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Norfolk museums feeling the heat after sweltering summer sees number of visitors slip

PUBLISHED: 16:54 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 03 January 2019

A report has said hot weather over the summer led to a big decrease in the number of visitors to Norfolk's museums Photo by Simon Finlay.

A report has said hot weather over the summer led to a big decrease in the number of visitors to Norfolk's museums Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

There are fears the county’s museums service will end the financial year in the red, after the sweltering summer saw people flocking outside rather than to the attractions.

Launch of the Norwich Castle keep project 'Gateway to Medieval England'. Steve Miller, head of museums.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYLaunch of the Norwich Castle keep project 'Gateway to Medieval England'. Steve Miller, head of museums. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Between April and October last year, more than 30,000 fewer people visited Norfolk Museums Service’s 10 sites than the previous year, with bosses holding the hot weather conditions responsible.

Between April 1 and September 30, 2018, 233,005 people visited Norfolk’s museums, compared with 266,605 people across the same period in 2017 - a 13pc decrease.

The figure has led to concerns the service will fail to break even by this April, though it has still been described as “a realistic prospect”.

In a report to the Norfolk joint museums committee, which is made up of both county and district councillors, Steve Miller, assistant director of culture and heritage at County Hall, said he was still hopeful of breaking even.

He said: “Following the very hot summer, there is a current budget pressure, but with a strong programme ahead and careful management of costs, a break even budget is still a realistic prospect.”

In a separate report to the same committee, Mr Miller said the service is expecting an £80,000 overspend for the financial year, with a £37,000 shortfall on admissions income.

Despite the concerns, however, there are a plenty of reasons to be cheerful for the service, including another successful year for wedding bookings at Norwich Castle, which eclipsed the previous year.

Mr Miller added: “Across other sites, weddings continue to be delivered at Strangers’ Hall, Elizabethan House and Gressenhall and the museum service continues to actively work with the registrar team on the ‘Marry in Norfolk’ campaign.

“An increasing number of commercial bookings for Norwich Castle continue to be delivered, including major events and celebrations for local businesses.”

It has also been revealed that the success of a new escape room game in the undercroft of the Museum of Norwich has seen a second game commissioned, which will be run from Shirehall.

The first game - Merchants’ Vaults - was launched in May, in partnership with a company called History Mystery.

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