I spent an enjoyable 45 minutes at Chelmsford Museum last week. Ten minutes walk from the town centre down Moulsham Street, the museum sits in the grounds of Oaklands Park. It’s been there since 1835, but has recently had a new extension that has doubled the size of the museum. And for a small museum there is a lot to be seen.
The new entrance has a lot of glass fronting it, and the ‘Bright Sparks Exhbition’ highlights how modern industries such as Marconi, Hoffmann and Marriages transformed the market town of Chelmsford. Throughout the museum there are links to the town, whether from archeological evidence from millenia past, through to the history of Chelmsford F.C., and the infamous and ill-fated punk festival of 1977.
The new and the old parts of the museum work well together, with just the odd room being a link through to the dustier, less interactive days of museums – the stuffed wild animal room in particular. A live display of honey bees was quite impressive, with bees busily entering the museum through a gap in a window into a purpose-made glass-sided hive.
A temporary exhibition of the work of Owen Jones, courtesy of the Eastern Region Textile Forum was interesting. Helpfully for adults with young children, the room next door had some dressing up clothes and the chance to pose as a wild west cowboy in front of a mirror.
Social history was covered well, with the aforementioned reference to the punk festival (I’m not entirely sure when my teen years became the stuff that museums would cover!). The information boards throughout the museums were of a high standard.
The museum also hosts the museums for the Essex Regiment and the Essex Yeomanry, with displays of costumes, medals, silverware, weapons and the like, and a chance to search for relatives who served in the regiment on their database.
All in all, an impressive museum, with enough to keep children engaged for some time, and more than enough for adults of all ages. There are a number of pictures below. To make sure you don’t miss out on any special events happening in museums across Essex, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter!