Optimism as Bognor Regis Museum reopens for first time in over a year and a half

“It means getting back to normal. People are longing to get back to normal, people will see the fact that we’re open again as another step back to normality,”

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 4:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 7:41 pm

The doors to the Bognor Regis museum were open to the public for the first time in over a year and a half today (August 3), after it closed down due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Volunteer staff, alongside manager Greg Burt, said they were excited to be back in the building and looked forward to helping guests explore Bognor’s past and present.

“You miss it, you miss working here,” said supervisor John O’Connor, who has volunteered at the museum for the last six years. “It’s all about meeting people. It’s nice to see their reactions when they browse the exhibits and, often, when people come in, they have some connection to Bognor that goes years back.”

'Sir Richard Hotham welcomes you to the Bognor Regis museum' Anne Luckett, Greg Burt and John O'Connor at the entrance to the museum

For Mr O’Connor’s colleague Anne Luckett, the museum is another step back to normality after the challenges of a global pandemic: “It means getting back to normal,” she said “People are longing to get back to normal and they’ll see the fact that we’re open again as another step back to normality.”

The lengthy closure has given the museum a chance to experiment with its layout, adding new exhibitions and rethinking old ones.For chairman of the Bognor Regis local history society Greg Burt, the essential quality of the museum is both unchanged and more important than ever.

“We know this isn’t the bright lights and shiny cabinets of some of the bigger museums,” he said “but, we think that what people like about is that all the exhibits are homemade, it’s got this higgledy-piggledy atmosphere, it’s got character, which makes it more interesting.”

“It’s so important to preserve history and promote the town,” added Ms Luckett “And not in a boring way, but as brightly as you can, so everyone wants to take part.”

Mr Burt also has high hopes for the museum’s future. During lockdown, it acquired two new commemorative items from what used to be Michael Ayers school, both of which are now proudly on display. It has also been collecting funds to expand into a new part of building, where it will display a variety of exhibits dedicated to the beach, including an original Bognor Regis bathing machine.

Although the museum used to be open six days a week, it is currently only opening on Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Mr Burt he hopes to return to the museum’s previous schedule by next season and thanked volunteers for giving up their time to keep the museum going.