Dales museum gets security upgrade ready for priceless artworks

The bank-style safe door installed at the Dales Countryside Museum.

Works by Turner and other renowned artists could in future be displayed in Hawes following a major security upgrade at the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM).

Local contractors have been involved in the installation of steel doors and a massive retractable shutter in the John Baker exhibition hall.

The bank vault style security means that the DCM can borrow priceless pieces of art and be insured under the Art Council’s ‘Government Indemnity Scheme’.

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Talks have already taken place with the Tate Gallery and with York Museums Trust.

Museum manager, Fiona Rosher, said: “We are keen to develop our temporary exhibitions programme to draw more people to the museum, not least residents of the National Park.  We want to bring art here that locals might not ordinarily get the chance to see.

“We are looking to loan art and artefacts from large regional and national institutions.  The only criterion is that the art is relevant to our mission, which is to inspire people through Dales heritage.”

The DCM is owned and run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

The YDNPA’s Head of Visitor Services, Julie Barker, said: “This security upgrade is a sign of the DCM’s ambitions.  We want to create new experiences that will make the museum viable in the long term and this work places us in a unique position of being able to exhibit material from national collections.

“We are so fortunate to have a museum in the Park dedicated to telling the stories of the people and places of the Yorkshire Dales.  Last month we celebrated a successful bid for Lottery money, which will be used to put on display the collections of the former Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum.  A lot is going on.  Please do think about visiting or re-visiting.”

The security upgrade, which has included improvements to the fire alarm system and environmental monitoring and controls, has cost a total of £56,000.

The biggest chunk, £40,606, came from the Arts Council, via Museum Development Yorkshire.  The YDNPA provided £13,218, while the Friends of Dales Countryside Museum gave £2,176.

The local contractors all came from Settle.  Harrison and Cross Electricians and Kilburn and Johnson Builders had a far from straightforward task.

In a circular exhibition hall, they needed to reinforce walls and put in steelwork in preparation for the installation, by Ascot Doors, of a seven metre-long roller shutter. Sharp and Sharp did the decorating.

Larger firms involved included Pointer Security and Fire.