Poll: Museums in Ipswich see spike in young visitors

A SURGE of youngsters have been flocking to visit two town museums, new figures have revealed.

Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion have seen a 100 per cent increase in visits by schoolchildren over the last five years, according to figures from the Friends of the Ipswich Museums.

The increase in young visitors has happened following a period of falling visitor numbers before the creation of the merged museum service.

Lynette Burgess, learning and marketing manager for Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service (CIMS), attributed the increased numbers to the museums’ wide range of activities specifically targeted at young people.

She said: “Once children discover museums through school visits, they bring their families back.

“We’ve got a really strong events programme and with the difficult economic climate we have to be creative with our events programme.”

The tough economic conditions is another factor bringing youngsters back to the museums, with parents looking for fun low-cost activities.

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“Entry to museums is free and I think families are looking for good, reasonably priced events,” Lynette said. “We want to make it as affordable and accessible to families as possible.”

The museums are running many sessions for under-fives and more than 100 children went along to celebrate Gerry the Giraffe’s 103rd birthday party at Ipswich Museum.

CIMS has a schools programme designed with help from teachers to make sure they fit with the curriculum.

As well as trying to attract more young people, the museums also have much to tempt older visitors.

“We have fantastic exhibitions that attract a wide variety of people,” Lynette said. “We have an adult events programme with lectures, tours and talks.

“Museums are for everybody – for us it really is a lifelong activity.

“It’s good to take advantage of your local free museum.”

Certain attractions also bring in more visitors – with the imminent return of the Mildenhall Dish to the county set to draw in the crowds.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere added: “The 100 per cent rise in schoolchildren visiting both Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion is excellent news.

“These figures come on the eve of another huge attraction – the return to Suffolk of the Mildenhall Dish treasure.

“Our museums are attracting more residents as well as visitors to the town and this is proof that our partnership with Colchester is a positive one.”

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