The newly refurbished Ely Museum has been open for a whole year!

The last few years have been a time of huge change on a global scale. At Ely Museum it has been a time of refurbishment and renewal. We had already closed for our redevelopment when the pandemic hit and throughout the lockdowns our wonderful design team and staff continued to work away on the project. We were very grateful that, while there were inevitable supply delays, our contractors were able to continue on site and complete the museum, once restrictions allowed.

There was a period when the museum was ready to open to the public and yet government restrictions meant we were unable to throw open the doors. When 17th May and the relaxation of restrictions finally came, it was wonderful to allow visitors into the museum.

It was a bit odd to open with timed pre-booked tickets and limits of visitor numbers, and without a big opening event. But contrasting with that, the warm and enthusiastic response of our visitors was energising. From the little girl who entered the new galleries with an enthusiastic “Wow!” to the many enthusiastic comments in our visitor book.

We have welcomed over 12,000 visitors in the year since we opened, more visitors than in any previous year. We’ve held craft events, themed Living History days covering the Medieval Period, the Second World War and the Romans. In December we had our busiest ever Christmas Grotto.

Our three temporary exhibitions have been warmly received, attracting new visitors as well as those keen to pop back and see what’s new.

Schools have been able to return to the museum, and we are delighted to be able to teach children in person once more instead of via a screen.

And the culmination of a really positive year in the life of the museum was winning two RIBA East architecture awards for the fantastic work done by HAT Projects to rejuvenate our historic building. Seeing the features like the windows, fireplaces and graffiti gives a real sense of the many layers of history in the building.

We are holding a first birthday party for the new museum on Saturday 21st May with activities and celebrations all included in the admission price of the museum – we hope to see you there.