Record August visitors at Ipswich Museum last year despite Covid challenges

Ipswich Museum is home to a variety of treasures and artefacts

Ipswich Museum had more than 26,000 visitors between April and October last year - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

Promising signs of recovery can be seen at heritage sites in Ipswich, despite school museum visits being down by two-thirds compared to pre-pandemic figures. 

Figures released ahead of the Colchester and Ipswich Joint Museums Committee meeting next week show that between April and October 2021, there were 26,816 non-school visitors to Ipswich Museum. 

A further 25,859 visitors were recorded at Christchurch Mansion and 6,434 at Ipswich Art Gallery. 

Every venue saw a reduction in the number of visitors compared to the same period of time in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

In the report service states "the overall figure belies some promising signs of recovery" particularly when it comes to forecasting the return when the pandemic is declared over. 

There was a 29% decline in the number of visitors at Ipswich Museum between April and October 2021 - but in August visitor numbers at the site exceeded those of 2019, which was previously a record year. 

And the 36% decrease in visitors at Christchurch Mansion has to be put in context against the "exceptional attendance of the 'Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk' exhibition" in 2019. 

Most Read

The report said: "It is suspected that numbers for the period were sustained in no small part due to an increase in local interest as fewer people were able to travel and people explored their local areas more."

The Power of Stories exhibition at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Picture: Danielle Booden

More than 24,000 people attended the Power of Stories exhibition last summer - Credit: Danielle Booden

More than 24,000 people attended the Power of Stories exhibition - which featured costumes from Black Panther as well as objects from archaeology, world cultures and fine art - before it closed on October 10. 

And the touring Moon exhibition that was displayed at Ipswich Art Gallery between July and October was responsible for attracting 6,500 visits. 

But school attendance was down by around 67% at Ipswich Museum and 74% at Christchurch Mansion. 

In part this is said to be due to closures falling during school visiting periods and the challenges of booking future visits with uncertainty surrounding restrictions and whether any new ones would be coming. 

The report noted that "early indications from October imply a gradual recovery" of school visits to Ipswich's heritage sites - but stated a continued need for learning resources in case of "long-term and profound disruption". 

These figures are reported a week after it was announced that £110,000 has been awarded to refurbish Ipswich Museum, with the mammoth Wool-I-Am to get his own gallery thanks to the grant.