Tag Archives: Directed Study

The Catalogue: A Must Have in Museum Health

By Sarah-Anne Martin

It could be said that within the body of the museum the catalogue is the heart; the museum lives or dies based on its health. Through my directed study project at the Adelaide Masonic Centre Museum, this concept has become very real to me as I work through the collection of 300 plus Past Masters Jewels assigned to me. The reality of my task is that the work that I do now may set the precedent for future cataloguing projects. This, of course, has encouraged me to do my very best and to perform my cataloguing task with accuracy and in a concise manner that could be followed and replicated. I fear that one day I’ll look back on my work as a much more experienced and seasoned heritage professional, and cringe at what is now the very best I can do. Through all this I cannot help but reflect on the process and how tough it can be, especially for small museums, to meet what might be considered ‘best practice’ in collections management.

Figure 1. The Adelaide Masonic Centre Museum’s new heart: the cataloguing program ‘Collections Mosaic’

The Community Museums Program Handbook (Walsh and James 2008), provided to small museums from History SA, has the following to say about museum collections:

Good museum collections are those that are put together with meaning and purpose, rather than those that are created and allowed to grow in an undirected way (Walsh & James 2008:116).

This statement could be considered the idyllic model for museum collections. It seems straightforward enough: collect with purpose and do not let your collection grow without meaning. Granted, this would be ideal, however, for the small museum, this may not be so easy in reality. This could be for a number of reasons:

  • The lack of a functional cataloguing and accessioning processes.
  • The level of computer literacy required to use cataloguing programs.
  • The fear that not accepting items may alienate visitors or offend donors.
  • The lack of knowledge or understanding about historical significance.

For the small museum these factors are huge considerations because funds are limited, visitors are sporadic and many of the workers are volunteers and therefore may have varying skills and experience.

On top of all this there is also the consideration of time. This is the first of the cataloguing projects in the Masonic Centre Museum and it will hopefully not be the last, but these things take time. While volunteers are obviously dedicated to the museum, you cannot necessarily ask them to give up the mass of hours necessary to successfully catalogue an entire collection. All of these factors must be considered and balanced carefully. From my perspective this is why working on this directed study project at the Adelaide Masonic Centre Museum is so important, because it is the beginning of addressing these issues and establishing ‘best practice’ for the museum. Before long the museum will be in the best shape of its life.

References

Walsh, K. and A. James 2008 Community Museums Program Handbook. Retrieved 10 August 2013 from http://community.history.sa.gov.au/cmp-handbook.

A handful of archival research, a dash of archaeology, and a pinch of stress.

To me, compiling all the information that I’ve gathered is the hardest part. Where do you start? What information do you add in, and what do you leave out? These are questions that we all ask ourselves at some point.

This report was particularly tough to write, as there was little background information that I could incorporate. With information in several secondary sources, and a handful of old newspaper articles, the report strongly relies on the links and contradictions between the sources.

In order to fit into the word limit of my directed study, I had to focus on certain elements. In particular, I felt that it was important to discuss Angus MacLaine in relation to the house. MacLaine was not only the man who built the house in 1843, but he also quickly became a prominent part of the community.  Establishing Ardtornish School through a government grant, and donating a portion of his own land, MacLaine was viewed as a philanthropist. By discussing his standing in the community, the report enables the reader to see how wealthier people lived in the Modbury area in the 1840s.

In addition, the archaeological assessment was interesting in itself with the appearance of copper strips in the walls.

DSCF1111Copper strips (green lines) evident in the walls of the ground floor or the house.

As seen above, the copper strips are quite evident in the walls. When discussing this with the owner, he suggested that it was an old wive’s tales to do with salt damp prevention. It is an interesting discovery that still has me wondering how many, if any, other houses incorporated this into their building design.

Ardtornish, Dry Creek, or Modbury? Locating Ardtornish Estate’s place in history

Ardtornish Estate was established in the 1840s, and the land and the dwelling was the first to be established in what is now the Modbury area. The area was not originally named Modbury, but Ardtornish, and in the following years the area would be referred to as Ardtornish, Modbury, and even Dry Creek. Each name coexisted until the rapid expansion of people in the 20th century, when the name Modbury became prominent.

It became clear when doing the archival research for this Directed Study project that it was not going to be easy to locate the background history of this site. Not only are there limited sources, but the information from State Records, libraries and relevant websites focus predominantly on Angus and Gillian MacLaine, the first Europeans to buy the land under England’s colony expansion.  Having different names for the  general area also made my task a lot longer, and more tedious than anticipated. However, I did learn one thing: always double check if the name of the suburb has changed over time!

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   Angus MacLaine, courtesy of Ardtornish Primary school. Date unknown.

Ardtornish Estate, the Hidden Gem of the Florey Electorate

Like many other students on this blog, this semester I am undertaking a directed study. The idea of undertaking a project with minimal supervision was daunting! Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I headed to meet Lea Crosby, a prominent member of the Florey district chambers, and a well-known person in the district.

Upon meeting Lea, my fears towards the project subsided, and reality kicked in. I was soon in  research mode, and handed six different historical sites with folders full of information. However, one stood out more than the rest, Ardtornish Estate. To Lea and her colleagues, this place is a mystery. Found through a colleague attending an open house inspection at 9 Quintal Avenue, Modbury (it could be yours for $690,000 – $720,000!), it is only by chance that the Ardtornish Estate is known to them.

The front facing of Ardtornish Estate, Modbury. South Australia (2013). Photo courtesy of Century 21, Modbury.

Upon initial investigation, this grand house is a prominent feature in the Modbury district. In fact, this particular house is one of the first, and largest, estates to be established in the area. Built in 1843, the homestead was built on approximately 80 acres by Angus MacLaine and used as a cattle farm.

You may at this point be thinking, Ardtornish estate? Isn’t that in Scotland? How did it get that name? The answers to these questions, and the people involved will all be revealed in blog #2. Stay tuned!

Tristan Grainger

The Domestic life: The Lady Alice Mine

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It is nearing the end of the semester and the blog posts are drawing to an end, but luckily this is not the last. The Lady Alice Mine has opened up my eyes to the life of gold mining in South Australia. While you may not know much about this, or be aware that South Australia had an active gold mining culture (although it was certainly not as successful as that in neighbouring Victoria), South Australian mining was still a successful industry.  I have been extremely lucky to have been able to do some study on this site. The heritage of the area is vast in nature and it would be great if more could be done on this site in order to find out more about not only Hamlins Gully but also about the Barossa Goldfields in general. It would be great if the history of South Australia’s mining culture could be shared with more than just the locals of the area.

The second semester’s Directed Study has focused on the domestic life of the Lady Alice, which is still largely unknown. There are a few photographs and paintings that show the different aspects of the Lady Alice Mine. These show different angles of the mine and how it once operated. They also shed some light on how the miners lived and worked. Nevertheless they give us some insight into the conditions and, having visited the site, allow for the mine to be put into perspective. From these photographs and paintings we are able to see that they miners lived in canvas tents, some of which had brick chimneys at one end. However, as the tents are transportable and were most probably taken with the miners when they left, there is no evidence supporting the photographs and paintings. It would be great if there was more photographic and written evidence of this time, but unfortunately the mine was poorly recorded and only some records survive, which can be accessed at the State Library of South Australia. There is not much information about the domestic life of the mine in these records, as lives were not documented as we’re able to do today. It’s fun to imagine what, if people of the 1800s had all the equipment that we do today to document daily life, we could have learnt.

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(The Globe INN)

When walking through the Lady Alice Mine area it becomes evident how the miners once lived and worked. There are few ruins and even less surface evidence of what types of dwellings they lived in. There are ruins of chimney butts that stand by themselves with no other material. Standing at the edge of a site and imaging what once stood by the sides of the chimneys. It has been an incredible experience to be able to walk through the area and imagine the fields being littered with tents and makeshift dwellings. Unfortunately, I do not have the authority to share the paintings or the photographs as they are not readily available on the internet. One of the two photos that I have shared today is a photograph I took myself and the other was available through http://www.trove.nla.gov.au. Anyway, I must stop imagining all of this and get back to writing my report. Please stay posted for my last post, which will be in just a few weeks.