ARTS Council England chief executive Darren Henley paid a fact-finding visit to the museum on Monday, May 23rd.
The visit was part of a tour of cultural institutions in Bexhill and Hastings receiving ACE support.
One of the first items pointed out to the chief executive by our curator Julian Porter during a lightning tour was the Sargent Gallery’s 1934 architectural model of the winning design for the De La Warr Pavilion. The pavilion would be next on Mr Henley’s itinerary.
Julian also emphasised that the museum would need to build a new gallery to house the mass of archaeological material from the Combe Valley Way project and from the Beauport Park Roman site.
Rother District Council was represented by executive director of business operations Tony Leonard, service manager (community and economy) Brenda Mason and Cllr Sally-Ann Hart, cabinet member for culture and tourism.
The museum was also represented by chairman John Betts.
Museum volunteer Colin Heminway, who coordinates two Arts Council-funded museum projects, explained the Exploring Stuff exhibition in the lower exhibition area and volunteer Louise Kenward was able to show him more material in the Costume Gallery.
Julian explained that the Technology Gallery houses vehicles with close ties to Bexhill. They illustrate three different means of propulsion – a replica of the Serpollet steam car which won the 1902 Bexhill Motor Trials, Britain’s first international motor sport event; a Bexhill-built 1958 Mark III Elva sports-racer and the Volta car built by St Richard’s Catholic College students and which holds a class world land speed record for electric vehicles.
Museum volunteer and Bexhill Model Railway Club enthusiast Ken Bywater showed the chief executive the model railway layout donated by the museum’s patron, comedian Eddie Izzard and his brother. The layout was part of the brothers’ Bexhill childhood. Now Ken and club colleagues are striving for a July deadline to complete the working model in time for an Izzard family opening ceremony.
Earlier, the Arts Council England chief executive had Tweeted: “Looking forward to meeting ACE-supported arts and culture leaders in Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings with the ACE South East team today.”
Darren Henley’s new book “The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays” is published on June 30.”