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New manager for Chelmsford Museum

Chelmsford Museum has appointed Sarah Davies as its new manager. Sarah, an experienced manager specialising in customer experience, has been the interim museum manager since November 2021.

Before her move to Oaklands, Sarah spent much of her career at Chelmsford City Parks, where she worked as the Customer and Business Support Manager in charge of the parks’ external events, outdoor sports and allotments.

She’ll now officially lead the museum’s curators, educators, operational and front of house staff as the heritage attraction enters a new phase after the pandemic.

New-look museum is a popular attraction

Chelmsford Museum had a complete overhaul in 2019 thanks to a £1.44 million contribution from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Despite being forced to close and restrict visitor numbers at various times during the pandemic, the revamped museum remains incredibly popular, winning ‘Best Museum’ category in the Essex Mums Awards for the last 3 years in a row.

The museum’s café, The Hive, which is based in the Drawing Room of Oaklands House, has also recently won a prestigious tourism award from Visit England.

Chelmsford City Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Marie Goldman, says Sarah’s ability to bring people together will help the museum continue to thrive.

“The last two years have been difficult for Chelmsford Museum with so many plans and aspirations put on hold. Sarah’s leadership and experience will help the passionate and dedicated museum team fully realise their ambitions, bringing engaging and innovative events, exhibitions and education to visitors, and reconnecting the museum with our local community after Covid.

Quality free arts and heritage venues are becoming more important than ever with the coming cost-of-living crisis threatening to further widen the gap between rich and poor. Our free museum is an incredible cultural asset for Chelmsford, supporting all generations, from inspiring young people to achieve their potential to improving wellbeing for older people.”

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, Chelmsford City Council

Community focus for museum

Since March 2020 curators have embarked upon an overhaul of the museum’s collections, auditing artefacts in storage as well as those on display at Oaklands. With restrictions now relaxed, staff are working on a new programme for Chelmsford Museum which will start its next chapter of engagement with the city’s residents.

Sarah Davies says it’s an exciting time for her team:

“Although the last two years have been incredibly challenging, the museum has emerged from the pandemic with a new sense of purpose, shaped by a strong feeling of community. Museums are made by the people who visit them just as much as they are by their collections, and the transformation of 2019 was just the beginning of our journey.

The museum has a brilliant team who want to give their best for the city and over the coming months we’ll be working collaboratively with the public to ensure the museum stays relevant in this new era. It’s been fantastic getting to know the team over the last few months and I can’t wait to see how things develop this year.”

Sarah Davies, Manager, Chelmsford Museum

New exhibition and learning sessions announced

Chelmsford Museum has already announced a groundbreaking exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the BBC this October, which will reimagine the famous Marconi Company Writtle Hut as a piece of digital art. Artist Sian Fan is working with the museum to create Forecast22 – an immersive, interactive model which will blend historic content with present day performances and contributions from the Chelmsford community.

The museum’s experienced education staff are reconnecting with pupils across the county, developing brand new content and activities for schools and pre-schools. Victorian Natural Scientists, Chelmsford Time Travellers and Marconi’s Magic Maths are just some of the many half and full-day sessions available from the curatorial and learning team who have recently won a respected Sandford Award.

Free museum activities this Easter

Chelmsford Museum will also continue its programme of holiday activities this Easter. Workshops to create Easter chicks, Easter crowns and Easter tree baubles will be available for children over 3 throughout the school holidays. All the sessions are free, but you’ll need to book in advance.

If you’re visiting with younger children, don’t forget the museum’s Explorer Zone with bee bags for pre-schoolers and history hacker bags for primary school children. They’re free to borrow and these bags are full of resources to help families enjoy the museum and park.

Subscribe to the museum newsletter for updates

Chelmsford Museum’s social media pages have regular updates about what’s on at Oaklands. You can also subscribe to the museum’s newsletter to be the first to know about forthcoming events and how to get involved in museum activities.

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Julie Weight
Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at julie.weight@chelmsford.gov.uk or on 01245 606984.