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Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion eye most ambitious visitor targets for 10 years

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 November 2018

Silent discos and themed days at Ipswich Museum have helped bring in visitors Picture: IBC

Silent discos and themed days at Ipswich Museum have helped bring in visitors Picture: IBC

Ipswich Borough Council

Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion have set their most ambitious visitor number targets for a decade, in a bid to turn around falling school trips.

Carole Jones portfolio-holde for museums, said a trial of new school programmes at its attractions would launch next year Picture: SU ANDERSONCarole Jones portfolio-holde for museums, said a trial of new school programmes at its attractions would launch next year Picture: SU ANDERSON

Data published for November’s Ipswich Borough Council scrutiny committee revealed school visitor numbers at the museum and gallery from April-September this year were 1,084 – well below the 1,960 target.

At the mansion, 327 visits were recorded compared to a 550 target.

It means the council had achieved just 16% of its income targets from school visits across the two attractions.

Despite the downturn, overall visitor numbers – which included general public admissions – were 2,247 above target at the museum and gallery and 1,458 up on targets at the mansion.

Is Christchurch Mansion haunted? Picture: MEGAN ALDOUSIs Christchurch Mansion haunted? Picture: MEGAN ALDOUS

Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for museums and development said the figures did not take into account the school holidays when school trips did not happen.

“If you look at the year we have had a 14% rise in visitors to the mansion and the 13% rise in visitors to the museum,” she said.

“Out of 51 schools that are in Ipswich, 35 visited the mansion last year and if you just look at the primary schools that is 75%, which is fantastic.

“Our ambition is that every child will visit their museum and they will want to bring their families back, so we will help schools as far as we can.”

Museum bosses said visitor targets going forward were the most challenging for the last decade.

The council has undergone a thorough programme of work to bring people into the mansion and museum after visitor figures plummeted by 18,000 in 2016/17, and has included holding special after-hours events at the museum, high profile exhibitions at the mansion such as Wolsey’s Angels, and opening the museum on Sundays.

The latest report said demand for traditional primary school sessions for Victorians and Tudors had declined, although significant increases are expected this winter, with 700 children alone having visited in October.

Ms Jones added: “We have got a review of our school offering and we are looking at trialling new kinds of offers schools might find attractive.

“We are hoping to kick them off early next year.”

Ms Jones also paid tribute to the hard work of staff in helping bring people through the doors.

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