Museum visitors rise - but school trips drop

HASTINGS Museum and Art Gallery will continue to be closed for an extra day due to funding cuts - despite attracting more visitors.

A report by Hastings Borough Council shows that the number of people going to the museum in the first quarter of this year is up on the same period in 2010 - from 7,869 to 9,122.

That increase follows an annual jump from 34,252 between 2009-2010 to 35,974 visitors in 2010-11.

The number of schoolchildren going to the museum in organised groups did drop however, from 1,168 in the first three months of last year to 618 between January and March in 2011.

But it was despite the context of extra total visitors that the decision was taken to shut the musuem every Monday.

The council’s musuem committee confirmed it would continue to close that day until for the forseeable future.

Facing a cut in council funding, the museum’s curator Cathy Walling says the situation won’t change until the town’s finances improve.

The drop in school attendances was also put down to local teachers having less funds at their disposal to spend on educational trips.

Visitor numbers at the Old Town Hall Museum also showed signs of steadily increasing, up from 3,744 people in January to March 2010 to 3,819 this year.

However, the number of pupils visiting mirrored the town’s main musuem - dropping from 494 to 290 in the same period.

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery has been praised for some high-profile shows in recent months, including a well-attended display of Robert Tressell’s life and the current Albert Goodwin showcase which is due to end this weekend.

It has also been given a stack of new exhibits by donors, including a stash of Anglo-Saxon silver coins, a host of items used in traditional Oglala Sioux ‘vision quest’ ceremonies, an album of old newspapers from 1899 and a collection of Hastings ginger beer and beer bottles.