Museum to merge with Colchester

STAFF at Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion are to officially become employees of Colchester Borough Council from early April.The museum services of the two towns are to be combined and run by a joint board made up of councillors and officials from both authorities.

STAFF at Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion are to officially become employees of Colchester Borough Council from early April.

The museum services of the two towns are to be combined and run by a joint board made up of councillors and officials from both authorities.

But Colchester is to act as lead - although Ipswich council taxpayers actually spend more on museums than their Essex counterparts.

That means that officially staff at the museums in Ipswich will be transferred to Colchester.


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Ipswich council leisure spokeswoman said: “This move will improve the status of Ipswich's museums immensely.

“We will still own the mansion and museum and all the exhibits but by sharing in Colchester's expertise we should be able to improve what we have to offer greatly.

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“Colchester's museums service is larger than ours but because they have greater income the amount of money the council taxpayer has to pay out is less.

“Our hope is that with their commercial expertise our museums can become more popular,” she said.

Some groups have expressed concern about the proposed merger of the museum services, fearing that Ipswich's service will lose its local focus.

The plan has been a controversial one and groups, such as the Suffolk Naturalists Society, expressed initial concerns.

However the Friends of Ipswich Museum have given the move their backing and Mrs Terry said other groups had had their fears about the move eased after talking to the councils.

She said: “The fact is that the museums in Ipswich were run down in the late 1990s and lost their national registration. Colchester is a hub museum and this allows us to work with them and get the national recognition back.”

Managers at the museum would have to apply for jobs which would be appointed by the new joint board - and while staff would be able to move between museums in Ipswich and Colchester if they wanted, they could choose to remain in their own town's museums if they preferred.

The final details of the new museum arrangements are set to be agreed by the borough's executive committee tonight and are set to come into force at the beginning of April.

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