London’s Theatre Museum Is Closing – So Why Not Bring It To Liverpool?

Theatre Museum London banners (small).jpg The national collection of performing arts memorabilia, at the Theatre Museum in London, is to be dispersed when the Museum is closed in January 2007. So why not send it instead to Liverpool, as a ‘V&A Liverpool’, and let us up here have it as a very special part of our 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations?
The sad news this week is that London’s Theatre Museum is to close. Its home in Covent Garden near the Royal Opera House is to be no more, and its exhibits will be dispersed by its parent body, the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum.
A loss for the arts world, and everyone else
Theatre Museum London Unleashing Britain (Beatles) poster.jpg I’m sure there will be knowledgable people who will conclude that the merits or otherwise of the Theatre’s exhibits justify this decision, but to me it seems shocking. I visited it quite recently for the ‘Unleashing Britain – Ten years that shaped the nation: 1955-1964’ exhibition and, as I reported on this weblog, I found the whole place fascinating.
Perhaps the Theatre could be said to have been its own worst enemy, insofar as it always look closed even when it’s actually open – the doors seem blank and much of the exhibiiton is ‘below stairs’, in a wonderful but not-visible-from-the street warren of tunnels and small rooms; but the external visibility problems could easily have been resolved.
A bright idea?
Theatre Museum London 06.10.12.jpg However, if people in London don’t want the Theatre Museum collection as an identity, I have an idea…. Why not bring it to Liverpool for us to enjoy, and to develop as a very special national element of our celebrations in 2007 and 2008? We have a great tradition of theatre (and opera) in this city, and the V&A could open the revived exhibition as a ‘V&A in the North’, as the Tate has done with Tate Liverpool.
And to the national exhibition we could of course add the archives of our own theatres, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s archive and the history of Hope Street, Liverpool’s performing arts quarter.
There’s just about time to get the ball rolling, if we all started to work on this now. It would be a superb asset for Liverpool, and would keep the national exhibition in the public eye, when all our vitiors arrive for Liverpool’s 2008 European Capital of Culture Year. We have plenty of large buildings which could be put to good use in this way, and surely the maintenance costs could be found from somewhere, just as they will have to be if the artifacts stay in London anyway?
Benefits all round
If London really doesn’t want to keep the Theatre Museum as an identity, here’s an opportunity for them to do something really good as partners to help us ‘up North’ to gain even more value from our special years in 2007 and 2008, and beyond.
Read more articles on the National Theatre Museum.

Posted on October 8, 2006, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, HOPES: The Hope Street Association, Liverpool And Merseyside, London, People And Places, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, The Journal, Travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Maree-rose Jones

    It is December 2007; I am in Australia…so what happened in the end?? I am flabbergasted!
    I used the museum’s resources in 2000 to research a PhD on Early Music and Theatre in Australia.(Van Diemen’s Land) If this collection gets broken up does some one think that scholars from English speaking countries will have the resources to go tramping around England to find the original source material this museum holds /held?
    Why are you poms allowing this to happen? I thought that ”indifference to preservation of cultural heritage was merely an Australian affliction, but we must have caught it from you then?…. Where do we find the resources in one place now?
    Some things you just can’t examine online… not to give an expert evaluation!…
    Please send succour – scholar from the Empire outposts in shock!!
    Maree-rose Jones

  2. The Irish centre would be an excellent venue – just around the corner from Hope Street and the Everyman. Perhaps Sir Paul McCartney would consider helping out – he has been very generous to the Performing Arts in Liverpool in the past. It would be a great pity to miss this opportunity.
    I think we should also congratulate Claire Curtis-Thomas on raising the Gormley statues in the House of Commons with Tony Blair. Perhaps Sefton Council will try to ignore the philistines now.

  3. Great idea…how about putting it in the old Irish Centre (what is going to happen to that building anyway?) or there has been talk of the church on Princes Ave being rebuilt – what is that going to be? Sorry to see the old theatre museum shut but the collection does need a home…I thought they had a plan for it though. There is a lot of Liverpool Theatre archive material in the Central Library. A joint bid might be a way forward. Anyway, good luck with you idea.

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