Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (May 2020)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for May

We remain temporarily closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic

We continue to work behind the scenes and from home and are keeping

in touch with you all online through our social media, website and blogging.

question marks

We Need YOU!

Last year we began a National Lottery Heritage Funded project looking at ways to improve the museum and reach out to more people across the district.

Whether you visit regularly or have never been before, we want to know what you think.”

For the opportunity to win a £50 shopping voucher please complete this questionnaire and give your feedback about the Museum - it will take around 8-10 minutes to complete.

This online survey will close in mid-May.

museum from home


If you're missing the Museum as much as we are, then you might enjoy watching this quick Youtube virtual highlights tour which was created by Saffron Drones. 

What's your favourite bit of the Museum?

We've been taking part in #MuseumFromHome - the Museums Association (MA) have been encouraging museums across the UK to participate in a BBC Arts and Culture in Quarantine event.  Highlighting online and social media content being made and shared by museums during lockdown. 


Wallace's Great Big Survey

We used the #MuseumFromHome to introduce this new project. 

The world around us is full of fascinating wildlife and objects from the past, and we want you to document them. Record what you find or see while working, playing or digging in your gardens, or what you can observe from your window or on your daily walk. Take a picture and fill out the form from our blog. Your finds and observations will be uploaded onto our blog to create a virtual museum of the archaeological, historical and natural finds of Uttlesford. The museum team will also try to identify any mystery objects too.

Check out the blog page for more info: or email information to with the subject line Wallace’s Great Big Survey and the best ones will be shared online.


CV Walden

We have begun a contemporary collecting project to record people's experiences of the current Covid-19 outbreak and how it has affected day-to-day life in the district for future generations to understand. 

If you are interested in compiling a diary now that we could archive at a later date that would be really beneficial.

We're also interested in audio and video clips, as well as artistic responses to the current situation, such as artwork, poetry and music, etc. If you are part of a community group or organisation - consider asking your members and contacts to take part in this project. 

These may be compiled to form an online or physical exhibition in due course.

Feel free to contact us about this project at and title your email "CV Walden"


Object of the Month

The Museum’s ‘Object of the Month’ display provides an opportunity to explore interesting and unusual objects from our stores. 

May’s ‘Object of the Month’ features a selection of Hawkmoths. They have been chosen by Sarah Kenyon, one of our Natural Sciences Officers, from moths preserved in a wooden cabinet of British moths. It belonged to George Stacey Gibson of Saffron Walden who collected the insects before 1883. These large moths are beautiful and easy to identify. So they are great for budding lepidopterists.

To find out more you can check out the Object of the Month post on our website (latest news section) or see it on our new blog - links at the end of this newsletter


Blog Update!

The museum's new blog, which was setup to share our learning resources more effectively whilst we are closed to the public, is continuing to be well received.

Check it out for our current behind the scenes activities, new online tutorials, project updates, stories about our collections and insights into our diverse collections. 

There are also recent guest blogs from Melanie Hughes, about the beautiful Bridge End Gardens and one from Martyn Everett from The Gibson Library about the history of shopping in Walden.  

How can we develop it further? What stories would you like us to share with you about our collections?

What resources could the museum provide that you might find helpful?  - local history, geography, science, maths, art....



We've created a few online jigsaws based on the museum's collections.  How quickly can you solve them?  There are alternative designs and versions to suit different levels. 

Too Easy? Too Difficult? Want to be able to do a jigsaw of your favourite museum object? 

Let us know if you have any jigsaw requests and we'll create some more!


Environmental Monitoring

The digital and internet-connected gadget for monitoring temperature and humidity (to ensure that the collections remain in stable environmental conditions) in the Museum’s stores and gallery spaces will be trialled in various locations across the Museum and compared to our existing monitoring methods, with the possibility of investing in more monitors to provide comprehensive monitoring of the conditions across the Museum sites. Thank you to Saffron Walden Museum Society for funding the purchase of the equipment we are trialling.


Human History - Collections Research & Cataloguing

Staff can access Modes (our collections database) from home on our work laptops, so we are still working behind the scenes, cataloguing and researching our collections.  Having the records already catalogued puts us in a good position to speed up the process of physically condition checking and digitising the museum's collections, with our collections volunteers, when it is safe for us all to fully return to working at the Museum.  The outputs of this work can already be seen online in our social media and blog posts, and long-term will be really valuable for enquiries, exhibitions and projects.  Our long-term aim is to get the collections accessible and searchable online but with diverse collections of around 175,000 items this is understandably a complex undertaking.  A selection of our art collections are available online via ART UK


Geology Documentation Project

James Lumbard, one of our Natural Sciences Officers has been busy starting the Geology Documentation Project.  He's checking that there are appropriate records on our collections database, Modes for each item.  Where items don't have records already, provisional records are being created, which meet Collections Trust standards. Some objects need further investigation. Maybe there’s a chance that they come from a box of mixed fossils that is recorded on Modes, while some had been miss recorded as similar fossils, also on display in the gallery but in a different case. The project can also throw up good opportunities for involving people in Museum life even while we’re closed, with games or challenges to guess the object.

What do you think the fossil in the picture is? A coprolite (fossilised poo), a worm, a leech, or something else entirely? All will be revealed next month.

roller racking

Natural Sciences Store

@ Shire Hill

Work at the Museum continues behind closed doors to prepare for when we can welcome you all back to the Museum.

In the Discovery Centre at the Museum the trays have all been checked for damage and the Perspex covers cleaned for a perfect view through our microscope. The Beetles tray had some loose beetles, so these have been put back into their correct positions. 

At Shirehill the natural sciences store floor has been cleaned and the tracks for the roller racking vacuumed to remove dirt and debris. Thank you Fiona!

On the right of the picture you can see two woolly mammoth tusks that residents of this district brought back from their travels during the last century. The tusk on the upper shelf is from Germany and the other tusk is from Russia.

doc project

Natural Sciences Store

@ the Museum

Work to seal the natural sciences store in the Museum roofspace against pest intrusion is on hold for the time being, until travel restrictions and rules on social distancing are loosened. Fortunately, a small of team of museum staff managed to clear the remaining shelves of taxidermy before the current restrictions came into full force, so we’re in a good position to pick up this work again once we're able. Thank you to Casual Museum Assistant, Francesco, for his help throughout the store clearance, pictured here with a Fulmar.


Some light relief!

Many of us are making the most of every second spent outdoors at the moment, so here’s another way to remember the good days of picnics in the park and group visits to nature reserves.

This acrostic poem celebrating Noakes Grove nature reserve on the outskirts of Saffron Walden comes form 7-year-old Ethan, with photos by his mother Sarah Allington:


Night is full wonderful creatures

Owl hooting in their houses

Adventurous people playing in the forest

Killer bird eating its food

Excited for the Woods

Songs are how birds communicate


Giggling birds in the trees

Rustling in the trees

Observing bugs in nature

Violets for butterflies to get some food

Eggs that the queen bee laid

new volunteer

Thank You!

We want to say a big thank you to all our staff, volunteers and supporters for bearing with us whilst we have been adapting to new ways of working.

Thank you for staying on board with all our online and behind the scenes activities, whilst we are closed.

We miss you all and can't wait to re-open, once it's safe to do so.

Stay safe...We'll be back soon....

The museum is closed for the time being, but remains active online...




Phone: 01799 510333