News from our partners: Soldiers of Shropshire Museum visitor numbers back to normal during September
News from our partners Soldiers of Shropshire Museum
Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, based at Shrewsbury Castle, has bucked the trend and has welcomed the number of visitors it normally would during the month of September (2020).
The museum, which displays the collections of the Shropshire Regiments from 1755 to the present day, welcomed over 2,500 visitors in September, which is almost at ‘normal’ numbers for the time of year, and a remarkable feat considering the COVID-19-secure precautions in place throughout the castle.
Museums and heritage sites across the UK have seen between 30% and 50% of their expected visitor numbers since lockdown was eased in July, due in part to restrictions on numbers and pre-booking capacity, but also reflecting slow-growing visitor confidence.
Lessons learnt by the wider visitor attraction sector, who were the first to welcome visitors back in May, formed the basis of the museum’s approach to reopening.
Richard Gough, director of Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, said:
“We wanted to open as soon as we were able, but had to balance the safety of all our staff, our volunteers and of course our visitors.
“We were determined to make sure the experience of visiting the museum wasn’t overshadowed by the necessary measures, like new signage, gallons of sanitiser and floor stickers.”
And as the numbers grew, so did the positive reviews.
“We were delighted to hear that our visitors were having a great time and were still really engaged by our histories.
“It’s such an important museum to visit, but understandably this slips down people’s list of priorities during a crisis such as this. We are so grateful to our visitors for making the effort and showing their support over the summer.”
With visits lasting between 45 minutes and two hours, and with a safe one-way system in operation, pre-booking isn’t really necessary.
“We knew our typical visitors would either plan to visit on short notice or just turn up – so managing a small queue and monitoring the total numbers in the museum were really effective at reducing the risks. I think making it easy to visit has been a major draw to our audience.
“Our quieter period is almost upon us, but this does mean our visitors can spend more time amongst the exhibits. Now is the season for our die-hard military enthusiasts! We’re also hoping to reopen access to the Lords Lieutenants’ collection and the Modern Army display in November.”
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said:
“This is great news, which tallies with the positive footfall figures we have been recording in the town centre throughout August and into September, where we have been consistently higher than the national average.
“The Shrewsbury’s Open campaign, funded by the Shrewsbury Recovery Taskforce, is helping to spread the message that Shrewsbury is a safe and welcoming place to visit, and it’s heartening to see the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum recording such good visitor numbers during September.”
Soldiers of Shropshire Museum is open Mondays to Wednesdays, and Fridays and Saturdays, from 10.30am until 4pm. A visit costs £4.50 for adults, £3.50 concessions and £2 for children over five.
For more information people can visit www.soldiersofshropshire.co.uk.