Back in business

It’s doors open again from tomorrow, February 1st at No. 1 Royal Crescent and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.

Also reopening for the first time since closing due to the pandemic, Beckford’s Tower and Museum will once again welcome visitors from 5 March. Having been closed for two years, it will be a great opportunity to visit the Tower before it closes again for significant repairs and the installation of a new museum.

At the Herschel Museum of Astronomy there will be a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the death of William Herschel.  Working with many partners across the UK, there will be exhibitions, activities, trails, workshops and events.  Thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund Grant, this work will be delivered in Bath, Slough and online with new digital content.  

Claire Dixon, Director of Museums for BPT said “2022 is a really important year for the museum and an opportunity to showcase the home of the Herschels and the place where William discovered the planet Uranus and Caroline discovered many comets.  We are looking forward to working with our partners to reach new audiences and inspire young people to engage with science and astronomy.”

Beckford’s Tower will be open at weekends from March until October. During this time, an exhibition will showcase potential new stories that may form part of a new museum at the Tower, due to open in 2024 subject to successful fundraising.  A development grant awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund is enabling Bath Preservation Trust to re-examine the way in which they share the story of William Beckford’s links to the transatlantic slave trade. Claire said “This year will provide us with an important opportunity to invite visitors back to the museum and tell us what they think about our plans.  We want to know if they are interested in the stories we plan to tell and get as much feedback as possible before we commit to our final interpretation strategy.”  

The Tower is also a popular venue for weddings and events and Claire added “We work hard to ensure a good balance between cultural and commercial activity, to ensure public access to the Tower and Museum whilst also generating sufficient income to be sustainable.”  

At No. 1 Royal Crescent visitors can experience a variety of immersive visitor experiences, with The Georgians at Home in Bath running daily, except on the last Friday of every month, when visitors can enjoy Jane Austen in Bath.   

New for 2022 at No.1, a museum guide is available on a new App for smartphones, with borrowable devices also on site.  This will help visitors to find out more about the house, dressed rooms and collections whilst still enjoying the immersive story.  The museum will also have new resources for families and those with access needs, thanks to a new trail and sensory bags.  Later in the year a new interactive will enable audiences to find out more about the characters in the experience and there will be fully accessible house tours available on tablet devices, for those who cannot physically visit the full house.  All of these experiences are due to Cultural Recovery Funding secured in 2021.

Claire commented “We are excited to open our doors again and welcome visitors, with even more for them to enjoy.  In 2020 we recognised very early on, that our best response to the pandemic would be to transform the museum so that we could provide an exciting, relevant and flexible experience for modern audiences.  We committed to investing in new technology, bringing the rooms in the house to life through film and sound.  Our curatorial team created narratives for the house that ensured our story was authentic and we retained our integrity whilst also creating something fun, modern and relevant.”

Reflecting on the feedback so far, Claire commented “Audiences are really enjoying this fresh new way to experience the historic house and they become interested in the characters and what happens to them.  Evaluating their experience is crucial and their feedback has inspired the new elements that we are adding for this year.  This includes the opening a free to access gallery that will display a small exhibition all about the Royal Crescent, how it was built, who lived at No. 1 and how Bath Preservation Trust has continued to care for this important building as part of its wider work to preserve the City of Bath.”