Posts Tagged ‘Museum Store’

Hertford Museum Orrery

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Over the year’s the objects on display at Hertford Museum have to keep changing but we’re often asked about objects that are now in our stores. One of the things we’re asked about most frequently is our orrery which was on display in the museum for nearly 70 years!

The orrery on display in the 1960s

The orrery on display in the 1960s

The orrery –a mechanical model of the solar system – was made by Jeremiah Cleeve of Welwyn in around 1810. It was given to us by the Science Museum in 1933 and has been an important part of our collection ever since. However it now needs urgent conservation work. The globe is rapidly losing varnish and the paper surface at real risk of permanent damage. The mechanism of the orrery is also in desperate need of cleaning so that it can one again be operated.


We are hoping to have the orrery on display as part of our Rise of the Machines exhibition later this year and we’d like to have it in full working order but to do that we need to raise £2050. We’ve already had a donation from the Robert Kiln Charitable Trust but we’ve got a long way to go to raise the full total and so we’re asking our visitors and supporters for help!


If you’d like more information about the significance of the orrery, our plans for it’s display and storage long term and also the work that needs doing you can download a pdf here or get in touch with us.


Don’t forget if you want a chance to see some of the other objects in our collection that aren’t on display at the moment then you can come and see behind the scenes at our Store on Saturday as part of this year’s Open Heritage Weekend. See our website for full details!

A busy week…

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

It might be almost the end of term for a lot of you but things aren’t slowing down here at the museum! We’ve had a busy week of exhibitions and conservation and videos and some exciting plans for the future!

Firstly our plans for the summer holidays are all coming together so make sure you pick up a copy of our summer leaflet from the museum or download it from our website


Our new Art of Arms exhibition is proving popular with visitors and don’t forget there are some videos with additional information on our YouTube channel (including a film from 1955 about how to make a sword!)

That isn’t the only exhibition we’ve been working on though- World of Wallace is on tour as of today! We just packed it all safely into a van for its visit to The Oxfordshire Museum. We’ll try and share some pictures of the hornbill in his new temporary home when they’ve got everything set up!


We’re also starting to look at which objects we’re going to include in our Autumn exhibition which is going to be all about machines- some scientific, some industrial and at least one old favourite that some of you who have been coming to the museum for a long time might remember!

If you’ve visited our stores in the past you’ll have seen the fabulous roman corn dryer that’s kept there. To keep it safe and looking its best it needs to be check regularly by a conservator and that took place last week so it will be all ready for our Stores Open Day in September (watch out for more details coming soon!)


And speaking of watching out- we’re hoping to make a few changes in the garden (not to our beautiful knot!) so it you’re visiting us over the summer you might get a chance to see what we’re up to.

Daggers and Axes and Swords (oh my!)

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Thank you to everyone who came to our Stores Open Day on Saturday- we had over 200 people during the course of the day and got some lovely feedback! If you missed your chance last weekend then don’t worry- we’re planning another Open Day in September so watch out for details nearer the time!

Our team of conservation cleaners hard at work on Saturday.

Our team of conservation cleaners hard at work on Saturday.

One of the things visitors could see at the Stores on Saturday was a team of our amazing conservation cleaning volunteers. These volunteers have been trained in conservation cleaning which is a lot more fiddly and time consuming than ordinary cleaning- no metal polish allowed!

Every object is photographed before we begin!

Every object is photographed before we begin!

The idea of conservation cleaning is to show any object off to its best advantage without removing any part of the object or any signs of it’s use or age so we have to start slowly and carefully.

When handling metal objects like this axe it's important to wear gloves. The oils on your hands can cause real damage otherwise.

When handling metal objects like this axe it’s important to wear gloves. The oils on your hands can cause real damage otherwise.

The team on Saturday were starting work on some of the weapons from our collection for our Art of Arms exhibition which will be opening in July.

Every bead on the shaft of this spear will have to be cleaned individually using a small cotton bud!

Every bead on the shaft of this spear will have to be cleaned individually using a small cotton bud!

Stores Open Day!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

When people visit museums and see all of the cases full of objects it’s sometimes easy to forget that, for most museums, the objects on display are only the tip of the iceberg! Most museums have between 5-10% of their collections on display and Hertford Museum is the same so this Saturday, 3rd May we’ve giving you a chance to come and take a look behind the scenes at the rest of the objects in our collections!

SW House001

Come and visit our Stores in the Seed Warehouse (Maidenhead Yard, just off The Wash) and discover how we store and care for our vast and varied collections. Plus you can take a closer look at the larger vehicles in the museum collection that we could not fit in our On the Move exhibition!


If you haven’t visited it before it’s also a great chance to come and look at our Roman corn drying oven and learn more about the fascinating Foxholes Farm excavation.


There will be volunteers and staff on hand to answer your questions as well as a team of our conservation cleaners working on objects for our NEXT exhibition (so if you want a preview of that make sure to pop into our work room upstairs!)


And if all of that isn’t enough to get you to drop in we will also be serving cream teas, cake and coffee from the Millbridge Rooms! The Stores will be open from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm and (other than the cream tea!) everything is FREE.

Stores Open Day- a chance to see our Roman Corndryer!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

This Saturday, 8th September, from 11am- 3pm we will be opening up our Stores to the public again as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme. You will be able to visit the Seed Warehouse (just off the Wash, maps available from the Museum) and see all of the work that goes on behind the scenes including conservation cleaning, our new library space and some of the collections we can’t fit in the museum!

Saturday will also be another chance to come and visit our Roman Corndryer. This structure was excavated from Foxholes Farm in 1974 and to protect it was lifted in two huge pieces and brought to the Seed Warehouse site. It is the only intact Roman Corndryer that you can visit in this country and possibly in the world so make sure you take this opportunity to see it!

One of our volunteers, Heather Hodgson, was present when the Corndryer was excavated and lifted and she has shared her memories below. If you visit on Saturday you can also see some of her cinefilm of the occasion.

In 1974 I had the good fortune to be on the Foxholes Farm excavation. After a field walking session over the field, Roman and Iron Age pottery were found. Redlands had the rights to extract gravel so there was a need to excavate. The report explains all the relevant details. The excavation was conducted by the Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust and the work was done in front of the of the gravel extraction. Towards the end of main excavation the last section of land was stripped on the edge of the valley and a chalky smear appeared in the soil. On investigation it revealed the outline of the corndryer as it was gradually revealed it became evident that we had something special. So careful excavation revealed an impressive unique structure and plans were made for the possible lifting and preservation.

Robert Kiln, chairman of HAT contacted Pynfords for their expertise in this kind of work. A mould of the corndryer stokehole was made with expended polystyrene, this was then used to make a new stokehole. Pains taking effort was taken to underpin the base of the corndryer with re-enforced concrete which was then had to be cut in two for transportation. Each section of the corndryer was then protected by timber ply shuttering and sand between the board and the walls. The sections were carefully loaded on lorry trailers. It was quite scary to see the lift, would it be alright or was it too heavy? Fortunately every thing went well and I did happen to have my camera with me to cover the event.

Arriving at the Seed Warehouse more fun and games getting the sections into the space where it now resides. The main square section was very gently lower on to industrial skates making sure it was carefully balanced. Then chains were attached to the section base and also to ratchet on the supporting pillar of the room where it now resides. Gradually is was moved inch by inch in through the doors and manoeuvred around the pillar. I am still amazed how they managed to with hardly any room, it did take a very long time. The same procedure for the stokehole section, being slimmer was a little easier, then carefully placed together.

Over the following months we (Heather Hodgson and Esme Freeman) reconstructed the stokehole and rejoined the sections, can you see the join?

Archaeology at Hertford Museum

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

One of the largest collections we have at Hertford Museum is our archaeology. We have over 2370 boxes of archaeology and 285 archaeological archives stored on nearly a kilometre of shelving!

Our archaeology is kept in our off-site store so we in this blog we’re giving you a little over-view of what we have and how we take care of it! We’re also working to put together a new Museum Talk on the highlights of our archaeology collection which will be bookable by groups (keep an eye on our website for more news!)

Archaeology Stores

We have 2 large store rooms to accommodate our ever growing archaeology collections.

The archaeology is stored by material type as different materials such as metals require specific temperature and humidity levels to help prevent deterioration. We regularly monitor the environment in all our store rooms.

Archaeological Archives

Excavations produce large amounts of paperwork as well as objects. We catalogue and care for paper records, plans and drawings and photographs and make them available to researchers.

Documenting Archaeology

We are individually numbering and recording our archaeology collections with help from our volunteers. Every object has to be catalogued and photographed and packed and stored appropriately.

Metals such as iron are stored in airtight boxes with silica gel. This draws out any excess moisture in the box which would cause the finds inside to deteriorate.

Other finds such as ceramics and glass are well packed with acid free tissue.

Open Day at the Museum Stores- Saturday 14th July 2012

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

This Saturday Hertford Museum is opening its Stores to the public to allow everyone to see what goes on behind the scenes!

In most museums the objects on display only the tip of the iceberg and Hertford is no different. We have more than 80,000 objects in our collections and although we were able to increase the number of objects on display at the museum hugely during our redevelopment we still only have around 5% on permanent display.

On Saturday visitors will be able to see inside our stores, discover how work is progressing in our new library, talk to volunteers who help us care for our objects and see a complete roman corn dryer (the only one you can visit in the world!), which was moved from Foxholes Farm where it was discovered to the Seed Warehouse to keep it safe and accessible.

The Seed Warehouse is in Maidenhead Yard which is just off the Wash, opposite the Theatre (post code: SG14 1PX) and will be open from 11am – 3pm on Saturday 14th July.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll be able to see on Saturday:

Cher, our carnival Kakapo, has found a new home in our Natural History Store...

... which she shares with lots of animals including this grinning crocodile skull!

We have big doors in our Large Object Store...

... and tiny doors in our Small Object Store.

Our new library is slowly being filled with books...

... and there are some lovely views of the river

There are sewing machines for dolls...

... and sewing machines for people.

There are pieces of buildings long since pulled down...

... as well as a complete Roman Corn Dryer, the only one in the WORLD!

An ordinary day at Hertford Museum

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

We like to keep busy at Hertford Museum and today has been particularly full!

This morning our Curator, Sara, was out buying bookshelves for our new library at our Stores. We’ve cleaned out the room that is going to become the library and carpeted it but now we need shelves to house all the books! If you come along to our Open Stores Day on Saturday 14th July you’ll be able to see how far along our plans are!

Our old Library- you can see why it needed more space and more shelves!

While she was doing that Assistant Curator Sarah was at a meeting of the Hertfordshire Museums Group where we share ideas and news with other local museums. This meeting also involved lots of presentations on projects funded by the Hertfordshire Museums Partnership Small Grant Scheme- our project was updating Modes, the computer programme we use to document our collections, and training our volunteers to use it.

St Catherines School, Hoddesdon, playing with the toys in one of our loans boxes

Our Learning Officer Eleanor has been talking to schools today about our loans boxes- these are themed boxes of objects that schools can borrow to use in their classrooms. We have several on themes including Beside the Seaside, Toys of the Past & Egyptians and we are now involved in a project to research how schools make use of them.

And everyone else has been busy too. Connie our Finance Officer has been updating our accounts whilst our Museum Support Assistants, Julie & Holly, have been looking after the shop and the front desk and answering enquiries (you can read about the kinds of things we get asked in this post from February) and in the garden Alison is clipping the box hedges that make up our knot garden- it’s looking beautiful and green at the moment after all that rain!

The museum knot garden two years ago, visit us to see how much it's grown!

And after all of that this afternoon we’ve been discussing an exhibition we’ll be holding next year on Bengeo! We’ll talk more about the exhibition much nearer the time but we’ve got lots of ideas already.