New museum chief wants to bring collections out from the cold

Bucks County Museum director Richard de Peyer
Bucks County Museum director Richard de Peyer

The new director of Bucks County Museum wants to bring hundreds of exhibits which are currently hidden away in Halton back into the public eye.

Richard de Peyer, who arrived at the Aylesbury museum earlier this month, said: “I think the biggest challenge is to make sure we have a wide enough and large enough range of collections to interest all sections of the community.

“At the moment we are not representing all of our collections here at the museum.

“We have a resource centre at Halton where our main collections are housed and we need to arrange better access to them as a high priority.”

At present, members of the public can view these collections only by appointment, but Mr de Peyer hopes to open it all up.

He also wants to see a better online presence , giving access to the collections through images and descriptions on the museum website.

He said: “I feel we need more in the range of long term displays at the museum but perhaps changing the components within them on occasion.

“The museum feels like quite a grand place and that could put off some visitors. We need to make sure we have enough to interest the casual visitor that might be interested in a more active programme with a sideways look at themes.”

Mr de Peyer hopes to have more workshops targeted at individual age groups, and is also hoping to stage a live music event in the garden in the summer linked to the Friars exhibition which runs until July 5. He says this exhibition, which is in the largest exhibition space in the museum on the second floor, is his favourite thing there at the moment.

Mr de Peyer arrives as the museum is due to change to trust status, something which will open up the opportunity to apply for more grants, and also end a huge regular bill.

He said: “It will happen this year and the sooner the better. Every week we remain with the local authority it means we have to pay £1,000 in rates.

“As a charity 80 per cent of the rates will be waived and the local authority can decide whether to offer a reduction on the remaining 20 per cent or waive it altogether. We’re hoping the district council will be benign in their decision.”

Plenty of people applied to be trustees and the chairman will be chosen within the next few weeks.

Mr de Peyer, who was manager of Wycombe museum before coming to Aylesbury, has wide experience of working in the arts around the country. He said: “I have enjoyed the variety and it has given me so many ideas of ways to do things, that you can feel quite wise after a while. It has given me great experience.”