Agenda item

Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Report

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


The Operations Manager for East and West, Andrew Smith presented the report that covered the period from February to May 2022.


Despite the ending of legal restrictions in terms of Covid-19 a number of the Covid-secure systems and procedures remained in place with a focus on keeping staff and visitors safe through minimising risk of transmission. The priorities remained:


·         Ventilation – maintaining existing ventilations arrangements to maximise fresh air flow including supplementary air purifiers and CO2 monitors at relevant sites

·         Cleaning regimes – maintaining enhanced cleaning arrangements including toilets and regular touch points

·         Hand sanitisation – maintaining existing sanitiser stations and encouraging regular hand sanitisation/hand washing. Additional hand sanitiser stations have been introduced where required e.g. near interactives.


CO2 monitors provided through Norfolk County Council had been introduced into a number of rooms and spaces where there was limited natural ventilation, these were the Library, the Learning Centre, First Farmers Gallery, Women’s Land Army Gallery, the Training Room, Board Room, Environment Hub – main meeting room, the Café and the Chapel. The detectors were monitored by the staff using those spaces and they also linked into the LoRaWAN network, facilitating the use of monitoring dashboards to track live data and spot trends. This has enabled a number of spaces to be brought back into use and increased capacity for schools and other visitors.


A new Events Officer, Fiona Ashley had been recruited and had been making lots of plans in assisting with current events and planning future events.


The four operational models included:


·         Special Event days – major events which required full event staffing and set up, including the use of large parking fields. A premium ticket price applies for these event days to reflect the high level of activities taking place. Free admission continued to be provided to Norfolk Museums Pass holders.

·         Days with a Difference – smaller themed events. These required smaller staffing complement and utilised core parking. They were aimed at attracting audiences of 500-800 visitors. Free to Norfolk Museums Pass holders. Bank Holiday 29 Monday on 2 May featured Yoga for Kids - a yoga session for families, getting messy with Art Attack, and trying the I-Spy trail. Sundays in May featured Art Attack sessions including Make a bookmark on 1 May, Discover cottage gardens on 8 May, Try your hand at macrame on 15 May and Make a peg doll on 22 May.

·         Norfolk School Holiday activities – extra themed activities delivered each day of the Norfolk School holidays, with minimal increase in staffing. Free to Norfolk Museums Pass holders. During the Easter holiday period in April the theme was Senses in Nature – based on getting outside and discovering the wonders of the natural world. This included trails and activities, making a musical shaker and exploring the musical woods and the adventure playground. May half-term (28 May – 5 June) activities were Jubilee themed. Create Like a Royal celebrated the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and activities included making a medal, creating your own flag and crown, riding a hobby horse, completing the royal stamper trail and making a paper flower to decorate the chapel.

·         Ticketed Events – pre-booked and pre-paid events. These events, held outside of standard opening hours or out of the main season, offer a reduced charge to Norfolk Museums Pass holders.

Held annually, Open Farm Sunday was a successful day with just under 3,000 people on site. Held on 12 June this was a free admission day for all visitors and was part of a national event run by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).


During this reporting period there continued to be a focus on digital delivery as an alternative means of engaging with both existing and new audiences. This included social media posts following a dedicated programme of themes. Digital resources created by the Events, Learning and Curatorial teams were continuing to be uploaded on a regular basis to social media platforms and the Gressenhall website.


A new temporary exhibition, Georgie Meadows: Stitched Drawings opened in May and will run until the end of the 2022 season. The exhibition explored experience of ageing and dementia with uniquely crafted portraits translating line drawings into stitched works. In line with this, a pop-up display titled ‘Nothing about us without us’ is also on show, linked to the themes in the work by Georgie Meadows. The display was about the History of Disability told through 13 objects in Norfolk Museums’ collections. It was created by young and disabled people living in Norfolk through the Kick the Dust project and has toured libraries and other venues.


The refurbishment on the new Environment Hub was now complete and would highlight the environmental works being showcased at Gressenhall beginning with the new community tree nursery where the rooms had been named after trees.


The Farmer’s Foundry steam engine had been fully restored and up and running at Open Farm Sunday. Additional checks were now taking place to the indoor pipework due to the increased power of the new engine, following which the Farmer’s Foundry will be used to power and demonstrate stationary engines in the Engineering Gallery. A new interpretation panel had been installed with input from the Kick the Dust project trainees.


The two new Suffolk Punch colts Jack, aged two and Kingsman, aged one were settling in well and getting used to the sights and sounds of the farm and visitors and being handled and getting used to wearing a harness. These additions were purchased with donations from the Friends of Gressenhall.


The community tree nursery which formed part of the Gressenhall Environment Hub had now evolved from a small grass paddock to a defined area with the infrastructure being put into place. Raised beds now had seedlings growing on from seed gathered in the autumn and a team of new volunteers lead by project officer Emma Cross were making an important contribution to the project. The long-term aim was to supply young trees to be planted at various sites around the county and tied in to the NCC ambition to plant a million trees for Norfolk as well as the DEFRA Trees Outside Woodlands scheme.


Also linking in with the Environmental Hub was the Wendling Beck project. Gressenhall were working in partnership with NCC and neighbouring landowners on this project which included creating an arboretum, managing a wetland and improving public access to the whole area.


The Friends of Gressenhall continued to be a vital resource providing funding for the two Suffolk Punch horses and were pleased to inform that the second-hand bookshop had now re-opened to visitors and were working hard on new initiatives.


The Family Fun Day, held in partnership with NCC’s Fostering and Adoption Service, would run again on 16 July 2022 after a two-year gap. The event provided an opportunity for carers and council staff to meet each other in a safe and neutral environment, and for the Museum to say thank you for the work that they do. This year’s theme will be Once Upon a Time, with Cinderella, the Wicked Witch and Peter Pan amongst other characters running a series of accessible activities. Any councillors wishing to attend the day would be most welcome, please contact to be added to the invite list.


The Kick the Dust: Norfolk project, funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) delivered in partnership with a range of organisations including YMCA Norfolk, continued to engage with young people aged 11-25 throughout the period of the pandemic. The project team adapted their activities to support existing groups across Norfolk, in particular YMCA groups, using digital means. The team were now delivering mostly face-to-face sessions which continued to have a positive impact on young people.


As opportunities were now open to volunteers, a further 37 young volunteers had taken part in training. Kick the Dust has supported a total of seven young people on its bursary traineeship programme, the last cohort finishing on 31 May 22. One Kick the Dust participant progressed onto the NMS Teaching Museum traineeship programme, and a further seven Young Ambassadors had been recruited to support Institutional Change within NMS and to join the strategic Youth Board and Project Board.


The Chairman asked if there would be a follow on to this project and if it would continue. The Operations Manager for East and West said it was hoped that this would be regenerated again with a further bid and that Dr Hanley would update members on this project at the next meeting. The launch of the new Kick the dust web pages could be found on the MNS site:


Members of the Committee noted the report.


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