DCMS looking at future of Blythe House - Museums Association

DCMS looking at future of Blythe House

West London site houses millions of objects held by three national museums
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Simon Stephens
The future use of Blythe House in west London as a storage and conservation space for three national museums is being assessed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of a wider government drive to get value for money from its estate.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum Group and the British Museum all store artefacts at Blythe House.

“The government is assessing the use of properties right across the government estate, seeking to secure efficiencies and value for money,” said a DCMS spokeswoman.

“As part of this wider effort, DCMS is working with the Government Property Unit to assess the current use of Blythe House as government seeks to provide a long term, cost effective solution for museum storage and conservation facilities.”

The British Museum holds more than two million items at Blythe House, although the exact number is difficult to estimate as many are archaeological assemblages and other groups of collections.

A spokeswoman for the British Museum said it aims to house more of its collection on the Bloomsbury site and is investigating how it 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. But it would clearly be more efficient and economic if all this material could be in Bloomsbury."

The British Museum will move some of its collection from Blythe House to Bloomsbury when its £135m World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre opens later this year.

The Science Museum has more than 170,000 objects at Blythe House, including objects from the collections of the Wellcome Trust covering the history of medicine.

The future of Blythe House was referred to in the minutes of a Science Museum Group board meeting on 21 October, which said: “One of several property issues was to maintain momentum on Blythe House."

The Victoria and Albert Museum stores a range of material at Blythe House and last year opened the Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion at the site. This houses more than 104,000 objects, ranging from small archaeological textile fragments from Egypt to enormous tapestries created for medieval European palaces.

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