Decision details

Museum of Oxford Hidden Histories Project

Decision Maker: City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No


The decision will deliver the refurbishment and alteration of the redundant Oxford Museum space within the Town Hall. The project aims to create a new ‘cultural hub’ with active learning and community participation at its core. In addition to new gallery displays on the ground floor, there will be a Museum Makers Workshop and New Learning Space in the basement of the building (directly below the galleries).


The Head of Community Services had submitted a report to update the City Executive Board on the Museum of Oxford Hidden Histories Redevelopment Project and to request approval to the revised project budget.


Councillor Sinclair, Board Member for Culture & Communities said she was very pleased to bring the next stage of this exciting and important project to the Board. With the Board’s support the next step would be the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The Corporate Lead for Culture and the Arts said there was a clear customer demand for an improved and expanded museum with a focus on the story of the City. Staff would work with the community to develop a rolling programme of community themed exhibitions alongside permanent ones.


Councillor Tidball, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Public Health, agreed that this was an exciting project and was keen that there should be strong intersect with education and the school curriculum. She also noted the importance of linking with Youth Ambition.


Councillor Hayes, Board Member for Community Safety, congratulated officers on the work to date. He was pleased that the museum would continue to be based in the Town Hall, not least because the building had witnessed some significant events in the City’s history.


In discussion it was agreed that the proposed organisation and themes would work equally well for both of the principal audiences, members of the local community and tourists. In relation to the latter it would provide an important (and the only) opportunity to provide a view of the City distinct from the archetypes often associated with it.


It was noted that the design would allow up to two classes of primary pupils  to make use of the museum, simultaneously, in separate spaces. These spaces would all be suitable to let for social functions. There was clear potential for income generation.


The City Executive Board resolved to:


1.         Note the progress made on the Museum of Oxford Hidden Histories Redevelopment Project;


2.         Recommend to Council the increasing of the projects overall capital budget by £611,754 to £2,842,804 and the Councils capital contribution from £315,000 to £1,340,106 to be financed by prudential borrowing in accordance with paragraph 22 and 25; and


3.         Note the increase in the Council’s revenue budget in respect of the additional cost of operating the new museum of £30k per annum with effect from 2020/21 which will be raised during the forthcoming budget setting process (paragraph 28).

Report author: Helen Vaughan-Evans

Publication date: 01/12/2017

Date of decision: 21/11/2017

Decided at meeting: 21/11/2017 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019)

Accompanying Documents: