Fewer visit region’s museums in 2016

Work has been carried out at Christchurch Mansion - hidden by this huge photograph.

Work has been carried out at Christchurch Mansion - hidden by this huge photograph. - Credit: Archant

The number of visitors to the council-owned museums in Ipswich and Colchester fell significantly last year.

The number visiting Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich fell by nearly 30% – partly because of the restoration work being carried out which will have put many visitors off.

And Colchester Castle saw its visitor numbers fall by almost 7%.

There were also falls in the number of visitors to Ipswich Museum in the High Street and Hollytrees Museum in Colchester.

The only one to see a rise in visitor numbers was the Colchester Natural History Museum.

Christchurch Mansion has been covered in scaffolding, hidden by a huge photograph, for several months as the roof is restored and made watertight.

That particularly hit the amount of money it earned from special events – the figure dropped by more than 80% from the previous year.

Most Read

In 2015 visitor numbers were also boosted by the visit of John Constable’s painting of Salisbury Cathedral which attracted thousands of extra visitors.

The report says that the fine weather during the school holidays from July to September reduced the number of people visiting attractions in both towns because they were more inclined to spend time outdoors.

Ipswich council’s portfolio holder for museums Carole Jones said the authority was taking steps to try to attract more people.

She said: “We have a varied programme of events throughout the year and we always look at how we can best attract more people to our museums.

“The High Street Museum is now opening on Sundays for the first time and I am sure that will help to boost the number of visitors.

“People love visiting the museums and we must do what we can to try to bring them in. It’s not rocket science!”

The number of school visits to Colchester Castle and Ipswich High Street Museum did increase in 2016 in comparison with the previous year.

And their visits – together with better retail figures than expected – meant that the overall income at Colchester Castle was more than £6,000 higher than originally budgeted between April and November 2016.