June 30, 2011

Governance Structures for Local Government run museums

Hi all,

I am on the scrounge for copies of any documentation and commentary on Board structures for Local Government run museums in Australia.

I am currently going through the process of developing a strategic plan for the Burke Museum and Historic Precinct in Beechworth and the process has thrown up the need for a Board of Management rather than the current direct Council control and a S86 advisory committee.

It is possible to have a 'trading' Section 86 Committee under the local government act, but is this the best way to proceed.

I have my own ideas and opinions, but I'm sure there is a perfect option already out there.


Grant Collie
Director, Burke Museum and Historic Precinct
Beechworth, Victoria

Source:  Museums Australia Network

June 28, 2011

Simmos Museum - Glen Davis

click on image to enlarge        
Source:  Capertee Valley Alliance

June 27, 2011

Sir Charles Todd

 Sir Charles Todd was an outstanding astronomer, meteorologist and electrical engineer who showed remarkable leadership and great skill throughout his long working life.

He was born in London in 1826 and arrived in Adelaide in 1855 to take up the post of South Australian Government Astronomer and Superintendent of Telegraphs, a post which he retained until his retirement in 1906.

He married Alice Bell in 1855, just before departing for Australia. Alice lives on in Australia’s collective memory as she gave her name to Alice Springs.

The greatest of Todd’s life works was the Overland Telegraph Line, however he was also responsible for telegraph lines from Adelaide to Melbourne, Sydney and many South Australian regional towns.

Todd can arguably claim to be the first systematic meteorologist in Australia. He arranged for weather data to be telegraphed daily from around South Australia to Adelaide.

Todd was knighted in 1893 and died on 29 January 1910 in Adelaide.
Source:  EHA News Bulletin 9 June 2011

June 26, 2011

Where do old websites go to die?

Uploaded photos to Facebook or Flickr? Shared stories by email with friends and family? Made artworks or saved documents on your PC? Got a great snap of your kids on your phone?

If this personal digital archive disappeared tomorrow—how would you feel? What about about future generations of your family?

Although the web is relatively young, our use of it is growing exponentially. This is apparently what happens every 60 seconds on the internet:
  • 6,600+ pictures are uploaded to Flickr
  • 600 videos are uploaded to YouTube, amounting to 25+ hours of content
  • 695,000 status updates, 79,364 wall posts and 510,040 comments are published on Facebook
  • 168,000,000+ emails are sent
  • 98,000 tweets are generated on Twitter
  • 20,000 new posts are published on Tumblr
Jason ScottEven if you think just a millionth of that stream is worth keeping, it’s still a lot of data. And how do you know which bits are the good bits?
Last night I went to the ‘Recordkeeping Roundtable’ event Where do old websites go to die? with Jason Scott, founder of Archive Team, ‘a loose collectives of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage.’

Jason is an entertaining speaker (in Australia he might be called a sh*t stirrer) with an inexhaustible line in analogies.

If you came back to your parking spot and your car was gone, he said, you wouldn’t shrug your shoulders and say “oh well.” But that’s what happens when we upload our stuff to the web and the companies that host it disappear. There should, he said, be a law against it.

Right now Jason and his volunteer force of web preservationists are busy saving GeoCities for posterity — ‘working hard to save your junk’ is how he describes it.

GeoCities was a popular web hosting service, founded in 1994 and purchased by Yahoo in 1999. It allowed people to publish for free and was once the 3rd most-browsed site on the World Wide Web.

“Organisations also like to think they’re immortal.”

Does the cloud make archiving irrelevant?

Jason said ‘cloud people’ are just “hiding the bunny”. It’s a magic trick. Behind the curtain, the same old issues are playing out. He pointed to Amazon’s recent drop-out and DropBox’s 4 hour password snafu.

Over at the Internet Archive – the gold standard for ‘Internet Library’ – three hard drives die every day, but failure is factored into their archiving process. Nothing is lost.

Jason is not only archiving our digital history. He’s collecting the lore that surrounds technologies and communities, with films like BBS: The Documentary and GET LAMP: a documentary about adventures in text.

As the Archive Team say, “HISTORY IS OUR FUTURE—And we’ve been trashing our history”.

Incidentally, the Internet Archive is a fantastic resource for books, films and music. Mary Lou Byrne, Local Studies Librarian, today sourced public domain music from the Archive for a Mosman Faces trailer (coming soon).

And if you’d like to hear a good story on digital archaeology, check this BBC radio doco on technology and the art of archiving the work of writers and poets.

Source:  Mosman Library blog

June 25, 2011

Captain Moonlight - State Records - Archives Outside

We went straight to the top for this staff pick and asked our Director, Alan Ventress, to select his favourite archive. Alan has chosen a group of archives relating to the gentleman bushranger, Captain Moonlight.

George Scott alias Captain Moonlight
Outlaw & Bushranger

Gaol photographs collection

The historical gaol photograph description books at State Records were created to assist gaol staff to keep track of each prisoner’s record. The records cover c.1870-1930 and contain a photograph of each prisoner along with information such: as name, place of birth, year of birth, year and ship of arrival, occupation, religion, education, physical description, where and when they committed an offence, sentence, previous convictions and when the portrait was taken.
One of the more famous photographs in the collection is that of A.G. Scott otherwise known as Captain Moonlight (or sometimes Moonlite) who committed various crimes – bank-robbery, passing false cheques, stealing gold – and led a gang of outlaws until he was eventually caught by police, tried in Sydney in 1879 and subsequently executed in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1880.

A celebrity crim

Wikipedia describes Captain Moonlight as a ‘celebrity criminal’
…[1869] accused of disguising himself and forcing bank agent, Ludwig Julius Wilhelm Bruun… to open the safe. Bruun described being robbed by a fantastic black-crepe masked figure who forced him to sign a note absolving him of any role in the crime…It was alleged that for several months, Scott lived off the money stolen from the bank, hobnobbing in Sydney’s high society and entertaining actors at after theatre parties.


…James Nesbitt, a young man whom he had met in prison…While some disagree on the grounds of speculation, he is considered by many to be Scott’s lover and there is a significant primary resource that supports this reading. Scott’s actual handwritten letters, currently held in the Archives Office of NSW, profess this love…

Arrest and execution

You can see in the gaol photograph below that there are two offences on the charge sheet: false pretences (x2) and Bank robbery under Arms.
AG Scott aka Captain Moonlight - Darlinghurst Gaol photo (NRS 2138 3/6043 No 2170 p132) Nov 1879
Gaol Photograph of AG Scott alias Captain Moonlight, November 1879
NRS 2138 [3/6043] No. 2170 p.132
Nesbitt was killed in a police shoot-out near Wagga Wagga where Captain Moonlight was finally captured. He was tried in Sydney and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on 20 January 1880. His certificate of execution is signed by Maurice O’Connor, Visiting Surgeon and was countersigned by twenty others who witnessed the execution.
Certificate of Execution –Andrew George Scott alias Captain Moonlight, 1880
pen and ink on printed paper form, NRS 13240 [X945 p.13a]
Scott went to the gallows
wearing a ring woven from a lock of Nesbitt’s hair on his finger…his final request was to be buried in the same grave as his constant companion.
It was refused by the authorities,
but his remains were exhumed from Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney and reinterred at Gundagai next to Nesbitt’s grave in January 1995…
and another accomplice Augustus Wernicke, one hundred and fifteen years after his death.

Letters from prison

Captain Moonlight wrote a number of rather poignant letters from within Darlinghurst Gaol in the period leading up to his execution. Fortunately from a historical records perspective they are part of the State’s archives purely because the prison authorities did not post them.
A rather sad outcome for Captain Moonlight!

Letter to Reverend Canon Rich

January the 19th 1880
To the Revd# Canon Rich
Revd# and Dear Sir
I have but a few hours to live and
think it right that I should mourn the
cruel and unjust charges that have been
made against me.

Letter to mother of James Nesbitt

Darlinghurst Gaol
19th January 1880
From Prisoner Andrew G. Scott
Alias Moonlight
My dearest Mrs# Nesbitt,
To the mother of Jim no colder
address would be true, My heart to you
is the same as to my own dearest Mother
jim’s sisters are my sisters, his friends
my friends, his hopes were my hopes his
grave will be my resting place and I
trust I may be worthy to be with him
when we shall all meet to part no
more, when an all-seeing God who
can read all hearts will be the judge
be long before I am with him and in his
grave. Mrs Nesbitt Mother of my jim may
the Great God enable you to bear the great
loss you have suffered.
I send you some of his hair
and will try to send you any
thing else of his I can get
Give the love of a brother to dearest
jims Sisters and to his father
Farewell my dearest Mrs Nesbit
I am ever to you a loving son
in spirit
A.G. Scott
Source:   State Records - Archives Outside

June 24, 2011

Stayin' Alive! Planning for Sustainability in September

Stayin' Alive: Planning for Sustainability is a back-to-basics workshop that looks at the streams of planning that are crucial for future-proofing your cultural organisation.

Whether applying for funding, or recruiting new volunteers, it is essential for cultural organisations to have strong, clear plans in place. This workshop will assist local museum and gallery volunteers and staff to develop strong planning skills that will carry their organisations successfully into the future.

For a registration form click here.

Need a leg up?  If you want help covering the costs associated with attending this event, contact Phoebe Arthur, Sector Development Coordinator about M&G NSW’s Leg-Up Grants. Volunteer initiated museums in NSW are eligible to apply for grants covering 50% of costs, up to $500. Contact phoebea@mgnsw.org.au or 9339 9913

When: Friday, 9th September 2011, 10am – 4pm approx
Where: The Museum of the Riverina, Corner Morrow street and Baylis street, Wagga Wagga.
Contact: Phoebe Arthur, Sector Development Coordinator, Museums & Galleries NSW
e: phoebea@mgnsw.org.au, / p: 02 9339 9913 / freecall: 1800 114 311/ m: 0416 365 710

Source:  Museums & Galleries NSW - Alert!

June 23, 2011

Working Space 5 Bursaries Available

Museums & Galleries NSW (M&G NSW) is pleased to offer a number of bursaries for the “Working Spaces for Museum Volunteers” Conference, hosted by Museums Australia – Lachlan Chapter.  Funded through M&G NSW’s VIM Grant Program, these bursaries will contribute to registration, meals, accommodation and travel costs for the 3 day conference, to be held in Friday 14th to Sunday 16th October 2011.

The Conference aims to provide volunteers with “hands-on”practical experience in many areas of museum practise including assessing significance, the secrets of good graphic design, grant writing and exhibition display techniques.

For more information on the Conference and venue, or to receive a Registration Form please contact Bill Pigram, ph 02 6226 4894 or email apigram@ozemail.com.au

Applications for the “Working Spaces 5 for Museum Volunteers” bursaries close on Friday 5th August. To apply, follow the links to download bursary guidelines. Due to high demand, only one bursary per organisation is available.

For more information or an application form for the “Working Spaces 5” bursaries please contact Phoebe Arthur, Sector Development Coordinator, on 02 9339 9913 or email phoebea@mgnsw.org.au.

Source:  Museums & Galeries NSW - Alert!

June 22, 2011

The World of May Gibbs

A Museums Australia NSW Tour and Talk.

Courtney Eckler, Nutcote Manager/Curator, will lead visitors through Nutcote, the beautiful harbour-side home of May Gibbs, author of "The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie." Located in Sydney's Neutral Bay, it is now a house museum surrounded by delightful gardens.
When: Wednesday 6 July 2011 4pm
Where: May Gibbs' Nutcote, 5 Wallaringa Avenue, Neutral Bay
Further information about the location: http://www.maygibbs.com.au/.

For further details including directions and travel options visit:
To RSVP: contact Paul Bentley, MANSW executive officer, phone: 02 9387 7307
mobile: 0416 121 347, email: pbentley@idx.com.au

Source:  Museums & Galleries NSW - Alert!

June 17, 2011

Half a World Away

The exhibition and the book Half a World Away; Postwar Migration to the Orange District 1948-1965 is the culmination of a heritage study drawing together the people of Orange, the NSW Migration Heritage Centre, Arts NSW and Orange City Council.
Today, four out of ten people in New South Wales are either migrants or the children of migrants. As migrants age, it is vital their stories and cultures are recorded.
Since the 1830s, migrants have made a remarkable contribution to the settlement and development of Orange. Following the Second World War, many migrants from Europe made their home in Orange, transforming the economy, culture and landscape of the city and its surrounds.
The arrival of the first post World War II European migrants in the Orange district in 1948 heralded significant changes in the life of the city. As the newcomers found jobs, built homes and settled into their new lives, the city developed with them. During the next two decades, when post World War II migration to Australia reached its peak, Orange expanded from a quiet centre of about 14,000 inhabitants to one of the most dynamic and successful cities in inland NSW.
Half a World Away is a tribute to the hundreds of families from Europe and the United Kingdom who exchanged conflict, uncertainty and economic chaos for a stable, prosperous lifestyle in the Orange district. Their journey was often not an easy one but their spirit and tenacity prevailed and Orange is much the richer for their presence.

Source:  Central NSW Museums

RPG Lighting and Air-Con Report- URGENT

RPGNSW and M&GSQ have commissioned Steensen Varming (Environmental Engineers) and International Conservation Services to produce a Technical Industry Report on the issues of lighting and air conditioning (environmental control) to assist our sector in making informed decisions on these two critical issues.

Steensen Varming (SV) and International Conservation Services (ICS) have produced the attached survey to get the project underway. As you will see, it is fairly comprehensive and asks a number of technical questions. However, it will provide a vital snapshot of the current status of our facilities and our understanding of these facilities, so as to inform the project and ensure outcomes that really target our sector needs.

The consultants advise that it may take an hour or so to complete and will require input from someone who knows your building, the air conditioning system (if there is one) and lighting capabilities.

In order to have a progress report presented at the upcoming M&GSQ conference, surveys need to be returned by Monday 4th July 2011. Please email directly to Emrah Baki Ulas at Emrah.ulas@steensenvarming.com.au .  If you have any questions, please email Emrah or Fiona Tennant at f.tennant@icssydney.com

Source:  Museums  Australia <pbentley@idx.com.au>

June 16, 2011

Museum Pieces Available by Donation

The Chifley Home museum in Bathurst has been approached by a local citizen who is willing to donate the following pieces to a museum collection.  The pieces are presently housed in Sydney.  They include a Singer electric wool winding machine with spools, an industrial over-locking machine (hand-held wool winding wheel attached), a knitting machine, an early industrial sewing machine, a c.1948 Singer treadle sewing machine, and a Singer boot-maker’s manual sewing machine.
Most of the pieces formed part of a cottage industry that thrived during the 1950s and 1960s.  The business was located in a converted backyard shed, in an era when women knitted and orders were picked up by push-bike for local stores.  Wool was wound by hand or machine, neckbands of all shapes and sizes were knitted and inserted professionally using the machinery available.  Beanies, scarves, mittens and jumpers were also produced for the local schools. Colour combinations were very specific and prized. There was a whole generation of satisfied customers.
If any museum is interested in part or all of the collection, please contact the owner, Ellen Bennetts on 04 5913 9046.

Source:  Museums & Galleries NSW Alert!

June 15, 2011

Australia's largest ever gold robbery - 15 June 1862

On this day in 1862 Australia's largest ever gold robbery was carried out.  Bushranger Frank Gardiner, along with Ben Hall robbed the Gold Escort from the Lachlan at Eugowra Rock, near Forbes.  Approximately 2,700 ounces of gold was taken, of which almost half was recovered by the Mounted Police.  Gardiner disappeared from NSW and was eventually arrested in Rockhampton, Queensland.  He served ten years of a thirty year sentence before leaving Australia for California.

Bushranger Ben Hall was shot dead on 5 May 1865.  Ben Hall was also known variously as Bold Ben Hall, Brave Ben Hall and the Gentleman Bushranger.  Between 1863 and 1865 there were over 100 robberies attributed to him and his gang. Ben was ambushed and shot by Police.  He was buried in the Forbes cemetery.

Source:   NSW State archives collection

June 14, 2011

The End of the known world - The features of Finnish technical culture

In Roman times, Finland was considered to be the end of the known world. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the people of the North were living beyond the limits of human culture and the desire for a better life.
Even during the Iron Age, Finnish artifacts were different from those of neighboring people. The tools and bijoux were simple and highly functional in comparison with the more decorative work of the people in the west or east. The idea of difference through straightforward design and economical thinking using available technological systems are still characteristics of Finnish technical culture in art and design.  This lecture will discuss how hundreds of years of tradition have been carried through to the third millennium.

Speaker: Professor Panu Nykänen is a historian working for Aalto University (Helsinki University of Technology). He has worked as an archaeologist for the National Board of Antiquities, and since 1995 as a historian. His main interests have focused on the history of technical research and education. He is the author of several books on the history of industrialization and academic organizations.
When:  Monday June 20 at 6:00pm 
Where: Macquarie University Art Gallery, E11A

Free event - All welcome

Source:  Museums Australia NSW

June 13, 2011

M&G NSW meets the Premier and Arts Minister

The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, Prof Colin Rhodes, Michael Rolfe and the Hon. George Souris.

On Thursday 2nd June, following representations to the State Government, M&G NSW Chair, Prof Colin Rhodes and I were invited to meet with NSW Premier, the Hon. Barry O’Farrell and Minister for the Arts, the Hon. George Souris in the Premier’s Parliament House office.

The purpose of the meeting was to introduce our organization to the new state government and to advocate for programs and activities provided by museums & galleries throughout NSW. We emphasised the strength & commitment of work undertaken within the sector and championed the significant role local government plays in the provision of such services.

Both the Premier and Minister indicated that they were well aware of the overall value and community wide benefit bestowed by galleries and museums within communities large and small. There was an acknowledgement of how well the sector was served by volunteers and a further acknowledgement that more needs to be done to empower Aboriginal communities through support for cultural knowledge, identity and participation.

I outlined the history of galleries in NSW, noting in particular their century old contribution to regional NSW, and that this history continues to be created out of significant community aspiration. Similarly it was noted that the State’s many volunteer and professionally run museums characterise an innate desire to research history, collect objects and tell stories about people and their lives.

On behalf of all museums and galleries in NSW we thanked the Premier and Minister for their valuable time. We also encouraged them to continue their keen interest in the sector and of course, to visit as many museums and galleries as possible. 

Michael Rolfe 
Source:  M&G NSW Blog

June 10, 2011

Fine Wool

The Kandos-Rylstone district has long been known as a producer of fine wool. In keeping with this tradition, the Kandos Museum acquired some time ago an item that was vital to the industry and one that has played a huge part in it – the wool press. This particular model was purchased early in the 1930’s by Chapple & Co for use in their wool scouring and fellmongering business. It is not known whether the wool press was new at the time.

The business was operated by Sydney Chapple until his death in 1942. After that, Chapple & Co was jointly managed by his wife Ethel, sons Walter and Keith Chapple, and son-in-law Ted Barlow. When the business closed, the wool press was purchased for £20 (pounds) in 1954, by Wesley Starr. The press was then moved to the wool growing property The Meadows owned by Wesley and Muriel Starr (Muriel was Walter Chapple’s daughter). Here it was used at every shearing until about 1995 when Mr Starr purchased an electric press. Mr and Mrs Starr then gave the press to their daughter Linda and her husband Terry Rohr, of Kandos, who used it in their shearing shed until 2003 when they also upgraded to an electric press. The press was then donated to the Kandos Museum. 

THE KOERSTZ WOOL PRESS: It was generally accepted that the Koerstz wool press produced the best and weightiest bales of wool during the era it was used. 

The Kandos Museum invites you to inspect the press and other interesting displays at the museum.

Source: Community Capers, Rylstone-Kandos district newsletter - June,2011

June 8, 2011

Government Provides Funding Boost for NSW Museums

The NSW Government has announced a grant of $14,714 to support volunteers working in 18 museums across NSW, Arts Minister George Souris said today. 

Mr Souris said the 2011 Volunteer Initiated Museums Grants Program would give volunteer initiated and managed museums access to grants for short-term and strategic projects. 

“The VIM Grant Program is a very important funding source for museums across NSW. 

“Grants such as these encourage museum volunteers to build their skills and confidence in both project management and grant applications. 

“This will also be used to support the work of volunteers in caring for our heritage and instilling pride into local communities. 

“The funding helps enhance a museum’s capacity to engage locals and tourists alike and assists with the purchase of storage and display materials to enable greater community access to collections. 

Michael Rolfe, CEO of Museums and Galleries NSW – which facilitates the program – said the volunteer run museums of NSW provide an invaluable contribution to the sharing of our community’s stories. 

Link to full Media Release and  listing of Recipients.

June 7, 2011

Powerhouse Museum Object Name Thesaurus

The Powerhouse Museum Object Name Thesaurus contains terms for indexing museum collection objects. The thesaurus provides a controlled vocabulary for searching for object names.

The Object Name Thesaurus was developed by the Powerhouse Museum to standardise the terms used to describe its own collection. It was first published in 1995 as the Powerhouse Museum Collection Thesaurus. Since then, many new terms have been added to the thesaurus within the Powerhouse's collection information and management system. The print version has long been popular with collecting institutions to assist in the documentation of their own collections. It has been out of print for a number of years, and the Powerhouse has continued to receive enquiries for it. It is now finally available for use online in the form of a downloadable PDF document.

View as PDF: Powerhouse Museum thesaurus Sept 2009

June 4, 2011

This Month at Bathurst Regional Arts Gallery

Michael Esson: Mixed Metaphors - A Drawing Survey:
Until June 19

A survey exhibition of the work of Michael Esson, whose highly original drawings and installations focus on the figure and drawing practice as forensic investigation. Spanning 30 years, Michael's oeuvre has encompassed a long term exploration of the human figure and concepts of human mortality, and is underpinned by a search for cultural and physical identity.
Field work: Abstraction and the permanent collection: Until June 19
Field Work investigates how abstraction remains a vital and relevant force in contemporary Australian art and includes paintings by Ildiko Kovaks, Raquel Mazzina, David Serisier and Dick Watkins; Sculptures by Lionel Bawden and Hui Selwood; and paintings by Clinton Nairn and Dale Frank on loan from the Verghis Collection.
Karen Golland: Two Inches Off The Ground: Until June 19
Works created using familiar domestic materials by Bathurst based artist Karen Golland.
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 70-78 Keppel St, Bathurst. Call (02) 6333 6555 or visit www.bathurstart.com.au

June 3, 2011

Regional Aboriginal Arts Workshops with Desert Pea Media

June 22-23 & 29-30 - Orange

June 24-26 - Wellington

July 1-3 - Condobolin

The Central West Aboriginal Arts event Marramaraa ‘make, create, do’) draws closer. Arts OutWest and Desert Pea Media will present film making and hip-hop workshops for young Aboriginal people in Orange, Condobolin and Wellington. In Wellington they’ll be joined by Wellington’s own Bruce Carr, who's now making waves in the Sydney dance scene. Participants are welcome from across the Central West region. The Orange workshops will be held on June 22-23 & 29-30 at OCTEC Learning Connections, Condobolin from Friday July 1- Sunday July 3 and in Wellington from Friday June 24-Sunday June 26 at the Wellington Senior Citizens Centre. Contact Arts OutWest on 6338 4657 or artsoutwest@csu.edu.au or talk to Aboriginal Arts Development Officer Ted Budd on 0428 041 108 or ted@artsoutwest.org.au

June 2, 2011

The Grantseeker Manual

A great new resource for NGOs and agencies that supports them in the process of applying for funding.

The Grantseeker Manual [grantseeker 1.jpg]A great new resource for NGOs and agencies that supports them in the process of applying for funding. The manual provides step by step guidance on the important steps involved in seeking funds, including finding the right grant for you, planning and presenting information about your project, planning and writing your application, and ongoing engagement with the grantmaker. The resource also contains a list of web links and additional resources to support NGOs in this process. The manual is designed to support small to medium sized NGOs that may not currently have the capacity or resources to undertake effective grant seeking activities.

June 1, 2011

Regional Art Fund (RAF) 2012 - now open

Applications are now being accepted for the Regional Arts Fund (NSW), one of the key funding sources for arts and cultural activities in regional, rural and remote communities of NSW.

Media Release available here.