December 17, 2012

Lithgow Museums’ Networking Group

The Lithgow area is a hidden gem of history and heritage. Visitors and locals alike can enjoy the history of one of the most fascinating areas in Australia through the many museums, historic sites and heritage organizations. From aboriginal history through to the history of the Small Arms Factory and from Hartley through to Glen Davis there are sites and museums to learn about aboriginal, convict, mining, social, railway and factory history.

In March 2012 a group of museum and heritage organization operators from the Lithgow LGA met at Eskbank House and Museum to have a chat about how they could help each other out. From this initial gathering the Lithgow Museums’ Networking Group was formed. The group meets monthly and our aims are: educating each other to improve the quality of our museums, networking to promote each other’s museums and share resources, co-operating to create a combined museum experience for visitors and sharing enthusiasm and to enjoy each other’s company as museum and heritage enthusiasts. It is exciting to be able to work together, take strength from each other and present a combined museums  experience to visitors and locals.

There are 12 organisations in the group, some able to attend regularly others coming when they can or contributing via email, etc. The groups include: Lithgow and District Family History Society (LDFHS), Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum (LSAFM), Simmo’s Museum, Eskbank House and Museum, Lithgow Library Learning Centre (LLLC), Lithgow State Mine Heritage Park, Lithgow State Mine Railway Ltd, Hartley Historical Village, Portland History Group, Rydal Village Association, Delta Expo and Newnes Pub. Each organisation takes turns hosting the meetings and this has been an invaluable part of getting to know each other’s museums and being able to share resources and promote other museums to visitors.

The group has participated in several group activities aimed at increasing visitor numbers to museums and generally get the word out that Lithgow’s Heritage is amazing and worth a visit. 

Our first activity was an Open Day for many of the museums in the group on International Museums Day 2012. International Museums Day is in May and is celebrated by over 30 000 museums throughout the world.  With a short time to organize and limited advertising most museums still saw an increase in visitation on the day of over 500 %. The group has more plans for International Museums Day 2013 and also celebrating other international days like Volunteers Day 2012 with an afternoon tea for the wonderful volunteers in all our organizations.

The next group activity was a combined stall at Daffodils at Rydal. Photos from the different organizations were displayed and pamphlets and postcards were handed out along with our first Lithgow Heritage Newsletter outlining heritage events happening in September and October in the region. The most rewarding part of the day was talking to people about the museums and history and hearing their stories of the area. Perhaps this is infact the most rewarding part of running a museum in general.

Our next event was another stall at the Back to Hartley Celebrations on Sunday 28 October 2012. This time we included a “What is it?” table with a variety of mysterious objects for people to ponder, a “Who is it?” display of historic photos of Lithgow Citizens with room for people to comment, displays from the museums and projected historical images of the Lithgow area. Of course the most interesting part of our stall was talking heritage and history and spending time with other museum enthusiasts.

Our Christmas party will be a well earned reward for all the hard work, much of it voluntary, that all the organization participants put in to operating their museums and preserving and presenting to the public the wonderful history that is Lithgow. 

Jan Saundercock

Lithgow and District Family History Society

Ref: M & G NSW blog

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