Sunday opening for Worcester museums up for debate
Public opening hours to two city museums could be reshaped following recommendations made to Worcester City Council's Place and Economic Development (PED) Committee on Monday 6 November.
Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum and The Commandery are key destinations for visitors to the city, attracting a combined 80,000 visitors each year.
Proposals are for the Art Gallery & Museum to open on Sundays, to give greater access to visitors and stimulate the visitor economy in the north end of the city. Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum is the largest and most visited museum in Worcestershire. It houses important displays of the city's history including artefacts relating to Worcestershire Sauce and the gloving industry, as well as bringing great art to the city through exhibitions featuring renowned artworks and artists such as Matisse, JMW Turner and most recently Canaletto.
Under the proposals, The Commandery will have extended Sunday opening hours, from 10am – 3pm, appealing to the short-break tourist market; those visitors to the city staying two or three nights. The Commandery is at the heart of Worcester's tourism offer. One of the city's oldest buildings, it is best known for being the Royalist Headquarters during the deciding battle of the English Civil War; the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
The museums contribute significantly to the local economy and help to raise the profile of Worcester as a heritage destination. Recent research has shown that 39% of visitors travel into Worcestershire specifically to visit the museums, with 71% staying overnight in accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs. The spend by museum visitors in other local businesses in 2022-23 was £2.4m.
If the recommendations on opening hours are approved, both museums will open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm, and Sundays 10am – 3pm, giving a consistent message to visitors. Sunday opening and Monday closure is a common pattern amongst museums globally.
If approved, the revised opening hours will come into effect in 2024.