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NEWCASTLE REGIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION POLICY

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NEWCASTLE REGIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION POLICY Powered By Docstoc
					NEWCASTLE REGIONAL MUSEUM COLLECTION POLICY

1. OBJECTIVE
2. BACKGROUND
3. COLLECTION HISTORY
4. POLICY STRUCTURE
5. SELECTION CRITERIA
6. PARENT THEMES
7. SPECIFIC THEMES
8. CONCLUSION

   1. OBJECTIVE
      The Newcastle Regional Museum (NRM) will acquire, conserve, research, display and
      actively interpret the region's environmental, technical and cultural material, thereby
      enhancing the knowledge of and respect for our surroundings. The NRM will undertake
      scholarly research into its collection and energetically disseminate resultant information
      for the benefit of the community. A high standard of service to the public, scholarship,
      and management of the collection is paramount to this objective.

   2. BACKGROUND
      The NRM has previously identified its collection and permanent display programme
      around the subject headings of "The Land", "The Industry", and "The People" (internal
      discussion paper 13/6/1989), briefing paper, "The Way Forward", August, 1989 and "A
      Blueprint for Progress", undated). The NRM's self-imposed brief is thus to interpret
      through its displays and collections, the natural history, science and technology and
      social history of the region. The "region" has previously been defined as the 13 shires
      of the local government region as listed; Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland,
      Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone, Merriwa, Dungog, Gloucester, Great
      Lakes, Taree and Port Stephens. This wedding of three broad subject areas to this
      defined region is an appropriately ambitious objective for the NRM as its successful
      implementation will result in a highly integrated collection and display programme. That
      implementation does, however, demand a selective well-defined collection policy. It is,
      therefore, the intention of this document to seek to define such a policy.

   3. COLLECTION HISTORY
      The Museum's collection is a result of two acquisition regimes. Material acquired and
      numbered prior to 1986 is derived from the old Newcastle Local History Museum
      (Brown Street Museum) which held a disparate group of objects collected between
      1968 and 1984. The greatest strengths within this collection are the personal effects of
      "notable" Novocastrians, material from the Aboriginal and convict eras, significant
      pieces of domestic technology, and hand tools. Almost all of this material has local
      provenance or use. Regrettably, during the transition between Brown Street and the
      present museum site a number of objects were lost while others were found to be at
      other locations such at the Newcastle Maritime Museum and the Lambton Mechanics
      Institute. Accurate lists of the current locations of these objects as well as missing
      items are currently held by the NRM.
Between 1986 and 1988 the staff of the NRM acquired material for the collection at an
accelerated pace. The acquisition rate during 1987, in particular, was very high with 781
objects being registered into the collection. The haste to establish the collection in time for the
Museum's opening in May 1988 is apparent with some of this material being in poor condition
of questionably historical value and in a few cases undocumented. The strengths within the
collection from this period include the "Co-op Store" related objects, some early mine survey
equipment in excellent condition and, to a lesser extent, bottles and other associated objects
from the Castlemaine and Wood Brothers Brewery found during the restoration of the museum
building. In addition the Tuggerah Military Collection was acquired during this period.

Since 1990 collection has been more measured and attention has been paid toward
documenting the existing collection rather than acquiring new material. During this period
collection has also been passive with the NRM responding to offers of donation from the public.
Most of this material has been tactfully rejected along the grounds of poor condition, lack of
documentation or irrelevance to the region (technologically or by association). It is the intention
that the NRM will become more active in the field of collection targeting specific subject areas
for attention following the criteria outlined in this document.

    4. POLICY STRUCTURE
         i. This policy is based upon the commitment to collect material for both exhibition
             and research. The NRM is interested in objects that have both display and
             research potential and will seek to establish a collection that contains levels of
             information relevant to the researcher and casual museum visitor alike.

           ii.   The collection of the NRM will be representative and thematic. The concept of
                 a "catch all" collection is totally impractical and intellectually unsound. Where
                 original objects are unobtainable for exhibitions, replicas, models, photographs
                 or other graphic components may be considered as acceptable alternatives.
                 Conversely, an artefact will not be considered valuable or useful simply
                 because of its age.

          iii.   Care will be taken to avoid thematic duplication which other local museums.
                 Thus, institutions such as the Newcastle Maritime Museum and Glenbawn
                 Museum of Rural Life, will not find their subject area threatened by the NRM.
                 Nonetheless, the regional focus of the NRM must be maintained which may,
                 inevitably, lead to some thematic overlap.

          iv.    Care will, likewise, be taken to avoid duplicating material gathered by the Local
                 History Section of the Newcastle Region Public Library and other local
                 libraries.

           v.    In determining the collection policy, the main concern must be to translate the
                 NRM's guiding concepts into objects consciously selected for their capacity to
                 build up a composite picture of essential themes.

          vi.    This document does not broach display details nor does it discuss the issue of
                 travelling exhibitions that will continue to be a large component of the NRM's
                 display programme.
5. SELECTION CRITERIA
   Objects will be considered for collection only when they adequately satisfy at least one
   of the following criterion;

        i.   Documentation: Every object acquired for the collection must be supported by
             clear documentation that may, in part, define its historical significance or
             association. Verbal information provided by the donor detailing the origin of the
             object, how and who used it plus a chronological profile of its subsequent
             history is suitable but should be independently confirmed. Written and
             published information is preferable.

       ii.   Physical character: Every acquired object must be complete to the extent that
             an observer could visualise a past custom or activity with which the object was
             associated. It is imperative that the condition of the acquired object be rated as
             good to excellent as items of poor condition will only be an expensive burden
             on the NRM in the future and are, consequently, of dubious historical integrity.

      iii.   Historic association: Objects will be sought that have a proven association with
             a known individual, some event, or period in the history of the Hunter Region
             that is considered by the NRM as significant.

      iv.    Educational value: The object must contain information or be associated with
             information that raises an understanding of an aspect or aspects of the history
             of the region.

       v.    Rarity: The NRM is interested in rare or uncommon objects that relate to the
             region along defined lines. For example a rare object that fulfils the criterion
             relating to regional significance will be collected in preference to a more
             common item. This does not necessarily mean that the NRM is not interested
             in abundant objects.

      vi.    Representability: The NRM is also interested in acquiring individual pieces as
             representatives of a range of objects that demonstrate principal characteristics
             of a range of human activities relevant to the region's past or present.

     vii.    Aesthetic value: The NRM is interested in objects that demonstrate an
             aesthetic quality that is valued by the community or cultural group.

     viii.   Social value: The NRM is interested in collecting objects that are valued by the
             community for their religious, cultural, spiritual, educational or social
             associations.

      ix.    Technological / creative value: The NRM is interested in collecting objects that
             demonstrate a degree of technical or creative achievement for their time and
             that were developed within the region.

       x.    Objects will not be collected because they are old, strange, unusual or have
             doubtful associations or promote nostalgic or sentimental responses.

      xi.    Objects will be collected by donation or purchase. There will be no long-term
             or "permanent" loans. Short and medium-term loans will be accepted from
             time to time but only in association with specific temporary exhibitions.
     xii.    The NRM will only receive donations upon receipt of a deed of gift (Gift
             Acknowledgment Form) signed by the donor or donor's agent in the presence
             of a witness. The form will be legally binding and the donor will forfeit all right
             and title of the item so given to the NRM.

     xiii.   Objects collected will include both historic and contemporary materials. The
             NRM will collect objects that are three dimensional but will also gather some
             paper based records such as diaries, photographs and certificates as support
             material to collected objects. As previously stated, care will be taken to avoid
             duplication with the Local History Section of the Newcastle Region Public
             Library in achieving this objective.

     xiv.    The collection of data relevant to the defined themes is considered relevant by
             the NRM.

6. PARENT THEMES
   As well as adopting specific themes within Newcastle's history for collection and
   interpretation it is vital that certain other issues are represented within these themes.
   Hence, "parent" or interlocking themes will be introduced to act as welding devices
   interfusing and unifying this broad collection. Issues contained within the parent
   themes span Newcastle society at all levels and therefore would be marginalised by
   allocation to one time or activity. Topics that fall under this category include;

        i.   Migration and Settlement: The Hunter Valley is a microcosm of Australia's
             cultural diversity. Since the first Anglo-Celtic immigrants arrived in the Hunter
             two hundred years ago peoples with widely differing cultural backgrounds have
             been establishing homes, raising families and finding work in the Hunter
             community. In particular, the influx of southern European migrants to the
             region after World War 2, and recently, Asian immigration has changed the
             population significantly. It is the intention of the NRM to reflect, in its collection,
             these influences and changes where possible.

             Possible objects for collection: Personal effects, tools, recipes / menus,
             games, diaries, clothes. Data detailing migrant numbers, source countries, and
             other information specific to the Hunter region will be gathered from the
             Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.

       ii.   Women: Newcastle is stereotypically viewed as a "man's town", dominated by
             men involved in heavy industry and engineering. In reality Newcastle and the
             Hunter Valley have been extensively influenced by women especially in the
             spheres of health, education, retail, sport and increasingly politics. Women's
             traditional contribution as home makers will also be emphasised with the
             different eras, where possible.

             Possible objects for collection: Sporting equipment, domestic technology,
             clothes, personal effects.

      iii.   Aborigines: The Aboriginal language groups who once populated the Hunter
             Valley have experienced immediate and severe cultural disintegration since
             the arrival of white people. The collection will aim to document their downfall
             from an independent society, through their stages of increasing dependence
            on the dominant culture. Every effort will be made to document the recent
            burgeoning self-pride and renewed identity in modern, local Koori society. The
            NRM will not seek to acquire traditional clothing, tools and personal effects
            given the successful role being performed in this area by Aboriginal cultural
            centres and keeping places as well as perceived resentment towards
            museums for their collection methods of traditional material in past years.

            Possible objects for collection: Mission related memorabilia, sporting,
            personal effects, material gathered from authorised archaeological digs.

      iv.   Environmental Issues: The impact of people and industry on the natural
            environment has been profound. For example, the physical shape of the
            harbour and entrance has been dramatically altered. Moreover, the impact of
            coal mining and steel making on the valley has been overwhelming. The
            current environmental dilemmas of waste disposal, air and marine pollution,
            and the effect of chemical fertilisers are some of the greatest challenges facing
            the community today. The collection, where possible, will be developed to
            reflect these changes to the natural environment as well as its current threats.

           Possible objects for collection: Pollution measuring and minimising equipment,
           samples of degraded air, water, soil, banners, badges from local protest
           groups, advertising paraphernalia associated with keeping the local area
           clean. Data will also be gathered from the State Pollution Control Commission
           and other pollution monitoring authorities.
7. SPECIFIC THEMES
   The primary themes around which the collection will develop are as follows:
     i. Coal: The all pervading influence of coal from pre-historic to contemporary
           times is a unifying theme covering the environmental, technological and
           social/cultural spheres of the region. Coal was the raison d'être for white
           settlement in Newcastle in 1797 and has been the dominant subsequent
           influence. Since that time the opening of new coal mines throughout the
           Hunter has precipitated the movement to those mines resulting in towns,
           affiliated industry and complex social networks. The focus on coal allows the
           NRM to collect around and interpret topics including the formation of coal,
           changing technology associated with coal mining, working conditions, mine
           safety, the rise of trade unionism, work force demographics, domestic life and
           transportation.
           The collection will reflect the individuals that worked at the mines through their
           tools (manager, foreman, miner, surveyor) as well as the family members
           associated with coal mining. Notable individuals such as James Fletcher ("The
           Miner's Advocate") and early mining magnates, brothers John and Alexander
           Brown can be highlighted through the judicious use of selected objects.
           The collection will include the following objects: mining, tools, mine rescue
           equipment, mine survey equipment, safety equipment (i.e. methanometers),
           union tickets, miners' cards, office equipment, photographs, mine signage,
           personal effects (i.e. lunch box, playing cards, posters, diaries) domestic
           equipment and clothing.

      ii.   Other Hunter Valley Industry: The Coal industry and its infrastructure allowed
            for the development of parallel heavy industry in the Hunter region. Selected
       material will be collected around these industries to indicate the diversity of the
       regional economic base. The NRM can never expect to fully interpret all the
       local industry nor collect extensively in any one area especially given the size
       of many objects associated with heavy industry and the expense generated by
       their necessary conservation. Based on existing material within the collection,
       supporting documentation, established display objectives, national
       significance, and a perceived public interest the following industries are
       proposed for collection:
                Power generation
                Steel manufacture and smelting (with emphasis on BHP)
                Small machinery workshops (pattern making and foundries)
                Engineering (with emphasis on Goninan's)
                Pottery works
                The Hunter vineyards
                Gold mining at Copeland
                Timber getting

       The emphasis will again be on the various achievements, environmental
       impact, and people involved with these particular regional specific industries.

iii.   The Natural Environment: The Hunter Valley has a rich diversity of floral and
       faunal zones ranging from Alpine to Marine. While the NRM cannot collect
       definitively in all these areas it does intend to feature the environmental
       framework of the region in its displays and will therefore only accept donations
       of accurately provenanced complete and entire collections of local floral or
       faunal specimens. The NRM will thus not seek to build floral or faunal
       collections from individual specimens. This decision is confirmed by the
       knowledge that the Australian Museum, Sydney, already holds substantial
       specimens of regional fauna.

iv.    Topics for NRM interpretation which may be supported by donated natural
       history collections include:
                The alpine zone including the prehistoric Antarctic Beech forests of
                Barrington Tops
                The uplands
                The valley floor
                Lakes and marshlands
                Littoral zones
                The marine environment

v.     White contact and the convict period (1788-1823): The founding of
       "Kingstown" by the British Government as a penal settlement extracting coal
       heralded phenomenal changes to the Hunter Valley that would occur with
       alarming speed. During this period the Aborigines were to become completely
       subjugated, cut from their land and left to re-adapt to the dominant system
       while Newcastle was run as a military camp. The likelihood of building a
       detailed collection from this period is improbable but the objective must be
       maintained
        Possible objects: Aboriginal breast plates, leg irons, clothing, tools, weapons,
        uniforms, personal effects.

 vi.    Rituals and belief in the Hunter: The Hunter Valley has an apparent
        predominance of church related and vocationally oriented groups and
        societies. Many of these functioning albeit with changed objectives and
        emphases. Groups such as Mechanics Institutes, Masonic Societies,
        Rechabites and Ancient Order of Foresters championed moral virtue and
        sober living thus providing a unique window into attitudes and social values
        now changed. Moreover, the study of this area provides a potential welter of
        objects to give both collection and display a rich material base.


        Possible objects: Ceremonial vestments, illuminated addresses, promotional
        material.

vii.    Sport, Leisure, Entertainment: The Hunter region may be said to typify
        "traditional" Australian interests covered by this theme. The immediacy of the
        sea has lured Novocastrians into beach and ocean sports and hobbies to a
        point where the community exhibits considerable skill at a variety of pursuits.
        Surfing, swimming, sailing, life-saving, water-skiing, sunbathing, beach
        jogging, power boat racing, wind surfing and diving are all popular within the
        community and have a rich history. Moreover, "traditional" sports and leisure
        activities are also widely practised. The NRM has an opportunity to collect and
        interpret some of these activities. This collection will be selective focusing on
        the range and impact of these activities on the community over time. The NRM
        will not seek to establish a trophy gallery but will work with the Hunter Region
        Sporting Hall of Fame to establish a database on all local sports people who
        excelled at local, national, and international sporting competition.
        Entertainment in the Hunter has also been a dominant social past time with
        theatre, film, music, community singing, and shopping being notable activities.
        The NRM has the opportunity to collect material relating to many of these
        activities.

        Possible objects: Products, advertising, oral histories, music sheets from
        community singing at the City Hall, shopping bags, furniture and fittings from
        popular cafes and theatres, personal effects from local performers.

viii.   The Castlemaine & Wood Bros. Brewery: The building that houses the NRM is
        an historic Newcastle landmark. During its restoration throughout the late
        1980's several tools and bottles were unearthed and are now housed within
        the NRM collection. Given this collection base and the display objective to fully
        interpret the building and its former role it is proposed to collect widely around
        the brewery theme. Moreover, such a collection would also give an insight into
        the history of beer making and the social attitudes towards its consumption.
        This would also tie in with the collection of memorabilia from the temperance
        movement which moved to abolish the success during the 1880's and 1890's.
            Possible objects: Testing equipment, bottles and glasses (relevant to the
            brewery), advertising media, brewery tools and office equipment.

8. CONCLUSION
   Through the implementation of this policy and in conjunction with scholarly research,
   the NRM collection will become a homogeneous group of objects accurately reflecting
   a past (and present) of the Newcastle and Hunter region. Through its judicious display
   and research the collection will combine to inform both our regional audience and
   visitors from further afield about this past. It is an ever present objective to place the
   distinctive features of the region into context with the experience of the rest of
   Australia, thus enabling the NRM to accurately define selected aspects of the natural
   history, science and technology, and social history of our region.

				
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