Ashdon Village Museum Needs You!

The museum is recruiting volunteers for a range of exciting new projects.  We want to strengthen our volunteer team and help the museum play a larger role in the village community.

We are being supported in our development of volunteering opportunities by a small team from Marvellous Micromuseums who have previously worked with us on research into the needs and opportunities available in village museums.

In 2021 we successfully recruited a small team of volunteers to help with a cataloguing programme. We have about 20,000 objects that need photographing and cataloguing – a task that will take several years, but it can’t be done without volunteer support.  At the moment, while we are building up our cataloguing process,  we’ve got the team we need, however once we are up and running, we will have space for more cataloguing volunteers, so if you fancy getting up close to our treasures and helping record them, do get in touch in 2022.

Our other plans for 2022 include

  • Finding volunteers with IT skills to help run our website and our Facebook page.  We could also branch out into Twitter, or have small videos of our objects and activities
  • Finding volunteers to help with the interpretation of our displays. We have about 32 individual subject displays in the museum and we want to inform, inspire and provoke our visitors.

We are also working out how volunteering can help support volunteers, for example working towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s scheme, work experience, getting a reference for returners to work etc

Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates through 2022!

Cataloguing project

Added: 10 Oct 21

We are making great progress on the cataloguing process.  We have reached out to lots of new connections.  The Collections Trust have helped with forms and the formal process descriptions.  The Essex Museum’s Development Officer Beth has come and spoken to us about how to future proof our work, how to scale the formal requirements to a museum of our size, and she has put us in touch with other resources.  Then our friends at Saffron Walden Museum have given us practical guidance and support.  We’ve investigated cameras for recording objects and are putting together processes for recording in the museum with the current restrictions.

Even more volunteers

Added: 30 June 2021

We are making great progress on the cataloguing project.  We have lots of eager volunteers and we are beginning to tackle the enormity of the task!

There are lots of resources to help use – if you are interested, here are two websites you can browse and see the support that is out there

SHARE Museums East: https://www.sharemuseumseast.org.uk
The Collections Trust: https://collectionstrust.org.uk

And also if you want to learn about the technical process of cataloguing there are two useful short videos here from The Collections Trust

https://youtu.be/pb96gWsNbRk – an introduction to the Collections Trust and Spectrum standard

https://youtu.be/mdmwXWIICYk – an introduction to the 9 primary procedures.

If you fancy getting involved or just learning more, then do get in touch.

New volunteers!

12 Mar 21

We’ve got our first volunteer!   The wonderful Gordon has volunteered to help out with the website and be our photographer.  While we can’t open the museum, being able to show you pictures of our wonderful collection is all the more important.  We are hoping to get pictures throughout the website, and on Facebook, and Marvellous Micromuseums is tweeting on our behalf as well.

We would be very interested to hear from anyone who could make a few short videos for us.  We’d like to try to make a video of the museum using Google Tour Creator, and also make a few short clips for social media, of the Curator talking about objects.  If anyone is looking for a volunteering activity for DofE, or a suitable Scout/Guide badge, we can make sure we tailor the opportunity to fit the award requirements.  If you are interested, please contact us.


Added: 2 Mar 21

Interpretation is a different approach to labelling and talking about items in a museum.  Rather than just aim to give the visitor factual information about an object, interpretation tries to reveal (information), relate (to the visitor’s life experiences) and provoke (the visitor into thinking more about the object afterwards).  The technique of ‘interpreting’ objects comes not directly from museums, but from observation carried out with the US National Parks Service in the mid-20th century, doing public presentations of the landscape.  It is now a widely practiced method of presenting information across the world and is considered best-practice in the US, France, New Zealand, the UK and many other countries.

Interpretation works best when objects can be tied to more information than just their material form.  This gives small, local museums like Ashdon and immense advantage in making fantastic interpretation, because we know so much about the social history of our objects.  We know the people who owned them, who used them at work or at home, we know other things about those people’s lives and we can connect objects to an even richer history.

Here’s an example from the AVM collection, which label engages you more?


A handmade, red velvet dress in a classic 1950s design.  The dress was made for a long-time village resident in 1963.

It has ¾ length sleeves, a sweetheart neckline and a minimalist look.  This dress would have been suitable for wearing on a variety of social occasions.


Photo © Tracy Dewhirst


Pat Miles had this red velvet dress made for her wedding in 1963.  Even in the swinging 60s that caused a bit of a stir.

But she also wore it to village parties and events so she got good use out of it and she certainly couldn’t be missed on the dance floor!

Do you have an item of clothing that makes you feel a million dollars?

Photo © Tracy Dewhirst


The Museum hopes to begin using interpretation to enable the objects in the collection, and their history, to relate, reveal and provoke visitors and give them a richer experience of Ashdon.  This will be a volunteer led development and full training and support will be offered.  If you would like to be involved in the Interpretation project, then contact the Curator, Glenn Miller.