North Hertfordshire Museum finally opens to the public in Hitchin
A £6m museum has finally opened to the public after a six-year row over its main entrance.
The North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin did not open its doors in 2015 as planned because of a dispute over land ownership for part of the site.
It meant only pre-booked guided tours could visit and they had to enter via the adjacent council-owned Town Hall.
The museum said staff were "still pinching themselves" and "can't believe it's really happened after so long".
North Hertfordshire District Council's cultural services manager Ros Allwood said: "It's been an interesting journey but that's all history now, we just want to go forward."
The council decided to convert the Town Hall, which it owns, and adjacent land at 14 Brand Street into a new museum and venue in 2010, combining the former Hitchin and Letchworth museums.
In 2013, the project was expanded to include 15 Brand Street, but planning and legal issues prevented the authority from buying the land needed for the main entrance.
It was not until November 2018 that the council agreed to purchase the land for £550,000.
The council has paid nearly £5m for the whole redevelopment, with £1m coming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Ms Allwood said items from both former museums are on display, but there are also items visitors have not ever seen, even if they had been on a previous guided tour.
There is also a local studies area, an education room and a gallery to bring displays in from around the country.
Liberal Democrat councillor Keith Hoskins said it was "worth the wait".
"It's had its difficulties, but it's fantastic and a gem for the whole of Hertfordshire," he said.
A council review of how the various parties worked together on the project and "what lessons can be learned" is under way.