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Press Release, 12th April 2023
Marlow Museum Community Survey – Results are conclusive!
Marlow Museum would like to thank the nearly 250 people from a wide cross-section of the community, from 16 to over 65, who completed the Museum’s recent Community Survey. The survey was promoted on various Marlow Facebook groups, as well as featuring in The Marlovian and Marlow Bottom’s Valley News, and paper copies being available in the museum, the library, Court Garden’s M Café and the Tin Town café in Marlow Bottom. Thanks go to all these organisations and businesses.
First, over 90% of respondents said that a place like Marlow should definitely have a museum. It’s clear the museum is welcome and needed in Marlow.
Next, its size: 88% of respondents who had visited the museum thought it should be in a bigger building. The museum has been in the small Peacock Room building at the entrance to Court Garden Leisure Centre since 2009. It is rented from Buckinghamshire Council; the museum’s trustee board have not yet been able to find bigger premises that the charity can afford, in spite of having many artefacts they cannot currently display. There is certainly community support for a bigger museum:
‘In such cramped premises it must be very difficult to curate each new themed exhibition in a suitable and engaging manner to draw in tourist visitors, as well as maintain local interest.’
‘It needs to be a "destination" when you visit Marlow (we have lots of coach trips to the town). When I go to other towns I will always seek out the museum to get some history.’
Some respondents think it’s the Town Council’s responsibility: ‘Marlow possesses a rich history. With the best will in the world, this cannot be accommodated as a permanent feature within the existing space. I believe fresh approaches need to be made to Marlow Councillors with a view to Marlow Museum receiving Council funding on an annual basis. It is ludicrous that the Council overlooks this cultural-historical asset to the town. The Council needs to cast the scales from its eyes and provide the Museum with much larger premises. How many Councillors have actually set foot inside the Museum, one wonders?’
There is still some uncertainty about why the museum isn’t in the library: ‘I do not know why it was not put in the library when they had a refit.’ Unfortunately at that time insufficient space could be found in the library building for the museum to remain an independent organisation. The museum is working towards Accreditation with Arts Council England: it could not be accredited if it was reduced to a few display cases in a corner of the library.
Thirdly, what about a refit to the present building? Of those who had visited the museum, 66% thought it should have a refit to make it more attractive. The trustees are planning to give the museum a makeover and wanted to have community support for this, which it has certainly received. Those who disagreed thought it was already doing a good job in difficult circumstances. One said: ‘It is wonderful as it is, but needs and deserves more space.’ Another: ‘Due to the small cramped space, several of the windows have been blocked out in order to give more display space. Unfortunately, this lack of daylight adds to the closed-in sense while looking around at the exhibits. I am certain a larger space with more adequate lighting would give so much greater opportunity to enhance the many themed exhibitions on local history, or of local people, or artists or photographers that Marlow may like to focus on’.
Finally, its opening hours: 69% of those who had visited said it should be open more often. The trustees would dearly like to make this happen. The museum has been run successfully by volunteers since 2009 and is well regarded by its visitors who often comment on the helpful, friendly stewards. The opening hours are only restricted by the number of volunteers available: many older volunteers have felt unable to return after the pandemic. The trustees are currently actively recruiting volunteer Stewards and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
There was an optional entry into a prize draw associated with the survey. The winning name was drawn by Town Clerk, Hilary Martin and the prize was won by local resident Louisa Brammer. Louisa was very excited to receive her prize. ‘But I never win anything!’ she said. She brought her daughter with her to collect the prize of two tickets to Pub In the Park on the evening of Thursday 18th May. Marlow Museum is very grateful to Tom Kerridge and Brand Events for donating these.
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