Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Museum's never on a Monday policy

By Eunan McConville
BBC News

Visitors arrived to find the museum was closed

It took £17m and three years - and last week the Ulster Museum opened after a massive refurbishment job.

Understandably, there was plenty of interest from the public.

In fact, according to the museum itself, more than 16,000 people filed through its doors since the grand re-opening last Thursday.

That was until Monday - when it is museum policy to close.

Evidently many people did not know the doors would be shut on 26 October.

I was outside the museum at lunch-time and in a period of just over an hour, hundreds of people made their way towards the new-look glass doors only to find those doors were closed.

A sign in the window apologised on behalf of the museum.

It said: "Dear visitor, we are very sorry you came to the Ulster Museum today and we were closed. All National Museums Northern Ireland sites are closed on Mondays except bank holidays.

"The Ulster Museum has extended opening hours for the Halloween period opening Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm until Sunday 1 November, returning to standard hours Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm, on Tuesday 3 November. We look forward to welcoming you back soon."

James Shepherd said he presumed the museum would be open over the half-term break.

"The kids had been excited all day and were talking about it all weekend," he said.

"To be honest we hadn't checked to see if it was open.

"I suppose it may be partly our fault, but it seems a lot of people have made the same mistake."

The website for the Ulster Museum does have the opening times published, and the helpline also explains that the newly re-opened museum would be closed on Mondays.

Museum spokesman Marshall McKee
Marshall McKee said the museum's message had not reached everyone

But the number of people who simply weren't aware of this ran to hundreds.

Marshall McKee, from National Museums Northern Ireland, was asked if the museum did enough to forewarn people that the doors would be shut on Mondays.

He said: "The very fact that people turned up not knowing that the museum was closed certainly leads me to think that we could have done perhaps a better job.

"What I would say is that we did a good job insofar as we advertised on the website, we put it on our telephone messaging system and in all of our publicity.

"But clearly we missed some of our target audience and I regret that."



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SEE ALSO
Ulster Museum back in business
22 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland
The Ulster Museum: Pictures of the past
22 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland

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