Museums setting their sights on bumper year for visitors

EAST Riding museums are set for a bumper year despite latest figures showing them lagging behind their competitors, service chiefs insist.

According to visitor numbers for 2008/09, the six major attractions in the East Riding were ranked ninth out of 10 for the number of school visits when compared to other medium-sized museums in Yorkshire.

A total of 175,600 visits were made overall to East Riding museums (excluding visitors to Sewerby estate) over the same period, placing the service seventh out of 10 in Yorkshire.

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But staff are predicting vast improvements this financial year.

They say visitor numbers are already up, with more than 4,000 school visits since April 2009 – more than double the number in the previous 12 months.

And with continued investment and improved marketing, the service is expected to deliver a boost to the increasingly important tourism sector.

With an annual budget of 485,000, the East Riding’s museums are estimated to deliver about 800,000 to the local economy.

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Nial Adams, principal museums officer at East Riding Council, said there were some “fantastic” attractions across its leading museums, particularly at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, and the Treasure House in Beverley. Others include Beverley Art Gallery, Beverley Guildhall, Skidby Windmill and Rural Life Museum and Goole Community Museum.

Sewerby Hall is set for a major restoration scheme, having been awarded almost 950,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A report to the council’s greater prosperity overview and scrutiny committee tomorrow shows the service spends 8,000 a year on marketing.