A one-time victim of funding cuts, the new-look Grantham Museum was unveiled on Saturday following months of renovation work.
A formal opening ceremony was held at the museum, on St Peter’s Hill, to mark the completion of the refurbishment programme. Helen Goral, chairman of the Grantham Community Heritage Association which runs the facility, thanked everyone involved for their the hard work, before Mayor of Grantham Coun Ian Selby cut the ribbon.
Four years ago prospects for the museum seemed bleak. It was forced to close in March 2011 when Lincolnshire County Council withdrew funding.
But the people of Grantham did not want to lose their museum, and a group of local volunteers formed the Grantham Community Heritage Association and stepped in to save it. Thanks to their efforts it was reopened in June 2012.
It closed again at the end of November last year, but this time in order for work to fully refurbish the facility to be carried out. Now the museum has opened its doors once more, with a brighter, fresher look.
The renovation work has seen the inside of the museum opened up, the old carpet stripped out to reveal the original parquet flooring and interactive exhibits installed.
As well as a lot of cosmetic work, the old partition wall has been removed and a new lighting system fitted.
Helen said: “The museum has come such a long way in the past two years and this refurbishment is the culmination of a lot of hard work.
“Everyone involved, particularly our volunteers, have been instrumental in making this happen and we couldn’t have done it without them. The refurbishment cost £15,000 but, as a lot of the work was done by volunteers, the actual value of the work is considerably more.
“It was only while work was in progress that we took the decision to remove the old carpet tiles and reveal the parquet flooring but, looking at it now, it was the best decision we made.”
She added: “The turn-out on Saturday was far and above anything we could have expected. It was excellent.”
The issue of the Spitting Image puppet of Margaret Thatcher being withdrawn from her exhibition at the museum was raised in the media this week, but Mrs Goral was quick to point out that the puppet has not been exhibited for several years.
She said: “It isn’t relevant to the story and hasn’t been in the museum since about 2010. We have had a lot of comments from visitors about how well-balanced the Margaret Thatcher exhibition is.”
The refurbishment of the museum has been very much the focus of Grantham Community Heritage Association in recent months. Now that work is completed the association will be turning its attention to raising funds to commission a Margaret Thatcher statue to recognise the local grocer’s daughter who became Britain’s first female Prime Minister.
Grantham Museum is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 4pm. It is free to enter.