Could a Brexit museum be on the horizon for Britain?
That’s what some campaigners are hoping for as they try to set up the Museum Of Brexit.
Timeline for Brexit
- April 15, 2019
The trio behind the team are a collection of right-wing Eurosceptics associated with the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and the leave campaign.
They are Lee Rotherham is an historian and was director of special projects at Vote Leave, Gawain Towler former head of media for Ukip, and Alex Deane former executive director of Grassroots Out.
So far, the museum is basically non-existent. The idea has been mooted via a newly-launched website which explains the concept.
The idea is that the Brexit museum will display artefacts from the decades, years, and months leading up to Brexit.
The Museum Of Brexit’s website reads:
(Brexit) was the consequence of decades of events, decisions, debates and controversies.
Some of these even preceded the UK joining the EEC in the first place. And sadly, a number of those involved in the campaign are no longer with us. We want to honour their memory.
There is also nothing to indicate that the proposed museum has a location or any items to exhibit. In fact, the website contains a call for donations of Brexit-related content to be put on display.
Organisers are stressing the importance of collecting this memorabilia before it is thrown out or lost forever.
What will be on display in the Brexit museum?
The proposed museum’s broad remit could mean that lots of different items might end up on display. Currently the museum’s organisers are asking people to donate:
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“The following list is not exhaustive but might give you some ideas of what to look for in your loft;
“(a) Relevant photographs
“(b) Unique items, for instance a draft speech from the Maastricht debate
“(c) Symbolic items like placards, badges, posters, and campaign rosettes
“(d) Personal items that come with a story
“(e) Items associated with an event, such as a folding desk and associated street stall display from a specific campaign visit
Archives and printed literature, some of which would be important enough to go on display, could include
“(f) Personal correspondence
“(h) Books on the EU
“(j) Campaign literature”
Organisers plan to use this content to set up a digital archive of Brexit.
They are also interested in receiving materials from remain campaigners and pro-EU groups. The website also explains they’d be happy to exhibit materials from the EU itself to help explain why Britain decided to leave the bloc.
All the items they are collecting at the moment are expected to be outright donations. They will not be sending back any items to donors.
Some of the quirkier ideas
Speaking to the Guardian, the museum’s founders have suggested some of the items they’d like to see on display.
Towler explained what he will personally be contributing:
“I will no doubt give my collection of Brexit-related mugs from the last 20 years. My favourite one is a ‘William Hague: election winner’ mug, which has got to be one of the most obscure pieces of ephemera I’ve ever found.”
He also added that former UKIP leader Nigel Farage would donate to the museum:
“I know Nigel is a supporter of the project. I haven’t got anything specific from him yet. Maybe an ashtray and an empty pint glass.”
Still, even these decidedly unusual items pale in comparison to what Rotherham hopes to get for the museum. He adds that there’s been some discussion around acquiring the Brexit bus which transported leave campaigner Boris Johnson around during the referendum debates.
That bus has since proved controversial due to its dubious claim that leaving the EU would mean the UK government could spend an additional £350 million per week on the NHS.
It was a hired bus. I thought about that. What we’d have to do is drop a line to the company about when they were looking at selling it.
But then of course it would go for a premium, so I’m not so sure that would be value for money.
When will the Brexit museum open?
In the event that the museum does open at all, it is unlikely to do so for a number of years.
Mark Walhimer, Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, and author of Museums 101, once estimated the cost of opening a 9000 square foot museum at ‘$2,475,000 (£1.75 million) in start up costs plus operating costs.’
To put that in context, London’s newest major museum, the Design Museum is 110,000 square foot. At Walhimer’s estimate, that museum would cost over £200 million to start up.
Safe to say, setting up a Brexit museum will probably prove costly.
Still, the campaigners behind the idea are comfortable with the idea that ‘it will take a number of years for the museum to happen.’
They hope this time will allow political divisions over Brexit to heal. Campaigners also said “a little bit of a time gap will help the nation put Brexit in a more balanced perspective. Some wounds are still raw and we do not seek to aggravate them”.