MUSEUMS at two of York’s historic Bars are to undergo major refurbishments and will be dedicated to two controversial kings.
Monk Bar will play host to The Richard III Experience, while Micklegate Bar will become home to The Henry VII Experience. Both will be run by the Jorvik Group which already runs the Viking Centre and DIG.
The developments, which will capitalise on increased international interest in Richard following the discovery of his remains under a Leicester car park, are expected to boost York’s tourism in the run-up to Easter.
Kate McMullen, head of Visit York, said the revamped museums would add a new dimension to York’s “superb tourism offer,” adding: ”York’s royal heritage is popular with visitors and these exciting plans will offer a freshand timely insight into medieval York.”
Dean Whitehouse, a member of the Micklegate Quarter, said the revamped museum should help draw more tourists to the area, providing further business to local traders who had already turned the corner after difficult times.
The plans have been unveiled by the Jorvik Group, part of the York Archaeological Trust, which already runs the Micklegate Bar Museum and has now also taken over the Richard III Museum at Monk Bar.
Sarah Maltby, the group’s director of attractions, said Michael Bennett, who founded the Richard III Museum two decades ago, was retiring and had approached the group about it taking over the reins.
She said: “Richard III has been very much in the news in recent years, and there’s a great opportunity to tell the story of Richard and his connections with the city of York, from his ascension to the bloody battles of Towton and then Bosworth.”
“It then seemed logical to link Monk Bar with Micklegate Bar, so that with a short walk along the city walls, visitors can continue the story, looking at the subsequent reign of Henry VII, to create a visitor experience that really cements York’s role in the time of the Plantagenets and Tudors.
“These two new attractions, combined with Barley Hall, will illustrate the story of medieval York fantastically well, giving visitors an idea of what it would have been like to live in the city through the War of the Roses, living first under the white rose of Richard, then the red rose of Henry Tudor.
“With the popularity of the BBC series The White Queen last summer, and the on-going interest in Richard III, we’re looking forward to welcoming our first visitors to step inside this fascinating period in history.”
Mr Bennett said he had always tried to present the case for and against Richard III in an accessible and entertaining way and had enjoyed meeting and welcoming visitors over the last 20 years.
“I am delighted the Jorvik Group of Attractions will be taking over the museum and that it will continue to inform and entertain residents and tourists about the Richard III story.”
Mrs McMullen paid tribute to the “excellent work and passion” that Mr Bennett had put into the Richard III Museum over the years.
The Richard III Museum has already shut and the Micklegate museum will close briefly at the end of March while new exhibitions are installed, with both re-opening for the Easter holidays.