The Hands on History Museum will only open to the public on alternate Saturdays. Image: Hull City Council

Hands on History Museum closes to walk-in visitors

Geraldine Kendall, 12.05.2014
Hull museum will only open to public on alternate Saturdays
Hull City Council is to cut staff, opening hours and public access at a number of museums in the city this year in a bid to save £150,000 from its heritage budget.

As of this week, the council is to close the Hands on History Museum on Trinity Square to walk-in visitors, granting access to pre-booked groups only.

But the council last week announced a small reprieve for the museum, with some funding reallocated to allow it to open to walk-in visitors on alternate Saturdays between noon and 4.30pm.

The reprieve came after local campaigners launched two petitions against the closure, attracting over 6,000 signatures.

A council spokesman said: “Having listened to public views as part of this process, Hull City Council has decided to reallocate resources from within the service to enable the city's Hands on History Museum to provide additional opening hours.

“The Hands on History Museum will continue to be a working, accredited museum.”

Four posts are under threat at the museum, while remaining staff are likely to be transferred to other sites. The Saturday opening hours will be covered by employees at the Spurn Lightship on Hull Marina, which will also close on alternate Saturdays to enable the transfer of staff. 

One employee at the Hands on History Museum told the Hull Daily Mail last week that morale was “at rock bottom”, with staff afraid to speak out against the cutbacks for fear of being targeted for redundancy.

Elsewhere in the city, the Hull History Centre will close to the public on Mondays and alternate Saturdays.

The council has been criticised for reducing public access to its museums just six months after being named the UK City of Culture 2017 for a bid in which the city’s heritage played a central role. Its spending on the City of Culture festival has also been called into question.

A council spokesman said the budget for the City of Culture came from a separate pot to the funding for museums.

He said: “The council has to make savings within the heritage service budget but we are doing all we can to minimise the impact on visitors."

The spokesman added that the local authority remained the fourth highest spender on culture per head in England.

The council is currently in discussions to create a new leisure company to take over the running of the city’s museums and cultural venues later this year.


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MA Member
21.05.2014, 13:34
Is this all the fault of Hull City Council? No-one has mentioned restrictions placed on local authorities by central government such as the council tax "freeze"? Councils can only raise council tax by 1.9% without a referendum, and this is clearly not enough to cover increasing costs to run services.. It is sad that Hull museums and libraries face cuts in opening hours, but at least they are still open. My local authority in NW England has closed both this year. I work in the heritage sector in the NW so have seen the effects of government policies on local and national museum organisations. The author of the article perhaps could have highlighted this in her piece and perhaps the MA needs to be more political and campaign more obviously on our behalf. As for Hull and its attractions, go and visit before Capital of Culture - it already has a lot going for it: Marvell, Stevie Smith, Wilberforce, Maureen Lipman, Mick Ronson, John Venn, Amy Johnson; great theatres, buildings, the largest parish church in England.....
Tim Schadla-Hall
MA Member
Reader in Public Archaeology, University College London
17.05.2014, 14:01
This is really sad- because Hull has worked so hard and for so long to maintain free access and reasonable -if not perfect- opening hours to all its central museums- - the impact of the cuts is inevitable I guess-I just hope there will not beany more! The suggestion of a "new leisure company " is however very worrying!
Simon Green
Assistant Head of Sports, Leisure and Heritage, Hull City Council
15.05.2014, 16:37
Oliver that's exactly the kind of comment we have grown used to in Hull since before being awarded the title of UK City of Culture 2017. At best it is ill informed; at worst just a cheap shot. Come and visit us, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Maurice you know how to contact me, I would have been happy to share the context and issues with you, but you never asked.

Oliver Green
MA Member
12.05.2014, 15:10
You're absolutely right, Maurice. Hull hasn't exactly got a lot going for it as a visitor attraction apart from its once excellent culture and leisure services, which the city used to be proud of. Why would anyone want to go there as City of Culture to find the doors locked?
12.05.2014, 13:11
Opening on alternate Saturdays seems designed to be highly confusing and inconvenient for casual visitors, be they local or tourists. That's exacerbated by the fact that the wrong opening hours are given on many of Hull's web pages. This seems like an unstrategic, 'salami-slice' cut and I'd expect Hull, with its aspirations to be seen as a City of Culture, to do far better. If it believes in culture it should be aiming to open all its venues, all day, every Saturday and Sunday.