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)

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