The Prefab Museum on the Excalibur Estate in Downham has been a fantastic living history resource. However as we reported here some weeks ago, the Museum was targeted by arsonists causing a good deal of damage and sleepless nights for the organisers and volunteers.
Despite battling valiantly to rescue the project, Photographer and Museum Curator Elizabeth Blanchett has today released a statement explaining the worrying reasons behind her decision to close.
Prefab Museum Statement.
In March 2014 when I started the Prefab Museum at 17 Meliot Road, it was supposed to last one month. I certainly didn’t anticipate such a success. Due to popular demand, we managed to stay open a few more months, started to talk to the local authorities alongside the TMO (Tenants Management Organisation) and the local councillors. We even managed to “secure” the future of the museum till 2017.
The Open House weekend at the end of September was wonderful with more than 500 people visiting the museum. On top of celebrating post-war prefab life and showing some art related to the prefabs, we created a warm and homely atmosphere, where everybody was welcome. Some residents became regular visitors and it was usual to see people coming back and bringing friends and relatives.
But not everybody liked it, or liked us being in charge of it. And the adventure ended very sadly at the end of October when the prefab museum was set on fire – I am insisting on the fact that the police has now classified the fire as arson -.
With some volunteers and artists we saved what we could from the Prefab Museum on Saturday the 29th of November. We decided we couldn’t run the museum there at 17 Meliot Road anymore after what happened. We now feel insecure over there and there is no way I want to expose myself and other people to a potential danger. Jane and I are going to meet the police to bring some more evidence and facts – as we both received anonymous threats from mid-September – so they can pursuer their investigation.
After all these years I have spent taking pictures and documenting some of the residents’ lives on the Excalibur Estate, I feel very saddened to have to leave this way. I am also very sad that no one living on the estate has been in touch after the fire to express a bit of sympathy… So it’s time for me to leave the estate – at least temporarily – and to keep on the adventure of the Prefab Museum somewhere else, alongside the online museum of course with some of the wonderful people I met along the way.
We will be in touch soon with all our Kickstarter supporters very soon to update them on the rewards and our plans for the future.
The last seven months at 17 Meliot Road were wonderful. There was such a great energy each time we opened the Prefab Museum. We made fabulous, rich and inspiring encounters. All this couldn’t have happened without the help, support of some residents, some of their representatives, the artists and the volunteers involved, and of course the public!
Long life to the Prefab Museum, wherever it raises again!