Praise for museum

Norfolk's rural life museum - which has seen annual visitor numbers double over the past six years - has gone from a “nice to see venue to a must see one,” according to a senior councillor.

Norfolk's rural life museum - which has seen annual visitor numbers double over the past six years - has gone from a “nice to see venue to a must see one,” according to a senior councillor.

Phillip Duigan, chairman of the Breckland Area Museums Committee, hailed the rise and rise of the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse and said it had moved on “leaps and bounds.”

The visitor figures for the year ending March 2008 are expected to top 84,000 - compared with about 40,000 six years ago.

Area museums officer Stuart Gillis said there had been steady growth year on year and the number of school visits had also gone up to 12,000.


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“It is a significant achievement,” said Mr Gillis, who said a national study - which had included research at Gressenhall - had shown the benefits to children's school performance by visiting museums.

He said: “Gressenhall is still ripe for sustainable growth and this site is not working at is optimum level.”

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Mr Gillis outlined to the area committee plans for a funding boost and more emphasis on green issues.

He is leaving Norfolk next month and committee members paid tribute to the work he had done over the past six- and-a-half years.

Mr Duigan said: “Gressenhall has gone from a nice to see to a must see venue. It has a lot to do with Stuart's enthusiasm.”

John Gretton, Norfolk cabinet member for culture, said: “Stuart has achieved a lot more than could have been expected. You have very successfully steered Breckland museums through a golden age.”

He said developments at Gressenhall such as new galleries, the woodland play area and the reopened exercise yard had been completed thanks to EU money.

Fellow county councillor Christopher Lloyd-Owen - whose division includes Gressenhall - said: “I have 25 or 26 parishes and Gressenhall Museum was once just something in my division - but now it is the thing in my division. Stuart has made it so much fun and it has been fun for 84,000 people a year coming here.”

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