Idea: Expand its capacity to host visitors and increase its education offer, whilst strengthening connections to the park
Barnet Museum is a highly valued cultural and heritage asset, offering both a free museum on Barnet history and an education and outreach programme. Run solely by volunteers, with a membership of over 300 people, The Museum wishes to expand its operations and require more space for education programmes, displaying more of its collection and facilitating disabled access.
The Museum’s plans to grow its educational offer and improve its facilities will attract a wider audience, and consequently bolster the local visitor economy. Located on Wood Street, backing on to the Old Courthouse Recreation Ground, there is an opportunity for both these facilities to mutually benefit as a key part of any development proposed. Any proposals that involve building into the park should also demonstrate the benefits to the town centre and the park in particular.
- There is local interest in creating a destination point for visitors to Chipping Barnet. Whilst the museum does not have the capacity to run a full visitors centre, it could develop its current museum offer and guides, acting as a focal point for visitors orientating themselves on what Chipping Barnet has to offer – from its history, local attractions, green spaces, walks and high street offer. This could be done in partnership with the council and Town Team.
- Support wider community and town centre activities, such as using additional space to host more activities and events, such as the hand-painted lamppost banners the museum currently creates for the medieval festival. Overlooking the park would create an attractive space to rent for functions, so it would be beneficial to include facilities to support this.
- For future proposals for the park, key neighbours (including the museum, college and cafe) are important stakeholders in supporting improvements
- The Museum could increasingly utilise the park as part of their community outreach/ programming, e.g. as previous events relating to the Battle of Barnet have done. Important to consider how any changes to the park will increase footfall as it is hidden from the street with poor access. Given the park’s status as a potential key visitor attraction, increasing its use will benefit the whole town centre and other attractions.
The Museum’s intention to expand its operation should consider the following opportunities:
- Careful consideration should be given to the use and quality of the space created and the neighbouring properties. The Museum have suggested the council install a historic themed garden. There is an opportunity for the Museum to lead a crowd-fund campaign and maintain this as part of their proposals.
- Ideas to improve the park as a play destination will increase the number of visitors with children. The link between the play provision and the educational potential of the Museum should be considered in any plans.
- Any expansion of the Museum, should consider, and not preclude, any future changes to the Old Courthouse/Coroner’s Court. The Old Courthouse could be better integrated into the park; currently, the rear and side are lower quality extensions which would be altered to improve access from Wood Street and connect with the park.
Who needs to be involved:
- Museum: Lead
- Council: Site owner / Champion
- Potential partner: The proposed Friends of the Old Courthouse Park
- Potential funders: Heritage Lottery Funding, Arts Council Funding, local philanthropists etc
Example: William Morris Gallery
William Morris Gallery in Waltham Forest (Grade II Listed) is on the edge of Lloyd and Aveling Park. Works were carried out to improve facilities and create strong connections with the park. The main elements of the project included; additional exhibition space with a new purpose-built exhibition gallery; new learning centre including both lecture and workshop activities with a dedicated library and research room; catering facility/ tea room; step-free access arrangements for disabled visitors and staff; and additional toilet facilities, with provision for disabled people. The new extension opens up to the surrounding gardens, better connecting the historic building with the park. The improvements have increased visitor numbers, opening up to a more diverse, local audience with changing exhibitions and extensive learning and schools programmes, alongside creative workshops and talks for the public.