Hitchin and Letchworth museums to shut

TWO museums are preparing to close their doors to the public for good, after decades of providing free services to the community.

Hitchin Museum will shut on Saturday, September 1, with Letchworth Museum shutting a week later.

It is to prepare for a multi-million pound project, which will see the museums moved to a brand new district museum in Hitchin Town Hall.

The project, which is supported by cross-party councillors, Hitchin Initiative and residents, will also see the venue keep its main hall for community use and will feature smaller meeting rooms, a caf� and a dedicated education and activity area.

Ros Allwood, cultural services manager for North Herts District Council, said: “We know everybody is fond of the museums, of course, so it is a sad time but equally it’s all for a good reason because we are working towards this fantastic new museum.

“At a time when funding is being cut across the country, we’re extremely lucky to be getting this fantastic new facility.”

She added: “We would love people to pop in and see us and share their memories.”

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Once the museums close, displays will be catalogued, photographed, cleaned and packed in preparation for transportation to the new facility.

Many services will be accessible from other museums in the towns, including digital archives at the British Schools’ Museum in Hitchin.

The First Garden City Heritage Museum in Letchworth GC will also be open.

Educational programmes delivered to schools and outreach work with other museums, residential homes and community archaeology groups will continue as normal.

Cllr Tricia Cowley said: “Combining the two collections from Hitchin and Letchworth museums requires a significant amount of work.

“This process is likely to take many months and for security reasons this cannot happen while the museums are open.

“We will continue to keep people throughout North Herts informed about the exciting project.”

Curator of Hitchin Museum, David Hodges, told the Comet preparations were going well for the move.

“We’re getting equipment together and are all ready to hit the ground running on September 3,” he said.

“We have had a busy summer, and I know there’s some people who have come to have a last look at the museum in its current form.”

Although Letchworth Museum will not be open during normal hours from September 1, it will be open for the town’s Heritage Open Days from September 6 to 8.

Both museums will also hold behind the scenes tours, during October and November.

It is not yet known what will happen to the buildings once they close.