Analysis of Questionnaires for The Dacorum Museum and Art Gallery
During and following the public consultation open days at The Bury, Hemel Hempstead on 2nd,3rd, 9th and 10th April 2014 The Dacorum Heritage Trust received a total of 265 completed questionnaires as of 14th July 2014. Of this total 223 were completed online via the website and 42 in handwritten hard copies.
The following questions were asked and the results are analysed as follows:
Q1 Do you live within the Borough of Dacorum? Yes = 236, No = 24, DNA (did not answer) = 5. 89% of respondents lived within Dacorum.
Q2 Would you like to see a museum in your local area? 254 = Yes, 3 = No and 8 =DNA. An amazing 96% would like to see a Dacorum Museum and Art gallery in our area, which is backed up by numerous comments indicating residents think that it is long overdue. The size of Dacorum and lack of such an accessible public facility is totally out of kilter with such provisions in neighbouring towns, especially as the area has such a rich and diverse heritage.
Q3 In which areas of Dacorum’s heritage are you interested in?
Most suggested numerous areas including Archaeology, Oral History, Photographs and Postcards, Social History, In Living Memory, Family History, Local History, Industrial History, Art, Ancient History, Maps, Textiles, War, Architecture, Agriculture. These all got a lot of ticks, which you would expect of a museum and art gallery in the 21st Century.
Q4 Dacorum has a rich heritage which needs to be exhibited.
5 (Strongly Agree) = 220, 4 = 31, 3 = 5, 2 = 2, 1 (Disagree) = 3 and DNA = 4.
Answering from 5 to 1 (5 being strongly agree). A very encouraging 83% of the responses agreed Dacorum does indeed have a rich heritage and that this needs to be properly exhibited for the benefit of all. The people who agreed less strongly have probably had less opportunity to learn about their local area. A new museum with a chance to showcase and interpret the collections would certainly improve this.
Q5 The Bury is a perfect location for a museum
5 (Strongly Agree) = 173, 4 = 46, 3= 29, 2 = 1, 1 (Disagree) = 10 and DNA = 6. 94% percent of the replies agreed that the Bury would make a perfect location for the new Dacorum Museum and Art Gallery. Less than 4% believed it is not a good location. The reasons given for this included that the building was away from the town centre. However, DBC’s Hemel Hempstead regeneration plans at that end of the town links to the redevelopment of the Old Town with the new Heritage Trail. This should help give a much greater focus to this historical area.
Q6 What kind of events/ activities would you like a local history museum to offer?
Common themes included regular lectures, talks and changing exhibitions including touring exhibitions from other museums. Guided tours, evening events. Themed days for school children with dressing up. Emphasis on our industrial heritage especially paper making. Social events, changing displays of art and photographs. Providing a local resource for historical advice including genealogy.
Q7 What would make you a repeat visitor to a local museum?
Common themes include regular changing exhibitions, talks, films, book launches, a shop, a café, an area in which to conduct research, access to experts and knowledgeable friendly staff.
“wealth of interesting exhibits that changed . Themed changing displays dependable opening hours, talks cost or free entry ? Other events held there e.g. historic films, lectures, live music”
“Changing exhibits, loan exhibitions, lectures and presentations, e.g. many years ago there was a presentation by the XIV Legion tied in with the Roman Dacorum exhibition, and there is much available with re-enacters nowadays. A local museum has the opportunity to be a live museum and a focal point in the local community.”
Q8 What would a museum bring to the community?
Common answers included an opportunity to display our rich heritage for the benefit of both children and adults and to bring visitors into the area which would also be good for local businesses. Enhance a spirit of community, togetherness and give people pride in our culture and history. A focal point for displays, lectures and exhibitions all of which will improve the ‘wellbeing’ of the local residents and visitors alike.
Sample comments which underlie a recurring theme:
“Togetherness; Pride in our past; Dacorum very poorly served since the Pavilion was knocked down Possible social activity venue; Focal point for our rich history and art about time Dacorum Council got its act together in this respect for an area as big as Dacorum not to have a museum is a disgrace, long overdue in my view a place to visit take friends educational for all ages, learning opportunity.”
“It would give people a sense of how the local environment had developed both economically and socially and could give people a sense of being part of a community.”
“SINCE THE DEMOLITION OF THE PAVILION, THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE SPACE FOR CULTURE IN THE TOWN (APART FROM THE VERY SMALL OLD TOWN HALL). A MUSEUM COULD BE A CENTRE FOR ALL SORTS OF ACTIVITIES. AS WELL AS PERMANENT EXHIBITIONS THERE COULD BE TEMPORARY ART, SCULPTURE OR PHOTOGRAPHIC DISPLAYS OR EVEN SMALL SCALE THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES AND LECTURES”
“A sense of being a place for all classes, backgrounds and interests of all ages and not just the school child and the over 60s”
“Awareness of how the past affects our future”
Q9 Do you have any comments about plans for a museum in Dacorum?
Some sample comments follow:
“Not really, except that it is high time that we had one!”
“it is disgraceful that there is no museum here at present, most even small villages throughout the UK have museums. It really shows up Dacorum’s inadequacy that there is no museum here”
“THE SOONER THE BETTER – BRING IT ON!!!DACORUM HAS WAITED FOR FAR TOO LONG NOW, OUR MUSEUM IS WAY OVERDUE, HOW ANY TOWN OF THE SIZE OF OUR HAS NO MUSEUM IS ONE OF LIFE’S GREAT MYSTERIES”
“Dacorum is a large and expanding community and it’s a shame that it doesn’t have its own museum to record local history. There have been huge changes over the years which are not apparent to new residents. A sense of shared history is good for a community and social cohesion.”
“As a professional historian I think this would also be a real asset for recording and understanding our national history. Dacorum has been at the centre of many phenomena that are of national significance, not least in terms of the ways it embodies the relationship between London and its hinterland – agricultural change and migration, straw plaiting trade, canal and railway building and influence on industry, market gardening, development of light industry, new towns, rise of commuting and a dormitory economy. These are all topics that the development of the museum would help us understand better, and would lead to Dacorum becoming more prominent in national conversations about the past.”
“I have volunteered at the Trust working on their textiles but space is very limited which means it is a struggle to find anywhere comfortable to work. It would be nice to have special areas in which to work. These areas could be public which would enable people to observe the kind of work which takes place to look after the artefacts”
“This is long overdue and must be concluded asap as must the drive to conclude acquisition of the Pre-Reformation wall paintings at Piccotts End, i.e. purchase for the local community and public at large”
“The wall paintings at Piccotts End and the Paper Trail all need to be brought within the museum’s banner”
“Why has it taken soooo long!”
“About time! The biggest town in Herts, lacking a museum”
“I feel it is a great pity that we have a museum in name only, as despite the fact that there are a large number of fascinating objects and relics stored away by the Heritage Trust, there is almost no chance of the local populace being able to see them”
“having visited the Museum Store my eyes and mind were amazed at the variety of the enormous quantity relevant artifacts”
“PERHAPS WE CAN NOW RID OURSELVES OF THE TAG ‘HEMEL IS BORING’ IT IS NOT BORING AT ALL, I DEFY ANYONE TO GO TO A NEW MUSEUM AND NOT BE IMPRESSED”
Q10 Would you be interested in volunteering once the museum is established?
Yes = 98 37 %. No = 121 46%, Possibly = 4 1% DNA = 42 16%.
Consequently this exercise has also generated a list of potential volunteers to help man The Dacorum Museum and Art Gallery once opened and hopefully future projects and locations such as the cottages at Piccotts End. Whilst also increasing the contact details of people who can be added to the Dacorum Heritage Trust mailing list.