Monday, July 1, 2013

H.M.S. Sirius Museum Officially Open



Lisle Snell MLA Chief Misinter and His Honour The Administrator Neil Pope
With the joint cutting of a cake by His Honour the Administrator Neil Pope and Lisle Snell Chief Minister, Norfolk’s newest museum was officially opened last Friday night. The H.M.S. Sirius Museum located in the former Protestant Chapel at Kingston celebrates and displays the artefacts and significance of the flagship of the First Fleet, wrecked on the reef at Slaughter Bay in 1790. Around 70 people witnessed the opening of this major new asset to the island that presents an important part of our heritage and history.

It was apt that the opening occur by both the Chief Minister and the Administrator as funding for the project was a 50-50 contribution that began with a successful application to the Commonwealths Your Community Heritage Program which was then matched by the Norfolk Island Government. The need to re-house the collection had been clear for the previous 8 years as artefacts had deteriorated in the environment of the Pier Store. The project spent 95% of its budget on local builders, suppliers and contractors and is a proud statement of the skill and expertise available within our local population.
 
Probably one of the single best decisions we made was asking graphic designer Haylee Fieldes to design our interpretation panels. Using her brother Matt’s wave photographs as a backdrop she has given us a fresh and contemporary look that gives the space a real WOW factor. Armed with Haylee’s work we then needed to get the images printed, onto panels and onto the walls. Thanks to Rob Nesbit’s investment in his 2899 Gallery we were able to print and mount the large scale prints on-island ready for adhering onto the timber backs. Charles and Kim at Christian-Bailey Agencies spent a lot of time nutting out supplies and getting everything onto the island just in time to fit our tight schedule. 

 There were a number of months spent preparing the building at the start of the project. After gaining EPBC approval to undertake internal building works, Gavin Snell at the Works Depot extended the old kitchen and pulled down the walls of a second room. Michael Porter and his All Star team then painted leaving us with sparkling new white walls. Wayne Pendleton was next, sanding back and re-surfacing the floor. Other suppliers and those involved were Norfolk Electrical, O’Hara Plasterers, People Peaples, Island Plumbing and Gas, Norfolk Island Building Supplies, The Trading Post and Timber on the Move.


Janelle Blucher and Lisa Richards
Amongst other things, Brentt Jones was responsible for building new cabinets which then received Perspex tops thanks to John and the guys at JCB cabinets. Steve Cochrane built other cabinets and also the frames for the window covers with material from The Upholstery Shop. Brentt and Basil Vercoe pulled out the historic setting of the Trial of the Fifteen at the start of the project. Greg and Pete Horrocks moved cabinets and replica hull pieces around and we hired space at Five Pines to cope with the coming and going of cabinets, stage settings and replica hull pieces. Once our replica hull had been put in place it was brought to life with the amazing painting skills of Noelene Nobbs, who also worked with us on the production line of assembling the interpretive panels.

Doug Creek, Works Supervisor
Lesley Warren and Nicky Beadman
Without a doubt the most daunting aspect of this project was actually moving the artefacts themselves. The potential risk of damage occurring while moving these incredibly precious, but very big and heavy artefacts was high. With thanks to the Museum of Tropical Queensland, they agreed that Display Officer Phillip Smith be here for the move bringing his many years experience moving ‘hard to move’ objects. However these objects would simply not have been able to be moved without Franklin Randall who has been involved in every move of the anchor since its recovery from the sea floor in 1973. Together with Caine Henderson and his Dial A Digger crew of Winton Steven, Pumpkin and Brett Berganin and also Brentt Jones – they moved the entire collection within one day. It was an absolute privilege to watch them work and a great sense of pride to know that the skill to undertake such a job exists in our Norfolk men.
One of the things we purposely set out to do in the museum was to celebrate the approximately 1,500 people of the First Fleet and achieved this via a First Fleet Wall. Darren Bates took on the mammoth job of creating an individually inscribed plaque for each person that could then be sponsored and mounted by a descendant. Descendants can also sign our Descendant’s Books that provides a page for each person and an accumulation of signatures. Finally a touch-screen computer was set up by Linda ‘Chips’ Halcombe providing the opportunity to call up each person and read their biography.


Don and Sue Brian
The months of the re-housing project went smoothly due to the absolute support and hard work of all museum staff including Janelle Blucher, the cast of the Trial of the Fifteen and Director Rose Evans, Jeanine Snell, Andrea Greenwood, Mary Cooper, Helen Sampson, Rachael McConnell, Sallie Davie, Rebecca Hayes, Di Garner, Betty Matthews, Colleen White, Barb Elvey and Nat Grube. Volunteer Sue Brian worked nearly 4 days a week, every week with us on this project and then at night with Don!

We hope that the new H.M.S. Sirius museum will bring greater focus to Norfolk’s role from 1788 in the establishment of the new colony and what was to become Australia. We have the tangible evidence of that time on display - the most significant array of First Fleet cultural heritage held anywhere in the world. We have the potential to specifically bring more visitors to this island to visit this museum and celebrate the First Fleet and the role of the Sirius as the flagship.  
 

Please come and see our new museum any time between 11.00am and 3.00pm Monday to Saturday. We’d love to show you through!

28 comments:

  1. I'm very glad the new museum was open in time for our visit there last week. It holds a fascinating collection of artefacts. It was also nice to be able to add my name to the First Fleet folder entry for my ancestor, Elizabeth Cole :-)

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    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed the museum and signed the Descendants Book. Our First Fleet Wall is slowly filling up as descendant's sponsor plaques with their ancestor's name. It will eventually be a wall filled with the names of those brave First Fleeters - inclusing Elizabeth Cole!

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