It is steeped in history and already well known as one of Kingston's most stately homes. Soon Dorich House could have another claim to fame - as the Borough's newest museum. Kingston University, which was bequeathed the former home of sculptor Dora Gordine and diplomat and academic Richard Hare 10 years ago, plans to seek official museum status for the property.
Curator Brenda Martin hopes Dorich House will be successful in securing a slice of the Government's Â£2 million Museum Development Fund. To be eligible, it needs to meet a set of stringent criteria on policy, conservation, public access and the care of artwork collections. Providing it satisfies the requirements, the University will be able to push ahead with the application for museum status before the end of the year.
"It's an exciting option because becoming a museum would enable us to employ full-time staff and open to the public for longer," Brenda explained. "We would also be able to access advice and training from a registered museum, ranging from tips on organising public education programmes to the basic mechanics of packaging items for loan."
Things are already looking up on the financial front. Dorich House recently received a Â£20,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board to catalogue the Dora Gordine sculpture collection. The catalogue will be published early in 2004. Meanwhile, staff are eyeing other funding options to cover the cost of the recent purchase of a Dora Gordine self-portrait. They are also keen to start specialist restoration work on some of the ornate Russian furniture on display in the building.
Bridge - The Kingston University magazine