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Planned Archive Storage Move Heralds Greater Opportunities for Access to World-Leading Shakespeare Collection

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) have today (Thursday 14 March 2024) announced a new project to improve access and care of the nationally significant Designated Museum and library collections.

When complete, the project will see the collections moved to a new accessible and engaging collections store within Stratford-upon-Avon, ensuring that people still have the opportunity to get hands-on with Shakespeare and Stratford’s rich heritage.

Located on the Avenue Farm development, a short distance from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, the new property, chosen following a feasibility study, is being put forward as the charity’s collection store to enable the SBT to make the archive more accessible to a diverse audience.

“Since the completion of the Shakespeare Centre in 1964, we have stored our extensive collection of material connected to the life, times and works of William Shakespeare and the history of Stratford-upon-Avon and South Warwickshire within the collections store of the building. While the collections continue to be well maintained and conserved, there are challenges around the space and overall condition of the Shakespeare Centre.

As these issues will take time to be resolved, we have been exploring alternative sites to store the collection so that repair and restoration work can take place at the Shakespeare Centre.”

Commented Paul Taylor, Head of Museum and Curatorial Services at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The project is due to start in earnest in spring with the appointment of a new Project Manager to oversee the works, no official timeline for completion has been announced at this time.

A Focus on Accessibility

The Trust is committed, as part of the move, to provide improved public access to the collection and archive through the development of new research facilities at Avenue Farm, with increased capacity for researchers compared to what is currently available in the Reading Room in the Shakespeare Centre.

The site also offers exciting new opportunities to extend community engagement, making the local archives more accessible to audiences.

Avenue Farm promises to be more accessible for visitors with specific mobility needs, including allocated parking spaces outside and near the building, compared to the limited access currently available within the Shakespeare Centre.

The Trust has confirmed that there will be short-term disruption to accessing the collection once the project begins and has already written to partners and researchers currently accessing the collection and has confirmed that priority will be given to researchers undertaking work before the start of the project.

“Avenue Farm gives us the opportunity to engage, meaningfully, with a wider audience and share our world-class collection. Both the accessibility of the building and the opportunities to develop new research facilities so that we can truly create something that suits the needs of current audiences as well as the audiences of the future.

This is an exciting, expansive and impactful project and we look forward to working with our partners across Stratford and beyond as we develop a leading collections access programme.”

Added Rachael North, director of Museum and Public Programmes.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has set up a dedicated email, [email protected], to answer specific questions on the collections store move. The inbox will be monitored by key members of the team delivering the project.

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