Council looking to volunteers to help run Buxton’s museum

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Volunteers could soon have a greater involvement in the running of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery as Derbyshire County Council looks to make budget cuts.

The potential move was revealed in the authority’s five-year financial forecast and could save the council £70,000.

In its report, it says: “In line with the proposals to transfer libraries to community management the council will investigate using volunteers to help to deliver services at Buxton Museum.”

The plans which the council has for its community managed libraries involve it handing over 20 out of its 45 sites to volunteer groups.

The library scheme was also rolled out to save money, in the region of £1.6 million.

Buxton Museum is the county council’s only museum and admission is free.

As part of that move, which has seen ten community groups come forward so far, libraries are also having their opening hours and resources reduced along with a review of staffing.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We’re still developing our proposals to involve volunteers in the delivery of services at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, following recent Cabinet approval, so it’s not possible to say exactly how many staff may be affected by the proposed changes. 

“The museum already receives support from around 20 volunteers, who help with cataloguing, preservation and assessment of its mineral and fossil collections, and it also has a very active friends group who help to raise money for the museum.”

The authority confirmed that the museum currently has seven permanent members of staff.

Buxton Museum has operated from its home on Terrace Road for more than 90 years.

It moved to the site, just off the town’s market place in 1928 from the adjacent town hall.

In September 2017, the museum reopened after more than a year following a £1.5 million refurbishment to “bring it into the digital age”.

The “Wonders of the Peak − a journey through time and place” forms a major part of the refurbishment and houses the museum’s collection of 1,200 Peak District artefacts covering 360 million years of history.

The museum features archaeology, geology, art and history of the Peak District.

It has a programme of exhibitions, events and workshops – many of which are already run by or with the help of volunteers.

In December, Ros Westwood, the county council’s museums manager was awarded an MBE for her 20 years of service to culture in the East Midlands.

It was said that Ros had transformed the service and visitor figures to the museum had doubled, with the county receiving locally, regionally and nationally recognised awards for its exhibitions and events.