A MUSEUM housing artefacts and exhibits of a famous North-East regiment is facing closure with plans to make the collection available to a wider audience, it has been announced.

A report on the future of the Durham Light Infantry collection, which is currently housed at the museum in Durham City, is to be presented to Durham County Council’s cabinet next week.

The collection belongs to the Trustees of the Regimental and Chattels Charity of the Former Durham Light Infantry and the Regimental Museum of the Former Durham Light Infantry, but is under the care of the council.

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According to report, the building is expensive to maintain as a museum and requires significant investment, while the secure stores are no longer able to accommodate the size of the collection.

The council is, therefore, proposing to move the collection to the Sevenhills building in Spennymoor, where secure, environmentally-controlled accommodation of a more suitable size could be provided.

The Northern Echo:

The authority also wants to make the collection more accessible to the public by working with partner organisations to arrange temporary loans and exhibitions.

The council has already been in discussion with Durham University over the possibility of a five-year agreement that would see part of the collection on display at Palace Green Library.

Under the arrangement, a further five DLI-related temporary displays, beginning with a large-scale Somme exhibition, would also take place.

The museum’s education programme would be maintained in order to support the story of the DLI and would operate as an outreach function from Sevenhills.

Councillors will be told at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 21, the way in which it is currently stored is both expensive and inefficient.

A statement of the Trustees of The Regimental and Chattels Charity of the Former Durham Light Infantry said: “It is with a note of sadness, but also optimism for the future, that we acknowledge the Durham County Council Cabinet Report which is being made public today, relating to the Future DLI Museum Arrangements.

“Neither the councillors and officers of Durham County Council nor the trustees would have wished to be in the situation we are now in.

The Northern Echo:

“However we are all aware of the pressures on the public purse and acknowledge that the running costs of the DLI Museum in its current location, are unsustainable.

“Nonetheless we have been impressed by the constructive and responsible way that the county council (both the elected members and the officers) have approached the situation. Everyone involved has worked positively to find an acceptable way forward.”

The statement adds: “The DLI Museum has, for nearly 50 years, provided an excellent home for the collection.

“We wish to draw attention to the hard work of many staff over many years in caring for and making accessible our wonderful collection at the DLI Museum and thank them for their success.

“Crucially the exhibitions, events and schools education programmes have kept alive the ‘Story of the Durham Soldier’ despite the Regiment having been, in 1968, amalgamated into the Light Infantry.

“Everyone involved has been working hard to find a way forward that will provide appropriate better storage of and access to the museum collection and ensure that there will be a continuing programme of exhibitions, events and educational activity that enables even more people to learn about the Story of the Durham Soldier in future.”