Agenda item

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life

Report presented by Melissa Hawker, Learning Officer.


Melissa Hawker presented the report which covered the period from January to May 2011.


The Young Volunteers at the Ancient House were the winners of the 2010 East of England regional award for Museum Learning.  The Volunteers were aged between 16 – 24 and were very excited to be going to London to receive the award.


During March, Ancient House had been involved in two art projects.  The first focussed on creating a portrait of Thetford over a 24 hour period.  Images could be viewed on the website


The second was called the Thetford Travelling Menagerie and was run by a team of Canadian artists called DodoLab.  The artists used animals that had lived in Thetford over the past to explore what local residents thought of Thetford today.  As part of this, the Museums knitting group created knitted versions of the animals which were used in window displays during the project.


The museum worked with the Youth Inclusion Support Panel to create a film exploring the life and death of Boudicca and created a CSI-style film.  This had been shown to an audience of friends and relatives and had been really well attended.  Discussions were taking place about this film being included in Thetford Festival later this year.


Thetford’s painting collection, illustrated in Norfolk’s catalogue of Oil Paintings in Public Ownership, would be shown in a documentary to be screened on 26 June on BBC1 at 6pm. 

The documentary looked at the portrait collection and the connections with Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and his family.

Filming took place at Ancient House and other locations in and around Thetford, and included time at Gressenhall where some of the paintings were on display in the public board room.


As well as the oil paintings collected by Prince Frederick, there was an extensive collection of works on paper, mainly prints.  Work was being undertaken to add this collection to a computerised catalogue.


The Stitch in Time sewing group based at Ancient House was fully engaged in their interpretation of the portrait of Lady Littlebury of the 1600’s.  The group visited Oxburgh Hall to view embroideries there, and were progressing well with their bench cushion.


The Extended Schools History Club met each Wednesday during term time, and this term they had been looking at historic food.  They had seen a range of food cooked from the Roman times through to the 1980s microwave chocolate cake.  Staff and parents had been invited to attend a meal which had been well attended.


Friends of the museum had agreed to continue to support the museum’s history club and uphold the programme of social events.  Mr Robin Hanley had recently done a talk on the Seahenge display.


The Committee was informed that Ancient House would be hosting the WWII exhibition on local secrets and stories.  It was looking to hold a wartime tea and cakes day on the 26th June.


School visits had increased compared to 2010 figures which was encouraging. 


The Chairman asked how long it would take for the portraits to be uploaded onto the website.

Mr Hanley informed the Committee that the Museum Service website was continually updated, so the public would be able to access the portraits as soon as they had been uploaded.


The Chairman thanked Melissa for the report.


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