Crime threat closes Macrorie Museum

2016-06-21 12:53
Macrorie House Museum.

Macrorie House Museum. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - Macrorie House Museum, a ­landmark of cultural and historic ­significance in Pietermaritzburg, is to be closed down.

The decision, made by the ­museum’s board of trustees, has been prompted by reduced funding and threats to the collection and the ­building as a result of criminal activity, which added to the museum’s ­financial burden.

“Our responsibility as the board is to the house and the collection, and this decision has not been taken lightly,” said Dr Debbie Whelan, chairperson of the board of trustees yesterday.

“We currently have plans to move the collection in its entirety to a more secure venue. However, it must be ­noted that there are strict protocols with closing museums, and these will be followed.

“We are also currently following certain legal processes which are time consuming, and as soon as the final decisions are made we shall release a statement to The Witness in order to ensure that all interested and affected parties are informed of the date of ­closure of the museum.”

Whelan said they would also inform the public of any assistance they may require, and all stakeholders and the public of the “future of the collection in its new home”.

“The Macrorie collections are named for Reverend William Kenneth Macrorie and his wife Agnes, who came to Natal in 1869 following the controversial excommunication of Bishop Colenso. They lived at South Hill in Loop Street (Jabu Ndlovu) for 25 years, until the house was sold when they returned to England,” said ­Whelan.

In 1966, the house was bought by the Simon van der Stel Foundation and leased to the Macrorie House Trust, which later bought the house.

The museum opened in 1975, with the collection consisting of items of the Victorian period — donated by people of Pietermaritzburg — with Bishop Macrorie’s pulpit and reredos (an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of an altar) from his church at St Saviour’s.

• arts@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  museum  |  crime

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