It is now approaching two months since the UK’s ‘Freedom Day’ on the 19 July hailed the return of museums, arts and cultural venues across the country. With social distancing measures no longer mandatory and booking systems not needed, it was the news that museums had been waiting for. However, the return to pre- pandemic business hasn’t proved plain sailing for many venues up and down the country, some clearly still suffering from the lack of international visitors and tourism.
However, Colchester Museums are thrilled to report that all three of its museums in Colchester have seen visitors return, once again filling the buildings with the sound of happy families enjoying the collections.
Colchester Castle, Europe’s largest Norman Keep and a key tourist attraction in the East of England, has seen visitor numbers quickly bounce back in what has been a busy and successful summer period for the flagship venue.
For the period 19 July to the end of August 2021, the Castle recorded 13,987 visitors compared to 12,958 for the same period in 2019. This increase in visitors can be attributed to several factors, all helped by the continuing precautions to ensure both visitors and staff were kept safe. Although an indoor venue, Colchester Castle has large open spaces where social distancing was easy to achieve, making it a safe considered choice for visitors.
During this period, income was also up nearly 30%, as visitors spent notably in the Castle shop, and many took advantage of extras on offer like guided tours and other bespoke experiences.
In early July, the Castle opened a new exhibition in partnership with the University of Reading and funded by the Arts Council England. Decoding The Roman Dead has proved a significant draw over the summer, with visitors flocking from outside the area to discover more about Roman Colchester and its significant part in England’s historic past. For those that have not seen the exhibition, there is still time to visit before it closes on the 6 January 2022.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, an incredible 2,000 visitors stepped into an early medieval encampment filled with magic and mystery. This extra-special weekend at the Castle was packed with live demonstrations, interactive exhibits and proved extremely popular with families.
Councillor Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business and Heritage for Colchester Borough Council, said: “I am delighted that people are returning to our much-loved museums in Colchester. Travel restrictions have forced many visitors to explore both local areas and further afield, and what they have discovered at the Castle is a safe, fantastic museum with world class displays. The current exhibition and new interactives that were in put in place during lockdown have also been important in encouraging people back and engaging new visitors.”
Colchester Museums sit at the heart of the local community and are lucky to have many loyal supporters and visitors. For those wishing to help support the museums future and provide support for the local community, contributions can be made to the Colchester Museums Development Foundation. Donate and find out more here: Colchester Museums Development Foundation
Page last reviewed: 14 September 2021