Clifton Park Museum
Clifton Park Museum is a medium-sized municipal museum situated in Clifton House on the western edge of Clifton Park in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. It is one of several publicly owned museums and visitor attractions administered by the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham and is the headquarters of Heritage Services, which also includes the York and Lancaster Regimental Museum and Archives and Local Studies.
The museum collections include local social and industrial history, archaeology, natural sciences, coins and medals and fine and decorative arts. These include Roman remains from Templeborough, and Nelson, a stuffed Cape Lion. The museum is noted for its particularly fine collection of Rockingham Pottery, including one of only two specimens of porcelain 'Rhinoceros Vase', which were created as showcases of the work of the pottery.
Clifton House, built in 1783, is a Grade II* listed building designed by John Carr of York. It was once the seat of the Walker family, who were early industrialists involved in the manufacture of iron and steel.
The house and park were purchased by the Municipal Borough of Rotherham in 1891 and the museum was first opened to the public later that year with the majority of its exhibits loaned by local people. It was administered by the Borough Librarian with a succession of honorary curators until the 1970s. In 1974 the soot blackened stonework was cleaned and the museum building was extended when a roof was placed over the original open courtyard. A Museum education loans service was set up for use by schools in the Borough, and professional staff were employed to catalogue and display the collections. Clifton Park Museum was one of the earliest museums to achieve full registration by the Museums Council in 1989.
In 2003 the museum closed for a major refurbishment of the building and displays, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. During this time it was twice shortlisted for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year in 2003 and 2004, for its innovative outreach programmes, despite the building being closed to the public.
The refurbishment cost £3 million in total and included major repairs to the roof, heating systems, stonework, windows and electrical systems. In addition to new displays, improved public facilities included a study room, a cafeteria and a gift shop. A lift was also installed to make the building fully accessible to disabled visitors. The interior was redecorated using the exact colour scheme as used when the building was a Georgian country house in the 18th century.
Clifton Park Museum re-opened to the public on 29 January 2005. It is open Monday to Friday - 10am to 5pm, Saturday - 9.30am to 5.00pm, Sunday - 1.30pm to 4.30pm (April - September) Sunday - closed (October - March). Admission is free.