Ed Sheeran exhibition helps Christchurch Mansion visitor numbers soar
PUBLISHED: 16:30 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:29 25 June 2020
An exclusive exhibition about Suffolk singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has helped Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion enjoy a record-breaking year.
Despite the coronavirus-enforced shutdown in March, up until that point total the Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service had welcomed 300,000 visitors since April 2019 – 44,745 more visitors than the previous year.
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And while numbers through the doors at the Colchester venues fell just below targets, the three Ipswich venues – Ipswich Museum, Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Art Gallery – all recorded soaring numbers.
Christchurch Mansion, which staged the Ed exhibition, attracted 80,813 visitors – 88% above the target 43,000 for the year and a significant increase on the 61,282 visitors the previous year.
Ipswich Museum meanwhile recorded 54,364 visitors – around 10,000 more than 2018/19 and 12,000 more visitors than the target 42,0000. Ipswich Art Gallery had eyed 10,000 visitors but actually attracted 13,364.
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Ipswich Borough Council’s portfolio holder for museums, Carole Jones, said the Elmer trail and Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition had helped bring in visitors – with Ed alone drawing in 28,000 people.
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The exhibition about the Framlingham singer-songwriter was curated by his father John, and opened in the week leading up to Ed’s homecoming gigs last August.
“Our museum staff have done a fantastic job and we are really proud of how well it has gone,” said Ms Jones.
While the three attractions remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, bosses have revised the business plan for the year to focus on safe re-opening with social distancing, and providing virtual exhibitions and catalogues where possible.
The planned Marvel exhibition around Black Panther due to kick off next month has been delayed because of the Covid-19 uncertainty, but Ms Jones said she hoped it could be re-arranged.
The Ed Sheeran exhibition followed the successful display of Rodin’s The Kiss in 2018/19, which staff said showed Ipswich could be a major attraction for art.
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Ms Jones said: “I think it is really important that we have exhibitions that attract people that wouldn’t normally come. Rodin was another massive pull of a very different kind to Made in Suffolk, so it is great to have that mix.”
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