Latest News - Saffron Walden Museum (June 2020)

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Saffron Walden Museum Summer

Museum News for June

We remain temporarily closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  We continue to work behind the scenes and from home, keeping in touch with you all online through our social media, website and blogging.

activity pack

Coming Soon:

Activity Packs!

Here's a sneak peak of our new resource - click and collect activity packs!

Great for those of us who are running out of ideas to keep the kids and ourselves occupied during the lockdown.

Keep an eye on our social media to find out more next week.....

OOM collage

Object of the Month

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

June’s Object of the Month celebrates Volunteers’ Week. These fossils have been cleaned and recorded by two dedicated geology volunteers, helping to audit the thousands of fossils held in the Museum’s stores. The project is suspended at the moment, but we all look forward to getting back together when times are better.

These fossils are from the Red Crag layers, which are the reason Walton-on-the-Naze is famous for marine fossils. These sandy layers were laid down in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene epochs between 3.3 and 2.5 million years ago (Mya), when a warm, shallow sea and bay covered most of Essex. The fossils have stained red-brown over time due to iron-rich water washing through the rock. Later ‘Pleistocene’ fossils from Essex, such as the oyster (bottom right), don’t really ‘belong’ there at all. They were brought south or churned up from older rocks by glaciers during the Pleistocene Ice Age, which lasted from 2.5 Mya to 12,000 years ago. They appear in ‘glacial drift’ deposits left behind as the ice sheets grew and shrank. The oyster is actually from the Jurassic period (210-145 Mya).

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


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"

KIM logo

Nominate Us!

With the Museum focussing its resources online during the lockdown – why not consider nominating us for the Family Friendly Museum From Home Award, which has been launched to celebrate how museums and heritage sites have supported families through lockdown.  Click on the link below for a full list of categories and details of how to nominate.

volunteer week

National Volunteer Week

The first week of June is when we annually celebrate National Volunteer WeekHere's a flashback to us celebrating last year with our Volunteer Tea Party....

We'll have social media posts all week focussing on the contributions made by our volunteers across all the different aspects of the Museum.

Your invitation to the regional virtual museum volunteer awards:

SHARE Museums East are delighted to announce that this year’s virtual Volunteer Awards ceremony will take place in Volunteers Week at 11am on Thursday 4th June

Join them on their YouTube channel ready for the nailbiting outcomes!  Why not dress up for the occasion!

Wendy-Jo has successfully nominated our volunteers for these awards on the museum's behalf for many years now.  Stay tuned to the ceremony on the 4th June to see if our nominees (listed below) are victorious this year:

Ian Sharpe for the True Grit Award: For people who have persevered with a difficult, awkward, tedious or challenging task over a long period of time, battling against difficulties and continuing despite the odds! (for many years tackling long projects such as transcribing the museum registers)

Jenny Day for the Silver Owl Award: This award is open to volunteers who have been volunteering at their museum for at least 25 years. (Jenny started with us in the mid 1990s)

volunteer week picture

In honour of National Volunteer Week we made you a word picture grid (below), so you know we're thinking about you all...and look forward to welcoming you back soon.  The word pictures read: "We miss you all so much, especially our amazing volunteers and cannot wait to see you again when it's safe"  Thanks to all the staff and volunteers who took part!

word pictures grid



The museum's new blog, which has been 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. 

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....


Human History : Research & Cataloguing

Jenny Oxley (Collections Officer, Human History) has been busy researching and writing regular blogs on the human history collections for our blog and museum website, and sharing these via the museum's social media platforms.

Her most recent blog, called The Shape of Women charts the changes in the female fashion silhouette over time - Part 1 covers the period 1790=1900 (corsets and crinolines) and the 2nd part covers the period from 1900 to the present day.   

Cataloguing from the accession registers is continuing for all the human history collections databases - costume & textiles, social history, document archive, fine & decorative art and world cultures collections.

A selection of our art collections are available to view online via ART UK


Geology Documentation Project

Update from James Lumbard, Natural Sciences Officer:

The project is still progressing well, and I'm close to finishing the first stage of the project – checking that all the items on display have a digital record on Modes (our Collections Management Database), and creating provisional records if not. Then I will check these provisional records against possible matches by searching the original design notes for the gallery, searching for possible matches on Modes, and relevant shelves and boxes in the stores. If this turns up a matching fossil in the stores, then the object in the gallery needs its own record – the provisional record will become permanent.

And for those of you desperate for the answer to last month’s mystery object, our little friend is a type of serpulid worm. This one lived about 85 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, when a deep, warm sea covered most of Britain. They built a chalky tube to anchor themselves to rocks or shells on the sea bed.

natural sciences store

Natural Sciences Store improvements @ the Museum

By the time this goes out the work to seal the natural sciences store in the Museum roof space will be complete. Hopefully!

James and Charlotte moved the remaining specimens from the contractors’ work area, and the sealing was finished in the last week of May. As the specimens are already off their shelves, we can check them for signs of deterioration from pest or temperature/humidity damage, and give them a quick spring clean before they go back.

Charlotte has already made a start on the pieces that need bigger interventions – this lesser black-backed gull has had its feet straightened and repaired, feathers tidied, and its legs, beak and eyes given a new lick of paint. All of these changes are reversible (essential for museum conservation) but they make such a difference to the finished bird!

wi9ldlife diorama

Wildlife Diorama

Here's Sarah Kenyon, Natural Sciences Officer pictured in museum PPE ready to spray the diorama case of North West Essex wildlife. 

We've been checking the pest traps in the museum and found a live carpet beetle larva, known as a woolly bear, and a moth in the display case.  Their larvae eat organic material in museum collections such as textiles, fur and feathers, so the area needs to be treated effectively.

Sarah's Museum PPE consists of a mask that keeps out the chemical fumes, a university lab coat, goggles for eye protection, gloves, and also plastic bags to protect her hair and feet as she tiptoed through the display case spraying insecticide!


Online Survey

Thanks to everyone who took part in the online audience development survey, which has now finished and the responses are being collated.

We received 260 responses which will provide us with good statistical data for our NLHF project, looking at the potential for future development of the Museum. 

Congratulations to Mark Hinton who was picked at random from the respondents to win the £50 shopping voucher in the prize draw.

behind scenes

Virtual Highlights Tour

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 for us by Saffron Drones. 

What's your favourite bit of the Museum?

mystery objects


We're still sharing our online jigsaws based on the museum's collections.  How quickly can you solve them?  There are alternative designs and versions to suit different levels.  Let us know if you have any jigsaw requests and we'll create some more!

We've also created a new online mystery object quiz game which you can find on our Facebook timeline - test your expert knowledge identifying 10 mystery social history objects from our collections, with multiple choice answers to pick from.

new volunteer

Thank You!

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