Christchurch Mansion and Ipswich Museum report increasing visitor numbers as turnaround of tough 2016/17 begins

Christchurch Mansion Re Opens for the season
Pic Lucy Taylor

EADT Craig Christchurch Mansion Re Opens for the season Pic Lucy Taylor

Bosses for Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion have been buoyed by latest visitor numbers which revealed footfall for one six-month period in 2017 was up by around 5,000 visits.

Ipswich Museum. Picture: MATT STOTT

Ipswich Museum. Picture: MATT STOTT - Credit: Archant

Latest figures from Ipswich Borough Council showed there were 53,000 visits to Ipswich Museum and Art Gallery from April to the end of September last year – up from the 48,000 recorded during the same period in 2016.

Of those, more than 25,000 were for the mansion.

Part of the increasing visitor numbers was down to school trips, which rocketed up to 758 from 428 during the same period.

Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for museums, said: “We are putting on lots of many different activities and events, and increasing opportunities for schoolchildren and youngsters to attend a range of workshops in the holidays.

“We are also getting better at telling people about everything we have on show.

“Our museums are very special and they are free to visit, so come along and see Ipswich’s treasures for yourselves.”

The figures mark the beginning of a turnaround for the two tourist attractions’ footfall, as figures published in June last year showed a dramatic fall of more than 18,000 visitors for the 2016/17 financial year.

Most Read

The news meant Christchurch Mansion’s income was hit, falling short by around £5,500.

Income from activities and hiring was also markedly down.

The borough council put last year’s fall in visitors down to renovation work – which featured several months of scaffolding at the front and may have put people off – as well as changes in the school curriculum making school visits less urgent.

Since then, the borough council said that the presence of the Wolsey’s Angels from the V&A museum had helped.

It is hoped the art gallery’s current exhibition on the making of Ipswich and the Thomas Wolsey exhibition will continue to keep numbers positive.

Last year Ipswich Museum also opted to open on Sundays in a bid to encourage more people in the town centre to pay a visit.

Ms Jones added that the decision had been “more than justified” by the demand.

Full mansion and museum figures are set to be published later this month when the committee meets.