Wilberforce House Museum reopens to the public

Wilberforce House museum will re-open to the public this weekend, following extensive maintenance and improvement works.

With 2020’s pandemic forcing the closure of the museum, the time has been used to complete specialist conservation work and redevelop galleries and is now due to open its doors to the public this Saturday (20 May). 

During the closure, Hull Museums and the council have managed an array of building maintenance matters, including the overhaul of the building’s heating system and extensive work to the ornate 18th century plaster ceiling above the main staircase (see notes to editors).

During this period, the Grade I listed building has also been widely redecorated, had a renewal of its education and conference facilities, developed a new temporary exhibition gallery, had comprehensive roof and drainage repairs and structural surveys and investigations.

Hull Museums has also worked closely with members of the Wilberforce House Museum Advisory Board on an exciting new gallery that looks at the legacies of transatlantic slavery, with the help of funding from Arts Council England.

Making the most of the board’s extensive knowledge and experience, this gallery creates a reflective and thoughtful space as a conclusion to the museum’s galleries exploring slavery. The work has also revealed the stunning historic architecture of the building, previously obscured by display structures.

Additionally, Hull Museums has worked with the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and the Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull to create the temporary exhibition Uncovering Modern Slavery, which will open with the museum.

Councillor Mike Ross, Leader of Hull City Council said:

“We are delighted to be reopening the museum after what has felt like a very long closure. However, given the global importance of this building it was critical to ensure repairs and investigations were done to the highest standard.

“The museum’s exciting new galleries, refreshed displays and the structural heritage of the building have been cared for in the best possible way, and we know visitors will see it has been worth the wait.”

Robin Diaper, Curator of Maritime & Social History at Hull Culture and Leisure said:

“It has been fantastic to work with the members of the Wilberforce House Museum Advisory Board and the University of Hull to develop our new galleries. We hope that people will see these as fitting spaces to reflect on the past and issues affecting today.”

The museum will reopen at 10am this Saturday (20 May) and is free to enter. Daily opening is Monday – Saturday 10am – 4.30pm and Sunday 11am – 4pm.