September 30, 2013

Significance Assessment work shop - Lithgow 21/9/13

  Report by Elaine Kaldy on Central Tablelands Significance Assessment work shop.

The Central Tablelands Chapter NSW of Museums Australia held a workshop on Significance assessment last Saturday at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum.

The workshop was conducted by Kylie Winkworth one of Australia’s leading museum advisors on understanding objects held by museums and their significance either as objects or as a part of a museum’s collections.

The workshop was presented as an interactive learning process. Participants were required to select an object from their Museum’s collection and then construct a object report on that object, based on instructions circulated by M/s Winkworth prior to the holding of the workshop

Tony Bouffler from Orange Historical Society presenting his object report at the
                       work shop being over seen by Kylie Winkworth

 Kylie encouraged the group to make suggestions that could be add to each members object report as it was presented to the workshop.
The subject that was selected for a significance  work up was a cigar box made by the Lithgow  Small Arms Factory to be presented to the then Prime Minister Hon R Menzies at the factories 50th year celebrations.
Mr Kery Guiren Secretary of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory was selected to work with Kylie as she demonstrated the techniques required to do the significance assessment. A guideline to assessing objects for significance was provided to the members attending the workshop
 The work shop was considered an outstanding success by members and plans are to made, to have more workshops on collection management and significance.
 The valuation responses showed that 50% of those attending the work shop had no prior knowledge of how to assess significance of museum objects.

 Kylie and Kerry introducing the Story of the Cigar Box’s history

  Kylie questioning Kerry about the way the Cigar Box was made

Kerry relating to Kylie the problem that was overcome
with the lid of the Cigar Box when
it was presented to Prime Minister Hon R Menzies

 The Central Tablelands Chapter NSW of MA wish to acknowledge that This project is supported by Arts NSW’s VIM Grant Program, a devolved funding program administered by Museums & Galleries NSW on behalf of the NSW Government

Abstracts from the significance assessment of the cigar Box
                                                   Fabric of the item 

Rectangular coachwood cigar box with rounded lid. Internal timber partitions and removable lid are cedar and left raw as was customary in cigar boxes. The box doesn’t smell of cigars (was it presented with cigars or empty?). 
Box constructed with housed joints with corners rounded off, walnut varnished exterior. Rosewood varnish to internal edges of box and lid. The bottom of the box is fitted with a green crushed velvet pad. Lid is finished internally with black lacquer and has an oval brass inscription plate attached with four chromed round head slotted screws. A chrome plated relief of L1A1 rifle is soldered to the plate. Interesting that the engraving is very industrial in nature but the L1A1 relief is more finely modelled and reflects the skill of the pattern maker who made the die for the L1A1. The text on the plate is plain, not calligraphic and flowery as in most presentation inscriptions, and reflects the industrial nature of the Factory. Rotating opening catch on front has raised motif in the shape of the logo for the 50th anniversary of the factory opening. Opening mechanism designed to raise the lid when the Reputedly made by the wood room foreman Wally Westbrook, although it may have been made by Bob Mitchell. The box was finished and varnished by apprentice painter Greg Meyer.
The box expresses the character, skills and attitude of Factory workmanship.

                                               Statement of Significance:

Rectangular coachwood cigar box made at Lithgow SAF c.1962 and presented to Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies by factory apprentice Greg Meyer in November 1962 during the opening ceremony of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Factory. Fitted to the front of the box is a circular rotating opening catch with a raised motif in the shape of the 50th anniversary logo. The box lid has an internal oval brass inscription plate with a chrome plated relief of L1A1 rifle. The internal partitions are cedar and left raw as was customary in cigar boxes. During the time that cigar smoking was an acceptable pastime for gentlemen dignitaries were often presented with cigar boxes. Menzies, during his time in office, received a number of them. This box differs to other presentation cigar boxes in that it was specially made at the Factory as a gift for the current serving Australian Prime Minister. Its simplicity is representative of 60’s design values. It is less elaborate, more utilitarian and intended for everyday use rather than displayed in a trophy cabinet. The box well expresses the character, skills and attitude of Factory workmanship. This cigar box is significant for its association with Australia’s up til now longest serving Prime Minister and the Small Arms Factory, the first high precision mass production factory in Australia. The 50th anniversary of the Small Arms Factory was a spectacular week long affair that involved the whole town and attracted high profile dignitaries as guests. This box is reminiscent of an era when Australia was a powerful, imaginative and innovative manufacturer with pride in its work and when pomp and ceremony was more important than accountability.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the Significance Assessment workshop, presented as an interactive learning process was a valuable experience.