Sheep’s Back Museum Celebrates Achievements

On 4 May The Sheep’s Back Museum celebrated several major achievements with the official opening of their new exhibition gallery, collection store and workroom and their re-accreditation in the Community Museums Program. John Hill, Minister for the Arts, officiated at the event, which was very well attended by locals and representatives from other local museums.  Amanda and Pauline were delighted to be among the crowd to see the culmination of several years work by the museum’s hard-working and dedicated volunteer team.

The new exhibition gallery showcases the environmental impact of wool growing on the south-east region and the impact on farming practice that environmental awareness and good practice brings. The exhibition occupies the uppermost floor of the museum’s Mill Building and involved countless hours of volunteer effort to both develop the new exhibition and make the space usable for a high-quality display.  A feature of the exhibition is a DVD production featuring interviews that highlight issues raised in the exhibition.  You can view images of the exhibition here and find out about the museum’s collection store and workroom here.

The Sheep’s Back Museum is an accredited museum in History SA’s Community Museums Program (CMP)
and as part of the opening event, Minister Hill presented the museum with their certificate of re-accreditation.  Accredited museums are regularly reviewed for accreditation and this latest re-accreditation in Sheep’s Back’s third since they were first accredited in 1989.

Congratulations Sheep’s Back Museum on all your recent achievements!

Highercombe Hotel Museum Celebrates Food Bowl History

On Sunday 6 May I attended the opening of the Old Highercombe Hotel Museum’s new exhibition “Slab Hut to Dining Room”. The opening was held as part of the museum’s Gala Day in conjunction with the About Time History Festival and drew quite a crowd from the local area and beyond.

History SA Chief Executive, Margaret Anderson, officially opened the new exhibition, which is part of a larger plan to develop exhibitions in the outbuildings of the museum and tell further key aspects of the Tea Tree Gully area’s history.  Vines and Vineyards is next on the agenda.

The district where Old Highercombe Hotel is located is the former home to vineyards and wineries (including Angoves), nurseries, and quite prolific market gardens, which have all but disappeared from the landscape now.  Plenty of local history to be explored in the latest exhibition!

Holding the opening in conjunction with a Gala Day seemed to work very well.  Plenty for visitors to see and do. Son Cameron, my Mum and I got to have a pretty good look around as well as patronising the Lions Club sausage sizzle (all proceeds to the museum) and stocking up on yummy things from the trading table.

Naracoorte Gets Disaster Ready

On 12 April, members of the Naracoorte Branch of the National Trust who run The Sheep’s Back Museum undertook a one day Disaster Preparedness & Response workshop. It was an opportunity for the group to learn what to do if disaster struck and their museum was flooded or underwent water damage after a fire. And it was also to help them write that all important document that is often overlooked until it is too late – the Disaster Preparedness Plan.

The workshop was taken by Preventative Conservator, Anne Dineen from Artlab Australia who travelled down to the southeast with History SA’s Community History Officer Pauline Cockrill.  The morning consisted of theory in the classroom, and quite literally the classroom, as it took place in the former Kybybolite School which is on the museum’s premises.  Anne gave a Power point presentation and the group learnt about a number of serious disasters in museums and archives around the world caused by fire, flood and accidents by visitors and contractors on site. There was plenty of time for discussion and to go through Anne’s excellent notes and template for creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan.

After lunch it was time for the ‘hands-on’ session and the group moved to the Work Shed which had been laid out as a salvage area, to practice the various ways of retrieving waterlogged items and how to dry them with the least amount of damage possible.  Several objects made of a variety of materials had been soaked earlier in water-filled plastic tubs. These included many typical items that one might have to save – photographs, books, documents, CDs, as well as artefacts representing different materials – paper, plastic, leather, metal, textiles and ceramic.

Anne demonstrated how to use the important equipment necessary to have in one’s Disaster Bin/Store such as rolls of paper towel, Glad Bake, Rag on a Roll (ROAR), blotting paper, Reemay (a spun polyester fabric), plastic sheeting, clothes line and pegs, and electric fans.  Everyone had the opportunity to try out interleaving soaked books with paper towel ready to air dry them in a simple wind tunnel which Anne created with chairs, plastic sheeting and an electric fan.  There was also a chance to encase a book using Glad Bake ready for freezing and to peg out damp documents, photos and negatives on a clothes line.

Anne finished by demonstrating ways of air drying different waterlogged items such as a leather shoe and a child’s dress.  Photographs of the workshop can be seen here.

The workshop was funded by a grant through History SA’s Community Museums Program. The 2012-13 grant round will be open on 30 July.

Do you have a Disaster Preparedness Plan? Accredited and registered museums in the program might want to consider applying for a grant for a similar workshop to ensure you are disaster ready.  Contact us if you would like to discuss this further.

Vale Maggy Ragless

With much sadness we report the death of City of Mitcham Council’s Community Historian Maggy Ragless, who passed away unexpectedly in her sleep in March, just a few weeks off from her 60th birthday.

Maggy had been Mitcham’s local history officer since 1986 as well as devoting many hours of voluntary service to promoting the history of the area. Based at the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre, part of Mitcham Cultural Village at the corner of Princes Road and Torrens Street, it was more than fitting that in January she was made Mitcham Council’s Australia Day Citizen of the Year for her dedication in the role of preserving the area’s history.

She was well known to us here at History SA having been involved in numerous History Weeks, State History Conferences and workshops that we have organised.  She had also initiated several innovative community history projects for which she had been successful in gaining financial support through our annual South Australian History Fund grant scheme.  These included some commemorative and interpretative ceramic tile top picnic tables in the Hannaford and Cedar Reserves as well as the refurbishment of the original Blackwood Railway Station sign, one of only two left in South Australia.

Maggy willingly shared her vast knowledge and is remembered for giving many talks to groups of all ages and particularly for initiating her slow bus tours around Mitcham and ‘memory afternoons’. She was a foundation member of the Historical Society of South Australia (established 1974).

Maggy was descended from the pioneer Ragless family who arrived in South Australia from London/Portsmouth on the barque Eden on 24 June 1838.  In 1988, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the family’s migration she wrote Dust Storms in China Teacups: Ragless Family Heritage to Australia in conjunction with the Ragless Reunion committee.  She also contributed to 5 other SA publications.

A memorial service was held for her at the Mitcham Reserve on Norman Walk last Monday 30 April which was attended by a large number of people.  There were many fitting tributes to her ‘can do’ attitude and ‘people skills’ and overwhelming enthusiasm for history and bringing it out from the archives and into the community.

We send sincere condolences to her family, friends and work colleagues including the many dedicated volunteers who assisted her.

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