Agenda item

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life

Report of Curator, Ancient House.

Minutes:

Mr Oliver Bone presented the report which covered the period from February to August 2015.

 

The World War One exhibition would run until the end of October Half Term 2015 and a publicity campaign would be launched to inform the community of the last chance to visit the exhibition.

 

The Duleep Singh Gallery collection was being worked on and a number of private donations had been received towards the project. A staff member had the opportunity to visit Punjab and explored opportunities around the interpretation of the Duleep Singh story and connections around the textile work.

 

Work was in hand for the forthcoming Flint Rocks exhibition which would open to the public on 21 November.  The exhibition would cover the social history and would feature unusual aspects of the material such as it uses to make Wedgewood teapots and production of sculpted flint dogs.

 

The Museum’s Teenage History club had worked with Kids in Museums to make a new film about museums which was available to view on line.

 

The Museum would also feature on the TVs Antiques Road Trip which would be shown either in the autumn or early 2016.

 

Staff at Ancient House had also started a project in partnership with the local press Thetford & Brandon Times to write a monthly column entitled ‘Thetford in a hundred Artefacts’.  The article provided an opportunity to highlight objects from the museum collection and promote forthcoming museum events.

 

The Museum was included in a new Munzee Trail for Thetford, a digital scavenger hunt.  It would run through the autumn and Ancient House was offering vouchers as a price for entrants to the competition.

 

Ancient House was now licensed to hold weddings and were looking at how this would work in practice.

 

Councillor Richmond noticed that the visitor numbers were particularly strong in July and asked if there was a reason for this.  It was thought it was due to the variety of activities offered during July.

 

The Chairman said that he would pass some of the ideas on to the local museum in Dereham (Bishop Bonners Cottage).

 

Mr Bone said he was currently working with the Charles Burrell Museum as they were looking to go through the re-accreditation process.

 

Councillor Borrett mentioned there was a vacancy on the Committee from Norfolk County Council and suggested that this should be a Thetford Member.  The Chairman also mentioned that there was a vacancy for a Breckland Council Member, and suggested it was raised with the Leader of the Council.

 

Councillor Borrett asked that as the ‘I love Museums’ project was not specific to Thetford, and was there a plan for the whole museum service.  Dr Hanley said that the programme included the whole Museum Service.

 

Councillor Borrett highlighted the huge variance with the visitor numbers, and asked what percentage of visitors went to the same museum more than once.

 

Dr Hanley said they were now able to track visitors through the Museum pass membership and gather statistics on repeat visitors.  Gressenhall experienced repeat visitors, especially on event days.  A marketing campaign was underway for the Norwich Museums with a view to encourage visitors.  When Gressenhall re-opened next year it was expected to see a rise in visitor numbers due to the Voices from the Workhouse Project.

 

The Chairman asked if the Voices from the Workhouse Project would give the Museum a nationally recognised place to visit.

 

Dr Hanley said Gressenhall had performed very well with family audiences, but not traditionally as a museum.  The Voices from the Workhouse project would enhance the Museum offer to the adult market.  With the public interest in discovering family trees, it was hoped that this would encourage family history audience.

 

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