New museum plan for Morecambe but closure plans for two Lancaster museums

City Museum in Lancaster.
City Museum in Lancaster.

A new multi-use facility on Morecambe seafront with museums and a cultural dimension and the possible closures of Lancaster’s Maritime and Cottage Museums have been recommended in a new report.

The report, from experienced museum consultants Aitken, Prince and Pearce, presents ideas for a complete redesign of the city council’s museums.

Its bold vision for the future includes a radical revamp of the City Museum as the central hub of a new and reinvigorated museums service that can provide an enhanced cultural offer and much improved public access.

The museum could potentially act as a gateway to the city and the wider district and could include the Visitor Information Centre, retail and catering alongside frequently refreshed collections and exhibitions.

Another recommendation the report makes is the longer term development of a new multi-use facility at Morecambe Seafront with a museums and cultural dimension.

This would bring together the interests of many partners around culture, heritage, ecology, wildlife and outdoor pursuits.

The report also deals with the future of the city council’s two other museums – the Maritime and Cottage - which between them attracted around 13,000 visitors in 2015/16.

It recommends they should be closed as maintaining them would be costly and risk the viability of the museum service as a whole.

The Customs House part of the Maritime Museum, however, could be ‘mothballed’ in case the building is needed in connection with the interpretation of the Roman finds found recently in Quay Meadow.

A large proportion of the collections within the Maritime Museum relate to Morecambe and the Bay area and there may also be opportunities for temporary exhibitions in venues such as the Platform.

When not on display, the report recommends that new improved storage facilities are needed for collections from all the museums.

Robert Aitken, one of the authors of the report, said: “All local authorities are faced with having to reduce expenditure and make savings whilst also striving to ensure that services remain relevant and fit for purpose.

“These challenging circumstances need to be embraced and they provide a golden opportunity for the city council to re-invent its museums and bring them into the 21st century.

“As someone who lives locally I’m passionate about the future of our culture heritage and how it can inspire future generations.

“There is much work to do on many of the options we have presented, but with a bold vision the district will be able to safeguard and display its cultural assets for many generations to come.”

Cabinet members will consider the report when they next meet on Tuesday June 28.

No decisions will be taken in respect of which recommendations to pursue, but they will be asked to authorise that further work takes place to test the options.