ANCIENT HOUSE, MUSEUM OF THETFORD LIFE REPORT
Report by the Curator, Oliver Bone.
Dr. Robin Hanley presented the report for the period March – June for Ancient House Museum Thetford.
1.1 Thetford Remembers 1914-1918. He advised on 11th November 2018 Ancient House would be involved with Thetford Town Councils evening beacon lighting event to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
An exhibition was planned for Ancient House representing the peace and aftermath of the First World War and would contribute to Norwich Castle’s event running from August 2018 to early 2019. He advised that Kate Thaxton, Curator, would bring together all local commemorative exhibitions.
1.3 The Story of Thetford Pulp Ware Exhibition. He advised the exhibition would end
December 2017 and had been supported by Arts Council England (ACE).
2.1 He confirmed work was continuing to create a permanent gallery dedicated to
Duleep Singh. Working with Essex Cultural Diversity whose focus was celebrating diversity, a Punjab festival was planned for July 2018. He advised funding schemes offered by Heritage Lottery and ACE were being investigated.
2.2 The new temporary exhibition, to open at Ancient House December 2017 was
planned to be “Handmade”. The display would cover different material with
sections on textiles, ceramics, wood, metal and stone.
3.1 Holiday activities. An events flyer had been produced promoting activities during
the school summer holidays. This flyer had been widely distributed and sent to
3.4 The current programme of learning opportunities for schools remains relevant
and current to the needs of the schools in a demanding time with budget and
curriculum changes. In total across the 10 museum sites there had been 50,000
school children visit. 2331 of these visited Ancient House. It was noted that
elsewhere in the Country school visit numbers had decreased but had increased
at Ancient House.
4.2 A column remained present monthly in the Thetford and Brandon times
newspaper. This highlighted the exhibitions and events at Ancient House and
proved the venue was effective at being kept in the public eye.
4.3 Social media. Ancient House currently had 2481 Twitter followers and 551 likes
on Facebook. It was highlighted that both the History Club and the Teenage
History Club raised awareness of the Museum through Social Media. He advised
Melissa Hawker kept alert to local and national social media campaigns, “Kids in
museums” take over days had been very effective in their use of social media to
highlight the Museum.
5.2 The Museum remained part of the “Teaching Museum Programme”. Trainees
joined for 12 months on a paid scheme with a development programme. He
advised trainees need no formal qualifications just an enthusiasm for museums
and heritage. Sam Bellotti is the current trainee, with time being spent at both
Lynn Museum and Ancient House. The previous trainee Imogen Clarke had now
started a full time job at the Fan Museum.
Account funding – Over the last three years Norfolk Museum Services had received £4 million in funding through the Arts Council England’s “Major Partner Museum” programme. He advised that from April 2018 this funding stream would come to an end, and an application had been made in February 2017 with the Arts council to be a “National Portfolio Organisation”. Announcements were made in June, many museums applied and he was pleased to report that Norfolk Museum Services application had been approved. This meant funding of £4.8 million over 2018-2022 and covered the cost of temporary exhibitions.
As a service they had been successful in their application for a Heritage Funding, “Kick the Dust” was a long term project engaging with young people. They had managed to secure £750,000 to deliver the project over 4 years. They would work in partnership with YMCA and Creative Collisions Great Yarmouth.
Cllr Clark thanked Robin for the report. He queried how long the handmade exhibition would run for.
RH advised they have one exhibition a year.
Cllr Clark asked what the dates were for filming and airing of “Antiques Road Trip” as it was reported they would be filming at Ancient House.
HJ advised there were no dates set but an initial discussion had taken place.
Cllr Clark requested that a transmission date be advised when known so panel members could watch it. He congratulated the team on their successful funding bids.
Cllr Darby queried if the First World War exhibition at Norwich Castle was confined to Norfolk Museums as he was aware Bishop Bonners Museum in Dereham had a good collection of pieces.
RH confirmed the focus was on Norfolk Museum sites but there was an opportunity to work with other museums.
Cllr Darby also pointed out that Gressenhall Museum was a Prisoner of War camp for two years, 100 years ago.
RH explained that the exhibition at Norwich Castle had links to Swanton Morley Barracks and looked at the difficulties faced by servicemen and their families in the First World and today.
Cllr Darby queried the reason for low visitor figures at Lynn Museum.
RH explained that there had not been a drop in paid admissions but there had been a drop in family admissions and free admission days. He advised the Time and Tide museum had performed very well. There was a Titanic exhibition there currently and this had increased both the school visitor numbers and paid visitor admission numbers.
Cllr Ward queried how well the Teenage History Club was attended.
RH advised there was succession planning in place so History Club members could join the Teenage Club as the older members left. He confirmed there was a waiting list to join the History Club.
Cllr Kybird asked which umbrella the Saturday Science Club sat.
RH advised there were currently no Saturday Science Clubs running within Norfolk Museum Service Sites although Saturday Art Clubs were held in Norwich and Great Yarmouth.