HRH The Duke Of Gloucester Opens Hull Museums Quarter

By David Prudames | 24 April 2003

Left: a race-track winner displays his laurels in a stunning mosaic from the Roman villa at Rudston and on display at Hull and East Riding Museum. Courtesy of Hull City Council Museum Service.

Hull's £5.1 million Museums Quarter was officially declared open by HRH The Duke of Gloucester on Thursday April 24.

Taking place in the brand new Mandela Gardens visitor orientation centre, the ceremony marked the culmination of six years of hard work to create an innovative 'Museum Quarter'.

The project links and enhances the four museums situated on Hull's High Street: Streetlife, Hull and East Riding Museum, Wilberforce House and the former deep-sea fishing vessel, the Arctic Corsair. Funding was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, the EU and Hull City Council.

Shows HRH The Duke of Gloucester being shown around Hull and East Riding Museum by Craig Barclay, Keeper of Archaeology.

Right: The Duke of Gloucester is shown around Hull and East Riding Museum by Craig Barclay, Keeper of Archaeology. Courtesy of Eddie Rolmanis Photos for Hull City Council Museum Service.

“We are very pleased to have such a distinguished royal visitor to open Hull's new Museums Quarter,” said Councillor Geraldine Gough, portfolio holder for culture and leisure.

“It is yet another asset that will draw people into the city. Hull's first class museums are leading a tourist boom, which is hardly surprising with such a great variety of cultural experiences on offer.”

The project has been completed in several phases and was overseen by a small, but dedicated team led by Head of Hull Museums, Brian Hayton.

Shows a photograph of the Wilberforce House Museum.

Left: the Wilberforce House Museum is housed in the birthplace of William Wilberforce, Hull MP and slavery abolishionist. Courtesy of Hull City Council Museum Service

Phase one opened to the public in April 2002 and involved a major refit and extension to the imaginitive Streetlife, which houses the country's oldest transport collection.

Next up came the recreation of a Roman town to showcase the city's internationally renowned collection of mosaics and artefacts at Hull and East Riding Museum, which opened in July last year.

The final phase included new Medieval and Anglo-Saxon galleries at Hull and East Riding Museum and was completed and opened to the public on April 14 this year. The new visitor orientation point in Mandela Gardens was unveiled on the same day and features information on all four museums, guiding visitors through the sights and sounds of all the attractions.

Shows Clare Parsons, Assistant Keeper of Social History showing the Duke around Wilberforce House.

Right: Clare Parsons, Assistant Keeper of Social History shows the Duke around Wilberforce House. Courtesy of Eddie Rolmanis Photos for Hull City Council Museum Service.

“Each museum has a unique story to tell,” explained Brian Hayton. “We wanted to create something special for Hull and not simply recreate what other museums have done.”

“Many objects that have not been seen for years have required research, conservation and interpretation for a modern-day audience with one-off themed displays.”

“It has been a long, hard road from conception to completion, but the effort has been worthwhile.”

Shows a traditional streetscene, featuring a Co-op store at Streetlife.

Left: a Co-op store completes the traditional streetscene at Streetlife. Courtesy of Hull City Council Museum Service.

The Duke also visited Hull Maritime Museum, before touring Wilberforce House, the former home of slavery abolitionist and Hull MP William Wilberforce.

Coinciding with the opening of the Museums Quarter are several other new developments in the city's cultural institutions.

Streetlife has new interactive exhibits, while Wilberforce House has a new clock gallery and the Arctic Corsair has been extensively repainted and renovated.

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