BROMSGROVE’S Avoncroft Museum has a new face at the helm as it plans to reopen in 2021.
Zoe Willems, who previously worked as a visitor experience manager for the National Trust, has taken over as museum director at the open air heritage attraction.
In her previous role she oversaw an innovative programme of events, workshops and educational family activities at both Wightwick Manor and Moseley Old Hall, which both saw visitor numbers grow and income increase before the 2020 pandemic.
Zoe also has an extensive track record in charity regulation and governance.
She has worked at the Charity Commission, as a charity consultant, governance and fund-raising specialist and as a director of the Fund-raising Standards Board and trustee of the Small Charities Coalition.
Zoe said she was thrilled with her new role.
“There’s certainly some hard work ahead, but this is a bit of a dream come true for me.
“It is a fabulous place, with so many buildings from different eras – all telling stories of life in the Midlands, from milling wheat to making nails.
“I’m longing to see it come to life again, and will be working hard with the support of trustees, volunteers, members and the local community to get the doors open again as soon as we possibly can.”
Due to Covid-19 the museum only opened part time for a few months in 2020, after closing for the first lockdown in March.
The ongoing nature of the pandemic has led to the recent difficult decision to reduce the staff team to a core recovery team to ensure a future for the charity. Now it is preparing for its reopening later this year.
Chair of trustees Michael Woolley said “We are extremely grateful to all our staff for all the work they’ve done for Avoncroft.
“Sadly, with visitor admissions being a key source of income, and with such uncertainty about when we will be able to welcome visitors back, the trustees had to make major cost savings to prepare the charity for recovery later in the year.”
He added he was pleased to welcome Zoe as the new director.
“She has a very broad experience base, a clear passion for our heritage and how people can engage with it.
“With her leadership, we are confident Avoncroft will be able to open its doors once more later this year.
“We look forward to working with her to rebuild the museum as a ‘must-see’ attraction here in the Midlands.”
Visit avoncroft.org.uk. or email [email protected] for more information.