School children flock to Hastings Museum and Art Gallery as it enters a new era

Dino Day at Hastings Museum. SUS-180823-123221001
Dino Day at Hastings Museum. SUS-180823-123221001

School children are beating a path to Hastings Museum and Art Gallery as the museum aims to reach out to local people.

Museum and Cultural Development Manager Damian Etherington said there had already been 1,600 school visitors so far this year, compared with 500 during the whole of last year.

He was speaking as he outlined plans to make the museum more appealing to local people when the Museum Committee met on Monday.

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There are plans to hold more exhibitions and discussions are taking place about improved street signing, directing people to the museum.

In the long-term there could be plans to apply for funding for an extension to the museum, which does not have enough space to contain its interesting collection.

The museum has already organised special sessions for autistic children.

Cllr Leah Levane said: “This is really exciting.

Committee chairman Cllr Kim Forward said: “We want people in Hastings to feel that it is their museum.

Hollington councillor Maya Evans said that for may families in Hollington the cost of transport to take their children to the museum was an issue and there was not a direct bus from Hollington.

Cllr Evans also put forward the idea of a cafe at the museum, commenting: “A good quality cafe can do wonders for a venue. It will become more of a hub for parents with young children.”

Committee member Steve Peake said: “There is a problem with access to the collection. More archiving and digital cataloguing is needed.

Damian Etheridge said: “We want to make it more inclusive and build on community engagement. There is a lot of work to be done, but it is hoped that with National Heritage Lottery funding we can improve this.”

Commenting on the need for more space, he said: “In three years tiime we will be ready to go for some capital development.”

Steve Peake suggested taking more exhibitions out to areas in the community. He said: “When we ran a local history day in the parish church in Ore a few years ago, more than 1.500 people came along in the space of one day.”

Volunteer Andre Palfrey-Martin said: The bulk of people have been those researching their family.”

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