Nottingham Castle could fully reopen in June under proposals to take the site back into Nottingham City Council’s museums and galleries service.
Councillors are due to vote next week on the plans, which will see the castle join other heritage sites such as Newstead Abbey and Wollaton Hall in the service.
In a report submitted to the council’s executive board, the recommended option is to fully reopen the site, with up to £2.1m earmarked for its operation over the next three financial years.
Other options outlined in the report include mothballing the site or initially only reopening the grounds.
If the reopening is approved, it will trigger an activation period of around three months to recruit and train staff and set up systems and processes needed for fully reopening.
The council is proposing to launch start-up activities from May in the grounds to give people the opportunity to explore the site ahead of full reopening.
The collapse of Nottingham Castle Trust, the charity previously responsible for running the site, sent shockwaves across the museum and heritage sector in November last year. The council is proposing to undertake a “lessons learned exercise” as part of its assessment into how to best operate the castle.
This will be used to inform future decisions around developing a delivery model for the site that allows for the best experience for all visitors. All features of the site will be available to visitors under the new proposals, said the council.
“We know there is a lot of love for Nottingham Castle and we were all devastated when it closed last year,” said the council’s portfolio holder for leisure, culture and planning, Pavlos Kotsonis.
“We committed to looking at ways to reopen the castle as soon as possible after Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation and handed the site back to us. This report recommends a way to do that by using the expertise of the council’s well-established museums and galleries service, which has previously run the site and has the skills, specialist knowledge and cultural partnership connections to quickly mobilise and successfully animate the site with a programme of activities.
“It is important to get this right and officers have worked tirelessly to achieve that, I am proud of the work done.”
What went wrong at Nottingham Castle Trust and what needs to happen to make the site a success? See Museums Journal this Friday for a full analysis