Decolonisation + Democratisation – free online seminars!

Join us this November and December for a series of free live-streams over on our YouTube channel. Heritage and arts organisations from across the country will be exploring how they are engaging and sharing ownership with communities. Contributors include:

  • York Museums Trust
  • Brighton and Hove Museums
  • Ipswich Museum
  • Subhadra Das, UCL
  • Liam Wiseman, ACE
  • Snapping the Stiletto project
  • Museum of London

See the CIMS website for the full programme and YouTube link. No need to register, just turn up!

SHARE launch new Acquisitions Grants

SHARE Museums East have just launched a new Acquisitions Grant, which is open until 22 March 2021 as a rolling programme.

If you are thinking about applying, please let me know – I’m very happy to support with developing and reviewing/proofing applications.

Details from SHARE:

As part of our 2018-2022 regional Museum Development activity plan, funded by Arts Council England, SHARE Museums East is supporting museums to develop their collections. We want to help museums to improve the representation and diversity of the stories that present, through the collections they have and interpret. We want museums to be able to provide a more accurate, balanced and inclusive interpretation of the past, therefore becoming more relevant and sustainable as a result.

Museums can apply for a grant of up to £2000 towards obtaining a new acquisition. The grant application form and full guidance is available from the SHARE Museums East website.

Examples of activities for which the grant can be used, include:

  • Purchase of object/objects to develop permanent collections
  • Commissioning of work/works from an artist
  • Costs towards working with a community advisory panel to inform new acquisition/s
  • Valuation costs, framing and display, the conservation and restoration of works, transport and storage costs to

Metal Crime Conference – You are invited to protect your roof & other property

Essex Police are pleased to host the joint Essex & Kent Heritage Watch Metal crime virtual “Teams “conference

09:30 – 13:30 Wednesday 14/10/2020

Presentations from: Ecclesiastical Insurance, Brook Security, Trace in Metal, SmartWater, Historic England, Kent & Essex Heritage Watches and Essex Police Crime Prevention.

For further information and the weblink to the conference using Microsoft “Teams” email:- with your name, organisation where applicable and email address (if different to that used in your reply)

*You do not need to have Teams installed on your IT, the link will open a webpage where you can join as a guest.

If you would like further information about Heritage Watch or wish to join, contact:

for Essex – Paul Harris

for Kent – Kelvin Wood

Spotlight on…Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome

This month we talked to Steve Morley at Stow Maries Great War Aerodome about their unique site – from original First World War hangars and an Officer’s mess, to owls and raptors and their hugely popular Wings and Wheels events.

Black and white image of a light aircraft with a man standing next to it

For people who haven’t visited Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, what’s it all about?

Stow Maries is the most intact, original, surviving WW1 Royal Flying Corps (RFC) operational aerodrome left in Europe. It was operational from 1916 until 1919 and was a key part of the London Air Defence Region, combatting raids by German Zeppelins, and both Gotha and Giant bombers across the South-East and London. This was the first Battle of Britain.

We have 22 surviving buildings that were built in 1917-19, including an original RFC Officers Mess which we believe is the only one in existence. The long-term aim of the Trust is to restore the whole site back to its heyday in 1918. This is very dependent on funding being found from various sources, with timescales to complete the work(s) linked to funding availability. 

There are currently four exhibitions at the site, plus two temporary hangars housing aircraft from this time of early aviation. It is still an active General Aviation airfield so visitors can see aircraft departing and arriving. It is 99% volunteer run, with a great enthusiastic team. We normally offer guided tours as part of the visitor experience, which receive excellent feedback, but this option is currently unavailable due to COVID restrictions. We do however have a Visit England ‘Good to go’ certificate which confirms that we open the site to visitors in the best way possible.

When the Royal Airforce (RAF) abandoned the site in 1919, it reverted back to a farm, owned by the Turner family. Mr Turner made use of the RAF buildings on-site, with several being turned into farmworkers accommodation. There is a whole aspect of social history associated with the site which we are just beginning to research with a view to forthcoming exhibitions being developed in the next five years.

We also have a vibrant wildlife population of owls, raptors, and other species, with a wildlife team able to give guided tours around parts of the site albeit this is not possible with current COVID restrictions.

Aerial image of Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome and the surrounding area

What makes Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome so special?

Being the only surviving, untouched aerodrome from WW1 makes Stow Maries unique, and a jewel in UK aviation history. Some of the earliest aviation developments took place here, certainly in respect of development of an early air defence network – the continuing development of which went onto become a major factor in the RAF being successful in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Visitors can experience the ambience of the site, buildings, and stories from the site told by our enthusiastic team. It has an incredibly strong ‘Spirit of Place’ that we strive to maintain at all times.

We are very much volunteer-driven and offer opportunities for people of all ages to become part of the award winning team that hosts members from  a multitude of backgrounds and skill-sets.

Can you tell us about an exciting project you are working on?

We are the development stage for an exhibition around early wireless technology used in aircraft. Our resident squadron (No 37 Home Defence Squadron) was the first home defence squadron to be equipped with wireless as part of the defence of London. We are working with ex Marconi employees to get some of this early equipment interpreted and on display from Spring 2021.

Alongside the above we have a rolling five year exhibition strategy, which will helps to maintain the installation of a new exhibition every year  – as we have for the past four years!

To compliment the curatorial aspects of the site we are developing relationships with other museums, including some of the major players in the aviation museum world. However, we would also like to develop partnerships with other regional museums not related to aviation in an effort to help each other out in what is now a challenging time for the industry.

What sort of events do you usually run?

We are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the period March – December, where all of our exhibitions are open. During the Spring/Summer/Autumn we hold three major events which include a flying display. Our signature event is Wings and Wheels which combines historic cars and aircraft. We also hold an event called Stow at War, which is one of the main Great War Living History events in  the UK with a multitude of historians and groups attending from across the country.

Our website and our social media presence has more details of these events.

What’s coming up?

After a challenging year for all museums we look forward in 2021 to attracting new and existing visitors by refreshing and adding to our offering. We are currently working on a schedule of events for the year, including Wings and Wheels, and Stow at War.  We are only too aware that the opportunities afforded to us in fundraising this year are unlikely to be repeated next year, so are working hard to link up with partners to reduce costs and push on towards financial sustainability. We are also very glad of the support of our Patrons and sponsors for all their help this year.

However we must also be cognisant of the challenges we face with COVID and ensure that whatever we plan takes into account the relevant guidelines of social distancing to ensure the safety of our volunteers and visitors alike. We want Stow Maries to be a great experience for heritage visitors, a curatorial example to others and most of all, a fun place to be in the #NewNormal!

For more information about Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or catch them on YouTube.

New training added to SHARE calendar

New training sessions have been added to the SHARE Museums East training calendar.

Upcoming training:

  • 7 October, Remote Learning Programmes
  • 13 October, Purposeful social media
  • 16 October, Collections Care on a shoestring (limited free places for non-Accredited museums/heritage sites available)
  • 28 October, Managing Intellectual Property Rights with Spectrum 5.0
  • 10 November, Why your museum needs to love legacy fundraising
  • 10 December, Caring for Photographs

Please see the training calendar on the SHARE website to book.

Government announcement on further restrictions

  • From Monday 14 September, you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than 6. This will apply indoors and outdoors, including in private homes. COVID-19 Secure venues (including museums) can still host larger numbers in total but groups of up to 6 must not mix or form larger groups.
  • Businesses will have a clear legal duty to support NHS Test and Trace. It will be mandatory for certain businesses to have a system to collect NHS Test and Trace data, and keep this for 21 days.

Further details can be found here:

A reminder that the guidance for museums published by the National Museum Directors Council can be found here, and will be updated in line with these changes as soon as possible.

Job vacancy: Archivist, Braintree District Museum Trust

Salary: £27,000 – £32,000

Job Type: Full Time

Contract Type: Permanent

Braintree District Museum Trust has an exciting opportunity to lead on the Braintree Digital Textile Heritage Project to improve access for commercial clients and researchers into the Warner Textile Archive, the largest public collection of a luxury textile manufacturer in the United Kingdom, with over 100,000 textiles and related items. The role will be responsible for the day-to-day care, interpretation and specialist access to the Archive Collection and to develop and implement a research framework to inform public programmes and interpretation.

For an informal discussion please contact Robert Rose, Museums Manager on; 01376 328868 ext.20 or 0797 099 3705.

Find out more and apply.

Free organisational health check opportunity

Would you be interested in undertaking a free organisational health check? Is your museum in the Accreditation scheme? If so, this could be an excellent opportunity to help you prioritise areas of development over the next 12 months.

It is a self-assessment, designed as an indicator to help you highlight your museum’s current best practice, understand where the museum has areas of development and to feed into your forward planning. It takes approximately 45 minutes – one hour to complete.

Information about the process, the benefits, and how I can help with it are below. Please let me know if you are interested and I will arrange individual chats with museums to talk through the process, and to set you up with the online survey, which I can do along with you. 

The benefits:

  • Once the check is completed, you receive a tailored report from SHARE Museums East detailing your developmental needs and priorities, so you can address this where possible
  • It provides an indicator for museums on overall organisational health
  • It enables museums to understand the areas they are doing well and also the areas of challenge
  • Funders are really looking for evidence organisations are taking their long-term sustainability seriously at the moment, and an organisational health check like this one is an excellent activity to have completed, and reference in any funding application. It shows you are taking responsibility and initiative to identify your strengths and weaknesses and are committed to taking action to address any areas of development.

Support available

  • It’s not a one-person task, it can be done as a group exercise by a board or management team, or between a group and a facilitator (me!) The latter option is preferable as it allows me to get a better insight into your organisation, and also adds a neutral perspective into the mix.
  • A YouTube webinar on the survey can be viewed here, to help you understand the process:

Please get in touch if you are interested!