There is no way I will back off over the way Thanet District Council have handled the collection of art and artifacts it owns, simply because the past and present evidence of neglect is so over whelming . However one thing I must add is that the Margate Museum is not to blame and neither are the the volunteers.
The museum opened in 1987 and when it was set up most of the items were piled up in boxes in the cells of the current building and stored in the back room upstairs. They had been there since 1st April 1974 when TDC came into being. The task of the staff was to sort through the boxes of items that have not been stored in controlled conditions and record the items. With attention to detail everything was then recorded to how it should be. Some items had decomposed so badly they had to be disposed of like negatives and some prints that were kept in one of the cells that was damp.The work was ongoing for many years and even when the EKMT took over recording and evaluation was still taking place, everything was how it should be.
In the years 2005 to 2007 TDC started to store items from other TDC facilities in the back room. Once again boxes of items appeared, prints and paintings all TDC owned showing signs of neglect just kept coming in. The racks were soon to be full of prints and paintings many unlisted. Eventually the back room was full and a stench of decay was present. The collecting habits of the curator at the time did not help either as he accepted all and everything. In some cases no paperwork was issued so numerical identification went completely out of the window on the newly acquired items. This all added to the chaos imported into the Museum by TDC. I started to notice many discrepancies and eventually my access to parts of the museum became very restricted. I even wrote to TDC about my concerns and had a meeting with the then leader and his deputy who dismissed my concerns in June 2006.
When the Museum closed in 2008 it was a case of closing the doors and everything remained in situ. The collection suffered terrible neglect and to make things worst there was no audit.
The museum was to eventually to reopen in 2011 by the Friends of the Margate museum. The main fabric of the collection on display was fine and with a lot of hard work the day to day running of the museum was back on track. However there is a major problem with all the items in storage that really has nothing to do with the friends group or the day to day running of the Museum,.
By late 2012 an audit took place using volunteers from the Friends of the Margate Museum revealing the worst case scenario.
As a museum consultant put it, "it was the worse case of collection management i have ever seen". TDC really do need to get a grip.