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Norfolk museums celebrate success with 500,000 visitor target

14 January 2020

Ambitious plans to welcome half a million visitors a year to Norfolk museums have been unveiled, building on a record breaking five years across their 10 museums.

After receiving more than two million visits to their 10 museums over the past five years the Norfolk Museums Service has adopted a new five year strategic framework, with ambitions to see half a million visitors a year and ensure every child in the county has a chance to visit at least one of their museums before they leave school.

The plans are building on firm foundations: visitor numbers hit a record high of 426,000 in 2017/18, and in 2018, exactly 100 years since the first formal school visit to a Norfolk Museums Service site, over 50,000 school children visited the museums across Norwich, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Gressenhall, Thetford and Cromer. 

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: “Norfolk has an amazing history, from Neolithic times to the modern era, but more than that we have a Museum Service that makes all of that history accessible to everyone.

“And over the next five years we want to make sure it really is accessible to everyone: we want to see more visitors and ensure that every child in the county has the opportunity to visit a museum, and this Framework lays out the means to do so. Our traineeships and teaching programmes have already changed lives for the better, and this is only the start for a service that is going from strength to strength.”

The Museums Service has also been recognised nationally for its outstanding educational support, receiving multiple awards for its school visits programme including the Sandford Award for Excellence in Heritage Education across many of its museums and regional Employer of the Year at the 2016 Festival of Learning Awards.

The last five years has also seen a strong focus on learning for school leavers as well, with skills and training delivering life changing opportunities. The Arts Council England supported Teaching Museum programme has seen 47 traineeships completed to date, with trainees going on to find roles with employers including the Science Museum, the V&A and the National Trust, while the National Lottery Heritage Fund supported Kick the Dust programme continues to offer opportunities and training for young people, giving them the skills needed to support the wider heritage sector for years to come.

The Norfolk Museums Service cares for over three million historic objects and maintains 10 museums, including Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth and Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

The Museums Service’s new five year strategic framework for 2019-2023 was adopted at Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 13 January.

Full details are available in the papers put before the Council’s Cabinet.

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