The task and finish group set up by the Thanet District Council Overview and Scrutiny committee to look into the management of TDC owned art and artifacts is well underway. To help members get some idea of the task ahead a meeting took place at the Margate Museum so members could see the situation for themselves. Naturally I put my name forward for the guided tour to see the work in progress sorting through the collection in storage. They do say first impressions are very important and the first impression that hit me was similarity to the post war news reels of the Merkers salt mine and the TDC collection in storage.
There is just so much framed artwork and prints in racks it is a wonder where it all came from. The good thing now is that TDC have taken a firm grip of the management of the art and artifacts and everything is now secure and in a managed system. Due to the large volume of items it is estimated it will take a decade at the current rate of auditing to completely list everything, mostly small items. The artwork which obviously is the most valuable part of the collection is on a new data base and can be located within the collection.
One observation was the condition of some of the items as they appear to be suffering from foxing and show the signs of suffering through poor storage that has caused damage. Some of this I know was caused when the Museum was closed from 2008 to 2011 and the collection was just left. Other items, research does prove that the damage was already there when the old Borough Council accepted the collection many years ago. The only consolation is that the majority of the prints in the collection are unaffected. However the situation with the minority of the prints is still bad.
At the last meeting I did raise this matter and asked that TDC members should be made aware of the problem as it will lead to some cost in the future.
TDC are no longer taking in acquisitions which comes as no surprise because of the volume of the collection at Margate. Ramsgate is now benefiting from this as someone has left a print of Ramsgate to the Margate Museum which they cannot accet. So it has been forward to Ramsgate Town Council bringing the total of artwork they own to nine.