Fresh exhibitions to boost visitor numbers at Ipswich Mansion and Museum

Ipswich Museum has been relatively untouched since the 80s and is in desperate need of rejuvenation 

Ipswich Museum - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich Museums Service bosses are hopeful their venues can enjoy a strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as fresh exhibitions are lined up to bring visitors through the doors.

Travel restrictions abroad mean more people are expected to holiday at home this summer, and that coupled with new exhibitions at Ipswich Borough Council's three venues - Ipswich Museum, Ipswich Art Gallery and Christchurch Mansion, means there is optimism in the service.

The delayed 'Power of Stories' exhibition featuring costumes from the hit Marvel movie Back Panther is set to grace Christchurch Mansion from June 26-October 30, while November will see the opening of the new Creating Constable exhibition at the mansion celebrating the work of John Constable.

Getting ready for the big Black Panther 'Power of Stories' exhibition at Christchurch Mansion this summer.

Getting ready for the big Black Panther 'Power of Stories' exhibition at Christchurch Mansion this summer. L-R Glen Chisholm (Community Curator), Cllr Carole Jones, Ivy Scott (Community Curator) and Eleanor Root Collections and Learning Curator - Credit: Jade Froud IBC

At Ipswich Art Gallery, a travelling exhibition exploring the moon will land for July 31 until October 10, which will include moon rock specimens on display.

Carole Jones, portfolio holder for museums at Ipswich Borough Council, said: "People want to have a reason to go out and be able to go out and visit places, plus we have got this fantastic Power of Stories Marvel exhibition already being booked up.

"Another one I am really looking forward to is the moon which is coming to Ipswich Art Gallery, and I understand you can touch a bit of rock that came from our nearest neighbour in space, which is an amazing thing to think of.

"Very different from both of those is Creating Constable which will be fantastic as well. 

Cllr Carole Jones, planning portfolio holder, said the Suffolk Retail Park news was good for the tow

Carole Jones, portfolio holder for museums at Ipswich Borough Council - Credit: Su Anderson

"It pulls in different audiences - all those things are of interest to a whole range of people, so that is a great thing.

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"I am sure that people coming to visit Suffolk and coming to visit Ipswich will be keen, but they must remember to book."

A report prepared for Tuesday's Colchester and Ipswich borough councils' museum service joint committee said: "Indications from the four months the museums were open is that there is significant appetite for a return to pre-Covid visiting habits, potentially boosted in the short term by domestic tourism."

Website use more than doubled from April to May, with the majority of views on visiting information, according to the service.

Christchurch Mansion on a sunny day. l. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Record visitor numbers in 2019, thanks in part to the Ed Sheeran exhibition at Christchurch Mansion, meant a direct comparison on footfall is tricky, bosses say, but last year's visitor numbers were around 45-50% of levels for a typical year, a figure the councils' report said is "believed to be modestly higher than most museums of a similar type nationally".

School visits dried up entirely as a result of the pandemic, but it is hoped groups will be able to return again soon.

During the pandemic, the museum's team has digitised thousands of artefacts for the online database and collections, formed a strategy for future acquisitions including Ipswich school uniforms and Ipswich Town Football Club kits, and published a strategy to 'decolonise' displays which aims to be more transparent about how some items were acquired.

Visit the website here to find out more about the three venues and book for the exhibitions.

Ipswich Art Gallery will close for around two weeks next year for roof replacement work. Picture: GR

Ipswich Art Gallery re-opens at the end of July - Credit: Gregg Brown

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