Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum, Gressenhall

No. Item




Mr P Duigan was elected as Chairman for the forthcoming year.





Mr M Kiddle-Morris was elected as Vice-Chairman for the forthcoming year.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2015.


The minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2015 were confirmed as a correct record.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Cllrs Bowes, Clarke, Hebborn and Smyth and Mr Robinson.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman welcomed Councillor Borrett to the Committee.



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

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate in the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests that they have, in relation to an agenda item that supports the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.





Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Report of Western Area Manager.


Dr Robin Hanley informed Members that following the recent management re-structure, Hannah Jackson had been appointed as the new Western Area Manager.  She had a strong knowledge of Gressenhall and a good grounding in the Western Area.


Hannah Jackson presented the report to Members. 


Gressenhall continued to offer a broad programme of events based around the four operational models.  This included the Days with a Difference which provided flexibility to explore different themes such as The Wedding Fair and the Summer Story Festival.


The Chairman asked if similar events had been considered on a corporate basis to promote the site for commercial activities.


Ms Jackson responded to say they had styled the wedding offer to also be used for celebratory events such as birthdays and afternoon tea parties.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris asked what the visitor numbers were for the School Holiday activities.  Ms Jackson said she would include the figures in the future reports, and said encouraging children into the museum was important as they populated other events at the museum too.


Dr Hanley added that a new sophisticated ticketing system had been installed to enable tracking of visitor profiles.  The Spring Fair saw a record number of Norfolk Museum Pass sales with a record breaking total of 46 sold at the event.


Gressenhall had piloted the use of online advance ticket sales through the ‘Art Tickets’ platform at the Summer Story Festival and Village at War events.  Although the uptake was minimal, visitors were increasingly looking for easy ways to book events and activities.  It was hoped this would be used to improve the booking of the pre-paid events.


The 2015 temporary exhibition of ‘Inspiring Women’ had been created in partnership with the Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes using collections from WI archives and the museum.  Two private garden parties were hosted at the museum to celebrate the centenary.


The Voices from the Workhouse project included re-decoration of the workhouse which had been completed during the winter months.  For the 2015 season, visitors were able to explore the ‘bare bones’ of the building, prior to the installation of new displays during winter 2015.  It is hoped that the workhouse spaces would re-open during spring 2016.


During the summer, a number of test interactives and interpretation, including character projections, had been installed within the workhouse spaces.


Engineering volunteers had started to clean and restore some of the machines within the laundry room.


The Museum continued to maintain and grow a strong social media presence which remained a key priority to engage with visitors and local communities.


Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a means of generating income.  The site had officially launched its weddings package and had its first wedding booking confirmed for August 2016.


Councillor Richmond asked if the Museum had considered setting up an ‘Instagram’ account.  Ms Jackson said that it was something the Museum could look in to.  Dr Hanley added that there was a Digital Development Officer at Norfolk County Council which the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life pdf icon PDF 469 KB

Report of Curator, Ancient House.


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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Next Meeting

To agree a date for the next meeting.


It was agreed the next meeting would be scheduled for February 2016, and suggested that it should be held at the Ancient House Museum, Thetford.