Exclusive: London Olympic museum plans shelved

Wednesday, 24 July 2013
By David Owen

Olympic Torch London 2012July 24 - Plans to open an Olympic museum in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park appear to have been shelved.

The apparent U-turn may be prudent given the difficult economic climate, but its disclosure comes at an awkward time, with the spotlight about to return to the UK's record on Olympic legacy, as the first anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games approaches.

Asked about the matter, Darryl Seibel, the British Olympic Association (BOA)'s communications director, said: "the likelihood of our moving forward with that is far less today than it would have been a year ago".

The BOA has started looking instead at opportunities for smaller displays that would move around the country, visiting venues such as existing museums, sports events and schools.

The £10 million museum project was unveiled less than 18 months ago at the London Stock Exchange, in the presence of Britain's Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson.

It was slated at that time to open in 2014 and be located near the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, within sight of the Olympic Stadium.

The then BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said he believed the "British Olympic Museum" was "the perfect way to ensure the spirit, excitement and unforgettable memories of the London 2012 Games live on to inspire future generations to follow their own dreams".

Several elements of the museum were reported already to have been planned.

Word of the change of tack emerged after members of the British equestrian community formed the impression that the museum would not materialise and endeavoured to track down the iconic crescent-moon fence that was part of the equine cross-country course at Greenwich Park and which was expected to be housed there.

London 2012 crescent on equestrian courseEquestrian enthusiasts had hoped that the iconic crescent-moon shaped fence from the three day event at London 2012 would find a home in the proposed Olympic museum - but hopes of that are fading fast

"We were all very excited about it going to the museum," Jonathan Clissold, who made the striking and highly unusual wood-clad steel obstacle at his workshop in Leicestershire, in the English Midlands, told insidethegames.

Clissold said he had never made anything like it before.

It took some time, but the handsome and extremely large object has now been traced to a BOA storage facility in Coventry, insidethegames understands.

Instead of taking pride of place alongside other Olympic artefacts in the former Olympic Park, the moon is now expected to be utilised on another British cross-country course, allowing more three-day event riders to have the experience of jumping it.

According to Sue Benson, designer of the London 2012 course, this is already happening with other highly distinctive Greenwich fences.

For example, the horseshoe that was the final obstacle at Greenwich is, she said, to be the first fence at Burghley - though without the prancing horseshoe horses, which were sold at auction and are now understood to be in the United States.

Bramham, she added, had had the chess table fence and Blenheim the saxon houses.

The twists and gradients of the Greenwich course made it a stern test, with just nine horse and rider combinations completing it with no jumping or time penalties.

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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