Museum news: castle reopenings and a Shakespearean experience

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

Curtain up for new Shakespeare museum

A new Museum of Shakespeare incorporating part of a 16th-century playhouse where early performances of Romeo and Juliet and Henry V took place is set to open in Shoreditch in spring 2024.

IMAGE: Museum of London Archaeology / Cain International

The site of the Curtain Theatre was excavated by MOLA archaeologists between 2011 and 2016 (see CA 269 and 316). Now, its remains will be preserved in a new immersive and interactive attraction that will form part of The Stage, a development also encompassing living, office, retail, and leisure space, a Victorian viaduct, and a public piazza.

As well as the archaeological remains, the Museum of Shakespeare will display contemporary artefacts alongside multisensory experiences set in the year 1598. Standing above the playhouse’s stage, visitors will be surrounded by a projected reconstruction of the Elizabethan theatre, placing them in animated performances. It has been created by Bompas & Parr, in collaboration with MOLA and Historic England, alongside a panel of Shakespearean academic advisors.

IMAGE: Museum of London Archaeology / Cain International

Castle reopenings

A three-year, £5-million conservation and development initiative centred on the principal gatehouse of Caernarfon Castle has just been completed, allowing access to areas that have not been seen close-up for centuries.

The Kings Gate project (which is supported by the Welsh Government, and by the European Regional Development Fund through the Tourism Attractor Destination Programme, managed by Visit Wales) included creating a rooftop viewing platform and new flooring in the gatehouse towers, as well as new catering, educational, and retail spaces, Cadw announced. Some of the changes have also improved the attraction’s accessibility, including a lift to provide a step-free route to all the upper levels, and a Changing Places facility.

At the heart of the project, though, is a new multimedia artistic interpretation, ‘the hands that built the castle’, which encourages visitors to think about the site’s history from a different perspective, focusing on ordinary labourers, and in the context of conflict between the Welsh princes and the English monarchy. See http://www.cadw.gov.wales/visit/places-to-visit/caernarfon-castle for more details.

Nottingham Castle is also set to reopen to the public this month, after the City Council approved plans to rescue the beleaguered heritage attraction. The castle was closed until further notice last November, just 18 months after a major transformation of its grounds and galleries (see CA 385 and 395), when the trust running the site on behalf of the City Council went into liquidation. It has since returned to council ownership, and will reopen to visitors on 26 June. See www.nottinghamcastle.org.uk for more details.

New exhibitions

The Declaration of Arbroath
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
3 June – 2 July

Last chance to see

Labyrinth: Knossos, myth and reality
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Until 30 July

Creswell’s First Collectors
University of Nottingham Museum
Until 2 July

Egyptian Hieroglyphs: unlock the mystery
Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
Until 18 June

Refugee Silver: Huguenots in Britain
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Until 30 July

The Vikings, History on your Doorstep
Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life
Until 8 July