Crisis over premises forces museum to take to the road

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A North Yorkshire museum which has one of the most historically important Roman collections in the country closed its doors for the final time yesterday after 80 years.

Trustees at Malton Museum have now pledged to continue highlighting the town’s heritage through a mobile exhibition of the artefacts.

Talks are also currently under way with the building’s owners, the Fitzwilliam Estate, to try to find a temporary base until a new permanent home for the museum is found.

Trustee and volunteer Ann Clark said: “The collections will be going into storage on what we hope is a temporary basis while the search continues for a new building. In the meantime we are determined that the museum won’t disappear from people’s minds.

“We will be holding all sorts of events so people can still look at the collections, as well as taking artefacts into schools.”

The museum, in the town’s Market Place, has been forced to close following Ryedale District Council’s decision not to renew the lease. The museum has sublets the property from the council for a nominal fee and the authority pays an annual fee of about £16,000 to the Fitzwilliam Estate. However, the lease runs out this month and the museum cannot afford the sum alone, leaving closure the only option. It has applied for Lottery grants for help with premises but so far without success.

Mrs Clark said: “The flag was flying at half mast yesterday and we were inundated with visitors coming to have a final look. We are all terribly sad but we won’t give up until we have found new premises.”