Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Report
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 been received for 2019, particularly for weddings. Members were informed that whilst there had been some strong leads there were no firm bookings as yet.
The Chairman asked if there had been any constrictions made as a result of Norfolk County budget constraints. Dr Hanley informed Members that as part of the reductions it did result in a redundancy of the assistant curator at Gressenhall however ways of mitigating the loss had been put in place.
The Chairman thanked Mr Smith for the detailed report.
Members noted the report as recommended.