Museum on course for record visitor numbers

A MUSEUM is on course for a record-breaking year after 73,000 visitors flocked through the doors in less than three months.

Bosses at the Museum of Hartlepool, in Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, say the staggering figures since April 1 are double what they would normally expect for this time of year.

The figures have been put down to popular exhibitions and families looking for a cheap day out while money is tight.

The Diamond Jubilee festival, held over the Bank Holiday weekend at the start of June, has also helped boost figures after 12,000 people visited over the four days.

During April, the popular museum was averaging 1,000 visitors a day and the attraction is well on course to break all records.

The 2011-12 financial year saw 102,000 people come through the doors while a record 117,000 people flocked to the Museum of Hartlepool the year before – a year which saw the tall ships event come to town.

Mark Simmons, Hartlepool Borough Council’s museums manager, said: “Since April 1 we have had 73,000 people visit the museum.

“That figure is incredible and it is about double what you would normally expect at this stage.

“We are still assessing the reasons behind the high figures, but the popular recent exhibitions and the Diamond Jubilee festival have all helped.

“It is early days, but we seem to be attracting families who want a high-quality day out, that is close to home and free to visit.

“Somewhere they can come back again and again.

“We are all looking forward to a busy summer and if we continue at this speed, and I see no reason to say otherwise, then it will be a record breaking year.”

Exhibitions including Shocking Electricity, which ran from February to May, and Fabulous 50s, which coincided with the build-up to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations proved a hit with residents.

The latest exhibition - Teddy Bear Story - opened on Saturday and runs until September 9.

Teddy Bear Story explores the history of the teddy bear from the first designs based on real animals to modern character and designer bears.

The Museum of Hartlepool is open daily from 10am-5pm, and entry is free.

Visitor numbers for Hartlepool Art Gallery and Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, which includes the historic HMS Trincomalee, are expected to be assessed after the first quarter.