Weather forces museums to close - Museums Association

Weather forces museums to close

But most venues escape serious flooding
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Simon Stephens
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A number of museums have been hit by the floods that have plunged large areas of England into chaos.

The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames has been forced to close for the second time this year due to flooding. The museum had to shut for a week in early January and has been closed again since Saturday as water levels have risen again.

“We are very fortunate that the building itself is dry, and David Chipperfield's brilliant design, with an elevated structure on stilts, is working well in extremely testing conditions,” said River and Rowing Museum marketing manager Catherine Yoxall.

“Our problem is that we are unable to get anywhere near the building and it simply wouldn't be safe to expect our staff to try to get in. I understand that water levels in our car park have now exceeded all records since we opened.”

Spelthorne Museum in Staines, Middlesex, closed on 11 February because of the rising waters that have affected many areas along the Thames river. The museum website says it is shut until further notice.

Brooklands Museum in Surrey, which has been affected by flooding before, has seen its visitor car park at Mercedes-Benz World underwater again. Brooklands is still open but the River Wey is very high, so as a precaution against flooding the museum has raised the vehicles in its motoring sheds.

In Shropshire, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust was forced to close the Museum of the Gorge on 11 February and the Coalport China Museum was only partially open because of flooding.

There was better news for museums in flood-hit Worcester. The Worcester Heritage Partnership Group issued a statement to reassure people that “despite the city's recent flooding, the heritage venues remain open for business”.

Museums in the area include the Elgar Birthplace Museum; Museum of Royal Worcester; the Commandery; George Marshall Medical Museum; and Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

Mark Macleod, the head of the Infirmary Museum at the University of Worcester, said: “If the news is to be believed then Thursday will be the worst time. As a new venue it is a little unnerving watching the waters rise, especially when there’s lots of horror stories about previous floods and how high they reached.”

Has your museum been affected by flooding? Email simon@museumsassociation.org or share your experiences in the comment box.


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