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Bulletin 10: 16 July 2016, heritage matters at PHM

Hi everyone

Lots of things are happening. Thanks largely to the work of Lindsay Sharp, who was the first director of the new PHM in 1978, lobbying efforts are increasing and many preparations are being made for the Legislative Council inquiry. There is a lot of activity among the various groups, but please consider taking an active part in the inquiry process by making your own submission regarding the relocation of the museum to Parramatta.

However, if you have an idea, an item of data, or useful background material, and you do not want to make a submission yourself, email it to me and it will not be overlooked.

In this bulletin:

Progress of the Upper House inquiry

At a meeting of a group from the Powerhouse Museum Alliance yesterday the matter of submissions was a major topic. The PMA encourages people to make their views known.

From Grace Cochrane: how to make a submission to the Upper House inquiry. If you are on other mailing lists you have probably received it. It is attached to emailed bulletins and the terms of reference are also online here.

some basic points on the submission not covered by Grace

Submissions should be kept short and in plain language. They will be acted on as they are received, and though the due date is 14 August it could be an advantage not to be in the 'last minute' entries. The office people of the inquiry chairman, Robert Borsak, are deeply involved and they impress with their skills and enthusiasm.

A second booklet

Again, with the help of many people, a new booklet is in the final stages of preparation. The first booklet dealt with the heritage values of the buildings, but a museum is far more than this. The new booklet, based on the talk recently given to the Pyrmont Historical Group, discusses other aspects of the institution's heritage, eg the history of the museum, the significance of the exhibits on this site and in this building, the importance of the museum as a marker of the bicentenary, the damage being done to our national reputation by this process, and the history of the people attached to the museum. It also discusses the financial aspects of the move: the presently announced financial plans are ludicrous.

The latest draft can be found in .pdf form here. Any comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated: we hope to finalise the booklet in about 2 weeks.

“And now for something completely different……”

Perhaps we can take advantage of the inquiry to get better communication between the museums and the public, namely by encouraging the revival of the practice of having a formal arrangement between the museums and groups such as historical societies and specialist historical groups. If you are interested, read on!

As you can see by downloading the inquiry terms of reference from here, the inquiry is not just about the relocation of the museum . It gives an opportunity to examine wider issues.

Traditionally, museums such as PHM have had ‘affiliated societies’ – groups of enthusiasts in various fields with whom the museum has co-operated. The best list of these societies affiliated with PHM that I can find is online.

Over recent years, particularly at PHM, interaction with these societies has diminished. They were listed in the Annual Report until the current 2014-15 report, but there has not been a lot of activity in this area for some years.

It seems to make sense that the various groups should co-operate with the museums. This could be a two-way street: the museums could assist the societies by providing, for example, meeting rooms at a cost-only basis, while the members of the societies could assist with providing expert advice.

Shortly emails will be sent to groups for which we have contact details, asking if the idea appeals. If so a submission could be made to the inquiry asking that government policy should be to encourage museums to take this kind of action.

In the meantime, if you have any comments, please email me and I will collect them.

(The terms of reference for the inquiry include

c. Opportunities to revitalise the structure, reach, and impact of museums and galleries, and their research and collecting priorities

d. Access to the collections of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the Australian Museum and any other state collections held in trust for the people of New South Wales, and programs that promote physical and online access

g. The impact of the efficiency dividend on the budgets of museums and galleries over the last 10 years, and funding levels compared to other states)

Thanks for the support you are giving to this little endeavour. Please keep in contact! Let me have the emails of any of your friends who might be interested in this matter!