It’s now almost a month since we opened our doors to visitors again and what a few weeks it’s been!
We were lucky enough to welcome a very special guest on Wednesday 19 May to officially throw open the doors to visitors; South Yorkshire’s chief fire officer, Alex Johnson, alongside her brigade colleague Simon Dunker. After doing the official honours Alex and Simon made time to take a tour of the museum and meet some of the first visitors to see the new-look NESM, including Gabriel who, his mum told us, had been desperate to get back to one of his favourite places and absolutely loved his day out!
Since then we’ve welcomed hundreds of visitors - some regulars but many who have never been to see us before - and the response we’ve had has been absolutely amazing.
I’ll be honest; of course we knew that we had made some fantastic improvements to the museum while we were closed. Even for those of us who are part of the team here at NESM, who saw (and contributed to) the transformation taking place, the change is still impressive. (If you missed the blog from one of our volunteers. Patrick, earlier this month talking about his reaction to all the changes you can read it at
Our brand new exhibition, Daring Detectives and Dastardly Deeds, showcases some amazing objects including the Swanson marginalia, which names the man believed to be Jack the Ripper. We have improved signage, painted and refreshed areas of the museum, updated and added objects, and installed a lift. We were confident people would like what they saw but, as with anything, you’re never 100 per cent sure until the doors open.
But it’s fair to say we have all been absolutely blown away by the response. Take a look at us on Tripadvisor and, since we reopened, we’ve had nothing but glowing reviews across the board. These are just a selection of the comments we’ve had:
“A really well presented and interesting little museum. It’s perfect for little kids as well as adults - lots to explore, interactive and interesting exhibits, and staff are really friendly and knowledgeable.”
“Absolutely brilliant place to visit, the staff are so friendly and helpful...A fantastic 2 1/2 hours spent inside the museum.”
“The new displays and the efforts put into the whole building shines.”
“What a wonderful find this place is, my little boy didn’t want to leave. There was lots for the kids to see and interact with and we enjoyed it so much we are already planning our next visit.”
“What a little gem!...Our 2 year old is obsessed with ALL emergency services vehicles and this certainly did not disappoint!...I cannot fault a single thing.”
What brilliant feedback - we’ll be getting big-headed!
It’s the same story on Google and in the comments we’ve had through our social media. People are loving the new-look NESM which is just lovely to hear and has made us all feel exceptionally warm and fuzzy (although there has been a heatwave in Yorkshire which may account for some of that!)
You might be wondering, how important are these reviews to us? As long as people are coming through the door and are having a good time, does it really matter if they share their views with others or not? And the answer is, yes, it does matter - in fact reviews like these are REALLY important to our museum.
Firstly, from a personal point of view, we love to get good feedback. (See my earlier comment about our ongoing warmness and fuzziness). After all, who doesn’t love a compliment? And as we don’t always get the chance to chat to all our visitors when they’re here, it’s always good to know when people have enjoyed their visit. We also find it really interesting to learn what visitors liked most; info that helps us do more of the stuff that people want.
And we know that you can’t please all the people all the time. So when people share valid criticisms about their visit, or have ideas where we can improve, it helps us ensure that we can keep getting even better.
But there’s another reason why we value these reviews so much (aside from our own egos!). We’re a self-funded, independent museum that receives no regular funding from local government and we rely almost entirely on our visitors to survive. So getting people through the doors is crucial to keeping NESM up and running, enabling us to maintain our collection and the wonderful, historic building we call home.
Of course we do all we can to get our name out there and to publicise everything NESM has to offer. But it’s often not what we say, but what our visitors say, that has the biggest impact. When people are searching for a day out it’s on places like Tripadvisor and Google that our name pops up, and every positive comment plays its part in bringing people through our doors. Happy visitors are one of the best adverts we have!
So if you have visited us over the last few weeks and left us a review, shared positive comments or photos on social media, or even just extolled the virtues of NESM to your friends - THANK YOU. You are helping us to keep our wonderful museum alive. (And contributing to Team NESM’s fuzzy-ometer. If that’s a thing).
We’re open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am to 4pm and tickets are available at https://www.visitnesm.org.uk/booking.