Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Ball Room, The Assembly Rooms, Swaffham

Contact: Julie Britton 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2007.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2007 were agreed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mrs S Howard-Alpe, Mr M Fanthorpe, Mr C. B. A. Lloyd Owen and Miss Claire Salley.



Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman announced that a young person had shown an interest in filling the Co-optee vacancy.  Further information on this matter would be available at the next meeting.



Norfolk's Days Out to Remember pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Report by the Head of Museums & Archaeology.



The Area Museums Officer for Breckland, Mr Stuart Gillis, presented the report which informed the Committee on the delivery of the Museum’s 2007 Older People’s Initiative.


In 2004 Norfolk County Council introduced the Norfolk Older People’s Strategy. The Strategy had stated that whilst providing high quality services for the most vulnerable adults was still a priority, additional emphasis should be placed on supporting more older people to live in their own homes.  Mr Gillis had been invited to a Norfolk County Council meeting to encourage service providers to help support this new emphasis, and in response, museum managers had asked what they could do for the elderly.  One idea that had been put forward were days out for the over 55s. 


Renaissance in the Regions, a programme of funding to transform England’s regional museums, had granted £20,000 to deliver the project and this had been allocated accordingly. 


Many volunteers had been involved with the project, who were themselves, over 55 and had been very keen to support such an initiative.


The success of the three days held during the summer months confirmed the belief that the over 55s were an audience that was waiting to be invited in and welcomed to the areas Museums and attractions.  The days had attracted nearly 3,000 visitors, 85% of which had been aged 60 or over. 


The days had been all about partnership working.  Other Groups and Organisations had helped to promote the scheme, including Breckland Council, Norfolk County Council Community Transport section, Age Concern Norfolk and Norfolk County Council Adult Social Services.  Age Concern had helped promote the days as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.  Breckland Council had funded the arts and activities and had promoted local health walks. 


The days had been designed to be friendly and welcoming and to offer as many opportunities as possible for interaction, conversation and sharing.  The key components of each day were:


  • Reduced entry fee
  • Meet and greet by Museum volunteers, some in period costume
  • Free refreshments
  • Range of activities, some timetabled, including guided tours, enactments, sing alongs, cart-rides, traditional farming and cooker demonstrations, family history talk and reminiscence-based art activities
  • A marquee with stalls
  • A programme to help visitors plan their time.


Despite relatively low sales, stallholders had enjoyed the days and most of the visitors had attended all three.  A Member suggested that the goods should have been reduced by 10% on those particular days as people of that age were always looking for a bargain.  Mr Gillis said that he would take that idea into consideration.


The visitors had registered very high levels of satisfaction, particularly in terms of value for money, enjoyment and events and activities on offer.


The granting of the Renaissance funding had made it possible to develop and deliver the pilot programme in 2007. The event had proved that there was an audience out there and Gressenhall Museum was very keen to repeat the initiative in 2008.  However, Members were informed that there were no guarantees  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Operations at Gressenhall

Verbal update by the Area Museums Officer, Stuart Gillis.


Mr Gillis updated the Committee on operations at Gressenhall. 


Visitor numbers for 2007 had been very similar to those of 2006 with around 84,000 people expected to visit the Museum by the end of year (March 2008).  The income level, however, was down compared to recent years; how to increase the income would be one of the matters that Mr Gillis would be concentrating on.


A Member queried the visitor levels and asked why the income level had fallen.  Mr Gillis stated that if the event days were taken out of the equation the amount of people visiting the Museum had, in fact, gone down.  Further to this, 48% of Gressenhall’s visitors had Museum passes.  Visitors to the Museum were prominently Norfolk- based and there was a high tendency for those people to return and visit more than once in the same year; however, the Museum had to continue to broaden its audience and attract visitors from beyond Norfolk through further marketing and publicity.


One event that had attracted further visitors, since the over 55s day, was the Go-Green event.  Go-Green had an enormous potential and would feature very highly in the Museums calendar in 2008.  In partnership with Norfolk County Council, Renaissance had supported the project by providing funding to the amount of £5,000.


To encourage visitors to leave their cars at home Norfolk County Services had provided a free biodiesel bus service from Norwich Bus Station via a number of villages to Gressenhall.


The County Council’s environment and waste teams had joined up with Gressenhall to showcase what was being done in Norfolk to try and help combat global warming to reduce the county’s carbon footprint and to raise awareness of what people in Norfolk could do to help this work.


The Go-Green event had been set around Norfolk County Council’s planning and transport agenda.  Mr Gillis said that the highlight of the day for him had been the Tesla sports car.  Tesla Motors’ award winning zero emissions electric performance sports car had been on display at the event. 


Not only was there transport on the Agenda but the day also brought together many examples of environmental good practice, such as recycling, composting and energy saving, as well as economic driving, sustainable living and the benefits of buying locally.


Mr Gillis advised that the Museum would continue to build on this event every year incorporating different service providers.  Gressenhall’s carbon footprint would also be compared each year.


A Member felt that recycling issues were very important and should be put at the top of the agenda.  Mr Gillis stated that the Museum had put a great deal of effort into the day but it had to look at ways of making it sustainable.  A Green Team had been set up at Gressenhall to see how the Museum could improve on such issues.


Another Member felt that the Museum should be looking to eliminate the use of plastic carrier bags and introduce a hessian type of bag which could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Report by the Curator of Ancient House, Oliver Bone.


The Curator of Ancient House, the Museum of Ancient Life, Oliver Bone, presented the report which outlined the work at the Museum from June to September 2007.


Media Coverage


John Craven, the host of BBC1’s Country File programme, had visited the Museum during the summer and had featured the Museum of Ancient Life on 23 September 2007.  Ancient House would also be included in a 10 minute slot on Anglia’s Bygones programme scheduled for 20 December 2007.  The Bygones programme would be on Thetford Pulpware, the subject of the current exhibition at the Museum.  The Guardian newspaper had also made reference to Ancient House.


Thetford Growth Point


Mr Bone had been helping to coordinate submissions to planners at Breckland Council for proposed new developments in Thetford resulting from anticipated Growth Point Status funding.  On behalf of the Thetford Tourism and Heritage Partnership project proposals had been made relating to environmental improvements in the vicinity of the Ancient House, and other capital projects in the town centre to improve the appearance and facilities of the town.


Anniversary of re-opening the Ancient House


In its first year of re-opening the Ancient House had attracted some 9,000 visitors, a rise of more than 20% from previous years and kind comments had been written in the visitors’ book.


Admission would be free in the winter months and during the summer a nominal fee would be charged.


The Museum was very keen to be involved in the Thetford Wide events such as switching on the Christmas lights and it hoped to be playing a part in the Dragon Boat Race next year.  The Ancient House had also been linked to the ‘Go-Green’ event held in Gressenhall.


It was important that the Museum concentrated on trying to attract further visitors to the Museum.


A Member suggested advertising ideas.  Mr Bone advised that directional finger posts were situated in the town centre but the Museum was not included on them.  There were also brown tourist signs that led people to the car park, and from there, the Victorian black and white signs pointed the public in the right direction to the Museum.  Mr Bone stated that it would make much more sense to have the Museum included on the brown tourist signs.


Exhibitions – ‘Collectamania


The Ancient House had advertised for local people to come forward with their treasures to be exhibited at the Museum on 22 October 2007.  The pulpware would be moved out to make room for the collections ranging from ‘Elvis Presley’ memorabilia to ‘cigarette silks’.





Renaissance in the Regions


Renaissance had helped to fund a much needed additional Museum Learning Assistant to help people enjoy and learn new things from their visit.


Children’s Consultancy


Children’s Consultancy week over the summer had attracted nine children to look at possible improvements that could be made to the Ancient House.  A useful report had resulted from that particular week and these results would be fed into ideas for the development of the Bridewell  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Date of Next Meeting

To agree a date and venue for the next meeting.


The date and time of the next meeting was agreed as Friday, 22 February 2008 at 10.30am at Gressenhall.



Tour of the Swaffham Museum

Members are invited to attend a tour of the Swaffham Museum following the meeting.


Members were invited to attend a tour of the newly refurbished Museum at the Town Hall, Swaffham.