Meeting Cancellation: 5 June

The forthcoming Museums Essex members’ meeting on Friday 5 June 2020, which was to have been held at the Munnings Art Museum, has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Some organisations have, of course, been holding meetings on line and I am thinking about this as a possibility for the future. I would be interested to know your thoughts on the possibilities of holding such a virtual members’ meeting. Please contact me at Also the minutes of the Museums Essex 2020 AGM held at Braintree Museum in March are available  – it seems a different world now doesn’t it? – and have been sent out via email. If you haven’t received a copy and would like one please let me know. Thanks again to Robert Rose and his colleagues at Braintree for hosting the meeting.

Reopening Museums

The Museums Association have released a statement yesterday (Monday 4 May) regarding the reopening of the museum sector in the UK. It can be found currently on the home page of the Museum Association website. Elsewhere SHARE Museums East are working with colleagues nationally on advice and guidance for reopening and will provide more information when this is available. In Essex the new Museum Development Officer Beth Wilkey and I will be interested to learn more about your plans for reopening as these develop. Please do get in touch by emailing

Name of new Essex MDO announced

I am delighted to be able to announce the name of the new Essex Museum Development Officer. Beth Wilkey will be taking up her post with Colchester and Ipswich Museums as the new Essex MDO on 1 June, having previously worked for the Powell Cotton Museum in Kent and the Royal College of Physicians. Her post is fully funded by SHARE Museums East and Museums Essex until March 2023. Beth will be working with museums throughout Essex providing information and advice, particularly in relation to museum Accreditation. More details will be available shortly on how to contact Beth and how she will be able to support Essex museums. In the meantime please contact Philip Wise, Chair of Museums Essex, if you have any queries,

Museum Safety and Security

At the recent Museums Essex AGM there was an excellent presentation by Stephen Armson-Smith of Essex Police on ‘Museum Safety and Security’ which may be of help to many museums, particularly during the current Coronavirus situation. Stephen’s presentation contains lots of advice on good security practice in museums as well as sources of further information, including suppliers of security equipment. If you would like to receive a copy of this presentation then please email:

Museum Development Officer update

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak the decision has been taken to defer the starting date of the new Essex Museum Development Officer until 1 June at the earliest. In the meantime Philip Wise, Chair of Museums Essex and Heritage Manager for Colchester and Ipswich Museums, will continue in an acting role and will endeavour to provide as much support as possible to museums in Essex. He can be contacted on

SHARE Museums East Support Package

SHARE Museums East have just updated their website with details of their new support package for museums in the region during the Coronavirus outbreak. In brief this comprises:

Emergency support grants up to £3,000. This cannot be just cash flow to make up for lost funding – there has to be a definable project with clear outcomes. This could be a business restructure, HR support, financial support; or anything that allows a museum to survive a crisis situation.

An online fundraising support programme. SHARE will commission web designers to undertake work that directly supports online fundraising, e.g. setting up online donations platforms. They hope to support at least ten museums.

A business support helpline with consultant Julie Cole.

A fundraising helpline with David Burgess.

A volunteer support helpline with Linda Brandish (announced last week).

Please contact SHARE directly via

Essex Museum Development Officer Recruitment

Recruitment of the new Essex Museum Development Officer is underway with interviews being held shortly. The post is now being hosted by Colchester Borough Council with financial support from SHARE Museums East and Museums Essex. As soon as an appointment is made it will be announced here. It is hoped that the new Essex MDO will be in post early in the new financial year. In the meantime the role is being covered by Philip Wise, Chair of Museums Essex and Heritage Manager at Colchester and Ipswich Museums. Email:

Museums Essex AGM 2020

The Annual General Meeting of Museums Essex will take place on Friday 6 March at Braintree Museum, starting at 10.30 with refreshments from 10.00. The guest speaker is Stephen Armson-Smith of Essex Police who will talking about museum security. I hope that as many members as possible will be able to attend. Philip J. Wise, Chair, Museums Essex

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: