Registered Charity No. 1106243
THE RESEARCH GROUP
In 1990, when the Friends of Chelmsford Museum was formed, many of the members expressed an interest in local history and were therefore asked if they wished to be involved in research for a proposed exhibition on New London Road, Chelmsford.
A small group was formed which began to research the road's history and the exhibition entitled " From the Half Moon to the Rising Sun " was shown at Chelmsford Museum in October and November 1993, proving a great success.
Buoyed by the public's approval of their first effort, the research group decided to create another exhibition, this time entitled " Gone But Not Forgotten : Reminders of Vanished Chelmsford ", shown between October 1996 and January 1997.
A third exhibition " Pastimes in Times Past " : Fun and Games in Chelmsford " followed between October 1999 and January 2000. Tennis, swimming, church groups, the Chelmsford Races, hockey, golf, netball, football, evening classes, cricket, cycling, company sports and social clubs, bowling, early sports and pastimes, the Beef-Steak Club and the " Odde Volumes " were subjects chosen and exhibited.
In 2000 another quirky title was chosen for the group's fourth exhibition at the Museum " The Admiral, The Lion Tamer and the Suffragette - A Scrapbook of Chelmsford People ". This exhibition featured Chelmsfordians and others associated with the town who had made some noteable contribution either to the town or to society in general but who are not well known to the public at large. It was shown between 14th September and 24th November 2002 and had, as an offshoot, an evening " entertainment ", given at the Cramphorn Theatre in September, featuring quotes on or by some of the subjects of the exhibition, set in a narrative framework with illustrations and performed by members of the group.
Exhibition number 5 was " I Spy Chelmsford " shown in the summer of 2005. It invited visitors to look more closely at local buildings above normal eye-level to see things they had perhaps passed many times but simply not noticed.
A sixth exhibition was presented in the summer of 2010. It was entitled " Chelmsford in the Swinging Sixties " but took in not only the 1960s, with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but also the 1860s, 1760s etc.
The following photographs show some of the displays in the " Chelmsford in the Swinging Sixties " exhibition.
Photographs by D Jones
Invariably, those taking part have not only undertaken research but have also attended meetings at the museum about every six weeks during the lead-in period of about two years to discuss progress and plan displays. They have given many hours to this work and also to mounting the exhibition material.........and then taking it down again, to preparing labels, posters and a private view. It is worth noting that the material from the exhibitions has been kept at the museum and is available for research by appointment. The group's reward has been the excellent response of the public to all the exhibitions mounted.
The Research Group's latest exhibition called " Ale and Hearty " was shown in the summer of 2013 to over 20,000 visitors. It was mounted in conjunction with CMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale and recalled the pubs and breweries of Chelmsford and its immediate surroundings over hundreds of years. The exhibition was supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and included sections on brewing and malting, social life, pub signs, temperance, CAMRA and others. A thirty-page booklet and a sixteen page Walking Guide both in full colour were published specially for the exhibition.
The Research Group have also organised two Open Art Exhibitions. The first was between December 2016 and March 2017 and the second was from 24 November 2018 to 13 January 2019. Local artists were encouraged to exhibit their work in the Museum and some works of art were for sale.
VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN'S AND FAMILY EVENTS
Chelmsford Museums have a varied and lively programme of special event days and regular drop-in activities for children and families. There are annual events - Wildlife Fun Day and Archaeology Day are two popular summer events at Chelmsford Museum, also Marconi day and Science Discovery Day at Sandford Mill, when Friends can volunteer their help with children's activities. The Education Officer at Chelmsford Museum organises drop-in activities during most school holidays when help from the Friends is always welcomed. This includes support and help with the cutting, sticking, colouring and printing aspects of the event. It is lovely to welcome the children and families into the museum and chat to them about their favourite objects. The stuffed bear and other wildlife creatures are popular as well as the ' active ' glass fronted bee hive which fascinates both children and adults.
One of our Friends is able to volunteer on a regular basis and leads the under fives group ' Friday Fives ' each month. This is a project run in conjunction with two local museums; Harlow Museum and Epping Forest Museum. Each session is based on a Nursery Rhyme and is linked to an object in the museum. These sessions are popular with young families and encourage the children to see the museum as a place where they have fun and can also learn something about many fascinating objects from the past.
The Friends sell refreshments at many Museum functions. All profits go towards the work of the Museum.