The Committee considered a report of the Director of Adults and Communities, the purpose of which was to provide an update on Museum Accreditation and invite comments on the review of the 2015-2019 activity. The report also sought comments on the review of policies in preparation for the next submission, in particular: the vision and statement of purpose, collection themes and future priority areas and the access policy. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 10’, is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion and questions, the following points arose:
(i) There was a number of ways that collections were made accessible to the public for example, most collections were usually displayed on a regular rotation around the various County locations and temporary exhibitions were also programmed in to ensure variety. There was also a search function online called Image Leicestershire which enabled people to search through curated aspects of particular collections and order images should they wish. In terms of whether providing an online Museums’ Service had been considered it was confirmed that developing a digital platform to display more content online was a future aim which was expected to be key in providing service users with a greater level of accessibility. Members supported this approach and encouraged innovative ways to make collections more accessible.
(ii) The Council worked closely with Leicester City Council and other organisations to ensure collections and displays were not duplicated and to identify joint project opportunities. Work had recently been undertaken by the County and Leicester City Councils to review the collection items held by both authorities to ensure they were correctly situated. Much loaning activity had also taken place between the Leicestershire Museums’ Service and other organisations during the reporting period to maximise collection display opportunities and efforts would continue to be made to promote loans going forward. The Thomas Cook collection was another example of partnership working, which was taking place between the County, City and Rutland Councils. The Collection was currently held in Leicestershire’s Record Office and the City Council was planning to hold some exhibitions to display the collection items over the summer period.
(iii) Regarding unprepared archives relating to contracted archaeology and archaeological depositions and whether opportunities could be being missed by the Leicestershire Museums’ Service not accepting these, it was confirmed that ensuring finds were properly catalogued and marked was an essential requirement to ensure items were identifiable and fit for use by the Service. For example, as part of planning processes developers were sometimes required to undertake some form of archaeological investigation and prepare the material in advance of deposit with a registered repository (locally this was the Leicestershire Museums’ Service). The guidelines for the transfer of archaeological archives to Leicestershire County Council’s Museums collections (set out in Appendix A to the report) provided prospective depositors with guidance on the conditions that should be met for finds/archives to be acceptable. The level of preparation required to be made on such finds depended on the types and range of the discoveries which often varied greatly.
(iv) The Council was working with Charnwood Borough Council to prepare for celebrations to be held in 2021 for the 800th anniversary of Loughborough Fair. A member remarked that the part of the project they had been involved in which was being led by the County Council had been very well organised so far and they had found communication with the officers involved, including those at the Leicestershire Museums’ Service, to be positive.
(a) That the activity undertaken by Leicestershire Museums relating to the last Accreditation period (2015-19) set out in Appendices B and C to the report and the update now provided be noted.
(b) That the Director be requested to consider the comments now made by the Committee as part of the work being undertaken by the Leicestershire Museums’ Service to prepare for the re-submission for Accreditation.