Blog Archives

Conserving Mareeba’s “Portraits of the North”

Helen Kindt and David Foster with the first box of rehoused glass negatives from the Portraits of the North project.

Helen Kindt and David Foster with the first box of rehoused glass negatives from the “Portraits of the North” project.

Last week, volunteers at Mareeba Historical Society worked with Queensland Museum Conservator, Sue Valis, and FNQ MDO, Jo Wills, to conserve their First World War related collections in a project called “Portraits of the North”. Funded through the Queensland Anzac Centenary grants program administered by the Anzac Centenary Coordination Unit, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the project was designed by the MDO program and the Historical Society to preserve, protect, present and promote the legacy and stories surrounding their significant collection of glass plate soldier portraits and associated First World War artefacts.

And, what a collection it is. The glass negative portraits illustrate the youth and vigour of enlistees before they left to serve their county overseas. Postcards and letters home reveal the personal impact of service, and the ways in which soldiers and nurses communicated with loved ones at home. Other glass negatives document scenes from front, enlistment posters, musical scores and stories from war correspondents. Additional items include a dressing bandage, a soldier’s belt, a Dead Man’s Penny, war medals, silk cigarette cards with military insignia, and photographic albums.

 

Boxes of glass negatives that needed to be rehoused.

Boxes of glass negatives that needed to be rehoused.

Rehousing the glass negatives - acid free card pockets and foam-lined archival boxes.

Rehousing the glass negatives – acid free card pockets and foam-lined archival boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an initial assessment of the conservation needs and priorities, Sue and Jo worked with Helen and David to protect and rehouse the glass negatives. A project that the Society has wanted to tackle for over 15 years, the process of making individual pockets for different sized glass negatives and lining storage boxes with protective foam was time consuming and repetitive. However, now that the work is finished, the collection will be better protected into the future.

Sue also undertook specialist conservation and rehousing of some of the Society’s First World War artefacts. Some of the items, including the silk cigarette cards, the soldier’s belt and the medals have had been conserved in such as way as to make them easy to display in the Society’s four up coming exhibitions in 2015.

Rehoused silk cigarette cards - protected storage and display solutions.

Rehoused silk cigarette cards – protected storage and display solutions.

Conserved artefacts stored in archival box.

Conserved artefacts stored in archival box.

Sue shows Helen an archival album for cards and photographs.

Sue shows Helen an archival album for cards and photographs.

Having two Queensland Museum staff work intensively onsite on specific projects has a lot of benefits for communities and volunteers. It provides them with access and exposure to a range of conservation skills and training, and to discuss future projects with the MDO. But communities are not the only beneficiaries. Through these types of project QM staff can extend their skills and understanding of materials, objects and historical research, thanks to the expertise and generosity of volunteers. Whilst working on the conservation project, Jo also worked with Helen, David and Carol to identify appropriate collections for use in another Anzac project being undertaken on the Atherton Tablelands, as well as discuss a range of other projects and issues that the Society aspires to achieve.

“Portraits of the North” was made possible thanks to a grant by Queensland Anzac Centenary Grants Program, through the Anzac Centenary Coordination Unity, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

North West Queensland’s First World War collections

In this first year of the First World War centenary commemorations, it’s hard for the MDOs not to notice World War One collections as they work with Queensland’s regional museums and communities.

As we write grants and work on a variety of projects, we’re all keenly aware of the importance of these collections and artefacts. Rolls of honour, signature cloths, letters home, knitted socks, soldiers portraits and glass negatives, Dead Man’s pennies, war trophies, equipment guild artefacts and war souvenirs: these are just some of the items that are preserved by volunteers in regional Queensland’s community museums.  They are special and significant. They demonstrate the impact of the war on communities, families and individuals.

In a recent trip in north west Queensland, Ewen McPhee and Dr Jo Wills came across an extraordinary array of First World War collections and materials. Like other communities across the state, there are some powerful stories from the First World War period that illustrate just how people and townships in north west Queensland were affected by the war – both on the front line and at home.

Of particular interest were the signature cloths in Croydon and Cloncurry. Community members paid to have their signatures embroidered onto the cloths as part of patriotic fund raising activities. Some of these were later auctioned off to raise further funds for the war effort. There are a number of these signature cloths in other collections around Australia. One in Alison Homestead in Wyong Shire Council NSW recently survived a fire. Another made by the Neerim South Red Cross Society is held by Museum Victoria. It would be interesting to know which other communities in Queensland hold these cloths in their museums and collections.

Croydon Red Cross Society Signature Cloth. The Hughes family from Croydon were involved in the production of this item. Prior to being part of the Croydon Shire Council Heritage Collection at the True Blue Information Centre, it was displayed at the local Club Hotel.

Croydon Red Cross Society Signature Cloth. The Hughes family from Croydon were involved in the production of this item. Prior to being part of the Croydon Shire Council Heritage Collection at the True Blue Information Centre, it was displayed at the local Club Hotel.

Other objects strongly represented in collections include honour rolls and memorial boards. Irvinebank, Croydon and Winton have decorative items that commemorate citizen’s involvement and sacrifice. During their travels out west, Jo and Ewen met up with Central Queensland MDO, Dr Melanie Piddocke, in Winton and found a number of interesting items at the Qantilda Museum at the Waltzing Matilda Centre.

Roll of Honour of the Methodist Community, Winton.

Roll of Honour of the Methodist Community, Winton.

A rare and evocative First World War object is held by Zara Clark Museum in Charters Towers. Ewen has previously posted an entry about the pair of half knitted socks and an associated letter that the museum holds. His research into this subject has uncovered related items in other museums, such as the “Grey Sock Booklet’ that was printed by the Soldiers’ Sock Fund to provide instruction for knitting socks. A copy is held in the Powerhouse Museum Collection.

Another interesting item can be found at Loudoun House Museum in Irvinebank. Volunteers Tony, Peter and Ellen showed MDOs a trench mortar presented to the community as a war trophy. Numerous communities were presented with trophies captured from German troops on the front line.

Trench mortar presented to Irvinebank community as a war trophy. Loudoun House Museum, Irvinebank. Photo: Peter Shimmin, Loudoun House Museum, Irvinebank.

Trench mortar presented to Irvinebank community as a war trophy. Loudoun House Museum, Irvinebank. Photo: Peter Shimmin, Loudoun House Museum, Irvinebank.

Thanks to all of the volunteers, museums and council officers in Charters Towers, Hughenden, Winton, Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Burketown, Normanton, Croydon and Irvinebank for making us welcome and sharing information about your heritage and collections.

A Golden Opportunity for Gold Coast Community Museums

Recently, members of the Gold Coast Heritage Voice network were treated to a behind the Scenes tour of both the John Oxley Library, and the Southbank campus of the Queensland Museum.

Heritage Voice members and Rachel Spano at the SLQ Conservation Lab

Heritage Voice members and Rachel Spano at the SLQ Conservation Lab

Brian Randall , Chrissi Theodosiou and the staff at SLQ were generous enough to retrieve a range of books, posters, maps, photographs, and ephemera all specifically related to the Gold Coast region from their collection stores for the group to view.

Later, Reuben Hillier showed the group through the library repository where the sheer magnitude of the collection and the challenges of providing for an ever-growing collection became apparent. The careful storage and order is undoubtedly a key factor in the JOL being able to respond so quickly to collection viewing requests- largely within the hour!

Rachel Spano greeted us at the SLQ conservation lab, where a number of specialist conservators were at work on fragile paper based objects. The lab has a range of specialist equipment at hand, including some fanciful looking gilding and embossing tools. There was an interesting conversation about the principles behind the appropriate choice of conservation or restoration in a library context, which provided some interesting perspectives compared to a museum standpoint.

At the Museum, Nicholas Hadnutt treated the group to an in-depth examination of the Social History collection stores and the treasures that it holds. While some elements of the collection elicited nostalgic reactions and others confirmed a long history of collecting, all asserted the important role of Queensland Museum as responsible custodians of significant Queensland histories.

Sue from the Kirra Hill Heritage Group get the all clear!

Sue from the Kirra Hill Heritage Group gets the all clear from conservation!

A visit to the conservation lab provided an eye-opening experience, with the opportunity to see the painstakingly precise nature and results of conservation work. Textiles Conservator Dr Michael Marendy shared some simple, yet effective techniques for preserving costumes, while Jenny Blakely and Caroline O’Rorke showcased some current ANZAC related objects being treated.

The visit was facilitated by the Museum Development Office of South East Queensland, Dr Kevin Rains and Jane Austen at Gold Coast City Council, Nick Hadnutt and Jenny Blakely at Queensland Museum Southbank, and Anne Scheu at the State Library of Queensland. A big Thank you to all!

Defending the Pacific – North Queensland and the First World War

First troops leaving Townsville in August 1914. State Library of Queensland, Negative No: 25536

First troops leaving Townsville in August 1914. State Library of Queensland, Negative No: 25536

MDOs from North Queensland, Ewen McPhee, and Far North Queensland, Dr Jo Wills, have curated Defending the Pacific, an exhibition that commemorates Australia’s (and North Queensland’s) first action in the First World War.

Using material drawn from collections from the Cairns Historical Society, Zara Clark Museum, Army Museum of North Queensland, Hinchinbrook Library, Townsville City Library, State Library of Queensland and the Australian War Memorial, the exhibition explores the special nature of North Queenslanders involvement in the First World War: of the rifle clubs, the Kennedy Regiment, their journey to Thursday Island and to New Guinea, and their subsequent early return to Australia without having seen active service.

Ewen McPhee and Michael Castrisos, Manager, Horn Island Airport.

Ewen McPhee and Michael Castrisos, Manager, Horn Island Airport.

Jo Wills installing the exhibition in Seisa Holiday Park.

Jo Wills installing the exhibition in Seisa Holiday Park.

Ewen McPhee and Vanessa Seekee from the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on Horn Island.

Ewen McPhee and Vanessa Seekee from the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on Horn Island.

Ewen McPhee at Poruma Cultural Centre.

Ewen McPhee at Poruma Cultural Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored by the Queensland Anzac Centenary Committee, the MDOs worked with communities throughout north and far north Queensland, and on Cape York and Torres Strait, to secure venues and participation. The exhibition banners are on display at Bowen Museum, Zara Clark Museum in Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook Library in Ingham, Atherton Library, Cairns Library, Mareeba Library, Seisa Holiday Park, Torres Strait Heritage Museum on Horn Island, Horn Island Airport, Peddell’s Ferry on Thursday Island and at the Indigenous Knowledge Centre on Poruma. A special photographic exhibition that explores the rifle clubs of North Queensland accompanies the banners at the Army Museum of North Queensland  in Townsville, and there is a photographic display at Green Hill Fort, Thursday Island. Ewen and Jo have recently traveled to the Torres Strait to install the exhibitions in different venues and liaise with communities.

Photographic exhibition at Army Museum of North Queensland, Townsville.

Photographic exhibition at Army Museum of North Queensland, Townsville.

Given the strength of the visual material and story, Jo Wills also worked with ABC Open Far North Producer, Gemma Deavin, to create a digital story which is now available online.

Particular thanks to the Army Museum of North Queensland, Hinchinbrook Library, Cairns Historical Society and Tyler Wellenseik from the State Library of Queensland for their assistance in pulling together this exhibition.

 

In Times of War: FNQ remembers WWI

Exhibition Poster for Cairns Historical Society's new WWI exhibitionCairns Historical Society’s photographs manager, Pauline O’Keeffe, has been working on a WWI exhibition called “In Times of War: FNQ Remembers WWI”. The goal of exhibition is to present stories about Far North Queensland, and the impact war had on the local community, rather than focus on battles in the international arena.

“In Times of War’ is based around the Cairns Historical Society’s significant photographic collection. It will showcase more than 150 images of enlisting men, enlistment posters, war based events like enlistment march, Kanowna expedition, Red Cross, community involvement and the region at that time together with explanatory documentation.

The exhibition opens on Friday April 4 in Tank 4 at the Tank Arts Centre in Cairns and runs until April 27. The opening will include a performance by the Tropical Brass Band and a theatrical presentation by local artist Sue Hayes based on the enlistment process. The theatrical presentation will be rerun on  Thursday 10 April when the Society will also run a lecture night and present papers on FNQ related WW1 topics.

Pauline, a long term volunteer with the Society, has undertaken significant research to put this project together. Her findings, which include a gap in collections and knowledge about the impact of the war in regional communities, means she believes the Anzac centenary period offers communities a chance to build upon this research and leave a legacy of new knowledge for future generations.

For more information about the project, please contact the Cairns Historical Society on: histsoc@cairnsmuseum.org.au

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program and by the Regional Arts Development Fund through Arts Queensland and Cairns Regional Council partnering to support local arts and culture.

ANZAC centenary update

Courtesy of Museum and Gallery Services Queensland, please see below for a quick summary of Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation.

Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation is a five-year legacy program that will commemorate the World War One and Anzac Centenary in Queensland from 2014 to 2018. This significant project will be led by  State Library of Queensland in partnership with Queensland’s heritage sector, and is proudly supported by the Queensland Government. Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation will provide an extraordinary opportunity to uncover new Queensland stories and treasures, and to generate insights, conversations and experiences that honour and embrace the enduring Anzac spirit. In December 2013, the Queensland Government announced $7.4 million in funding over 5 years towards SLQ’s Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation program initiatives, as part of the total $26.4 million in funding for Legacy Projects commemorating the First World War and Anzac Centenary in Queensland. For more information visit the site here.

Heritage Leaders Workshop: World War One and Anzac Centenary Commemorations hosted at State Library from 1–4 April 2014 will be the first initiative of the program. Queensland heritage workers and volunteers are invited to participate, learn, and network with some of the state’s leading historians, creative thinkers, and heritage professionals. The free four day workshop will feature dynamic keynote speakers each day and an intensive workshop program aimed at building capability and skills among heritage leaders across Queensland and developing a collaborative approach to Centenary commemorations.  Details of the Heritage Leaders Workshop will be available in late February 2014 on the State Library website here.

Heritage Leaders Workshop Travel Bursaries  – Applications are now open for travel bursaries of up $2,500 for participants from regional Queensland. Applications close 28 February 2014. For more information and to download the application form visit the Museum & Gallery Services Queensland website  or contact Museum & Gallery Services Queensland on 1800 680 433 (free call within Queensland), 07 2315 0820 or via email information@magsq.com.au

There are also a number of blogs out there which may assist you in your research.  Please feel free to contact the Museum Development Officers for further information regarding funding and opportunities in your areas.