County council gives notice on Usher Gallery collections

Lincolnshire County Council will hand back control of collections at the Usher Gallery to City of Lincoln Council and consider options to hand the building over to another organisation to operate.

Senior councillors on the authority’s executive voted to give two years’ notice on the council’s collections management at the gallery.

It means the collections at the Usher will be returned to the control of the city council and the current agreement will be terminated, but the county council will continue to lease and maintain the building.

As previously reported, the authority plans to convert the gallery for other uses while moving exhibitions to The Collection.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

It’s also considering options such as handing the building over to a third party to operate.

City council leader, Ric Metcalfe, described the plans as a “betrayal of the county’s rich heritage”.

But county council leader, Martin Hill, said the authority was not “abandoning heritage services”.

“We have to find an offer that the public is interested in,” he said.

“The driver is not so much the financial side, it’s how can we modernise the offer that we have.”

The county council proposals come as part of a shakeup of its heritage services which it says will “improve its offer”.

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

The idea for the heritage services is that bigger exhibitions, such as dinosaur exhibitions and the recent Moon Museum, will pay for some of the smaller attractions in the region.

Other changes in the county include terminating the lease on Gainsborough Old Hall to hand back to English Heritage and retaining Museum of Lincolnshire Life and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors Centre.

The plans for heritage services:

    • Usher Gallery – The council has proposed using the gallery as a events venue and coroners court and options such as handing over the service to a third party.
    • The Collection – Carry out work to the building to create “flexible space” in order to display a range of art and archaeology exhibitions.
    • Gainsborough Old Hall – Terminate the lease on the hall which ends in October 2020. The county council will stop managing and operating the site and hand it over to English Heritage.
    • Discover Stamford, Ellis Windmill, Burgh le Marsh Windmill and Alford Windmill – The county council will look to hand responsibility of these sites to another organisation.
    • Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors Centre and Heckington Windmill – All will be retained by the county council.

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