that  TDC has no choice but to completely start again and re list and re audit everything and take the Pol Pot option and start from zero. It even includes a proposal to take on an archivist at £25K a year to put everything right and that task is expected to take years. It may have taken years to come to this conclusion but TDC have finally got a firm grip on the management on this huge portfolio of art and artefacts so credit is due to those involved in resolving this, subject to the democratic process as this is still proposals.
Even some of the stats in my previous posting must have the most neutral of observers thinking where did that lot come from.Plus where was all the money spent that TDC grant assisted the museum service over the years and I dread to think what the total is.

I have been accused of conspiracy theories, emails ignored , letters ignored, lied to and had so many puts downs. I have had a meeting with a TDC leader, a Deputy leader and a senior TDC officer each assuring me there was nothing wrong when in fact as we stand today it is a clear as day there was. In the words of a consultant that was called in to review the situation "It is the worst case of museum management I have ever seen" . I think that is enough said.

Finally, I do not name names I don't hold grudges I just want it sorted.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

TDC - some artefact statistics.

In 1990 the TDC Museums officer at the submitted this above report to Thanet District Council it was his assessment of the TDC collection stored in the Margate Museum at the time. This document was retrieved from Museum records and it was one of a number I submitted to the artefacts task and finish group. What interests me most is the statistics especially the number of prints and paintings.
In November 1991 the then chief executive of TDC at the time signed at document stating like in the document above the collection of prints and paintings consisted of 500 items. Also in the same document the collection consisted of 1,000 objects and 10,000 photographic negatives and prints. There is also a mention of 17,000 sea shells loaned to the Powell Cotton Museum. The archaeological collection is mentioned as consisting of 500 items.
So how does these statistics compare to the report in the agenda for Monday's task and finish group.Well the report states the museum now holds approximately 6,000 items excluding individual photographs and posters. In this total there are 1,200 are prints and paintings of which 1000 have been checked to records. The report also states that the museum holds 4,400 objects of which 1,061 have been uploaded onto the database. Also in the report it is mentioned that all archaeological remains that are not from the Rowe bequest will be transferred to the local archaeological society and that number is unspecified.  
The report does not give any indicator of the size of the incredible archive that has grown over the years under the East Kent Maritime Trust management years that has become TDC property.

The above document has been the basis of my concerns because the problem has never been properly addressed by TDC, that is until now 24 years later.

TDC artefacts review , Broadstairs and Ramsgate cultural items my thoughts .

I have now finished reading the agenda for the TDC artefacts management  review task and finish group meeting on Monday 27th January 2014. In fact I have gone over it line by line a couple of times. After digesting what I have read I can honestly say the proposed collections policy and documentation procedures for the Margate Museum is excellent and it will give TDC a managed portfolio of the art and artefcats it owns at the facility. Once set in stone all TDC will have to do is monitor the managed system and development of this great asset from time to time. I do feel partly disappointed that all the incompetence in the past has been swept away as if it never happened but TDC have opted for a complete fresh start. Some may even say a cover up but then a pragmatist would argue that a complete fresh start is the only way forward and there is also some truth in that .
I think once the review  is past onto to the next stage of the political process I think most TDC members will be pleased with the outcome and any previous history surrounding the TDC collection can be well and truly buried now they have a workable managed system.
I do have one point I noticed and it does concern me. The  agenda is focused entirely on the statement of purpose and development of  "Margate's history and culture" . Considering that the collection is a TDC collection I find it alarming that Broadstairs , Ramsgate and the villages barely get a mention. It may be an oversight, there may be more to come but  the entire agenda reads as if all the Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the villages historic items are going to remain in storage for another twenty years and there is no plan. Perhaps a decision has been made that the Thanet collection is now a Margate museum collection I do not know.
Considering that items relating to  Broadstairs, Ramsgate and villages were taken from other parts of Thanet and deposited in the Margate museum I can see problems if this is the case. In the policy  statement it does state that the Margate Museum can dispose of any item that does not meet the Margate Museum's statement of purpose . So as the Margate Museum will develop as it will do, they will need space, so items that are not related to Margate will be surplus to requirement and will need disposing.  I must also add  it  states in the policy that any disposals have to go through the TDC democratic process so there is a safeguard.
Therefore I think it will be good forward thinking for anyone reading this from the Ramsgate and Broadstairs town councils, the parishes , interested groups, and societies  monitor the situation. Perhaps they could start making representations , it is just a thought.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Thanet District Council artefacts review an update

Today I received the agenda in the post for the TDC artefacts management review task and finish group for the meeting on Monday 27th January. It is without doubt a distant reminder of the demands on TDC members receiving such a detailed document a few days before a meeting  with little time to study its contents in detail.It is a case of picking it up and putting down throughout the day.
 Of the bits I have read  like the collections policy  and documentation procedures are very good . As I picked through it line by line I couldn't help thinking this is something that should have been done years ago. The date that comes to mind is 1991 when Colin Wilson the then curator at the Margate museum submitted a report highlighting problems  with the TDC owned collection and requesting a collections  management review. Up until now this issue has never been properly addressed and has cost TDC a lot of money in the process. In a way I do feel vindicated because in 2005 when I approached the then TDC leadership about my concerns I received assurances that this current document now proves were worthless .These two policies will now ensure the TDC collection will be managed on a professional footing. This is very good news.

I have picked up on a few points in the officers report and on the intro to the two draft policies. Firstly Thanet District Council has made a legal claim to every single item in the Museum that is not a proven loan this includes EKMT assets and unlisted items. Also a loan will only be returned if the loaner has the correct paperwork. Given the museums record on administration in the past I suggest anybody who have made loans in the past start making their inquiries now.

Also the Museum policy is to be all things Margate which I suppose makes sense if it is a Margate Museum, but the facility houses a TDC collection and items from Ramsgate,  Broadstairs and the villages .These items do not even get a mention in the report so there has to be some clarification there. I think both Ramsgate and Broadstairs town councils should really take note of this. I do have a few minor points to raise but overall it is a very good report apart from the two points I mentioned.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thanet District Council and sea shells

On Monday the 27th January the TDC artefacts management task and finish group will be meeting at 19:00 hrs in the Austen room. I expect a lot of progress has been made since the last meeting and it does look as if there are going to be many issues discussed.

I haven't been blogging for a while, and time is spent researching and facebook. However I have this concern to share with you all. Many readers over a certain age will remember the Cobb shell collection that was once on display in the old Margate library in Victoria Road Margate until the early 1970’s. The collection, a Victorian collection was collected by the Cobb family in collaboration with the locally  renowned Dr Arthur Rowe who was a conchologist amongst many other things. According to old TDC documentation dating back to November 1991 the collection consists of 17,000 sea shells and was loaned to the Powell Cotton Museum (PCM) in 1989 on a 25 year loan ending this month January 2014. The Margate Museum reference for the collection is T. 1437. 
Also within the shell collections are carved shell cameos and some I know were retained by the Margate Museum as they were displayed up until a few years ago. They are of Italian origin and are of some value and I have been researching them and their whereabouts.

 It all sounds just a formality and the collection will be returned this month. However, this is Thanet after all and it is not as easy as that. In December 1991 it appears the shell collection was given to the PCM  a month after the chief executive of TDC signed documentation that referred to the collection as being a loan. I do find this rather strange because if each individual shell was given a nominal value of £1 regardless of size, quality and rarity. Then the collection could be rated as being worth £17,000. So who in their right mind would give such a council asset of that value away?  No doubt TDC will come up with a logical explanation at the meeting.

At present the current situation with this collection is that the sea shells have never been displayed at the PCM and it looks like they will never be displayed. They are stored in 70 boxes and the good news is that PCM are willing to return them back to the public collection should TDC accept them.