Agenda and minutes

Venue: Ancient House Museum, 27 Whitehart St, Thetford, IP24 1AA

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2018.


Mr Ward was present at the meeting of the 8 October which had not been recorded.


Subject to this amendment, the minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


An apology had been received from Councillor Clarke.


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.






Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Report pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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


Andrew Smith, the Operations Manager for East and West presented the report to Members that covered the period from August 2018 to February 2019.


Gressenhall continued to offer a broad programme of events based on the four operational models of Special Event Days, Days with a Difference, Norfolk School Holidays and Ticketed Events.


The 2019 events programme had been finalised and included firm favourites such as ‘Horse Power’ and Apple Day, and a new event devoted to birds entitled ‘Winging It’ had been introduced.


As part of the new Collections Gallery, a dedicated temporary exhibition space had been created to house an annual show.  The 2018 season exhibition ‘Beer and Brewing’ proved very popular and included a real bar and objects relating to beer and brewing in Norfolk.  The 2019 Exhibition entitled ‘Once upon a Time’ had opened on the 10 March and focused on favourite Children’s books past and present.


The use of the cutting-edge technology in the new Voices from the Workhouse galleries have been well received, however, for some, it can have the potential to cause sensory overload.  Early bird opening sessions delivered in partnership with Autism Anglia were introduced in 2018 and were very successful.  Building on this success, further dates have been scheduled for 2019.


Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities and hosted five weddings during 2018 which were organised by the Events partner, The Norfolk Events Company.  The Company had now launched a promotional campaign across social media sites to develop the offer further.


Members heard that funding had been agreed for the re-development of the adventure playground which had been a key part for the visitors of the museum.


The Friends of Gressenhall had agreed to support the project to restore the Farmers’ Foundary Engine Boiler back to working use.  Initial conservation work identified that additional resources were required to make the engine fully operational and an application to the Arts Council England Investment Fund had been successful.


A day had been planned with the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) community to offer a wellbeing day.  The day would offer free entry to the museum to engage in a series of family-friendly activities delivered by museum and local providers.


Visitor numbers were circulated which showed Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse had seen over 53,500 visitors year to date (March 2019 figures were yet to be added).


Councillor Ward asked what the museum would be doing to enhance the play area.    Dr Hanley responded that the core elements of the playground had been installed 10-years ago and after regular inspections it was felt that some areas should be replaced.  A funding application to Norfolk County Council capital funding scheme had been successful and a further brief was being developed to create an appropriate themed play area.  It was hoped the works would be completed ahead of the summer school holidays, and appropriate communication would be issued to inform visitors ahead of any closure of the playground.


Councillor Bowes asked how many bookings had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6/19


Report of Ancient House pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To receive the report from Oliver Bone, Curator of Ancient House Museum.


The Curator of Kings Lynn and Thetford Museums, Oliver Bone, presented the report to Members that covered the period from August 2018 to January 2019.


The current exhibition at Ancient House displayed the life and work of pioneering British photographer Olive Edis and was proving popular with visitors.  It would be on display at the museum until 14 September 2019.


The Teenage History Club curated an exhibition at the end of 2018 on Pride in People: Helping history out of the closet.  It had provoked interest from visitors and the teenage club were working on a pop-up version of the exhibition to take the tour to various sites across Norfolk and would make a film.


Forthcoming displays would include an exhibition on studio ceramics featuring highlights from the decorative art collections, including recent acquisitions and items not previously on public display.


Ancient House applied to be part of the Brecks River and Fen Edge landscape project to focus on conservation and interpretation of the Brecks Area.  If successful, the museum would produce exhibitions on themes of Vikings and Riverside Industrial Heritage.


The visitor numbers showed an increase during April 2018 to March 2019 which was seen as a great achievement.


Councillor Duigan asked if the weather had an impact on the visitor numbers as Ancient House was predominately an inside venue and therefore not affected as other museums across the county.  The Curator agreed, and added the regular community groups that make use of the museum also steadied the visitor numbers.


Councillor Darby asked if the museum had made links with the site at Desert Rats could be a vast amount of history at the venue that could be shared.  The Curator would track down the organiser for the annual mid-summer event, to see if links could be developed.


Sam Parker, a trainee at the museum, provided Members with an overview on the experience she was gaining whilst working at Ancient House.


The Chairman thanked Mr Bone for the detailed report. 


Members noted the report as recommended.



Collections rationalisation report pdf icon PDF 34 KB

 Report of the Assistant Head of Museums.

Additional documents:


The Assistant Head of Museums, Samantha Johns, presented the collections report to Members.


Councillor Kiddle-Morris asked what would happen if the objects were not acquired.  It was confirmed that the object would be returned to store, or alternatively, if beyond repair would be disposed of, however that would come back to the Committee for decision.


Councillor Darby asked if independent museums received letters to inform them of collections that were being released.  Members were informed that if museums belonged to the Museum Association, they would receive a copy of the Museum Journal of which the collections would be advertised in.  Following discussion, it was also agreed that the information would be shared with SHARE to rehome objects.


RESOLVED that Members agree that the objects listed in Appendix 3 of the report be deaccessioned.


SHARE Museums East and Support for Independent Museums in Norfolk pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To receive a presentation from Su Booth, Norfolk Museums Development Officer and  Jamie Everitt, Regional Museums Development Manager.

Additional documents:


Members received a presentation from Jamie Everitt, Regional Museums Development Manager and Su Booth Norfolk Museums Development Officer.


Mr Everitt explained how the Share Museums East supported museums in the East of England, providing advice and training on programmes such as Collections Care, audience development and resilience. 


Ms Booth worked closely with the museums across Norfolk supporting independent museums by offering advice on how to enhance their audience and improve visitor numbers, as well as being the conduit for allowing museums to share knowledge with each other.


The Chairman thanked the Officers for their comprehensive presentation.


Next Meeting

To arrange the date of the next meeting.  Suggested dates are as follows:


Wednesday 17 July – Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum

Monday 21 October – Ancient House Museum, Thetford.


The meeting dates were agreed, subject to County Councillor Members not required to attend a meeting on the 17 July.


The next meeting would be held on 17 July at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum.  Time to be confirmed.