MuseumNext: 3 Bursaries for Essex Museums

Nina Simon and Amy Cotterill

Amy Cotterill (right) with Nina Simon,  Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History at MuseumsNext 2018

Last summer, I had a life-changing experience. I went to the MuseumNext Conference in London.

 

It was unlike any museum conference I had ever been to before. The speakers and delegates came from museums around the world and the projects and work they were speaking about were awe-inspiring. These were not big, nationally-funded museums. Many of them were comparable to the museums with have here in Essex, with few or no paid staff, shrinking grants from local government but with a lot of creativity and enthusiasm. They were experimenting with how they reached out to audiences and interpreted their collections and the results were exciting and inspirational. Have a look at their website, where videos of many of their speakers are available.

 

Having had my mind blown, I am absolutely thrilled that their European conference will be in London for the second year running on 3rd to 5th June. All the details are available here. b

I am offering three free tickets to museum staff or volunteers from Accredited museums in Essex. If you are successful, you have to commit to attending for all three days and to writing at least two blog posts about your experiences. You can be at any point in your museum career and be from any department, but you must have worked/volunteered at an eligible Essex museum for at least a year. It must also be signed off by either your manager, Chair or another trustee (if you are the Chair).

Funding guidance

Application form

To apply, complete the form and return it to me at amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk  by midnight on Sunday 12th May 2019.

“You Are Not Your Visitors!”

SHARE’s Kathy Moore talks about their Visitor Insight East (VIE) scheme (with thanks to Christina Lister whose introductory notes she has adapted)

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

If you want to know who your visitors are and what they think and experience, you need to ask them. Understanding and reporting on who your visitors are is also an accreditation requirement and requirement of many funding streams. There are several national schemed available for gathering visitor data e.g.  Audience Finder (AF) run by The Audience Agency. SHARE has developed a scheme which we feel is appropriate for smaller museums with lower numbers of visitors and staff/volunteers: Visitor Insight East (VIE). SHARE would like to support several small clusters of museums to start using VIE over the next few years.

VIE is a project to help you to undertake, analyse and implement visitor research. More information will be available for those museums interested in taking part, but here is a taste.

Participating museums will receive:

  • A self-completion visitor survey for your visitors (paper copies and/or an online version);
  • A link to an online survey for data to be inputted;
  • A report with your data;
  • A report which contextualises your data next to that of the other participating museums;
  • training (details tbc):

Museums will need to:

  • Proactively ensure that visitors complete the surveys;
  • Input the completed surveys into an online survey;

 

If you are interested in signing up to VIE, or want to know more, email Kathy at kathryn.moore@norfolk.gov.uk

 

 

 

Tempo Time Credits: a new community currency in Essex

I recently met with Caroline Murray from Tempo to hear about their scheme, which is just starting to be rolled-out in Essex. They are working locally to support socially excluded people back in to work, building up their skills and confidence through volunteering. She is looking for partners who want to reach out to broader audiences.

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Spending Tempo volunteering credits

Tempo is a national charity that runs the world’s largest community currency. They work with community groups and businesses to engage residents, especially socially isolated people, encouraging them to give their time to their community and access new opportunities that supports their health and wellbeing.

 

The way Time Credits work is for every hour someone gives in volunteering, they ‘earn’ 1 Time Credit note which can then be ‘spent’ on 1 hours’ worth of activity such as going for a swim, going to the theatre or visiting a historical attraction such as the Tower of London! Tempo have over 500 partner venues nationally where people can access new activities, experiences and learn new skills. See here for examples of where Time Credits can currently be spent.

 

Tempo is building partnerships with local services and businesses across Essex who are interested in getting involved in Time Credits, offering opportunities for people to spend Time Credits with them. Time Credits helps them reach new audiences, promote their services, and generate great stories about enabling access for local people and communities who might not usually visit them. Here is a short report about the value spend partners get out of being involved with Time Credits.

 

For more information about Tempo Time Credits, please get in touch with Caroline Murray on carolinemurray@wearetempo.org or 07480754929

Getting Your School Offer Ready for 2020

Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and Anglia Ruskin University are collaborating on a year-long, county wide celebration of “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).

The year of “science and creativity” will serve as an umbrella for events and activities across Essex. The partnership will be applying for funding for specific projects and events and promoting those of other organisations to the public.

I am keen that museums are able to benefit from this work and that there will be a strong legacy beyond 2020. Our definition of STEAM is deliberately broad and encompasses archaeology, social history, natural history, art… There will definitely be something in your collection that fits.

Following our recent scoping event at the Museum of Power, I am working with Claire Driver to organise a “Thinkspace” event for schools. Essex County Council organised a similar event a few years ago, bringing together teachers and museums to highlight how we could support the delivery of the new National Curriculum. This event will learn from the feedback we had at that event, be shaped in consultation with you and will bring everyone together to illustrate how teachers can use museums to deliver STEAM subjects. The aim is to use the event to build lasting relationships between museums and schools. It is aimed at museums OF ALL SIZES, both volunteer run and staffed.

Ahead of this event, I will be organising training and support for museums to create, refresh or add-to their learning offer. In order to do this, I need your input into what support you would find useful. Please do fill in the survey below. There is a box for you to make your own suggestions or you can contact me by email (please not that I am focusing on schools learning at the moment. I will be asking about support for other areas of museums at a later date).

 

Take Our Survey

 

Announcing Essex 2020

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“Essex 2020” will be a year-long and county-wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths. It’s a collaboration between Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and Anglia Ruskin University. The team are in the early stages of project planning and given the wonderful collections and sites we have in the county, they are very keen for museums and heritage organisations to play a central role. Even if you aren’t a “science museum”, there will be items in your collection made through the application of science – even the processes involved in making paints and pigments count.

 

It is really important that Essex 2020 has a lasting legacy in the county and that long-term benefits for museums are built in to the plans and funding applications. Therefore we are inviting trustees and senior managers to a briefing meeting and discussion on Tuesday 12th February at the Museum of Power at Langford, with a  10:30 for 11am start and followed by lunch and an opportunity to network.

 

The team will share their ideas so far and ask for your input as to how museums can benefit from and contribute to the project. This is a very early, idea-scoping meeting but possibilities include training, events, residencies, youth programmes… anything and everything!

 

 

This is purely a scoping meeting. My colleagues will be giving an overview of the project and then we will have activities and debates to generate and share ideas. You will not be asked to commit to anything on the day. It is also not the only opportunity to get involved.

 

If you would like to come along, please RSVP by 5th February by emailing amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk.

Museums Essex AGM

Friday 1st February 2019, ESCALA, University of Essex Colchester Campus, 10 for 10:30

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The Museums Essex AGM 2019 will take place on Friday 1st February and is being hosted by Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) at the University of Essex Wivenhoe Campus.

The AGM will have a “10 for 10:30” start and will include a briefing by me on current funding opportunities for museums and an opportunity for organisations to swap leaflets.

In the afternoon, Sarah Demelo, Curator of ESCALA and the University Art Collections (pictured), will talk about her work and provide a tour of their current exhibition, which celebrates 25 years of the collection.

Lunch is being provided by ESCALA, so please can you confirm by 25th January by emailing amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk if you will be attending and if you have any dietary requirements?

Papers for the AGM will be circulated as soon as possible. Our location on campus will depend on the number of people attending the meeting, so I will circulate information about that and where to park etc after 25th January.

If you are interested in standing for the Museums Essex committee or would like more information about what it entails, please email Robert Rose at robert.rose@bdmt.org.uk

If you are not currently on the Museums Essex mailing list and would like to be added, please the email amy.cotterill@essex.gov.uk

If your museum or heritage site is not currently a member of Museums Essex and would like to join or learn more, visit their website.

 

Dates for future meetings are:

Friday 3rd May

Friday 6th September

Friday 7th December

 

To Catch a “Pink Panther”

Stephen Armson-Smith, Crime Prevention Tactical Advisor with Essex Police, gives us advice in the wake of the Portland Tiara theft.

A gang of thieves smashed an armoured glass display case at The Welbeck Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire on Tuesday night and stole the famous Portland Tiara – seen by countless members of the public and described as a ‘national treasure’.

I don’t know if you saw the above in the newspapers, not the thing of iconic movies featuring diamond thieves, but a group of ruthless organised criminals depriving the nation of a work art.

Is this the start of a spate of similar crimes like that in the past with Jade collections that I cannot say, but this would be a wise time look at your collections especially if they contain valuable jewels and review the security you have in place to protect them. Check your CCTV and case/intruder alarms are working correctly, is the time/date on CCTV correct, are the cameras clean and free from obstruction, the earliest activation of the alarm is important, thought about a “fog generator”? are you flaunting the security that you have with good signage (remember some of this could be put away whilst open so as not spoil the “Visitor Experience”).

Then the staff – time for some reminder staff training? in a lot cases it will start with “hostile recognisance” a supposed innocent visit to the collection to establish what security you have in place and the best exit routes, or that person that is on property out of hours or that “lost (?)” person in private areas, ensure your staff keep a look out for and report any suspicious activity – a diplomatic challenge will not upset an innocent visitor but may put off a potential thief (if you can discreetly steer the suspect into CCTV view would be an advantage), BUT NEVER PUT YOURSELF AT RISK. Keep a notebook and pen in your pocket to record time/date and description of people and vehicles including index numbers that are suspious.

 

Just a few tips, not an exhaustive list and hopefully not needed.