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Newark and Sherwood: The Museum of Timekeeping, Upton Hall, turns back the clocks for re-opening

Having closed their doors in October 2019, nobody would have known that The Museum of Timekeeping would have to wait another 19 months to re-open.

But that is the reality for the British Horological Institute, based at Upton Hall, which has announced it will finally turn back time and re-open its doors on May 28.

Museum manager Alex Bond said a lot had changed on the site during its enforced closure, which was due to social distancing restrictions surrounding the pandemic.

Museum of Time Keeping preparing to re-open. Museum manager Alex Bond in the new Wonders of Watches exhibition. (45996387)
Museum of Time Keeping preparing to re-open. Museum manager Alex Bond in the new Wonders of Watches exhibition. (45996387)

“We have not just sat back and done nothing over the past 18 to 19 months,” said Alex.

“It has been a really long period of closure. Ordinarily, we are only open seasonally, and we close between the end of October and the beginning of April.

“But when we closed in October 2019, that was the last time we had a chance to welcome people in.

“We made the decision to remain closed and not open up last summer when some of the restrictions were lifted because we wanted to make sure our volunteers and staff were kept as safe as possible, especially because we are a smaller museum.

“We couldn’t expect volunteers who were within the at risk category to safely come back.

“So, instead of focusing on that re-opening, we refurbished as much of the museum as we could.”

Alex said the changes would offer returning visitors a new experience, while their new opening dates offered a family friendly time-scale.

“We have created a shop, which is something we didn’t have previously, and that will consist of a lot of bespoke items,” she said.

“We have a new watch gallery, which has been refurbished for the first time since 1996 and we have gone all out with interactive features, with tablet technology and animations to make it easier for people to connect with it. It gives it a much more structured approach.

“The speaking clocks, which is one of our more popular exhibits, will be moved to a bigger space.

“We relied on staff and volunteers to explain everything beforehand and, while they will still do that, we now have information boards as well.

“We don’t want our visitors to come in and have a bottleneck experience.”

Half of the museum’s 30 volunteers will return when it re-opens on May 28.

Visitors will need to book a timed ticket online in advance to secure their slot.

It will be open on Fridays and Saturdays, from 11am to 3pm.

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