Plans for Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon to reopen

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon will reopen on July 11.

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon will reopen on July 11. - Credit: Archant

The Cromwell Museum will be among the first museums in the region to reopen its doors when it welcomes visitors on July 11.

Some visitors will be able to see the refurbished museum a few days earlier from July 4 when it carries out a “soft launch” to test its new procedures.

The museum closed in March because of the coronavirus lockdown, less than three weeks after former Prime Minister Sir John Major led the ceremony to mark its relaunch after a major refurbishment programme.

Stuart Orme, curator, said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming people back to the museum, particularly as most people didn’t get chance to see the results of the refurbishment before the lockdown.

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can ensure that our visitors get a safe but enjoyable visit with us now that the restrictions are easing and hope that people will take the time to come and see us.”

Mr Orme, who has been updating supporters and virtual visitors with videos on its YouTube channel and though social media, said that in the short period the updated museum was open before the lockdown came into force, it attracted 15 per cent more visitors than for the whole of March last year.

The museum holds the best collection of objects relating to the life and times of Oliver Cromwell and is housed in the former grammar school, claimed to be Huntingdon’s oldest building, where he went to school.

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During the closure, the volunteer staff tested new systems for visitors including limits on the number of people inside the building and possible queueing outside. Hand sanitisers will be available at the entrance and there will be a one-way system.

New opening times of 11am-4pm Wednesday to Saturday will be in place.

Camilla Nichol, chairman of the Cromwell Museum board of trustees said: “It was a heart breaking decision to have to close in March with the Covid-19 outbreak, but entirely the right one.

“Like many cultural institutions this has led to a difficult few months for us financially, and we are very grateful to grants from Arts Council England and the Huntingdon Freemen’s Trust as well as many public donations which have helped get us through this period.”