Flood Complications Force Museums And Galleries To Close

By Caroline Lewis | 25 July 2007
photo of a flooded industrial museum site

Kelham Island Museum in Yorkshire is still closed after floods left it submerged in June. Photo: Tony Canning

While waters rise in places and recede in others across the Severn and Thames valleys, residents are dealing with a major catastrophe.

Anyone who has seen the news will be avoiding poor Tewkesbury, but many places in the West Midlands are keen to get the message across that they are dry and open for business as usual, including museums and galleries.

Some of the places that have and haven’t been affected, as of July 25 2007, are as follows:

Cheltenham and Gloucester area

It was rather quiet on Saturday when the city was worst hit, but Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum is open.

Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum stayed open until July 25, when a lack of running water forced it to close to visitors. The staff are still there, though, with plenty of work to do despite no flushing toilets!

Gloucester Folk Museum and the City Museum and Art Gallery are physically safe for the time being, though the back of the Folk Museum is close to the water. However, both are closed due to water supply problems and only skeleton staff are going in.

“We’ve got two major exhibitions on at both museums so it’s very frustrating,” said Chris Morris, Services and Operations Manager at the Folk Museum.

The situation is being reviewed on a daily basis at all museums, so check before planning a visit (or cancelling one).

photo of a gallery frontage with light shining through a domed window

Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum: closed. Courtesy Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum

Gloucester’s Nature in Art gallery is closed to visitors, and complications have also forced Gloucestershire Archives to close.

No-one was available at Tewkesbury Museum for comment, and John Moore Countryside Museum is in a badly affected area.

Visits to the Rotherwas Ribbon have been cancelled by Herefordshire Council, and experts and campaigners are waiting to see what damage has been done to the recently revealed ancient stone serpent. The Council has been criticised for not putting any physical protection on the Bronze Age pathway.

West Midlands

Staffordshire County Museum at the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate near Stafford has been hit by flood waters and cancelled the Race for Life event this week, but is still open to visitors at the moment. Check before visiting.

Staff at Dudley’s Black Country Living Museum have pumped out its narrowboats as a precaution, to stop them sinking should the weather worsen.

photo of a flooded museum exterior with an appeal in text

Courtesy Beck Isle Museum

Oxfordshire and Thames Valley

While the village of Standlake has been in the news, the nearby Museums Resource Centre has escaped any damage so far. Also in an area under threat, Banbury Museum is still open as of July 25.

Equally Henley’s River and Rowing Museum is showing a spirited effort to carry on as normal.

“Access to the building from Station Road is safe and dry, while the Museum car park has a few puddles but is also safe,” said the Museum in a statement.

“There is a wonderful view from the Thames Gallery of the lake that has formed in Marsh Meadows alongside the sight of a very fast river flashing downstream from the Museum.”

Museums in Oxford city centre such as the Ashmolean and those in the University network are untouched and remain open.

Reading Museum is closed for health and safety reasons.

Flood appeals

Clean-up operations are still going on following floods in June 2007.

The Severn Valley Railway is appealing for help towards repair work at the 45 locations where the line suffered landslides.

Kelham Island Museum was deluged when the River Don burst its banks. It is closed while work is undertaken to get it back into shape.

Beck Isle Museum in North Yorkshire was able to re-open, but was unable to obtain insurance cover for flood damage, so the museum is appealing for donations towards repairs.

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