AN ANDOVER museum is at risk of closure due to lack of council funding, it has been revealed. 

Andover Museum and the Museum of the Iron Age in Church Close will potentially close in 2026, according to Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) which operates several venues in the county.

The trust has confirmed that a total of five venues will potentially cease operations due to lack of funding.

The other four venues and their anticipated time scales for closure are Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham (autumn 2024), Westbury Manor Museum, Fareham (January 2025), Eastleigh Museum (currently temporarily closed to the public; permanent closure January 2025), and Curtis Museum, Alton (2026).

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The trust also announced plans to cease operation of Bursledon Windmill in March 2024 following the withdrawal of funding by Eastleigh Borough Council in 2023.

“Our position is that we do not want to close any of the venues we operate,” said Paul Sapwell, chief executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust.

“But faced with substantially reduced local authority funding, we have had no option but to make some very difficult decisions.

"We intend to mitigate the full effect of the funding challenge through a wider business plan that includes potentially taking on new, more financially sustainable venues, as well as growing existing areas of our business.

"However, new opportunities and growth cannot fully offset the reduction in council funding currently proposed and some venue closures will therefore also be necessary."

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Hampshire County Council is the trust’s largest funder, currently contributing £2.5 million per annum, but under its current budget consultation, which opened to the public on Monday, January 8, it is proposed that this funding will be cut by £600,000 per annum by 2027.

Mr Sapwell said: "We enjoy a very positive working relationship with Test Valley Borough Council and are delighted that they have received Levelling Up Funding in the latest round.

"With a three-year window ahead of us, we will work with local partners to find solutions that may enable us to keep these venues in Alton and Andover open, however, without additional funding this will of course be challenging.”

Hampshire County Council and Test Valley Borough Council have been contacted for comment.