Final Museum News…

Dear All,

This is my last edition of Museum News. Thank you so much for all your support of the last 6 years. I have really enjoyed working with you.

If you are able to come along to my leaving drinks tomorrow, I will be in the Slug and Lettuce in Chelmsford from midday onwards.

Going forward, a new Museum Development Officer post will be hosted at Colchester and Ipswich Museums, funded by SHARE and Museums Essex. They have just started to recruit and information is available here:


The Essex Network for Art and Cultural Tourism is a strong network of cultural organisations from around the county. The meetings are regularly attended by representatives of NLHF, ACE and Visit Essex. If your museum is interested in attending or wants to know more, please contact

HEG Update

An emergency meeting of the Heritage Education Group took place in December to discuss the sustainability of the group. Sadly I was unable to attend due to a family emergency, but I had hoped that the group would make a decision as to the organisation’s future. Unfortunately, in my absence, no decision was made. I have therefore made the very difficult decision to wind the group up. Given the declining numbers and the growth of the LCEPs, the group is not sustainable in its current form, although I have recommended that the next MDO establish a virtual forum for exchanging ideas/collaborations etc and perhaps draw the group together annually.

However, I have also spoken to my equivalents in the neighbouring counties and they are able to open up invitations to Essex museums if you would like to join their learning networks. Contact details are:




Update from SHARE

“ACE’s Museum Development Programme is currently being evaluated, to assess its reach and impact. I would be grateful if you or someone from your museum could complete the short survey detailed below – it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Continued funding from ACE is dependent on demonstrating our impact and value for money, so we need every as many museums which have engaged with SHARE to respond to respond. For the purposes of this survey ‘museum development’ includes all engagement with SHARE or county MDOs, as our contributory funding to the latter is counted as part of the wider Museum Development Programme. The deadline is Friday 14th February”

 Events and Training

Back to the future: the impact of science across Essex, An Essex Record Office Conference, Saturday 7th March, 9.30am-4.00pm, £30

Over the centuries science has had a massive impact on the residents of Essex. Join us for a day of talks celebrating some of the everyday developments in technology that have transformed lives in the past and how we live today.

With talks looking at everything from the basics such as water purification and supply, brewing, gas and cloth manufacture, to the cutting edge of fibre optic technology and advancement in archaeological techniques. This will be a day full of interest and a celebration of science and scientific advance across the county.

Call for Papers

Decolonisation + Democratisation is a national conference exploring how heritage and arts organisations are engaging and sharing ownership with communities.

“Have you got big ideas about how to transform the face of heritage and the arts? Are there some simple steps to changing how we think about and work with communities that can have significant impacts?

If so, we want to hear from you. We are looking for submissions from all career levels and all sizes of organisation.

We are particularly keen to hear examples of:

  • Museums working in partnership, especially ones involving organisations/ individuals outside of the cultural sector
  • Museums being used for non-traditional activities
  • Ways of enhancing collections knowledge through partnership work
  • “Failures” as well as success stories, which can help others learn
  • When: Thursday 10th September, 2020
  • Where: Colchester Castle, Essex

Where presentations involve community partners, we would love to hear from both parties and have bursaries to support community participation.

If you are unable to get to Colchester in person, please do still get in touch as we would love to explore remote contributions, such as via Skype.

We are looking for contributions for:

  • Workshop activities (30 mins)
  • Short presentations (20 mins)

If you have something to share, we’d love to hear from you. Email us with:

  • Name(s) and contact details, including organisation
  • Summary and title of your idea (no more than 300 words), including structure
  • What you expect delegates to take away from your session

Submissions to be emailed to Ben.Paites by 9am on Monday 30th March. All submissions will be considered and we shall inform successful applicants by Friday 24th April. All presenters will receive free entry to the conference. (NB: the cost for delegates will be £25 for the day).”

Museum Update – January 2020

Dear All,

As you may be aware, Essex County Council will no longer be hosting the Museum Development Officer post.

My last day with ECC will be Friday 31st January, after which I will be starting a new role managing a heritage project in London.

SHARE Museums East and Museums Essex are working with the Arts Council and other partners to ensure that there is continuing support for you after my post ends. I will pass on more details when I have them, but would recommend signing up to both organisations’ mailing lists:

SHARE Museums East

Museums Essex

Additionally, our Esmee Fairbairn funded project “Snapping the Stiletto” is also coming to an end this month, so the Project Manager Pippa Smith and I are having a joint leaving do. If you would like to join us for a goodbye drink, we will be in the Slug and Lettuce in Chelmsford (over the road from Chelmsford Station) on Friday 31st January from 12:00pm.

Thinkspace 2020

Even though I am leaving, the Thinkspace event for schools is still going ahead on Thursday 26th March. We are inviting museums to pitch sessions for the event on 26th March at the East Anglian Railway Museum. It will explore with teachers how they can use museums to deliver Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.  Our definition of STEAM is deliberately broad and there will definitely be something in your collection that fits.

The day will be a mix of keynote presentations, breakout museum-led sessions, a forum for teachers to think and plan, and a marketplace of museum stalls.  We aim to reach 100 teachers from across Essex.

Breakout sessions will run in ½ hour slots in the morning and afternoon with teachers signing up for the sessions of their choice.  Numbers in each session will be limited.

The event is aimed at museums of all sizes, both volunteer run and staffed.

We are inviting you to contribute content for one or more 25min breakout session.  This could be

  1. A taster of activities from one of your school sessions
  2. Hands on with your other learning resources such as loan boxes, teachers’ packs
  3. Hearing about other STEAM projects in your museum

The marketplace and lunch will be held between 12 – 2pm and the timings of the morning and afternoon sessions will be staggered to manage the numbers there at one time.  Museums can create a tabletop or other pop-up display and liaise directly with teachers.  It may also be an opportunity to take bookings.

If you would like to be involved, please complete this form and return it to and by midnight on Friday 10th January.

If you are interested in running a session or being at the marketplace and want to know more/need more time to write your proposal, please contact me ASAP.

Additionally, we need some images of children engaging with museums to use in publicity, so please  get in touch if you have anything we an use!

Autism Access Grants

Jo Gillam delivered a great autism access training day for the county before Christmas and I am offering grants of up to £500 for museums to improve their access. It is open to Accredited/WTA museums (excluding NPOs) who have undergone autism access training in the last 18 months. Please could you send a brief expression of interest outlining plans for what you would use a grant of £500 for and how you hope that this would increase access for your visitors on the autism spectrum, including details of the training you/your colleagues attended if it was not the one I organised at Braintree. Please email these to Amy and copy in Kathy Moore from Share by 23:59 on 15th January.

NB If your organisation has multiple sites, you can apply for a grant for each site.

British Art Network Events:

The Foundation of Art and Science, 16 January 2020, 10:30 – 16:00, Ipswich Museum

Drawing on Life: Natural History Illustration 24 January 2020, 10:30 – 16:00, Ipswich Art Gallery

The Art of Taxidermy 24 February 2020, 10:30 – 16:00, Firstsite, Colchester

Ecology of Art 24 March 2020, 10:30 – 15:30, Flatford Mill

The events are free and include lunch and refreshments. Spaces are limited, with advance registration essential. To register for one or more of the four sessions, please visit the Eventbrite page here:


Cambridgeshire Museums Partnership Officer, Cambridgeshire County Council, Full time, £26,999 – £28,785, Closing date: 13 January 2020

Collections Development Officer, Norfolk Museums, temporary post (9 months in the first instance with the possibility of extension to 1 year), Deadline: 12th January

Details and how to apply are available here:

Museum Update December 2020

I’m having problems with the GovDelivery mailing system, so am posting the latest newsletter online here too.

Heritage Education Group Meeting with Escape Room Training, Thursday 5th December, 10 for 10:30, Chelmsford Fire Station, Rainsford Lane, Chelmsford
Essex, CM1 2QS

Please try and attend this important meeting of HEG, where we will be discussing the group’s long-term future and how to keep it sustainable. As you can see from this packed agenda we will also be talking about autism access grants and the Thinkspace event in March, promoting your offer to local schools.

After lunch, we will be joined by museum escape-room specialist Sacha Coward, who will be teaching us about using that model in delivering fun, problem-solving education sessions.

Please let me know ASAP if you will be joining us for the morning, afternoon or both and if so, what your dietary requirements are, by emailing

Please note that Coval Lane is the nearest car park


Museums Essex, Chelmsford Museum, Friday 6th December, 10 for 10:30, Chelmsford Museum

Please see the agenda, available here.. We will be joined by Jamie Everitt from SHARE Museums East and discussing the long-term plans for museum development in the county.

Minutes of the last meeting are available here.

If you would like to attend, please email


Autism Access Training (and Grants), 10th December, 10 for 10:30, Braintree Museum

This all-day session will be delivered by museum access specialist Jo Gillam, looking at how what barriers there may be to for visitors accessing your museum and how we can remove them. The session is open to anyone working or volunteering in museums in Essex. To book, email

Accredited/WTA museums in Essex, Southend and Thurrock who send representatives to this training (or those who can show they have attended similar training in the last 12 months) will be eligible to apply for a grant of up to £500 to make their offer more accessible to people with Autism

You may also be interested in this Guardian article on barriers to access in museums.


Thinkspace 2020

Museums are invited to pitch sessions for “Thinkspace 2020”. The event on 26th March at the East Anglian Railway Museum will show teachers how they can use museums to deliver Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths subjects.  Our definition of STEAM is deliberately broad and there will definitely be something in your collection that fits.

The day will be a mix of keynote presentations, breakout museum-led sessions, a forum for teachers to think and plan, and a marketplace of museum stalls.  We aim to reach 100 teachers from across Essex.

Breakout sessions will run in ½ hour slots in the morning and afternoon with teachers signing up for the sessions of their choice.  Numbers in each session will be limited.

The event is aimed at museums of all sizes, both volunteer run and staffed.

We are inviting you to contribute content for one or more 25min breakout session.  This could be

  • A taster of activities from one of your school sessions
  • Hands on with your other learning resources such as loan boxes, teachers’ packs
  • Hearing about other STEAM projects in your museum

The marketplace and lunch will be held between 12 – 2pm and the timings of the morning and afternoon sessions will be staggered to manage the numbers there at one time.  Museums can create a tabletop or other pop-up display and liaise directly with teachers.  It may also be an opportunity to take bookings.

If you would like to be involved, please complete this form and return it to by midnight on 17th December 2019.


Paintings on Offer

“I am currently working on ‘re-homing’ the Derbyshire Schools Library Service. This is a collection of 20th century art and ethnography that was bought between 1938 and 1988 and used as teaching aids in Derbyshire schools. We are offering objects in the collection for free transfer to accredited museums, following the MA’s code of ethics.

There are quite a few pictures with an East of England connection, either in terms of artist or subject matter – please see the attached list. I just want to flag them up to museums in your area as there are some interesting pictures on there.   In total we are looking to re-home over a 1000 pictures, you can see the full list and further details on the MA’s ‘Find an Object’ website.”

For more information, contact

Partnership Opportunity – “Stiletto 2”

Rosina Sky edited

Rosina Sky (far right) and Suffragettes in Southend – image courtesy of Peggy Ditton


We are into the final 6 months of Snapping the Stiletto. Hopefully, you’ll agree that the project has uncovered some fascinating stories, thanks to the work of the project volunteers, the partner museums and the wonderful Pippa.


As you are aware, we were limited by the funding to only looking at existing collections. While this did provide a large quantity of material, there were some noticeable gaps in collections:


– museums generally have little material post the 1960s

– working class women

– BAME women

– LGBTQ+ women


Given the success of the project in engaging the general public, we are interested in maintaining the momentum and following up with a second project, actively collecting to fill those gaps. 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, so we want to use that as a catalyst to explore equality more generally. We would also want to link in with the Essex 2020 Year of Science and Creativity, particularly through exploring women in engineering.


Would your museum be interested in being involved?


The proposed project should fit with your local authority’s priorities around learning, communities and wellbeing. It also meets the Arts Council’s “Creative Case for Diversity”, which may be useful to you in future funding applications and to include within your Accreditation return.


This second project will run for 18 months from early 2020, with a full-time project manager and part-time learning officer and are looking at an overall budget of about £200 000. This means that although it is a shorter project than the first, there will be much more staff time and resources available. We would be applying the National Lottery Heritage Fund, so the project is open to non-Accredited museums.


I know that several of you are already seeking to engage with/collect from BAME and LGBTQ+ communities. This project is an opportunity to increase your capacity and resources to do so. Through the project network and steering group meetings, there will be opportunities to learn from and share practice with colleagues from other museums.


Commitment-wise, you would have to agree to:


– working with us to actively collect artefacts, ephemera and oral histories and taking them into your collection (this would be based on your collections policy and  organisational capacity)

–  supporting volunteers to research the objects and working with us to make them accessible via a display in your museum and through other mediums. Volunteers can be currently involved with your organisation or project volunteers but each museum will be expected to engage with, and support, volunteers on site

– supporting us to deliver two festivals at the University of Essex (like the one we ran in March) by giving talks and/or having a stall

– co-hosting with us at least one community event over the course of the project

– co-deliver with us projects with at least one school and one youth organisation, including participating in Takeover Day and Teen Twitter Takeover. The budget is still in draft form, but there should be about £4000 available per museum to facilitate this (please note you will be fully supported in doing this by the project team)

– co-deliver with us a targeted community engagement craftivism project, building relationships which will facilitate collecting. As above, the budget is still in draft form, but there should be about £2000 available per museum to facilitate this (and you would be fully supported by the Project Manager)

– attend a minimum of 4 steering group meetings (to be held quarterly, expenses to be reimbursed)

– participate in project evaluation


Our expectations of your input will be related to the size and staffing structure of your museum but once signed up you would need to be certain that you can deliver what you have agreed to. We will be building expenses into the project budget.


Museums who register interest will be asked to input into a NLHF application and help shape the project outcomes and outputs. Our intention is very much that the benefits will be far greater than the effort we are asking from you.  For example with Snapping the Stiletto, we have managed to engage over 200 volunteers who have delivered what we calculate to be over £28 000 worth of time across the project to date. We would also be able to use it to help you recruit new long term volunteers and even diversify your trustee base (if applicable).


We are in the early stages of project development, but aiming to submit our application by 20th August, so things will be moving briskly as we develop the bid.


If you do decide that you are interested, please let me know the name/role of the person at your museum who will be leading on this confirm that the senior team/trustees of the museum are, in principle, happy with this (they will need final sign off on the partnership agreement) by 26th July. I am happy to book phone calls during the next couple of weeks if you’d like to talk further before making a bid to take part.


We are capping the number of museums at 6 so it may not be possible to include all those interested as we will need to ensure a good geographic mix as well as a range of museums.


For more information or to get involved, please get in touch.

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  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)

chart close up data desk

Photo by Lukas on

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




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.

Spend_5 (1).jpg

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 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).



Announcing Essex 2020


“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

Museums Essex AGM

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


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 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

If you are not currently on the Museums Essex mailing list and would like to be added, please the email

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