Improved Novium Museum to ‘come back with a bang’

C130242-1 Chi Noviuim  phot kate''The Novium. Photograph by Kate Shemilt. C130242-1 ENGSUS00120130220104318
C130242-1 Chi Noviuim phot kate''The Novium. Photograph by Kate Shemilt. C130242-1 ENGSUS00120130220104318

The running of the Novium Museum will remain in the hands of Chichester District Council with the manager challenged to come up with innovative ideas for its future.

The attraction, in Tower Street, is heavily subsidised by the council, costing more than £550,000 to run in 2017/18, in conjunction with the tourist information service.

A report put before a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday (July 3) laid out the alternative options explored by the council for the future running of the museum.

They included handing the running to an outside organisation or setting up an internal trust to do the job.

The meeting was told that there had been limited interest in the first option, with only one formal response received, while the cost of moving to the trust option carried an anticipated cost of around £150,000.

The preferred option – and the one approved by cabinet members – was for the running of the museum to remain in-house and a business plan to be produced, looking at ways to generate income and reduce expenditure.

Members were introduced to the museum’s new manager, former Chichester High School student Stephanie Thorndyke, whose career has included positions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in Venice.

Sarah Peyman, divisional manager for culture and sport, told the meeting that Ms Thorndyke brought with her ‘a lot of enthusiasm and expertise to the future development of the museum’.

She is currently working on an exhibition programme for the Novium, while work is ongoing on the business plan, which it was anticipated would be completed in October.  

Tony Dignum, leader of the council, told Ms Thorndyke: “We hope you will come up with some innovative ideas.

“We don’t want to be hamstrung by decisions made years ago that proved not to be the best in terms of displays and use of the space and facilities, and to come back with a bang.

“I think we’ve got to be prepared to put revenue and capital into it to get it pointing the right way for the future.”

After the meeting, a spokesman for the museum said: “The team at the Novium Museum is really looking forward to expanding on what has already been achieved, and continuing to preserve the district’s heritage.

“At the moment the team is developing a vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions and displays.

“On July 28, the team will launch ‘Bricks Britannia: A History of Britain in LEGO Bricks’.

“It is hoped that this exhibition will help to build creativity and spark people’s imaginations – especially children and families.

“The team is also working on some fascinating community exhibitions, which will be launched later this year, as well as developing an exciting programme for 2019.

“This work will also tie in with a fantastic learning and events programme.

“The museum also runs the tourist information centre and box office; arranges weddings at The Guildhall in Priory Park; as well as providing a shop and cafe in the museum building.

“The museum will continue to be free to visit, but it is hoped that the community will continue to show their support by visiting, donating, becoming a friend of the museum, volunteering, or even dropping in to buy something from the shop and café.”

What would you like to see at the museum? Email the newsdesk.