The Allen Gallery and Curtis Museum in Alton have parted company with five of their 52 volunteers in a row over the future of the Hampshire Cultural Trust venues.

The gallery is in the early stages of a £2.5 million redevelopment but the museum faces possible closure in 2026.

The five volunteers who departed on January 11, three days after the museum news was announced, included Denise Backhouse, who took her concerns to the Alton Herald in a letter on December 18.

Denise said the gallery had “damp, poor ventilation and wood rot”.

She wrote: “We all agree the fabric of the building needs serious attention, but this important, historic gallery does not need to be – in Hampshire Cultural Trust-speak – ‘redeveloped, reimagined, revealed, rediscovered, reclaimed, reinvigorated, reinvented, repurposed’.

“The only ‘re’ words we want are respect for what we have, repairs to the fabric, and further research to understand it more fully.

“We are a nationally important ceramics collection, but will soon be a dumbed-down, much reduced ‘leisure opportunity’ if Hampshire Cultural Trust get their way.”

Trust chief executive Paul Sapwell said: “The crux of this issue lies in a major project to refurbish the Allen Gallery, which began in September 2022.

“While we are all in agreement that the Allen Gallery is in need of significant investment, as the project has progressed it has become very evident that there is fundamental disagreement with a small number of volunteers on its direction and future.

“While it is very regrettable, matters have reached an impasse and we have had to part ways. This is a rare, in fact unprecedented, situation.

“We are fortunate to have 52 volunteers working at the Allen Gallery and Curtis Museum. We parted ways with five volunteers in Alton following the impasse.

"The ceramics collection is still at the heart of the gallery.”