East Kent Provincial 2012 News

Library and Museum Re-Opens

 

Museum Re-Opens

The weekend of September 14th was a busy one at The Kent Museum of Freemasonry.

The museum and library in Canterbury has been closed for the past 18 months for major redevelopment so that one of the country's largest collections of Masonic ephemera can be more effectively displayed.

The Museum was re-opened by the Provincial Grand Master, the RW Bro Geoffrey Gordon Dearing, on Friday 14th September in front of a large number of guests. It now tells visitors the story of Freemasonry in general with particular emphasis on its links with Kent and its people.

Addressing the guests (who included The Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr Robert Waters, and the local MP, Julian Brazier, as well as the Metropolitan Grand Master, RW Bro Russell Race and the Provincial Grand Master of West Kent, RW Bro Jonathan Winpenny) Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing commented that “Freemasonry has been active in Kent for over 300 years and has brought together like-minded men from all walks of life. It is worthwhile, relevant and inclusive and we actively encourage our members to be good citizens and make a positive contribution to the community. Our redeveloped library and museum offers free admission to the history of Kentish Freemasonry and we look forward to welcoming all visitors.”

 

 Andrew Notley, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master with responsibility for the Library and Museum, worked with an experienced team of Brethren to carry out the redevelopment. Professional building consultant Tony Taylor oversaw the planning and construction. Curator and Librarian Tony Periton managed the safe removal, storage and return of the vast collection of Masonic artefacts, books and documents and their new display. Both Tonys worked closely with Vice President Charles Boxer to oversee the design and construction of the exhibition display area. Dave Parker helped to design and set up the shop and Alan Brown to source, install and commission the new Audio-Visual systems.

          

David Anning, the Treasurer of the Kent Masonic Library & Museum Trust, kept a tight hold on the purse strings as Financial Controller for the entire project. The electronic recording of all artefacts, books and documents continued under the guiding hand of John Andrews, the Secretary to the Trust, whilst Eddie Baker, the Operations Manager, kept the back office running. During the closure period two new appointments were made to spread the growing workload, namely Jeff Davis as Assistant Librarian and Sarah Blatter as Assistant Curator. Throughout the redevelopment Marketing Officer Robin Evans maintained the presence on Facebook and, at the reopening, produced a new leaflet and ensured that all representatives from the media received an information pack. He continues to work at raising the profile with the local tourism services.Funding for the project was gratefully provided by the Province of East Kent, a very generous anonymous benefactor, the Arthur Crick Trust and many other individuals who, in recent years, donated monies in anticipation of a modernisation programme.

Commenting on the successful redevelopment, Andrew Notley said “This would not have been possible without the help of a team of volunteers who share a common interest in Freemasonry. We are indebted to them for the time and skills they have brought to the task. We are also grateful to all those volunteers who give their time to help with the day-to-day running of the library and museum.”

The first change that is evident is the striking new entrance from St Peter's Place, which catches the eye of the thousands of passers-by as they walk, cycle and drive past. As well as a bigger library space and the new audio-visual displays (designed to provide visitors with an overview of Freemasonry and its presence and history inKent) the redevelopment includes a timber-framed balcony where there is a separate workspace for the curator and his team, an enlarged exhibition display area and a small shop. When asked what he thought of the new facility Curator & Librarian Tony Periton said “We are fortunate to be the custodians of a large collection of interesting Masonic and anthropological artefacts, all of which, through the design of the new layout, we will be able, ultimately, to show either in support of the permanent displays or as part of the several special themed exhibitions planned for each year. With the expanded library we are able to offer improved access to our large collection of reference books.”

 

Saturday 15th saw the Trust's Annual General Meeting take place at the Canterbury Masonic Centre adjacent to the Museum. It was standing room only in the lodge room with more than 80 in attendance. Andrew Notley and his team gave a detailed report to all present of what had been achieved over the past year, after which representatives from East and West Kent were allowed to tour the Museum and Library at their leisure before retiring for lunch.

 

 

Visitors on both days were very positive in their reaction to what had been undertaken and promised an early return accompanied by their friends and families. Sales in the new shop were brisk on both days, where souvenirs can be purchased and special arrangements are available for discounted regalia purchases.

To enable the Museum and Library to open seven days a week more volunteers are sought to help with the day to day running. Typically they should be willing to give one day a month from 10am to 4pm. They may be male, female, masonic or non-masonic and will be warmly welcomed. Please telephone 01227 785625 or email

 

 

 See more photographs here