Keeping history alive a ‘tough gig’: Museum advisor

KEEPING HISTORY ALIVE: Moruya and District Historical Society volunteer Suzanne Newnham, museum advisor Lynn Collins and Moruya museum curator Brian Harris discuss the museum’s upcoming exhibition 'Milk: The River of Life', which explores a history of the dairy industry in the Moruya district and opens on Friday, June 29.
KEEPING HISTORY ALIVE: Moruya and District Historical Society volunteer Suzanne Newnham, museum advisor Lynn Collins and Moruya museum curator Brian Harris discuss the museum’s upcoming exhibition 'Milk: The River of Life', which explores a history of the dairy industry in the Moruya district and opens on Friday, June 29.

Eurobodalla museums now have an extra helping hand as part of the Museum Advisor Program.

Jointly-funded by Museums and Galleries of NSW and Eurobodalla Shire Council, the program has enlisted the help of specialist consultant Lynn Collins to work with local museums to help improve their operations.

An educator and former museum curator, Mr Collins has more than 10 years’ experience advising museums around NSW.

He said Eurobodalla’s museums were very active but were faced with limited resources, particularly active volunteers, as in many regional areas.

“One of the museums’ greatest assets is the characters who support them - the passionate people who want to see their local history kept alive, and it’s a tough gig,” Mr Collins said.

“They already have strategic plans in place and they are trying to meet best practice and find the most effective way forward. But a major challenge is standing out in the modern world.”

Mr Collins said people could now investigate the past and be entertained from multiple mediums – television, social media and the internet.

“The challenge is for museums to find a way to make an appealing destination among the glut of opportunities that claim people’s time,” he said.

“Museums have to find a unique voice, and that’s about finding stories to bring objects alive. Take a milk churn – on first look it’s just a milk churn, but if those who used it can be identified and, where it was used and how it was used, people may better relate to it.”

Moruya and District Historical Society Museum curator Brian Harris said the extra support was valuable.

“A person like Lynn is great to help us implement our strategic plan, help us spend money more wisely and identify our strengths and our areas of weakness,” he said.

“He’ll also be able to let us know when grant opportunities are available and support us in our applications.”

Council’s Strategy and Heritage Planner Steve Halicki is pleased to have the Museum Advisor Program reinstated.

“We have a growing focus on heritage tourism in Eurobodalla and our museums play a major role,” Mr Halicki said.

“This program is about getting the most out of our local museums, which are a wonderful asset for our community and can have the potential to be a strong drawcard for visitors.”