• Wool, frocks and history in the South-East

    December 7, 2011

I went with Mandy Paul, History SA Senior Curator, on a speedy fieldtrip to the South-East this week.  We went to the Sheep’s Back Museum in Naracoorte, the Millicent National Trust Museum and Beachport National Trust Museum. Thank you to everyone who took the time to meet and catch-up with us, it is greatly appreciated.

At Beachport we mainly went to see the Buandik history display One Land, Two Cultures, which was launched in August this year on the same weekend as the State History Conference (otherwise we’d have been at the launch!).  The display is a new benchmark really for telling Aboriginal contact stories and the impacts of European settlement on the Buandik people of the South-East of South Australia.  Beautifully presented and arranged, it’s got a lot of words but also a lot of very useful images that show the differences in European settler and Aboriginal lives.  Great use of quotes throughout (historic and modern) and the canvas panels suit the exhibition well.

At the Sheep’s Back we commenced the site assessment for the museum’s re-accreditation in the Community Museums program and I have come back with all the written side of the assessment paperwork to go through.  Thanks Judy and Sheep’s Back workers for putting it all together in such a comprehensive and organised way.  It is going to make my job easier! But a real highlight for me and Mandy was the beautiful new collection store that the museum has constructed, complete with separate work area and fitted out with quality secondhand shelving appropriate to the collection items stored.  The museum was very pleased to report that environmental monitoring (they use data loggers in several areas of the museum) shows that over the last year the storeroom environment has stayed nicely within the recommended ranges for temperature and relative humidity.  Great job Sheep’s Back!

At Millicent we were most curious to see how the museum is managing the recent acquisition of a very large costume collection – very impressively is the answer!  Unfazed by the size of the collection and the general lack of documentation accompanying it, Lucy and the team of volunteers have already made significant headway into sorting out the collection and giving thought to the best ways to handle, store and use it.  It was great to have a chat with Lucy about how the collection might be used to highlight themes in the museum and to hear her thoughts on what the purpose and shape of future costume displays at the museum might be.

A few Community Museums program grants were awarded to South-East museums in the 2011-12 round, so there will be plenty more news from this region of the state in the coming year.