Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scanned Photo Albums

One of the jobs that our wonder volunteer Sue Brian has been undertaking is the scanning of all the images in photo albums in our collection. This is being done for a number of reasons: it provides a back-up copy in case of some disaster that destroys the image or album; and it means that handling of old and fragile albums and photographs is lessened as access can primarily occur via the digital copy. Over the years the museum has been lucky enough to have a number of albums donated that include images from across the island covering people, events and scenery going back to the 1870s.

One of the photos that Sue scanned recently has a photo of a view looking through the arch that used to stand at the entrance to the Lumberyard. It is an intriguing photo. The arch is now long gone, but provides an opportunity to imagine Bay Street not only with this additional structure in place, but as the place where the action of the infamous Cooking Pot riot occurred in the prisoners’ mess area in1846. This was the riot that led to twelve men being executed and their bodies thrown in a pit outside of the consecrated area of the cemetery, now known as Murders’ Mound.

The Lumberyard contained a yard separated from the Prisoners’ Mess by a stone wall. Three-quarters of the yard was roofed to form an open shed under which was a hundred foot saw-pit. An overseers’ room and carpenters’ shop were located at the north end of the yard. The entrance – as you can see from the photo was located in the south wall. The activity of this area must have been great. The carpenters’ shop was later transferred to the open shed in which a number of benches were fitted. The saw-pit in this shed was only used in wet weather, three others being located outside the building. Coopers, wheelrights, turners and other craftsmen employed in the Engineers department also worked in the carpenters’ Shop.

The prisoners’ mess was located alongside this area and had a yard, cookhouse, constables’ room, gatekeepers lodge, entrance way, store, overseer’s mess and numerous privies. The cookhouse had a flagged floor and contained four coppers and a fireplace. The prisoners’ sugar and soap rations were issued from the store located on the west side of the entrance way. The mess rooms consisted of two sheds erected around the north and east sides of the mess yard. One shed was for the ‘old hands’ and the other for the ‘new’ – however as no fence divided the two this could not be enforced. The mess yard was a dangerous place, the haunt of the so-called ‘Ring’ even becoming an area that the overseer dared not exercise authority.

Another of the jobs that Sue is working on includes incorporating a number of these scanned images into a 20 minutes slide show, complete with backing music. She has spent countless hours doing this. The display will be available for all to see within the next few weeks at one of our venues, the details will be advertised once it is in place. This project provides us all with the opportunity to look through our fabulous photographic collection – in effect opening up these precious albums and bringing their stories and memories to life.

Successful Grant Applications

We have just received notification of two successful grant applications that we are absolutely thrilled about.

The first is a grant from the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grant Program. The grant for $3,700 will be used to set up disaster bins in each of our venues. Disaster bins are quite literally wheelie bins that sit at each venue, filled with the items needed to do a mop up should a disaster occur.

As we know, one of the biggest issues we face at the Pier Store is that it is so close to the sea. This building is almost the first that would be hit if a tsunami occurs again. Other disasters that could occur in any of our buildings include fire, cyclone damage or flooding (even from a burst pipe). Planning for a disaster is part of good museum management and nearly all museums have plans and policies in place about how to deal with a disaster. Disaster bins are an expensive exercise for us as our museums are spread across 3 buildings, we have paper based collections in the Guard House and other items in storage at Anson Bay. This grant will ensure that we are equipped to move straight in after a disaster occurs and save as many objects as possible. Our sincere thanks to the National Library of Australia.

The second grant we will receive is from the Maritime Museum of Australia Project Support Scheme (MMAPSS), supported by the Australian Government through the Australian National Maritime Museum. This grant for $7,198 is to complete a project called the “Post 1856 Norfolk Island Maritime Project”. It will work with the two key stories of whaling and the Resolution and will include working with collection items such as photographs, artefacts, oral histories and sound recordings.

With this grant we will be able to things such as re-house the Resolution bell, undertake conservation on artefacts, digitise over 300 images and slides, collate recordings of whale songs and oral histories, establish audio-visual presentations in the display area, undertake research on other Resolution artefacts and upgrade display panels. Wow – a total overhaul! Our since thanks to the MMAPSS and the ANMM for this grant.