Quex house, gardens and Powell-Cotton Museum announces two-year general public closure

Powell Cotton Museum

Quex Park house, gardens and Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington will be shut to the public, other than through organised events and programmes, for the next two years.

In a statement on the Powell Cotton Museum, Quex House and Gardens website it says Trustees will spend that time implementing the museum decolonisation strategy; redesigning and developing the education and outreach programme, delivering a  ‘Colonial Critters’ project and creating a programme of public engagement – digital and physical, including public events.

There will also be essential remedial and restorative work carried out at the museum building, Quex House and Quex Gardens.

A statement says: “Throughout this exciting period of change we have taken the difficult decision that the museum, house and gardens will not be open for public visits other than through organised events and programmes.

“These will all be advertised on our website and through social media, allowing audiences to continue to connect with our collections – physically, virtually and through outreach.

“Engaging with our visitors, both near and far, remains extremely important to us and we will be exploring different ways to do this, allowing us to adapt to change during the COVID-19 pandemic, in an exciting and positive way. Continuous lifelong learning for all will be at the heart of all we do.

“During the ‘Reimagining’ project there will still be collections access for visiting researchers and educational groups. Felicity’s Café will continue to be open for business as usual and weddings and events at Quex will still be running, with all weddings going ahead as planned (COVID-19 restrictions dependent).

“We understand that not visiting this summer will be disappointing for some of our visitors, however we believe that this is the right moment to begin our new journey of discovery as we reimagine the museum, house and gardens.

“We hope that our visitors will join us on our new path.  We are excited about our ‘Reimagining’ programme and we are committed to ensuring we deliver on the promise to make the museum welcoming and accessible to all.”

Trustees say Quex members will receive a letter about the plans in the coming days. Staff have been in consultation with redundancy or zero hours understood to have been offered.

A Powell-Cotton Museum spokesperson said: ““We are currently consulting on potential new working arrangements for a number of our staff.  We understand that this will be a difficult time for many of them but we need to consider measures that will enable us to reimagine the museum and deliver new projects.  This is an exciting two year project and one that we are not entering into lightly.”


  1. As the Quex collection is one of exploration and discovery, I am disappointed because the museum has grasped greedily at the (in this case) unnecessary epithet “colonial” and aspire to “decolonialise” the contents.
    There are many ways to improve the display and interpretation of objects collected overseas (apart from returning them with an apologetic note), without unnecessary soul searching, and something I would have thought was easily within the skillset of the current staff and consultants.
    There is no evidence that Major Powell Cotton and his family treated their bearers and guides badly on their trips abroad; Christopher, in particular, seems to have got on well with individuals. Nobody pretends they weren’t employees, any more than the servants at home in Quex House were.
    I feel that Quex are pointlessly trying to win a uniformed organisation’s badge for earnestness.

  2. Quex is such a beautiful space and its gardens are so refreshing; so it is sad but understandable; that they are closing for 2 years. It seems that the Turner and Quex are becoming more exclusive. I cant help feeling disappointed. It’s not about us all being ‘equal’; but in these times the opportunity to be somewhere with a bigger sky is precious.

  3. I think a bigger sky will still be available to us over the next few years at Quex Park.
    But I think the inside displays may become LESS exclusive. Unless we are white people with colonial attitudes,a pith helmet and an elephant gun,and patronising attitudes to the “native porters”.
    Beyond being white(but who knows,really!!??) I don’t meet any of the other criteria so I look forward to the new Quex Park.

  4. If the new curation foregrounds aspects of the collection not previously considered then the revision will have value. The whole lineage of the Powell Cotton family it is to be remembered has contributed to what we see today on the site.

  5. History can not be changed and if everything related to history is taken away, how is any future generations going to learn from what happened and be educated,in best pactice now and for the future.

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