The Epping Forest District Museum re-opened on Saturday 19th March 2016. It had been closed for almost two years, and has had £1.5m spent on it, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
On the press day before the launch we had the privilege of an early look, and a chance to get behind the scene. It’s an amazing makeover for the museum, massively increasing the available space, and for the first time having a lift to every floor, and a room for education work, which will make class visits much easier and better for the children.
The museum still sits next to the library on Sun Street, but has expanded on the upper floors. There are a series of rooms, each with a particular focus, such as the Treasure Room, which some of the showpieces (including carved wood floor panels, and an unillustrated bible). There are displays featuring childhood items, one featuring the remnants of what crockery was left after a man’s house was ransacked after he was run out of town (think Brokeback Mountain).
One room had some lovely local paintings, and a wall frieze depicting some of the famous Essex people over the years. (Hopefully room to pop Rachel Riley and Phill Jupitus on the end!)
The top floor was a particular treat, with one room offering not only it’s own displays, but big windows giving a window! onto the behind the scenes part of the museum. So you can see the museum staff and volunteers at work. A particularly neat touch is the view into the stack where there are shelves of posters. The staff can pull out one set of shelves at a time and so you get a changing view of that part of the collection.
They say they have around 60,000 items in the collection, and a behind the scenes tour showed some of this. It’s a museum you can spend some time in, and with Waltham Abbey Church and gardens nearby, and some pubs on Sun Street, that a day out for you!
Lots of pictures below. Click on a picture to see in full size.