Chelmsford Museum Goes ‘On Air’ with Virtual Exhibition

On Air exhibition - an image of Dame Nellie singing to a globe with musical notes on a staff

On Air: Chelmsford’s Global Experiment exhibition was due to run at Chelmsford Museum throughout this special centenary year of the Marconi broadcast. Whilst the museum is closed, the team have been working behind the scenes with Essex Record Office to produce a virtual version of the exhibition for us all to enjoy.


One hundred years ago, Chelmsford was the location of a ground-breaking radio test. Dame Nellie Melba, one of the most famous singers in the world, came to the New Street Works to perform the first live entertainment broadcast. The centenary of this remarkable event is the focus of ‘On Air: Chelmsford’s Global Experiment’ at Chelmsford Museum.

Our exhibition opened just before the lockdown started, so we haven’t been able to share this story with as many of you as we’d like. We hope you’ll get to see it when we can open our doors once again, but in the meantime, we are remembering this centenary with a virtual exhibition in the form of three films.

Chelmsford City Museum

Our story begins many years before…
After the success of the tests at Ballybunion, the story continued back in Chelmsford.
Dame Nellie Melba was on her way to make history in Chelmsford….

Chelmsford Museum thanks Tim Wander and Peter Watkins, whose insights helped to bring the virtual ‘On Air’ exhibition to life, and BBC Essex for permission to use their interview with Winifred Sayer.