To maintain NMS’ status as one of England’s leading museum services investment will be required to make continuous improvement to the visitor experience. The 5 Year Strategy includes ambitious plans for capital and major development projects which will require a range of fundraising approaches and multiple funders. These include:
Norwich Castle Keep Development
This major multi-million pound redevelopment will transform the visitor experience of Norwich Castle’s impressive and important Norman Keep, helping to significantly boost visitor figures and the wider tourism economy of the city. Redisplays will present the Keep as it was in the 12th century with long term loans offered from our senior project partner, the British Museum. Public consultation on this exciting project began in January 2015. The preparatory work undertaken with the New Anglia LEP culminated in the Prime Minister announcing £1 million support for the project from the Treasury to kick start the redevelopment.
The team, supported by NMS colleagues, led a total of 20 focus groups and spoke to 167 people. We wanted to hear people’s impressions of Norwich Castle Keep as first-time visitors, regulars, staff, tourists, local residents, teachers, businesses, language school and city guides, and stakeholders. Norwich Castle stands proud in the City skyline as a tourist attraction, castle and monument, museum and art gallery, and centre for learning. But how does it make people feel? During the focus groups great inter-generational affection was apparent, even from those who rarely visit. On an emotional level, Norwich Castle revives childhood memories, makes people feel proud and creates a sense of ownership. It’s not just a great Norman tower, a former county gaol or a guardian of nationally important museum collections; it’s everyone’s castle and a unique part of our heritage.
The Paston Treasure International Touring Exhibition
The Paston Treasure, (Dutch School, c.1670s, oil on canvas) is one of Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery’s rarest and most famous paintings, popular with visitors of all ages. It was painted by an unknown Dutch artist at Oxnead Hall in Norfolk around 1670 and portrays some of the treasures collected by the famous Paston family. These objects are dispersed around the world but the painting has always stayed in Norfolk, a vital part of the county’s heritage.
The ornately carved frame was in all likelihood made for the painting, but would originally have been gilded – a dazzling finishing touch. Re-gilding the frame restores this masterpiece to its former glory ahead of a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition in 2018: we are planning, in partnership with the Yale Centre for British Art in the USA, to bring together as many of the Paston treasures as we can and reunite them with this picture for the first time in 350 years.
To raise money to re-gild the frame ahead of this exhibition Norfolk Museums Service launched its first crowdfunding campaign hosted by the Art Fund’s Art Happens website – a new crowdfunding platform dedicated to supporting UK museums raise money for new, small-scale, achievable and highly creative projects. We successfully raised £14,500 to re-gild the frame of this magnificent painting and are now looking forward to the international touring exhibition of this 17th Century painting in 2018.
Deep History Coast
Deep History Coast is a collaborative project to achieve a national profile for the outstanding natural and archaeological sites and finds across North Norfolk, and other key locations in the County, in order to generate economic impact and other educational and social outcomes. The project incorporates the West Runton Mammoth Display (a project to complete the display of the largest complete example of a mammoth skeleton of its kind in Europe) and the National Fossil Database (a collaborative project with the British Museum and the Natural History Museum to create a national crowd sourcing database for the identification and sharing of information on fossils).
Norfolk is unique in Britain as it contains the most important archaeological site in Western Europe, the best preserved Neanderthal site in the country and the only county where evidence of four species of human have been found. Dated around 600,000 years ago the West Runton Mammoth is the most complete specimen of the species to have been found in the world and the oldest mammoth skeleton to have been found in the UK. The oldest evidence of humans outside Africa can also be found in Norfolk, human footprints found in Happisburgh dating to 850,000 years ago.
Norfolk Museums Service’s learning team delivers award-winning programmes for schools and all ages in ten museums across Norfolk. Our museums are in amazing historic buildings with wonderful collections and top class displays. We specialise in bringing history and learning to life and our variety of museums enables us to offer a wide variety of educational activities from ‘Spring on the Far
m’ at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse to ‘A Day with the Romans & Iceni’ at Norwich Castle.
We also run events and programmes for Youth Offender and Looked After Children, including a summer school for Looked After Children at Norwich Castle. Each year we finish the week with a fantastic performance for carers, families and supporters of the Service. This fun performance not only reflects the amazing week we have but also celebrates the individual talents and future potential of the young people. All of the children who took part in summer school this year were asked what their main achievements had been during the week. Their responses include the development of knowledge and skills, in particular their social skills. They talk about making friends and improving their ability to work in a group.
Thetford’s Ancient House Museum owes its existence to the generosity of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, son of the last Maharajah of the Punjab. As well as giving funds to buy the house and paying for its restoration he also generously gave the town items from his personal collections.
Prince Frederick’s father, Duleep Singh, became Maharajah as a boy and settled at Elveden Hall after the Anglo-Sikh wars of the 1840s where he raised his family with his wife Maharani Bamba. Prince Frederick grew up a collector, enthusiastic archaeologist and antiquarian becoming President of the Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society in the same year he established the museum, 1924.
We are now launching a project to raise funds estimated at £50,000 to re-display one of the rooms at the museum to give more space to the fascinating Duleep Singh story and our Anglo Sikh collections. The museum attracts visitors from all over the world interested in this shared history. The project will provide an opportunity to display more of their family history, including items from the Norfolk Museums Service collections.