A report on the future of the DLI collection, which is currently housed at the museum in Durham City, is to be presented to Durham County Council’s Cabinet.
The collection belongs to the Trustees of the Regimental and Chattels Charity of the Former Durham Light Infantry and the Regimental Museum of the Former Durham Light Infantry but is under the care of the council.
However, the way in which it is currently stored is both expensive and inefficient. The building is expensive to maintain as a museum and requires significant investment, while the secure stores are no longer able to accommodate the size of the collection.
The council is, therefore, proposing to move the collection to the Sevenhills building in Spennymoor, where secure, environmentally-controlled accommodation of a more suitable size could be provided.
The authority also wants to make the collection more accessible to the public by working with partner organisations to arrange temporary loans and exhibitions.
The council has already been in discussion with Durham University over the possibility of a five-year agreement that would see part of the collection on display at Palace Green Library.
Under the arrangement, a further five DLI-related temporary displays, beginning with a large-scale Somme exhibition, would also take place.
The museum’s education programme would be maintained in order to support the story of the DLI and would operate as an outreach function from Sevenhills.
The proposals have been broadly welcomed by the DLI Trustees, who are keen to ensure a sustainable future for the collection.
Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration and culture, said: “The story of the DLI is central to the history of the county so it is extremely important that the collection is maintained and preserved for future generations.
“However, the collection has now outgrown the capacity of the secure stores at the museum and the building itself has become expensive to maintain so we need to look at alternatives.
“The proposals we are putting forward will not only ensure the condition of the collection is protected for the future but, by siting temporary exhibitions at more accessible locations, will also mean we can make it available to a much wider audience.
“Palace Green Library, for example, is close to the DLI Chapel and garden within Durham Cathedral as well as the new DLI memorial in the Market Place – an area that attracts an estimated 600,000 visitors each year.”
If the proposals are approved, the DLI building would close to the public on 1 April 2016.
A further report would be prepared regarding the future of Durham Art Gallery.
Cabinet meets at the Witham, in Barnard Castle, on Wednesday, 21 October.