Uncovering the Significant Objects held in the Historical Collections of the Central Highlands
Tibby Jeynes’ Ford at the Australian Miners Heritage Centre. Jeynes, a war veteran, made supply runs for local residents of the gemfields when the roads were cut due to rain.Jeynes’ Ford on display at the Emerald Art Gallery.A church organ in the Emerald Pioneer Cottage & Museum collection bears the marks of the 2008 floods which devastated the Emerald community.
In 2010 Bronwyn Roper, Central Qld MDO and the Arts & Cultural Officer for Central Highlands Regional Council (CHRC) embarked on an ambitious project to present a joint display of all the community collections in the Central Highlands.
Six organisations - Duaringa Historical and Tourism Association, Blackwater Historical Society, Emerald Historical Society, Springsure Library, Australian Miners Heritage Centre and Capella Pioneer Village - worked in partnership with CHRC and Bronwyn Roper to display a selection of significant objects from each organisation in a professional exhibition at the Emerald Art Gallery. This was the first time these historical groups worked together post-amalgamation of the local shire councils in Queensland.
Due to the council amalgamations local communities have feared the loss of their identity; however this project demonstrated how communities can maintain this identity within new shared regional boundaries.
Working on the premise that every object can tell a story, Stage 1 of the partnership project saw groups working with the MDO to tell the story of each individual object. Two days were spent with each history group researching, analysing and writing the story of each object which formed the object label in the exhibition. Objects were matched against the nationally-recognised Significance criteria to determine their value and if they were eligible for the exhibition.
Stage 2 of the project saw five objects from each group taken out of cluttered display cabinets and placed on individual plinths in the Emerald Art Gallery, a public art gallery which had not previously been home to history exhibitions. Each object was displayed individually on custom-made plinths or in archival frames. Art Gallery volunteers worked with the Arts & Cultural Officer for CHRC and the MDO to install the exhibition and host a successful opening event.
Funded by the Regional Arts Development Fund and supported by the Central Highlands Regional Council, this project enabled groups to realise what was important in their collections. They were also able to keep all interpretive material produced for the exhibition that related to their objects as well as a large interpretation panel about their group and community. The Emerald Art Gallery kept the plinths for future use by the local community.
The project was recognised at the Museum & Gallery Services QLD’s 2011 Gallery & Museum Achievement Awards where the Emerald Art Gallery was honoured with a special commendation in the ‘Organisations: Volunteer Run’ category.