Agenda and minutes

Venue: Ancient House Museum, Thetford

Contact: Leanne Neave 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 July 2017.


Cllr Richmond advised an amendment was required to minute no: 13/17. It should read “The Chairman congratulated Councillor Duigan on his appointment as Vice Chairman”.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies had been received from Councillors Buck and Ward, David Blackburn and Dr Keith Robinson.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman invited Oliver Bone to advise the Committee on a forthcoming event.


Mr Bone advised there was to be an opening event for the new exhibition, “Handmade”. The event on Friday 15th December at 4.30pm would be an opportunity to celebrate the work of the Children’s History Club. Certificates would be awarded to the Museums Young Members. He invited all Members of the Committee to attend the event.


Dr Robin Hanley –advised the Annual Review 2016-2017 had been issued (copies were given to Members). This review provided a taste of activities taking place across the Norfolk Museums Service.


Cllr Duigan queried if the Nationally Produced Mendoza report was available.


Dr Hanley said he would send a link to Members to access.


The Chairman stated he was proud of the work Norfolk Museums Service does and to receive extra validation on a National Level was great.


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.






Report by the Curator, Oliver Bone.


Oliver Bone Curator of the Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life presented the report to Members which covered the period July-October 2017.


Highlights included:


The exhibition “Pulpware” had now ended which had been a successful theme due to the local connection of Thetford Industry and being in living memory.


“Flint Rocks” was another successful exhibition and involved working with Breaking New Ground. A further partnership bid had been made to the Heritage Lottery fund for a future project “Wet Brecks”.


2014 saw a series of Commemorative Events take place within Thetford commemorating World War I. Ancient House was working with Thetford Town Council for events in 2018 commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I.


A new temporary exhibition “Handmade” was planned to open on 16th        December. The display would cover different materials, there were currently some        excellent community craft groups and it was hoped the display would encourage        others.


Plans for a partnership project to create a Punjab themed arts and culture festival for July 2018 was being explored. In partnership with the Essex Cultural Diversity Partnership a bid for funding would be made to Heritage Lottery Fund. It was hoped that a painting “Casualty of War” by the Singh Twins could be loaned from the National Museum of Scotland to display at Ancient House for 6 months.


An update was given on the History Clubs activities. A 1940’s Christmas event       had taken place with various craft activities on offer.


The Teenage History Club had looked at part of a future bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exhibition on people of the past who were not heterosexual linked to the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. The club had visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for their “Queer History” tour.


The Friends used the museum as a venue for monthly talks. A new programme of events would be announced at the AGM.


Raj Bisram, presenter of Antiques Road Trip, had visited the museum to film for a       feature on the show. The programme will air over the winter.


Ancient House continued to provide Thetford and Brandon Times with a monthly      column “Thetford in 100 Artefacts”. Contributions were also made to the About

Thetford magazine.


It was confirmed that both Twitter and Facebook were still actively used by the

museum, promoting exhibitions and events using social media.


Volunteers continued to be very active, helping behind the scenes, running the

Mini Museum Club and assisting with events. Ancient House had been represented at the Christmas Light switch on.


Ancient House’s current trainee is Sam Bellotti and a new trainee would begin in April 2018. It was advised there had been success with previous trainees who had moved into a career working within museums.


Cllr Bambridge queried if trainees were on the Payroll. It was confirmed that trainees were paid members of staff and on the pay scale for Norfolk County Council.


Dr Hanley advised there was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.



Report by the Operations Manager (West), Hannah Jackson.


Hannah Jackson presented the report to Members which covered the period July-October 2017.


The museum had now closed for the Winter and would re-open in 2018 for School February half term (12th – 16th) and then daily from Sunday 11th March 2018.


During this reporting period the major events were “Village at War” and “Apple Day”. Apple Day continued to be a popular event and 2585 visitors attended this year. A smaller scale “Days with a Difference” style event, entitled “Story Festival” was based on Alice in Wonderland. It included performances from touring drama companytrange Fascinations and attracted 419 visitors. “Workhouse after dark” offered free admission to players of the National lottery and gave the opportunity to view the Museum after dark by LED candlelight. 761 visitors attended over the two nights.  Activity programmes ran for the School summer holiday and for October half term.


Planning had begun for the 2018 programme. The popular “Horse Power” and “Victorian Family Christmas” would both be held during 2018. A preview day of the Museum would be held on 10th March 2018 for Friends, Pass Holders and Lottery Players. The preview day would invite the family volunteers that took part in the Family Volunteering days within the Collections Gallery.


Events continued to attract Norfolk Museum Pass Holders and it had been recorded on Apple Day that 44% of visitors were pass holders and a further 27 were sold on the day.


The “Voices from the Workhouse” project was ongoing with the second phase in the Collections Gallery being completed during the Winter Closure.


To help families access the Collection Gallery a number of Gallery Challenges had been created. Aimed at Key Stage 1 and 2 children, they encouraged children to interpret and explore the objects in a different way.


A new temporary exhibition space had been created within the Collections        Gallery to house an annual display. In 2017 this had been “Rural Lives” and had included photographs of Norfolk People. The exhibition planned for 2018 was “Beer and Brewing” focussed on the changing roles of pubs and the history of brewing.


Partnership development of the digital offer at Gressenhall had continued. There was an increased desire for electronic displays and tablets were available for families to borrow to go round the site.


Gressenhall’s curator, Dr Megan Dennis, continued to develop links with the Digital Humanities Forum at Carleton College, Minnesota. The college had created a 3/D virtual model of the workhouse as it was in 1779. Megan would return to America in the new year and hoped to work with the students to generate additional material for the in-gallery projections and handheld tablet devices used by visitors.


The new projectors allowed visitors to “meet” real people from the Workhouse  history. It had been found that some visitors found these to be sensory overload. A programme had been piloted which allowed families living with Autism an “earlybird” opportunity to visit the Museum without these projectors in use.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Next Meeting

To agree a date and venue for the next meeting.


The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 26th February 2018 at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse. It was noted that prior to the meeting a tour of the Collections Centre would be available to Members and anyone wishing to attend should arrive at 1pm.