More heading to museums

HARD up families hit by the recession are shunning costly entertainment and flocking to Ipswich's free attractions, new figures have revealed today. As the economic downturn continues to bite, the numbers visiting the town's museum and Christchurch Mansion have steadily increased in recent months.

HARD up families hit by the recession are shunning costly entertainment and flocking to Ipswich's free attractions, new figures have revealed today.

As the economic downturn continues to bite, the numbers visiting the town's museum and Christchurch Mansion have steadily increased in recent months.

More than 6,200 people visited both attractions during the recent half-term week - a thousand up on the same period last year.

In 2008/09, the mansion saw a 2.8 per cent increase from a year earlier to 54,008 visitors, while the museum attracted 36,088, a rise of 5.1pc.

Meanwhile, a Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service report found that more people are enjoying trips to Colchester Castle. In 2008/09, 101,568 people visited the castle - a 19pc increase on the year before.

There has been a big jump in online visitors, too. More than a quarter of a million people logged on to the museums sections of Colchester and Ipswich's websites - a rise of 27.6pc on the previous year.

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Peter Berridge, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service manager, said: “Ipswich and Colchester have a fascinating rich heritage and it's wonderful to see this fully reflected in the museums and collections.

“Our museums offer an exciting community resource for everyone to be proud of, to get involved with, and of course enjoy.

“The recent figures are proof that we are providing and growing a museum service that is lively, engaging and which brings varied audiences back to us time and time again to experience this amazing resource.”

A national survey has found visitor numbers are up at most museums and galleries in the UK.

David Barrie, director of The Art Fund which produced the survey, said: “The fact that visitors are on the up shows how much museums matter to people, especially now that times are hard.”

Have you taken advantage of Ipswich's free attractions? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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