Visitor numbers to Norwich museums down on year

Visitor numbers to Norwich Castle Museum last year were down more than 6,000 on the previous year, but were still way above the figure recorded two years ago.

A total of 121,278 people visited the Castle Museum from April to November 30, 2011, compared to 127,770 the previous year and 107,492 the year before that.

The overall number of people visiting Norwich's museums – including Strangers' Hall – last year was 139,237 compared to 147,287 the year before and 128,738 in 2009.

Norwich Museums manager Rachel Kirk said that the closure of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and Carrow House in September last year accounted for just under 2,000 of the 8,000 fewer visitors recorded.

Most of the rest of the difference was a result of fewer visitor numbers to Norwich Castle Museum last August compared to August 2010.

However, Mrs Kirk said this was to be expected, as 28,000 people had visited the castle museum in August 2010 compared to just 18,000 the previous year. This had represented an unprecedented increase of 55pc and was hard to explain, she added.

She said: 'A reduced number of visits in August 2011 was to be expected, but the reduction is considerably less than had been feared and still represents a 27pc increase on 2009/10, which in itself had been a good year.'

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Visitor numbers to Norwich Castle to date, excluding August, are marginally lower than in 2010 but they are slightly higher for Strangers' Hall, she added.

'The economic situation does not yet appear to be having a significant impact on the number of people visiting museums, however reductions in retail and caf� income demonstrate that once in the museum, they are less willing to spend money in the shop and caf�.'

The number of visitors to Strangers' Hall last year was 7,522. Meanwhile, 10,437 people visited the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and 499 people made their way to the Carrow House Costume and Textile Study Centre during the same period.

A debate is currently ongoing over whether a charitable trust should take over the management of Norfok's museums.

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