Author Archives: phil0263

Present and be Pleasant

by Bronwyn Phillips, blog 7

As my Directed Study was drawing to a close I did present for the volunteers, Unley Council and  Flinders University. This was a last 10% for my Practicum and I needed to explain how I went about writing two statements of significance for the Unley Museum. This occurred in the Unley Council Chambers in a room upstairs with a projector etc. I did this as a way to tie together the work I did over the last 12 months. I was planning to use Michael Morrison’s fancy new presentation program (well, not his personally) but in the end decided to stick with Powerpoint. Elizabeth Hartnell (Museum Curator) and I thought Powerpoint more suitable to the type of talk I was planning.

It was a bit nerve-wracking leading up to it but I practised on a couple of volunteers the day before. They interrupted with questions and advice which was both good and bad. It is a bit difficult to keep your train of thought when people interrupt you and I planned to tell people the next day to wait until I had finished to ask questions but somehow forgot. One woman corrected me three times during the talk. Well, that threw me for a moment but I quickly recovered. I will never interrupt a lecturer again, promise.

Bronwyn Phillips auditing the Unley Museum collection

A lively discussion ensued. It was well received, with the volunteers congratulating me and telling me they now know what I have done over the past twelve months. The Council staff was very interested too and have invited me to give the same talk to a wider audience. Other good things came out of it too. When I said I thought the museum need more art works represented in their collection it turns out the Council own a few and they are hanging in the council buildings. Now we need to accession them to the museum.  When we said we were a bit short on space it seems we can have access to more. All in all it has been a most rewarding experience.

What’s next? I distributed the statements of significance to the volunteers and then to the Friends of the Unley Museum. After everyone has their say they will go into the Policy and Procedures for the Unley Museum then to the Unley Council and then to History SA and then back to the volunteers. A round trip.

The latest exhibition in the Access Gallery, “The Goody Screamers” 100 years of football at the Goodwood Football Club.

Information sources

Photographs from the Unley Museum site accessed at: on 16-6-2011.

Unley Museum’s Donation and Accessioning, published by City of Unley.

Unley Museum’s Emergency Collection Management, published by City of Unley.

Unley Museum’s Mission and Objectives Policy, published by City of Unley.

Unley Museum’s Visitor and Inquiries Procedures published by City of Unley.

Onward and Upward

by Bronwyn Phillips, Blog 6

As part of my Directed Study, I continued with the audit of the collection and moved into the storeroom, which houses most of the items in the collection. The storeroom is kept at a constant temperature of 19 degrees Celsius, which is the ideal temperature for the collection’s preservation. Mostly I have discovered that when you work in a museum everything you do takes longer than you think. Everything is a long slow process and museums in general need to have a lot more resources to conduct their work properly and professionally.  For a volunteer to do the equivalent of two full time weeks it would take four months of real-time.

City of Unley Rechabite Brass Band courtesy of the Unley Museum Photographic Collection

I started this audit with document drawer 17. There were a number of important documents in this drawer that did not have accession numbers, even though most were well wrapped in acid proof paper.

However, all the very important hand painted caricatures by John Chinner, produced in ink and watercolour in 1902 of famous military and political figures (including G Barton). They were, however, well covered in museum quality cellophane.

[Historical note:  Exhibited in S.A. Society of Arts. Exhibition priced at six pounds and six shillings, dated September 16, 1902. Unley Art Loan Exhibition, labels on back mounting. Chinner’s cartoons appeared in most Adelaide newspapers as well as the Bulletin and London Punch. He was also Insurance Manager and Unley Councillor for 10 years and Mayor for two terms. Significance: Local/S.A./Government/Arts. (Unley Museum data base search Horizon)]

Bronwyn Phillips holding John Chinner’s cartoons of military and political figures

After checking the document and map drawers, I moved to the textile boxes and randomly checked some of them. Volunteer Barbara has repackaged and conducted a box by box analysis of the textile collection.

Old poster advertising the Ozone Theatre (courtesy of the Unley Museum Collection)

Finally I went through sections of the rest of the collection, including the shelves, document boxes and small object boxes, and finished off with a count of what was on the shelves and whether the items were boxed or wrapped. Whilst doing this audit I have been on particular lookout for items that are;

  • not stored correctly
  • in poor condition
  • in need of restoration
  • not accessioned
  • incorrectly placed

As I audited the collection I wrote down everything I would need to refer to later when I wrote my report.

Photographs from the Unley Museum site accessed at: on 16-6-2011.

“Oh, Audit my Audit”

‘Oh Audit my Audit’, Unley Museum Collection by Bronwyn Phillips

Post 5

Review of photographs

Over the last few weeks I have gone through some of the SAPs (South Australian Photographs).  SAPS are special plastic folders that contain the Unley Museum’s photographic collection.  Dr Elizabeth Hartnell (Museum Curator) and I decided it was impossible to go through the entire collection. There are over 10,000 items and  5,000 are photographs; we thought an audit of parts of the collection should give a good idea of its condition and what is in it. I need to asses the collections condition to rank items in urgent need of correct storage and preservation. If, as I have found with some photographs and early documents, they are not correctly stored, then their ‘significance’ could be lost forever as they deteriorate. As custodians of the museum’s collection it is our job to redress these problems sooner rather than later.

One of the other volunteers, Terrie, is systematically going through the storeroom. This is a room that is kept at a constant temperature of 19 degrees centigrade and houses most of the collection. This is the ideal temperature for the collection’s preservation. The air conditioner is kept on at all times, 24/7, and this could be problematic if there is a power or equipment breakdown. Terrie has been checking the collection shelf by shelf to make sure items are there and that they have numbers and  are accessioned. I have asked her to let me know if she comes across anything that is in poor condition and/or in need of restoration.

I started on SAP 25 which was full of interesting photographs of all manner of things, from old shops that no longer exist, old tram shots, and Art Deco buildings etc. The first tram was horse-drawn and electric trams came later which travelled down Unley Road.  Most of these photographs are in good order. There are some empty sleeves with notes in them. The notes say the photographs are away being digitized, however they have not been put back and this was some time ago. Those photographs could be anywhere. Some of them were in sleeves with inappropriate cardboard or tracing paper, which will need replacing with acid free paper at some time in the future.

CON 4 (Councillors) This folder contained the photographs of the Councillors from 1929 -1933. What a grumpy, gruff group of men. They were wearing groovy hats in the 20s and 30s. Still, in those days you were not meant to smile in photographs; it was serious business. Many of these photographs have been removed from old albums or frames and still have old glue on their edges.  The old glue is made from ground horses hooves. This will be professionally removed. Some had negatives in with them; they need separate sleeves. I then decided it might be wise to go through the earliest councillors’ photos (CON1) to see if they had the same problem and they did. Glue, bits of tape and paper and the old glue comes off and floats about in the sleeves, damaging the photographs.  I finished looking at the photographic collection in the following weeks.  The following are the albums I have looked at thoroughly. Nevertheless, I have looked at others as we are retrieving them for staff (council and volunteers) to choose one item or photograph for the coming exhibition “Silver Selection from our Collection”.  This is to celebrate 25 years of collecting at the Unley Museum.

  • SAP (South Australian Photographs) 18, 25, 26,19, 28
  • CON (Councillors) 4, 1
  • BUS (Business) 5
  • CHL (Children) 2
  • MIL (Military) 1, 2
  • CEL (Celebrations) 2.

Most of the collection I have looked at is in good order and there are some really interesting old photographs, especially the WWI pictures of light horsemen and Captain Harry Butler’s plane on Unley Oval. There are far too many to list and every one is interesting or connected to different aspects of Unley life. Many photographs  have connections  to each other but are not together or in order in the folders. I guess this is because the donating and accessioning occurred at different times. My next post will check the rest of the collection.

The end is not the end! Working at the Unley Museum

This is Bronwyn Phillip’s last blog post about her practicum with the Unley Museum. We’d like to thank Dr Elizabeth Hartnell and the Unley Museum for supporting Bronwyn’s placement. You can read Brownyn’s other posts about her placement here!

The Colony’s first Fire Brigade 1919 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

The Colony’s first Fire Brigade 1919 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

My Practicum placement has come to an end but not really. It is continuing into a Directed Study placement which is great because I am really enjoying it and learning a great deal in the process. Fortunately I started volunteering at the Unley Museum at the beginning of the year, I had already been working there for four months by the time my placement started in May. This gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the workings of the Museum and some of the other volunteers. My Directed Study placement finishes in November and I will then create two ‘statements of significance’, with guidance from Dr Elizabeth Hartnell (Museum Curator). By then I will have been there for nearly a year and the time has flown by. This week I am tying up loose ends and completing any tasks I should.  The next steps for the Directed Study will be to:

  • August: Review collections and significant items. Relate that to the building and historical context.
  • September: Consult volunteers and curators about the collection.
  • October: Analyse collection’s condition and preservation priorities.
  • November: Create primary and comparative criteria and write statements of significance.
74th Infantry Band (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

74th Infantry Band (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

I will start by collating the answers to my survey to deduce what are the most important things in the collection. At least I will know what the volunteers and others connected to the Unley Museum think are the most important parts of the collection. Whilst going through people’s answers I have noticed that each person thinks the most important part of the collection is the area which they work in personally. I guess this makes sense. I know the two Mayor’s robes that I accessioned earlier in the year seem important to me (see picture, below). They were just gorgeous, made from the finest red wool cloth, with black velvet silk bands on the hem and sleeves and a mink collar of course. The oldest robe,  by Ede and Ravenscroft Ltd (founded 1689), London, the tailor for the Queen’s and Parliamentarian’s ceremonial robes.

The second Mayor’s Robe (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

The second Mayor’s Robe (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Overall this has been a most pleasurable experience and I would recommend to any other student considering a Practicum placement to go right ahead.  It is so good to work in a real working environment. You cannot help but to learn many new skills including research, people skills, team work, individual work, computer skills and other expertise related to the particular placement. You meet new people and have a laugh in the process.

Orchard’s Draper Store (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Orchard’s Draper Store (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Assessing Significance at the Unley Museum

This is the third post from Graduate Student Bronwyn Phillips about her industry placement with the Unley Museum. You can see Bronwyn’s other posts here

Another step in the process of finding the ‘significance’ of the Unley Museum’s collections was to find out what the local community thought about the Unley Museum, its role in the community and its collections. What did they think were important parts of the collection?  Many of the locals would not know what is in the collection and many do not even know there is a museum in Unley. I decided to survey the volunteers, curators, some Councilors and Council staff with knowledge of the Unley Museum and its collection. These were the people with more extended knowledge and a better idea.

First fire engine, 1919 (coutesy of the Unley Museum Collection)

I needed to design a survey and I decided not to make the survey too long, around 20 questions. I had to rack my brain to remember how to devise a survey. Having studied Festival and Event Management some years ago I knew that it was a good idea to have open and closed questions, to ask personal information at the end, and put any tricky questions in the middle. I came up with the questions and showed them to Dr Elizabeth Hartnell (Museum Curator) and she made a couple of minor alterations. The survey was sent out and not conducted face to face.  I wrote a covering letter so that people would know why and what it was all about. We printed up just over 40 copies and Antoinette Hennessy (third year archaeology student and volunteer) and I folded and put some of them into stamped envelopes. Elizabeth printed off sticky labels with people’s names and addresses which saved me time writing them all out by hand. I placed the ones for the current volunteers in their pigeonholes, sent some over to Council and the rest we posted. We have 17 current volunteers, 6 resigned but still interested volunteers, 7  earlier Curators, one current Curator and a number of Councilors and Council staff   involved with the Unley Museum.

Floral Pageant

S.A. Centenary Floral Pageant, Sept 18 1936 (Ladies Committee) (Photo courtesy of the Unley Museum Collection)

Most of the volunteer’s responses highlighted different aspects of Unley Museum services and activities. Most responses were positive in regard to the value of the collection, its purpose and its relationship to the people of Unley.  Most people thought the Unley Museum profile could be raised in the public arena. Every single respondent offered positive ideas, comments, suggestions and changes. When I collate all the answers, I will pass this on to Elizabeth, the Curator and they might be implemented.

Glen Osmond Quarry 1913 (Courtesy of the Unley Museum)

Glen Osmond Quarry 1913 (Courtesy of the Unley Museum Collection)