When the museums open up again

When the museums open up again

A woman reading a book to two children
As heritage attractions are given the go-ahead to reopen, we spoke to six museums, which, thanks to National Lottery players, have been helped by our £50m Heritage Emergency Fund.

Ryedale Folk Museum, North Yorkshire


Morris Dancers at Ryedale Folk Museum
Morris Dancers at Ryedale Folk Museum


Ryedale Folk Museum reopened on Saturday 4 July. They were awarded a Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £46,500, which helped to cover staff costs and essential bills.

"Now we will wait and hope that visitors want to come back.”

Jennifer Smith, Director Ryedale Folk Museum

Jennifer Smith, Director: “It feels quite challenging to reopen our museum while being asked to practice 'social distancing', as we are much better at bringing people together.
“We will open in a safe way and have put in place simple measures to help our visitors. We are fortunate that the majority of our buildings, across our six-acre open air site, are easy to see in from the door. Now we will wait and hope that visitors want to come back.”

Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster


A man showing a machine at the Museum of Carpet
Demonstrating one of the machines used to manufacture carpet at the Kidderminster Museum of Carpet


The Museum of Carpet, Kidderminster, reopened to the public on Tuesday 7 July, with free entry for all visitors. When the museum closed in March there were serious concerns over its future. The £14,100 Heritage Emergency Fund grant has been critical.

The museum has invested the funds into new safety measures and funding temporary staff until volunteers are ready to return.

Emily Gilbert, Museum Assistant: “Prior to reopening, the museum has undergone a deep clean, kindly organised by the National Carpet Cleaners Association. We are offering local residents a bright, spacious and engaging venue for a safe day out after months in lockdown.”

Workhouse Museum & Garden and the Prison & Police Museum, Ripon


People dressed in tradition costumes standing outside the Ripon Workhouse Museum
The Ripon Workhouse Museum is looking forward to welcoming visitors again


Ripon's Workhouse Museum & Garden and the Prison & Police Museum hope to reopen from Wednesday 15 July. The have used a Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £40,100 for roof repairs and tree works, a conservation clean and marketing activity for reopening. The Workhouse Museum’s gardens are already open.

Linda Furniss, Marketing and Development Manager: "It's exciting to be preparing for opening again. Things will be a little different, but the essentials of the museums – telling the story of poverty, crime and punishment – will be unchanged."

Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcester


A gallery at The Musuem of Royal Worcester
A gallery at the Museum of Royal Worcester. Credit: Studio Savidge


The Museum of Royal Worcester is reopening its doors on Thursday 16 July. They received a Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £48,500 which helped with essential costs during lockdown. 

Sophie Heath, Museum Director: “We’re delighted to open up our spacious galleries and Worcester’s porcelain heritage to visitors again where people can enjoy a safe day out with confidence.” 

Sir Michael Perry GBE, Chair of Trustees: “Staff have been busy preparing a one-way system around the museum, social distancing signage and hygiene measures including using locally made sanitiser from Piston Gin.”

Museum of Brands, London


A collection of sweet wrappers at The Museum of Brands
A collection of sweet packaging at the Museum of Brands


The Museum of Brands has a target reopen date of Tuesday 1 September. They were awarded a Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £45,000, which has helped to bring key staff back from furlough.

They plan to open their museum, garden and shop seven days a week, offering a combination of timed tickets and ‘turn-up’ options, including posting live updates on busy and quiet times. Normally they host 250 industry events each year, so they will now offer distanced team get-togethers.  

Chris Griffin, Chief Executive, Museum of Brands: “Lockdown has made us all think more critically about how and why we buy the products that make up our daily lives.

"We’re excited to be part of the wider recovery process, starting with providing a safe, fun experience for our West London neighbours”.   

Wimbledon Windmill Museum, London


A view of the Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon's famous windmill


The staff behind Wimbledon Windmill Museum are not sure when it will reopen. Since they offer free entry, they lost their main source of income – shop sales – overnight. Their National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for £3,400 has helped keep the fabric of the 200-year-old building intact and also gone towards urgent repairs to a Victorian handcart. 

Rhys Torrington, Trustee, Wimbledon Windmill Museum: “The layout of such an old windmill is understandably relatively tight so it will be a challenge to enforce social distancing.

"The museum is staffed entirely by volunteers, almost every one of whom would fall into the vulnerable age category. Until we can fully secure their safety it would be impracticable and irresponsible to ask them to resume.

"That means that in the short term we are likely to restrict visits to pre-booked guided tours conducted by younger volunteers who can also monitor social distancing. These will, however, offer a more in-depth visitor experience.”

Supporting heritage during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Have you applied for support yet?

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is committed to helping the heritage sector through this crisis.

Our £50million Heritage Emergency Fund is open until 12noon on 31 July for grants from £3,000 - £250,000. We want to support as many organisations as we can. Submit an application before the deadline so we can help your organisation too.

Additional support includes:

  • Digital Skills for Heritage: increasing sector skills and confidence to bring heritage to more people 
  • maintaining our financial commitment to all of our 2,500 existing projects
  • help and advice from our UK-wide teams

Find out more.

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