Venue: Council Chamber, King's House, Thetford
Contact: Committee Services 01362 656870
To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 2nd October 2009.
The meeting commenced at 2.00pm with the Vice-Chairman, Mr Kiddle-Morris in the Chair.
The minutes of the meeting held on 2 October 2009 were agreed as a correct record.
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr S Dunn, Mrs D Irving, Mr C Jordan and Mr R Kybird.
Mrs Christine Walters was welcomed to her first meeting. Mrs Walters was replacing Mrs Brenda Ravencroft as representative of the Friends of Gressenhall.
To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972.
Declaration of Interest
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests which they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.
Mr M Kiddle-Morris and Mrs C Walters declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 6 (Gressenhall) as members of the Friends of Gressenhall.
Report by Dr Robin Hanley, Western Area Manager, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse.
Mr P Duigan arrived at the meeting and assumed the Chair. He welcomed Mr John Bracey, Vic-Chairman of the Joint Museums Committee, to the meeting.
Robin Hanley presented his report and explained that there had been changes to the staff structures in the western area since he wrote it. Previously Oliver Bone had been curator at Thetford and Tim Thorpe had been curator at King’s Lynn. A new post of curator of both King’s Lynn and Thetford had been created and he congratulated Oliver on assuming that post. Tim Thorpe would take on the duties of Collections Officer for both towns. Steve Harris would assume premises and Health & Safety responsibilities for both locations and this would free up time for the curatorial teams.
The written report covered the period from September 2009 to January 2010 and Robin briefed Members on its contents.
Days to Remember (18 September) – The weather had been kind and over 1,000 visitors had attended this event which was aimed at people over 55 and had provided an opportunity for working closely with other agencies involved with older people.
Heavy Horse Day (10 October) – This was a smaller scale event and had been used as a pilot scheme using only the usual open day staff resources. It had focussed on one of the unique selling points of Gressenhall, the Suffolk Punches.
Apple Day (25 October) – With 3,404 visitors this had been the biggest attendance in recent years. The site had coped well and it had been a tremendous day celebrating all things to do with apples and the autumn.
Christmas Experience (26 December) – This had been reduced to a one day event and had been blessed with reasonable weather. Activities included Father Christmas, fairground rides, Victorian characters in costume, carol singers, hand bell ringers and cookery in the farmhouse.
The Produced in Norfolk shop would continue through 2010 and would focus on demonstrations on event days. It was seen as a good way of supporting local craftsmen.
The critical factors on event days were catering, car parking and toilets! All had performed well and the café and other food outlets had themed their catering to fit in with the events.
The event programme for 2010 had been finalised and included both old and new events which would hopefully attract existing and new audiences. The season opened on Mothering Sunday (14 March) and other highlights were the Food Fair (3 May) which was a big retail event with the focus on food and farming; and a new smaller event for Father’s Day (20 June) which would have the theme of ‘Big Boys’ Toys’ and would include a display of modern combines and tractors alongside the older exhibits.
Other Museum Developments
Work was progressing on the Land Army Gallery and the Friends were heavily involved in fundraising for this project. The target opening date was March 2011.
During the closure there had been a programme of works which included the erection of ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Report by Oliver Bone, Curator, Ancient House.
Oliver Bone presented his report which looked back over the autumn and winter.
A commemorative DVD of Thomas Paine was now available and his death mask (from the Ancient House) was one of the ten Norfolk objects to feature in the BBC’s local version of A History of the World. Radio Norfolk were doing an article on Thomas Paine and would be visiting Ancient House to interview local people.
The museum had an ambitious events programme as it was important to encourage repeat visits from the local audience. It also joined in with other activities in the town and those of partner agencies.
At Christmas the Ancient House had participated in the popular switch on of the Christmas lights and had featured a window display of knitted decorations produced through the community knitting project.
Oliver would be attending a meeting to discuss involvement in the Thetford Festival Week to be held from August Bank Holiday and was hoping to persuade David Osborne to give a talk on festivals in the town.
Children from the History Club would be participating in a play on Harry Bensley, who was reputed to have walked round the world, wearing an iron mask and pushing a pram!
An exhibition and programme of events on the Maharajah Duleep Singh was planned to take place from 18 June 2010. It was hoped that a painting of the Maharajah could be borrowed for the exhibition, from a private collector. The Daily Express had featured an article about the Maharajah earlier in the week and had included photographs provided by the museum.
The current exhibition in the museum, which had opened in January, was about people who had settled in Thetford. It started with mammoth butchers and worked forward to the present day and included a feature about a previous mayor of Thetford, who had been the first black mayor in Britain.
The kitchen at Ancient house had a display about rabbits as a previous occupant had been a Warrener and it was hoped that the museum would feature in a rabbit cookbook.
Oliver also mentioned work that had been done to install an induction loop at the museum to improve access to the talks and performances held there for those with hearing problems.
The current mayor of Thetford (Mrs Spencer) reminded Oliver that the Town Council had a painting of the Maharajah Duleep Singh which the museum could borrow for their exhibition if required.
Vanessa Trevelyan concluded with a word of caution about the current financial situation. She explained that they were facing funding pressures and that the projected budget for the next three years was very tight. The Renaissance in the Region funding would end in March 2011 although new project grant funding should be available in place of revenue funding.
If the Unitary decision went ahead it would have implications on the Museums Service. There was no further information about that at the moment but it should be borne in mind. Senior Managers were, ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To agree a date for the next meeting.
It was agreed that the next meeting would be held on Friday 4 June 2010, at 10.00am at the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. Members would have the opportunity to see the improvements to the chapel and to look at plans for the new Land Army Gallery.
At the conclusion of the meeting Members were invited to visit the Dad’s Army Museum, where the Manager, Corinne Fulford, was in attendance to provide answers to any questions.