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Diss museum bucks the trend as visitor numbers soar

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David van der Hulks, Pat Blanchet, Mike Clarke and Jan Smith from Diss Museum. Picture by Mecha Morton
David van der Hulks, Pat Blanchet, Mike Clarke and Jan Smith from Diss Museum. Picture by Mecha Morton

A number of innovations at Diss Museum has seen visitor numbers rocket over the last few years – bucking a county trend.

Last week, Norfolk Museums Service announced that 30,000 fewer people had visited its 10 sites around the county during 2018.

But at Diss Museum, which is run entirely by volunteers, visitor numbers have steadily grown over the last six years, with numbers up by thousands.

In 2013, the attraction saw 2,685 people pass through its doors. This grew to 3,622 people in 2014, with little change up to 2016. Entry figures then rose again to 4,209 in 2017 and to 4,588 in 2018.

According to the museum’s steward co-ordinator David van der Hulks, a number of new projects have helped the museum grow over time.

“I think there are a number of factors, including enlarging the shop to include more items, such as DVDs, publications and gift items, our guided walks around the town to discover the architecture and history, and the number of school visits, with pupils also providing material for exhibitions, all alongside our static and changing exhibitions and popular community cabinet.

“One of the main changes though has been the new shift system for stewards, who have been on hand to welcome people between 12pm and 3pm every day between March and the end of November.

“They are an extremely welcoming bunch, and we are also looking for more if anyone wants to help out.”

This year, the museum’s main exhibition centres on the centenary celebrations of the historic two-way crossing of the Atlantic by the R34 airship, which has strong links to Pulham St Mary.

Mr van der Hulks said the museum, which is on Market Place, sees many visitors from around the country, with the town tour proving especially popular.

“We are looking forward to opening again in March,” he added.

To volunteer as a steward, call 01379 640529.

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