The end of a calendar year is often a convenient time to reflect and review your progress, and set New Year’s resolutions, if you are so inclined!
Here are 6 things that I think the Museum should be proud of from last year:
- The number of people visiting the Museum each year has risen again, now at a fantastic 54,000 visitors. The most common reason that visitors give us for their visit is family or friends; the Museum is clearly for many people a place to be explored in company.
- In 2016, we welcomed 28 new volunteers and have developed ways for our volunteers to feel informed and consulted. Our Young Volunteers Club has also continued to grow, and it is great that we are seeing Young Volunteers wanting to stay on to help after reaching the upper age limit.
- Significant maintenance was carried out to a number of historic buildings. These repairs help preserve the buildings and mean that they continue to be authentic representations of their previous lives. It was also great to see the Henley Garage re-erected as a home for the Museum’s historic bicycles.
- A number of staff members have done more to raise awareness of our work, for example by sharing examples of best practice from our Museum at national conferences and local forums, on themes of education, fundraising and volunteering.
- We are building a network of local corporate supporters; we were delighted to welcome back three different organisations to volunteer for the second year in succession, who helped us to make improvements to our site and prepare for our Halloween Spectacular.
- 17,500 school children visited the Museum in 2016; it is encouraging that our formal learning programme is so popular. Last year has also seen some adaptation of some workshops to be suitable for families and uniformed organisations.
All these achievements are to be celebrated, and many more besides, as they demonstrate improvement in the three purposes which are named in the Museum’s mission statement: enjoyment, inspiration and learning.
We should also look for improvements for 2017. Although I’m not really one for setting New Year’s resolutions, it is important to remind ourselves of what we are working towards and why. I believe that we can ask ourselves three questions to make improvements to the things that we do at the Museum:
- How relevant are they?
- How authentic are they?
- How will we present them?
These questions can be asked of anything from choosing the artefacts we display in our buildings, to deciding how we will run events and activities. Personally, I will be asking these questions of the stories that we tell in our historic buildings; there are some really engaging stories of past occupants that we could tell better and ways of life that we could share more widely. I am really looking forward to using this opportunity to work with volunteers, and help them share their passion for this fantastic Museum.
Visitor Services Team Leader