Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Margate History Art

There has been quite a lot of comment on the blogs about Margate and attempts to regenerate it based around it becoming a modern art centre. What I am talking about here is modern art, not traditional art, I would say as people go I am more inclined to go to art galleries than most.

Frankly though the popularity of modern art is fairly limited, I know this from the amount books about it I sell relative to other subjects, however art galleries tend to be heavily subsidised and therefore entrance is free.

Now in the bookshop there is much more interest in history than modern art, when you include local history, military and transport history it is far and away the largest and most successful subject in the bookshop.

There are 33 bookcases of history in the bookshop and 3 bookcases of art about a shelf of which is modern art, and I would say there is about 1,000 times the interest in things historical as in modern art.

Now I am wondering if closing Margate Museum and putting all the resources into modern art is such a good idea without first engaging in a minor experiment, which is to make Margate Museum free for a bit and compare the visitor numbers with the heavily subsidised gallery in what was Marks and Spencer.


  1. The huge disparity between art and history is very frustrating. There is any amount of cash available to subsidise arty farty things nobody wants to see but nothing at all for local history - which people really like. Consequently, allmanner of interesting things is in danger of being lost.

    Michael, you'll recall the problems I had when I rescued Bygone Kent the other year. If there had been funding available - and I did do some research - my job would have been much easier.

    Nick, Whits

  2. Michael,
    as a 'bookaholic' I am saddened by the demise of any book shop, but not surprised. The average literacy of our country is in decline,(not I hasten to add in my family, where my grand children are 'book worms')
    As a result the sale and use of the written word is also in decline.

    I stopped using public libraries when the period of 4 weeks rental was reduced to 3 weeks, as living in the village made me rent 12 books at a time, you can imagine the fines I ran up. (and before you say it, the moblie library and the Minster one do not carry enough choice for me)

    I started buying books, but sadly, from major shops , often located at places such as railway stations.

    Perhaps if the education system could move back to the basic skills (the 3 'r' s) we would find a return in the urge to sit down with a good book!

  3. Michael, that last post should have ended up in your previous thread.

  4. Nick back in 1736 when John Lewis’s definitive history of The Isle of Thanet was published, neither Lewis nor the publisher appear to have made any profit, all Lewis got for the years of hard work and extensive research was 50 copies of the book, these were not bound and he had to pay for the paper, so I suppose all of us involved in local history since then should have learnt a lesson and done something profitable instead.

    Now in this area the big historical attractions like Dover Castle and Chatham Dockyard are very busy indeed, here in Thanet we have plenty of things that could be exploited for history based tourism particularly in Ramsgate with the harbour, tunnel system and historic buildings. Instead we just seem to lose al our historic attractions, motor museum, Bleak House etc.

    Ken figured as much, I think the greatest concern for bibliophiles in the UK is that with all the small independent bookshops closing, the majority booksellers carrying any sort of range are Smiths and Waterstones and neither of these companies seems to be doing very well at the moment. My feelings are is that if they were to both go under most publishers wouldn’t have enough retail outlets to stay solvent.

  5. I'd particularly love to see something done with the underground networks (those who don't realise what's under our feet should check out the link below!).


  6. Ditto to all you have said - Michael, Ken and Peter.

    I've siad much of this elsewhere as well.

    Our family have visited Art Gallaries all over the world - my preference by far is 'modern' as in created in the 20th Century.
    I know from visiting galleries all over that it is the older and more traditional that is most popular.

    Not cultural at all but bringing tourists to the area that stay over and return - a theme park would be a far bigger money spinner for Thanet businesses. TDC seem to think 'traditional' seaside holiday towns are over - but Alton Towers and Blackpool are 2 of the countries greatest tourist destinations.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.