How many people do you know who have never visited their local museum or gallery? Quite often we are unaware of the treasures hidden inside buildings that are just around the corner. Or perhaps we have just never got around to visiting them as we’re too busy with our daily lives.
If you’re in Cairns this weekend, and you’ve never been out to Yarrabah, here is the perfect opportunity. In a bid to entice Cairns locals, as well as other visitors, to explore the community, Yarrabah Arts Centre is holding an open day this Saturday. This means the Arts Centre and Menmuny Museum, with it’s exhibitions that tell the story of the Yarrabah Mission and community, will be open. Why not visit to experience and explore the cultural traditions, creativity and important history that is presented at Yarrabah Arts Centre?
In mid July, MDOs Ewen McPhee and Dr Jo Wills worked with Bradley Higgins, archivist from Yarrabah’s Menmuny Museum, to install the “Blow ‘Im: The Yarrabah Brass Band Story” exhibition in time for the Yarrabah Band Festival.
In just over three days, the museum space was reinvigorated, whilst maintaining the consistency of original stories and exhibition rationale. Object cases were cleaned, moved and reinstalled. Graphic panels were re-hung. Some cases were relined with calico. Object supports were also made for an original euphonium used in the first band that was donated to the Museum A new object label was also produced to accompany the display.
Digital screens were installed to make Menmuny Museum’s pictorial collection more accessible to visitors, and showcase an interview with the exhibition’s original curator, Elverina Johnston. A descendant of the Kunganji tribe of the Yarrabah Aboriginal Community, Elverina curated “Blow ‘Im” in 2003. The exhibition comprises graphic text panels that explore the history of Yarrabah Brass bands as well as other Indigenous brass bands all around Queensland from 1901 to the 1970’s.
The Yarrabah Band Festival was put on by Queensland Music Festival and supported by Queensland Performing Arts. Check out the following link to find out how the project got started, and its importance to communities in the following short video clip on the ABC.
During a recent training workshop at Menmuny Museum, QM curator Trish Barnard and I found one of their treasured items – an embroidered cloth. The embroidered cloth depicts stories from Yarrabah families and residents. Each piece has been hand stitched and combined to create a kind of ‘memory cloth’ or quilt (though it has no backing). It is a powerful and evocative object, one with the capacity to explore stories about place, mission life, belonging and families. As part of the project we are working on with Menmuny Museum, we hope to work with staff to find out more about the item, and to ensure it is preserved for future generations.
Menmuny Museum, Yarrabah
Visited Menmuny Museum at Yarrabah to familiarise myself with the collection and facilities. They have some wonderful material in the collection, and some very significant records. I will be working with Trish Barnard, Senior Curator Indigenous Studies, Queensland Museum, who will deliver collection management training over three days. I am also going to help Michael Marzik set up their digitisation station and run digitisation training.