A COUNCIL committee has called for museums in Monmouthshire to be more innovative in the way stories are told after hearing some considered them "dry and archaic".

The comments were made as Monmouthshire County Council’s economy and development select committee looked into a review of a five year plan for the county's three museums - in Monmouth, Abergavenny and Chepstow.

One of the aims of the plan was to work more innovatively.


Cllr Jez Becker, who represents St Mary’s ward in Chepstow, said the museums in Monmouthshire are not being ambitious enough.

He said: “I love Chepstow Museum and not just because it’s in my ward - but I see a lot of visitors to the town who see it as dry and archaic.

“Museums have changed in the nature and the way they present themselves.

“I worry we don’t have the resources to give a hugely interactive exhibit and we are being a little bit too un-ambitious with trying to do something innovative in those spaces.”

Green infrastructure and countryside manager at MonLife - which runs tourism, leisure, culture and youth services across the county - Matthew Lewis said: “There’s always a bit of tension between telling that story locally, so that it’s quirky and local, and making the links between sites and telling stories that exist across the county.

“There are some national bodies that have gone down that route and made all their attractions similar, that’s definitely not our intention and that’s not going to be possible with our resources.

“I think realistically we are not going to have the money to do substantive changes to the exhibitions in each of the sites but what we can do is improve the context in which visitors see them.

“Some of that is simple stuff like signage for example, just making them look a bit more consistent in terms of the welcome, the core information and what you expect to see. “

Museums manager for MonLife Rachael Rogers said working with members of the community could help to create more imaginative exhibitions.

She said: “What we have done successfully in Abergavenny is to work with members of the community to put on exhibitions.

“We redisplayed our permanent archaeology displays there with the help of a group of volunteers.

“There are opportunities for us to do more imaginative things if we bring in members of the community.

“What the heritage strategy will do is give us a framework to work to and start being able to say this would be a really great story to share in this location.”

Cllr Becker said: “I appreciate you bringing the communities into it because there are a lot of people, especially in Chepstow.

“We’ve got world-leading museum designers who are willing to give their tuppence, we’ve got various historical groups.

“It would be good to have some clearly signed pathways for those people to be involved.”