Blythe House

National museums look at relocating collections from Blythe House

Simon Stephens, 14.10.2015
Decision on sale of west London property expected in next month’s spending review
Three national museums are looking at options for relocating their collections from Blythe House in west London, which is being considered for sale as part of the government’s forthcoming comprehensive spending review.

The move to sell the property is part of a wider government drive to get value for money from the buildings in its estate. The consolidation of government buildings has released £1.4bn in capital receipts and reduced annual running costs by £625m over the last parliament.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum Group and the British Museum all store artefacts at Blythe House. It looks likely that the sale of the property which houses hundreds of thousands of objects, will be announced in the government spending review on 25 November.

“With DCMS considering the sale of Blythe House, the V&A has been looking at options to relocate its world class reserve collections to a state-of-the art, accessible collections centre in London,” said a statement from the V&A.

“We hope that this would be situated close to the new V&A East in the new cultural and higher education quarter in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in a manner which builds on the V&A’s mission to make its collections readily available to researchers, practitioners, students and the general public alike.

“Our plans are aligned with the government’s agenda to provide a long-term, cost effective and more accessible solution for collections, research and conservation facilities, for which it is considering the benefits and costs of the relocation of the museum collections currently housed at Blythe House,” the V&A statement concludes.

A British Museum statement said: “The British Museum aims to house more of its collection on the Bloomsbury site and is investigating how we might be able to accommodate this. Until these plans are realised Blythe House is the best solution for housing these objects safely where they can be seen and studied by as many people as possible. It would clearly be more efficient and economic if all this material could be in Bloomsbury.”

The Science Museum Group museum would not comment, saying all queries should be directed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

A DCMS spokeswoman said: “As set out in the Autumn Statement 2014, the government is considering the benefits and costs of the relocation of the museum collections currently housed at Blythe House.”

Minutes from a Science Museum Group board meeting on 4 March 2015 state: “The sale of Blythe House by DCMS would not be included in the March 2015 Budget, but would be considered in the post-election spending review.”