St Albans Museum + Gallery exceeds target number of visitors

St Albans Museum + Gallery exceeded its targets for its first seven months of operation. Picture: St

St Albans Museum + Gallery exceeded its targets for its first seven months of operation. Picture: St Albans council - Credit: Archant

Visitor numbers at St Albans Museum + Gallery are 63 per cent above target during its first seven months of business.

An update on the museum’s progress was given to a meeting of the council’s community, environment and sport scrutiny committee on Thursday, January 17.

More than 195.000 people visited the museum between its opening in early June last year and the end of December, almost reaching the 12-month target of 205,000.

The figure has exceeded the annual visitor numbers of the former Museum of St Albans in Hatfield Road, which received between 14,000 and 24,000.

During the first six months, volunteers at the museum clocked up 6,831 hours of service, and 54 learning and educational sessions were held to 1,423 participants.

The museum, which was converted from the old Town Hall in a £7.75 million renovation, also received a number of awards, including the Hertfordshire Building for the Future Award which recognises sustainable design.

Aims for the future include delivering more high-quality exhibitions, increasing income and creating a programme of changing exhibitions rather than permanent ones.

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The council is also taking into account feedback on social media, for example bringing the Sunday opening time forward by one hour to 11am to increase income in the café and shop.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which finances several key posts at the museum including conservator and learning officer, is due to end next year.

Committee chair Cllr Anthony Rowlands said: “The Museum and Gallery has got off to a very impressive start and appears to be meeting all its targets for visitor numbers and income.

“The Committee was very pleased with the way this project is progressing and how much it is adding to the cultural life of the District.

“It is an inspiring example of what can be achieved by a Council by effective leadership and strong community participation.

“However, the biggest challenge will be maintaining the excitement and visitor numbers over the long-term.

“We will be monitoring the museum’s performance closely to make sure this is done, with one key issue being how the Council makes up for the eventual loss of Heritage Lottery Fund income.”