Agenda and minutes


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020 were confirmed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Clarke, Harvey, Richmond and Mr Ward.


Chairman's Announcements




Urgent Business

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 Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.





Ancient House Museum Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a report from Oliver Bone, Curator of ancient House Museum.

Additional documents:


Dr Robin Hanley, Assistant Head of Museums, Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), provided the Committee with an update on the effect of COVID-19, the current museum closures, and how it had affected the NMS and the impact experienced so far.


All Norfolk Museums had been closed to visitors on 19 March 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The majority of NMS staff had been working remotely since that time. Following a phased COVID-secure reopening of the NMS museum sites at Norwich Castle, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse and the Time & Tide Museum during July and August and at Lynn Museum in October, all sites had closed again from 5 November 2020 as part of the second national lockdown. He explained if an area fell into tier 3 or 4, current government restrictions meant that legally they could not reopen to the public until restrictions were released.


Dr Hanley further explained that many normal activities and services, including school visits had been severely impacted due to COVID-19. Many NMS staff had been involved in key duties relating to the Norfolk County Council’s COVID-19 emergency work, including making telephone calls to vulnerable residents and managing the distribution of food and medicine to residents who needed that support. He added that during museum closures, staff had made regular checks to all buildings to ensure safeguarding of buildings and collections.


Museum staff had been very positive and creative and had adapted to new ways of working by exploring different ways to engage both existing and new audiences particularly through digital activity. He explained that following the Government announcement that museums could legally reopen from 4 July 20 with suitable COVID-19 security measures in place, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse successfully reopened to visitors in the summer. This followed the implementation of strict COVID-19 safety procedures that were reviewed and signed off by the NCC Health & Safety and Wellbeing team. Re-opening had also been in accordance with sector-specific guidance issued by the National Museums Directors Council. Gressenhall reopened to Museums Pass holders and Friends on 20 July, prior to opening to the general public on 3 August. All visits had to be pre-booked using timed tickets available from the Art Tickets website and had to accommodate social distancing, site visitor capacity had been significantly reduced.


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone, presented the Ancient House Museum report that covered the period from September 2020 to December 2020.


He explained that the layout of Ancient House, with a number of smaller rooms over two floors made the re-opening more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the requirements for social distancing and confirmed that Ancient House had remained closed since March 2020. Extensive work had been carried out by staff to plan carefully controlled COVID-secure on-site activities for schools in liaison with the NCC Health, Safety & Wellbeing team with the first groups expected in December 2020 but those visits had to be cancelled due to the effect of building works at the property next door,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/21


Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 205 KB

To receive a report from Andrew Smith, Operations Manager – West.

Additional documents:


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith, presented the report that covered the period from October 2020 to December 2020.


The effect of lockdown and procedures that had been put in place were reiterated. Members were informed that Gressenhall had reduced ‘touchpoints’ in the museum, covering these over where appropriate. He explained that new takeaway activity trails and packs for younger visitors and their families to use around the Gressenhall site had been introduced. All museum visits had to be pre-booked using timed tickets from the Art Tickets website and to accommodate social distancing, site visitor capacity had been significantly reduced.


Due to the pandemic, most of the events programme had to be cancelled. However, there had been a focus on digital delivery as an alternative means of engaging existing and new audiences. The school holiday programme for October half term 2020 was able to go ahead in an amended COVID-19 secure self-led format. The half term week theme was Awesome Autumn which ran from 22 October to 1 November and staff had been able to blend a combination of physical and digital engagement to support this theme. It had allowed visitors to explore nature more closely through autumn crafts, quiz trails, adventurous woodland games and a pumpkin obstacle course which had proved popular.


Since the reopening of the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse on 20 July 20 a reintroduction of small-scale event activities had been instigated which had focussed on self-led, pencil free activities. The Events, Learning and Curatorial teams had focussed their efforts on digital resources and had uploaded information including an online murder mystery and children’s craft activities along with creativity and wellbeing activities inspired by the Lorina Bulwer exhibitions.


With the events programme cancellations, particularly major events such as Apple Day, Gressenhall had presented the first virtual event day with Apple Day Online which delivered creative craft ideas, apple recipes, an apple variety quiz and regular on-line posts across the day for audiences to enjoy. The second virtual event was hosted on 21 and 22 December with Online Festive Activities. Visitors online were greeted with Christmas themed storytelling, craft activities, cooking sessions and a special virtual visit from Father Christmas.


Subject to COVID-19 restrictions, by mid-March it was hoped to have de-installed the ‘Full Steam Ahead’ exhibition which originally opened on 17 February 2020 for half term, and progress to ‘More in Commons’, the temporary exhibition for 2021. For this exhibition staff were working in partnership with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. This would be a celebration of the wildlife, history and community of Norfolk’s common land. Working together with natural history colleagues, community groups (including Gypsy and Romany Travellers) and volunteers, staff would be developing a COVID-19 secure but engaging exhibition.


Staff at Gressenhall had created several on-line versions of previous temporary exhibitions and tours during the lockdown period to allow online visitors to explore objects and images at their own pace. These included the Full Steam Ahead exhibition and the Behind-the-Scenes Collections Store Tour.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/21


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meetings, please note all meetings will be held on a Monday at 10am and will be held virtually until further notice.


Suggested dates:


17 May 21

19 July 21 - AGM

22 November 21




The arrangements for the next meeting on 17 May 2021 at 10am were noted.