Under-threat cultural treasure wins Time Out award

A Lambeth cinematic treasure fighting for its future won a major cultural award this week.

The Cinema Museum is this year’s winner of the Time Out Love London Award for Most Loved Local Culture Spot amid fears for the charity’s fate as the former Victorian workhouse they currently occupy is sold.

The site is owned by South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, but the sale to an undisclosed owner is thought to have been completed this week.

The museum’s co-founder Martin Humphries said: “For us to be chosen as the most loved cultural spot above something like the Tate Modern is absolutely fantastic. It is such an endorsement for the museum.

“We are a very small independent museum and entirely volunteer run so all of this is just superb in terms of showing that we have managed to create something that is very deeply loved by people.”

Mr Humphries established the museum with partner Ronald Grant in 1984, enshrining a lasting passion for the cinema and film-making.

In addition to a vast collection of cinematic memorabilia and regular film screenings, the museum adopts a strong wellbeing agenda working in partnership with the NHS and educational institutions.

In its days as a workhouse, the building once housed a young Charlie Chaplin and the actor’s family have openly supported the Cinema Museum’s campaign to remain in the same building it has leased since 1986.

Mr Humphries added: “Obviously, something has caught the public’s imagination about the museum and that is why they voted for us.”

The museum’s online petition to remain on the site has amassed more than 35,000 signatures with supporters including Bastille and Mark Kermode.

The museum has hopes for a positive relationship with the site’s new owners should they be able to continue their lease.

Mr Humphries said: “The next stages are that we have to have very serious negotiations with the new landlord. Whilst they are being very verbally accepting of us and saying they want the museum to remain on site, we need to get everything down on paper in black and white as a contract between them and us.

“Obviously we would like to support and help them as much as possible in their development of the site, but the most important thing is that the museum continues to be here and is able to grow and develop.”

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