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Museums reopening information on visiting, how to book and FAQs

16 July 2020

How to Book:

Initially, booking is only available for those with a valid Museums Pass and Museum Friends. During this period, Museum admission will require presentation of a valid Museums Pass or Gressenhall Friends membership card. Public booking will not be available until 1 August.  Tickets must be pre-booked online.  No tickets will be available on the door. 

NHS Test and Trace:

For the safety of staff and visitors we are required by the government to collect contact information for all our visitors.  Anyone in a group who is covered by a Museums Pass but does not live at the address shown on the pass, will be asked for their name and phone number. 

Facilities information

  • Toilets will be available
  • Cafés and shops will be closed


Work on a plan to reopen our museums safely began well in advance of the Government announcement of the 4 July as the earliest date by when museums could reopen. All our museums are based in historic buildings, the nature of which make safety planning more complex than for more modern/ purpose-built venues. Our reopening schedule has been guided by the safety of our staff and visitors which is our number one priority. Museums across the country are following different paths to reopening based on individual circumstances. Most museums did not reopen on 4 July, but are opening with limited offers at different times across the summer.

Each site has introduced a comprehensive set of measures to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. These include:

  • Pre-booked tickets and reduced capacity at all three sites to ensure social distancing
  • New entry arrangements
  • Hand sanitiser stations and access to handwashing facilities
  • Clear signage reminding visitors to follow social distancing and hygiene measures
  • Recommended one-way routes through the museums which are clearly signposted
  • Staff located at key points to help guide visitors and answer questions
  • The closure of higher risk areas including cafes and shops, and areas where social distancing is more difficult
  • Enhanced site cleaning

Our plans have been subject to full County Council Risk Assessment procedures and have been assessed and approved by the County Council’s Health & Safety team. They are fully compliant with Government regulations and also follow sector-specific reopening guidelines produced by the National Museums Directors’ Council in collaboration with the DCMS.

We will monitor Government guidelines regarding the wearing of face coverings and will implement any new procedures that are required.

We have developed COVID-specific enhanced cleaning regimes for each site. Opening hours will be reduced to allow staff to carry out additional cleaning at the start and end of the day. Touchpoint cleaning will be carried out across the day.

The first three museums to open are Time and Tide Museum of Great Yarmouth Life, Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. They were chosen solely on the basis of safety: as our three largest sites they are most easily adapted to the implementation of safety procedures such as social distancing, one-way routes etc.

We continue to make preparations for the reopening of our other museums and will do so as soon as it is safe and in accordance with Government guidelines.

Plans to reopen the search room at the Archive Centre in Norwich are currently underway and we hope to be in a position to update people on our progress soon.

Toilet facilities will be available at all three museums, including accessible toilets. To minimise risk, the museum cafes and shops will remain shut for the time being. The three sites will remain accessible to visitors with mobility impairments.

Yes. For the safety of staff and visitors we are required by the government to collect contact information for all our visitors to support the NHS Test and Trace scheme. Anyone in a group who hasn’t provided contact details through the online booking system will be asked to provide their name and phone number. These details will be stored securely and will be destroyed after 21 days to comply with data protection law.

Once we have implemented and evaluated our basic reopening offer from the start of August, we will review options for targeted openings for these priority groups.

At this stage we expect our schools offer to be delivered remotely during the Autumn term. Our award-winning learning teams are liaising with local teachers and developing new digital programmes.

A number of weddings will take place at the Norwich Castle before it opens to the public. They have already been arranged under the new government guidelines. Those arrangements are unaffected by this announcement.

Work to deliver our flagship National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project, Norwich Castle: Royal Palace Reborn, has continued throughout lockdown, with a large amount of preparatory work such as surveys and documentation being completed. While the commencement of building work has unavoidably been delayed by the pandemic, this preparation will help to minimise delays once construction begins.

All details about reopening and what people need to know before they visit will be available on our website: and our social media channels will also carry up-to-date information.

Museum at Home: Digital Resources in Lockdown

Since the closure of our museum sites at the start of lockdown, staff across Norfolk Museums Service have been working hard to ensure that communities can continue to engage with our collections and have adapted to providing services online. This commitment to providing digital resources will continue over the coming months.

Initiatives include:

  • New video content and activities including: Museum of Norwich’s Lockdown Living Room Escape Challenge, A Victorian Murder Mystery from Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, a ‘How to become a Roman Centurion’ activity and Roman exercise work out from Time and Tide, and a series of ‘In the Picture’ films exploring the art collections at Norwich Castle
  • Transfer of existing clubs and sessions to digital including: Early Years sessions from Norwich Castle and Time and Tide and Castle Writers creative writing group
  • New online resources for schools across a number of Key Stages including: a series of animal-themed prompt cards for ages 3-7 to encourage imagination and conversation, a video tour of Norwich Castle Keep aimed at KS3, and videos on the Great Fire of London and Ancient Egypt for KS1 and 2.
  • New online exhibitions and tours including: Norwich Castle’s ‘Where Land and Water Meet’ exhibition exploring Norfolk’s waterways via the ArtUK website, and guided tours of Lynn Museum and Museum of Norwich using the Google Arts & Culture platform
  • Collecting public responses to the pandemic including: Lynn Museum’s ‘Journeys through a Pandemic’, the newly launched ‘Picturing the Pandemic’ from Norwich Museums and Time and Tide’s ‘Message in a Bottle’ campaign
  • Developing our social media content leading to an increase in engagement and followers

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