Huddersfield’s doomed Tolson Museum could be saved from the axe.
Speculation that Kirklees Council may be doing a u-turn has come after the crumbling premises earmarked for closure were handed a revamp grant.
Councillors agreed to close the museum at Ravensknowle Park, Moldgreen, in 2016 amid pressure to slash £531,000 from the £1m museums budget in 2017/18.
But now it has been revealed that thousands will be spent on a refurbishment project for the entrance hall.
The £39,863 sum is coming from the Arts Council – a government body that invests public and National Lottery money in arts and culture.
Ann Denham, chair of Friends of Tolson Museum, described the news as “very encouraging” and said she and other campaigners believed the museum may now stay open.
She said: “We have hope in the long term that it will stay a museum. The Arts Council aren’t going to give the council money if they think it will go.
“It’s certainly not going to close in the next few years and while there’s time, we can continue planning and putting our case to Kirklees. There is hope!”
News that the museum was being handed a cash boost came out of the blue.
Mrs Denham, a former Kirklees councillor, told the Examiner that Kirklees had made the first move by applying for the grant.
She said it indicated a possible change of heart on the part of council officials and senior councillors, who angered residents by ordering its closure just 12 months ago.
The much loved premises were gifted to Huddersfield as a war memorial to then owner Leigh Tolson’s two nephews.
A review by Kirklees Council last year concluded the Tolson needed £4.2m of repairs to stay open.
But while two other museums, Dewsbury Museum and Red House at Gomersal, have closed their doors, Tolson has not.
The council said it would keep it limping on until new premises for a Huddersfield museum and art gallery were found.
But so far there has been no hint of where that could be or if a new build project was being considered.
Kirklees Council has now confirmed a cash injection for parts of the museum will take place over the next five weeks.
The museum will close on Sunday (September 17) to enable the creation of a new entrance hall, shop and pop-up café and re-open on Saturday, October 21 in time for half-term.
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for corporate services said: “The old reception desk and shop had been in place for many years and we look forward to creating a better welcome for our visitors, which will look great, offer up to date facilities, great coffee and enable us to generate more income in challenging times.
“In the longer term, the council will be considering future options for a new Huddersfield Museum and Art Gallery.
“Decisions on the future of the current building are a long way down the line, as it takes many years from assessing options for major investment schemes to actually opening the doors.”
He added: “In the meantime these improvements at Tolson Museum will really make a difference. They will enable us to run the museum more effectively and ensure that visitors have a quality experience.
“The work being carried out at Tolson takes a ‘pop up’ approach, which pilots an improved retail offer and utilises units and equipment which would be interchangeable with other museum sites in the future.
“These improvements are being funded by Arts Council England.
“We are keen to ensure the best use of this funding which is about developing the future sustainability of the museum service.
“We are extremely grateful to the Arts Council for supporting Kirklees Museums and Galleries in the current very challenging financial times for local councils.”