More people visiting Norwich museums

Surging numbers of visitors are heading for Norwich's museums, with bosses saying a switch to 'staycationing' has helped with the influx through the doors.

In August, 28,000 people visited Norwich Castle Museum, a 10,000 increase on the total who visited in the same month last year.

The increase was reflected in visitor numbers across the city's museums, which also include Strangers Hall, the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and the costume and textile collection in Carrow House.

Between April and August this year, just over 101,000 people visited Norwich's museums – up 12pc on the same period last year.

And the increase is part of a trend of people checking out the city's rich heritage. In the previous financial year (2009/10) 189,000 people visited the city's museums, which was an increase of 12,000 people on the year before.

With more than 157,000 visitors, last year saw the castle have its best year since 2001/2, which was when it had a major facelift.

Museum bosses said a combination of factors was behind the increase – among them a change in vacation patterns, with more people staying in Britain and holidaying locally.

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Rachel Kirk, Norwich museums manager, said: 'We knew we were busy, but it wasn't until we worked out the figures that we realised just how busy we were.

'We had a new Prison Stories exhibition, the interactive Medieval Machines and the revamped mammal gallery, although it opened before Christmas, has also proved very popular. And we had the Beatles to Bowie exhibition, which attracted large numbers.

'We now have our Art of Faith exhibition, so we've had some good temporary exhibitions.'

The impressive visitor numbers come at a time when one of the city's museums is shut. Work is taking place on a million pound revamp for the Bridewell Museum, due to reopen late next year.

However, calls from some councillors for the Castle Museum to be opened to the public on Sunday mornings have been dashed.

Vanessa Trevelyan, head of museums and archaeology, made a request for extra cash to increase opening hours, but was told by county council bosses that there was no potential for funding in the current financial year for trial Sunday opening and even tighter budgets for 2011/12 make it impossible to pursue the proposal any further.