The Curator presented her quarterly report for July to September 2017.
Learning and Outreach Officer
The Learning and Outreach Officer had begun her term of employment on 11 September and the appointment had already made a positive impact on the number of school bookings made with the Museum. The Curator was pleased with the appointment and more would be said under Items 5 and 6.
Health & Safety
The faulty security shutter had been replaced, thanks to the help provided by the housing repairs service.
The asbestos assessment of the museum’s collection had progressed following completion of the procurement process.
A museum specific firearms license had been acquired, replacing the system whereby the Curator held a personal license which was deemed inappropriate.
The Museum had acquired four items of treasure in the quarter which had been used for the ‘Treasure 20 project’, a celebration of the twenty year anniversary of the Treasure Act. To mark the celebration the Museum would be utilising social media and one item of treasure a week would be ‘tweeted’ for twenty weeks, as well as being posted on the museum’s website. The Curator said the project had been greatly helped by an intern who had boosted the museum’s social media presence. Councillor Light said the work that the intern had accomplished was important and asked how the Museum was going to approach social media now she had left. Mr Watson said the Museum Society would discuss this at their next meeting and perhaps there was some funding available for internship expenses, due to the income generated through renting the old school room. The Curator added that there were ways to utilise the skills of interns all year round, such as running projects during holiday times or weekends. The Chairman said the Museum was doing the right thing by focusing on social media, which was particularly important if the Museum wanted to engage with young people.
The conservation of a silk reticule, produced to commemorate the abolition of slavery, would be going ahead. Financial support had come in the form of grants and private donations.
With the help of volunteers, the Natural Science items of bird eggs and molluscs had been transferred to the Shire Hill storage facility.
The Museum was considering the procurement of twelve gold coins found hidden in a piano which had been made in Saffron Walden. The Museum would also like to acquire the piano and were looking into fundraising options, including crowd funding through social media. In response to a question from Councillor Sell, the Curator said the coins were of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and the Museum would like to acquire samples from both periods. The Chairman asked how much the piano and coins were likely to cost. The Curator said the coins would cost around £5,000 whilst the piano, and associated costs, could be anywhere in between £5,000 and £10,000. Councillor Sell said the story was particularly interesting due to the local connection, and thought an article in the Uttlesford Life magazine would be a good way to generate publicity.
Recent Events and Visitor Figures
The ‘Life in the Ice Age’ Exhibition which had opened in August had been a success. The Stone Age day, where visitors could engage with a re-enacted prehistoric man, had been well attended.
Museum visitor figures were an improvement on the same quarter last year and had exceeded the quarterly target of 4,000. The takings at the shop, ticket sales and website visits had also increased, although there had been a slight fall in donations compared to the same quarter last year.
1 November – Saffron Walden Art Society - Afternoon Reception
The Saffron Walden Art Society had funded the purchase of a medieval silver seal matrix which had been found in Great Hallingbury. A reception had been organised to display the piece to its members.
26 November – Ice Age Day
An event had been planned in partnership with Saffron Screen cinema. The family film Ice Age would be shown to coincide with the museum’s Ice Age exhibition, and a promotion would be on offer for those families who also had cinema tickets. The Curator was pleased that the Museum was still finding new ways to attract broader audiences.
8 March – Chairman’s Charity Event
With the help of Councillor Sell, Chairman of Uttlesford District Council, the Museum was hosting an event with the Chairman’s chosen charities; Support for Sight and the Essex Wildlife Trust. Councillor Sell said he hoped the event would raise the profile of the Museum and the charities involved.
The Chairman thanked the Curator for the update.