Cromwell Museum to reopen after major refurbishment

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon is delighted to announce that it will be officially reopening to the public on Sunday 1 March 2020 after an extensive refurbishment. A grand opening ceremony will be held at the Museum, with a march past by members of the Sealed Knot Society, before the official opening by the Patron of the Cromwell Museum Trust, the Rt. Hon Sir John Major KG CH. Thanks to grants totalling £160,000 an exciting new display has been created highlighting the Museum’s internationally important collections, to tell the story of Oliver Cromwell in a more engaging way.

The new-look exhibition aims to reveal more about Cromwell, from his origins in Huntingdon to his ultimate role as Lord Protector. It seeks to portray this controversial and complex individual ‘warts and all’ whilst exploding common myths, through his words, personal effects and contemporary paintings. It also looks at the impact he has had in the last 350 years since on society, culture, government and democracy.

The Museum holds the best collection of objects relating to the life and times of Oliver Cromwell on public display in the world, located in the former Huntingdon Grammar School building, which is both the oldest building in the town and was where he went to school.  More of these objects are now on display than ever before, including rarely seen personal items, letters and paintings. These include a life sized portrait by Robert Walker which has been specially restored and can now be seen up close for the first time; his swords, hat and a letter in which Cromwell wrote about his struggle with depression. The displays also include more interactive elements and make use of new technology to bring Cromwell’s story to life for visitors.

The Museum has been refurbished over the last four months thanks to generous grants from several funders. £85,000 was awarded thanks to a grant through the AIM Biffa Award Programme’s History Makers Scheme. Biffa Award is a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund. £71,000 came from the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity supporting excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities; and grant of £10,000 from the Huntingdon Freemen’s Trust.

Sir John Major says of the Museum’s reopening “As one of Cromwell’s successors as a Member of Parliament for Huntingdon, I am proud to be Patron of the Cromwell Museum Trust, and delighted to have this opportunity to invite you to discover more about the life and times of this extraordinary man.”

Camilla Nichol, Chair of the Cromwell Museum Trust says "Over the last four months we’ve been working hard behind the scenes with our designers, JANVS/VIDAR to create a set of new displays incorporating our amazing collection and telling the remarkable and controversial story of Oliver Cromwell for a new generation of visitors. We hope that everyone will enjoy the new displays and are very grateful to our funders, donors and volunteers who have supported these changes”.

Stuart Orme, Curator of the Cromwell Museum adds “Our aim with our new displays is to present the different faces of Cromwell, a man who is both celebrated and reviled in equal measure. We aim to enable our visitors to better understand him as a man and not just his reputation. We’re very honoured to have our esteemed patron, Sir John Major, reopen the Museum to the public on March 1. We’re also very grateful to our friends in the Sealed Knot Society who will be staging a colourful march of Civil War soldiers through the town to celebrate our reopening. It should be quite a spectacle!”

The Museum will be open to the public after its official opening ceremony at 2pm on Sunday 1 March. Thereafter it will be open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 4pm, with admission free of charge.

If you would like to contribute towards this exciting project and help the Museum do even more by reaching our target of £200,000, please visit our donations page.

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