Revised Horsham Museum opening hours agreed as attraction prepares to welcome visitors again
Revised opening hours for Horsham Museum have been agreed for when it starts welcoming visitors again.
The attraction, based in the Causeway, has been closed to the public since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.
It is currently undergoing refurbishment and exhibition displays are being improved ready for reopening in September.
Before the pandemic it was open from Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm.
As part of its reopening plan, Horsham District Council wants to adopt a flexible approach so it can amend opening days and hours in response to customer patterns.
Initially the museum would be open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm.
This would enable staff to have enough time off and to effectively recruit extra volunteers.
The changes were approved by HDC’s cabinet on Thursday (July 22).
The meeting heard there would be the ability to trial Sunday openings on key weekends, and there was the potential to be open on both Saturdays and Sundays in the future if customer demand shows this is a better service offer. The museum could also open on some bank holidays.
Roger Noel, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “The focus must be on the public and their needs and I want to maximise the potential that this amazing facility offers.”
The new opening times would allow the new curator and volunteers to ‘find their feet’.
Jeremy Knight the current curator, is set to retire in September after 32 years of service.
Mr Noel described how Jeremy had taken the opportunity of the pandemic to rebuild every exhibit with the help of volunteers, adding: “This is a grand finale to a unique and unprecedented career heading up one of the town and district’s greatest assets.”
He told councillors he would keep his policy development advisory group informed of any changes, and would also consult in the case of major changes in opening time policy.
Officers said the council would be recruiting for an interim post to fill the vacancy left by Jeremy, who could still continue to advise the museum in more of a consultancy role.
The proposed opening times aimed to strike the right balance so volunteers and staff members had enough time to focus on the museum’s collections and training.
Every councillor who spoke praised Jeremy’s sterling work at the museum over the past three decades and looked forward to its reopening in the autumn.
Several also mentioned its importance to the town.
Philip Circus, cabinet member for environment, waste, recycling and cleansing, said: “I think we should do all we can to safeguard the museum. A ‘jewel in the crown’ is a bit of a cliche but I think it’s an appropriate way to describe the museum.”