Tag Archives: South Australia

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)

Another Step on the Road to Signifcance

This is the second post from Graduate Student Bronwyn Phillips about her experiences volunteering at the Unley Museum. See her other posts here

The Unley Museum is inside the first South Australian Fire Station and revolves around the local history of Unley. The Unley Museum has over 10,000 items.  Its collection pertains to the history of Unley and its people including documents, textiles, maps and objects of all descriptions and over 5,000 photographs.

Unley Fire Station (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Unley Fire Station (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

One of the first tasks in developing a ‘statement of significance’  is to conduct a comparative study of other museums in South Australia and to look for similarities and differences to the Unley Museum (see my earlier post about my project here). This gives an understanding of where the Unley Museum sits in the relation to the other museums.  What do they have that we do not have and what do we have that they do not have? We wanted no more than six comparitive museums and selecting them initially involved looking at the www.community.history.sa.gov.au/museums, the Government History Site where many of the regional and local museums are listed with information about them and their collections. This is a very useful site. I made a list the most likely candidates and their similarities and differences and initially had a list of eight.

Exhibition Unley Town Hall 1900 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Exhibition Unley Town Hall 1900 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

The Unley Museum funds are from the  Unley Council and much of the work conducted there is done out by the volunteers, some of whom have been there since its inception 26 years ago.  Therefore the search involved looking for museums or research/heritage programs that fulfil some of the following criteria; funded by Councils, housed in old historic buildings, museum collections revolving around local history and culture and museums with photographic collections.

Duchess of York, Queen Mother 1927 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

Duchess of York, Queen Mother 1927 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

I made telephone calls to the various Museums, Research and Heritage Centres on the list to find out if they had a ‘statement of significance’. I asked them a number of other questions about their collections, collecting policy, funding and to see if they would be willing to share information with us. I talked to people ‘in the know’, sometimes the Curator and at other times I talked to whomever could answer my questions. This was  a lengthy process as some people were away, not available, on holidays etc. Most were very helpful and several sent me extensive information about their policy statements and collections. Finally Dr Elizabeth Hartnell (Unley Museum Curator) and I settled on the five institutions below.

27th Battalion Football Team 1922 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

27th Battalion Football Team 1922 (photograph from the Unley Museum Collection)

The  five museums chosen are:

  • Bay Discovery Centre and Holdfast Bay History Centre,
  • Mitcham Village Research Centre,
  • Strathalbyn Branch of the National Trust,
  • The Norwood, Payneham
  • St Peters Cultural Heritage Program and the Hindmarsh Fire and Folk Museum.

Finally I set up an excel spreadsheet with all the similarities and differences and then compiled the answers that I had been given to my questions. If you wish to know more about the collections or the similarities and differences check the website address above or contact me for more information.

Archaeologists, Biologists and the Pied Piper

By Julie Mushynsky (MMA Student)

From May 16 to May 27, 2011 the South Australia Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) embarked on a Commonwealth funded project in the Investigator Strait off the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.  Maritime Heritage Officer, Amer Khan and everyone’s favourite handyman, Ross “Mouse Whisperer” Cole of the Coastal Management Branch of DENR headed the project.  Two volunteer researchers on board included Shea Cameron, a Flinders University Marine Biology student and me, a Flinders University Maritime Archaeology student.  Kevin Jones, director of the South Australian Maritime Museum joined the group for a few days during the first week.  Lastly, Assistant Director for Maritime Heritage for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPAC), Andy Viduka also joined the group during the second week.

Perimeter fixing. Photo by: Amer Khan

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Last attempt to save the Glenelg Cinema

by Natalie Bittner.

We offer you the public of South Australia a centre of entertainment unique in this state. Every luxury, every thought, every care that 27 years of experience dictates, that modern science knows, is here for your comfort, your convenience, your service. We present the showplace of Australia, the Ozone Theatre Glenelg

(From the program distributed at the Gala opening night of the Ozone Theatre, Glenelg November 5th 1937)

Glenelg Cinema. Corner Jetty Road and Rose Street. Photo: Natalie Bittner. 26/05/2011

In the next few weeks, the fate of the Glenelg Cinema complex will be decided. The cinema has been closed since the end of January 2009 with no development on the site and a drop in visitor numbers to the Eastern end of the Jetty Road precinct noticed by nearby traders. In the week following its closure, the Wallis cinema company put up most of the interior fixtures for sale, including the seats and doors.

Having been designed by architect Kenneth Milne in 1936, the Glenelg Ozone Theatre (as it was then known) consisted of a single cinema screen, and had twin marble grand staircases and tartan carpeting throughout. Known for his impeccable detailing, the façade of the building includes stone from Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills, horizontal fins and the current vertical signage is the same element used in the original construction. Advertising material from 1938 says that the Ozone Theatre had air-conditioning throughout, a ladies smoking lounge, and a baby-friendly viewing area where mothers with screaming children ‘will not be embarrassed’ (The Advertiser Saturday October 9, 1937). On the 5th of November 1937 Glenelg Ozone Theatre’s gala opening night consisted of a technicolour screening of A Star is Born with shorts including How to Vote. (The Mail Saturday November 6th, 1937).

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Future work from my thesis?

My thesis was an attempt to locate the houses and haunts associated with prostitution in colonial Adelaide. I found numerous locations, but sadly only a small selection are still standing in the 21st century.
One of the most famous (or most infamous) places, that still stands is the Colonel Light Hotel (formerly named the Shamrock Hotel), this building was reported to share its town arce (131) with several cottages used by prostitutes, which were owend by the hotel’s proprietor. The hotel now shares the land with a small carpark.
I would love the opportunity to excavate this carpark, as it is one of the few locations that does now not hold a building.
Colonial Adelaide boasted several forms of prostitution, but my research found no references to the ‘classic brothel’ ideal, however when presenting my thesis one person in my audience mentioned one or two hotels that were purposed built to be brothels and would conform to the ‘classic brothel’ ideal.
It seems there is always more to learn. ^_^