Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
Attractions celebrate record-breaking attendances in 2014
Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge (GDO) is a consortium of visitor attractions including stately homes and historic gardens, museums, nature and wildlife reserves and other local destinations within an hour’s drive of the historic city of Cambridge.
With spring in the air and attractions preparing to welcome visitors over the Easter holiday, GDO is looking to build on the phenomenal success of 2014: recently collated data reveals that GDO members jointly welcomed over 2.2 million visits in 2014, generating significant leisure and tourism spend for the regional economy.
Several of the consortium’s heritage garden members enjoyed record-breaking figures for 2014, with the Cambridge University Botanic Garden nudging past 1/4 million visits for the first time with the popular Sounds Green picnic proms in July and the return of the October Apple Day attracting thousands of new visitors, whilst Anglesey Abbey – a highlight of the National Trust portfolio – passed the milestone of 300,000 visitors for the first time, drawn not only by the permanent offering but also by imaginative initiatives such as the property’s Dahlia Festival which takes place each September.
Historic collections continued to perform strongly with IWM Duxford welcoming more than 400,000 visitors in 2014. Particularly popular was The Duxford Air Show in September, where visitors enjoyed a display by the last two remaining airworthy Avro Lancasters, a truly historic moment. Remembrance Sunday at IWM Duxford was also popular attracting over 8,300 visitors on this day, an increase of 35% compared to 2013. Remembrance Sunday is a special day in the museum’s calendar of events each year, offering free admission to all and hosting a traditional Service of Remembrance amongst other family-orientated Remembrance activities.
Audley End House and Gardens saw an increase in visitor numbers year-on-year, as children’s stories were brought to life following the successful launch of the never-before-seen Victorian nursery, where a hidden world of privileged children, their nursery maids, governesses and tutors has been recreated by English Heritage.
This year is set to be another twelve months of exciting events and topnotch days out with friends and family, as detailed in the new 2015 GDO leaflet just launched. Tracy Harding, Marketing Co-ordinator at the Fitzwilliam Museum says:
‘2015 is already shaping up to be a good year. Our recent news of the Michelangelo attribution of the Rothschild bronzes has brought in a lot of visitors to see the sculptures, on display until 9 August. And we’re looking forward to the opening of our major exhibition Treasured Possessions on 24 March. The show will take people on a dazzling journey through the decorative arts, and is here until 6 September. Admission to the museum and exhibitions is free.’
The Cambridge Science Centre has become swiftly established as an innovator in hands-on science since its foundation in 2013. As well as continuing to grow visitor numbers to its city-centre site, the Centre this year is going out on the road building on the success of its pop-up science events. Gaetan Lee, Operations and Events Manager of the Cambridge Science Centre, explains:
‘Visitors love the Centre, which in a small space packs in a fantastic hands-on experience. We wanted to take those great exhibits and show that our visitors enjoy to the wider region. Our On The Road programme can now set up a whole working interactive exhibit in schools and empty shops, reaching thousands more people.’
The GDO family is delighted to welcome Wrest Park as a new member for 2015. Operated by English Heritage, Wrest Park is a gem, offering the opportunity to stroll through three centuries of garden history. Reflecting on the strength and diversity of the Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge portfolio of attractions, Gabriela Obluda, Chair of the consortium said:
‘The Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge consortium is passionate about increasing awareness of local destinations. Building on the success of member attractions jointly attracting 2.2 million visitors in 2014, the consortium is continuing to encourage visitors to explore the rich variety of high quality, informative and great fun days out in the region.’
The Great Days Out In & Around Cambridge 2015 leaflet is available from tourist information providers across the region. It is distributed to hotels and other accommodation providers, and to high footfall venues. The consortium’s website at www.greatdaysoutaroundcambridge.co.uk offers the best way to plan a fun and wonder filled few days in and around Cambridge.