A new lease of life for one of the oldest museums in the country Kendal's first museum was formed in 1796. As the collection grew, the Museum was re-‐ housed several times before ending up in its current building, formerly a wool warehouse, in 1913. The Museum is home to a range of collections including local archaeology, history, geology and local and world-‐wide natural history. The significance of the collection not only has relevance to the local community, specialist groups and societies, it is also considered by experts to have a regional and national relevance. In spite of its longevity and impressive collections the Museums future had been the subject of debate for some years. Managed by South Lakeland District Council, the local authority for financial reasons reduced the Museums weekly operating hours from 39hrs to 15hrs in April 2007. However, a new way forward was at hand. Kendal College had approached the Council to explore options to utilise space within the Museum and to work with its staff to improve its offer for students. The reason, it’s Art and Design (Allan) building is located adjacent to the Museum. On April 1 2009 a ten year agreement took effect between South Lakeland District Council and Kendal College. The college look after the collections and manage the staff and buildings. The collections remain the property of SLDC and Kendal town council still own the building. The Council has maintained its financial commitment (at 2008/09 levels) and the College has undertaken to keep the Museum open to the public for at least the same amount of time as at transfer (in summer 2010 they increased to 16.5hrs). Although the hours the Museum is open to the public are limited, students are able to access the Museum and its collections in the mornings of open days and by attending courses run by Museum staff. This is just the beginning. The new deal to hand over running of Kendal Museum to Kendal College was designed to be used as a springboard for a major regeneration of the north end of Kendal town centre. The College aims to develop its digital and creative curriculum, while increasing the provision for Further and Higher Education within the area. The proposed new development will form part of a ‘campus’ that embraces the Kendal Museum, the 14th Century Castle Dairy and the Allan Building to create one joined-‐up facility. It makes use of buildings in an area of Kendal that have fallen into disrepair. Planners are expected to be attracted by the prospect of improving the entrance to the town from the railway station, giving the town a new gateway. The Castle Dairy will become a patisserie and art gallery. A multi-‐purpose space for students studying performing arts, dance and music, facilities for sound, lighting and recording with workshops will be built. The Museum will be able to use this facility when not in use by students for events, lectures, etc. An application to HLF has been submitted to refurbish the Museum with new displays, interactive learning resources and improved public and storage facilities. Councillor Jameson said: “I am really excited by the prospect of rejuvenating that area. By using cultural and educational facilities, there is an excellent opportunity for Kendal to develop its attractions. In December 2009 the NWDA awarded Kendal College a grant of £1million towards the development outlined above. In December 2010 the Museum will find out if its round 1 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful.
Further information: Morag Clement, Curator Kendal Museum email@example.com NWDA Grant information at http://www.kendal.ac.uk/news-‐09-‐03-‐16.php