Thursday, February 8, 2018

Relocating the Museums library, archival and photographic material

The Research Centre - No. 9 Quality Row

This year is off to a running start with increased visitors to our museums and sales in The R.E.O. shop surpassing the total January 2017 sales already!  
Besides focusing on these very welcome additional visitors, behind the scenes we have been busy relocating the Norfolk Island Museum Trust’s collection of library, archival, photographic, audio and visual material from the Guardhouse building near Kingston Pier into the Research Centre at No. 9 Quality Row. This relocation project eventuated from conversations looking at opportunities to enhance the visitor experience within the Kingston Pier area. 
The Guardhouse building has safely housed this collection for many years, however as the collection grew it became packed to capacity, making it difficult to safely and comfortably access this great resource, and difficult to maintain the interior of the building. Areas of the interior walls had begun to leach salt and exposed stone and mortar created dust retaining moisture on the shelves and books, heavy rain resulted in leakages through the chimney.  The Guardhouse, now empty, can be developed more appropriately as an interpretation space for our visitors to learn more of the stories associated with the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area.
The new repository at No 9 Quality Row offers many advantages – it is clean, there is greater width between books shelves and filing cabinets, the windows have blinds to keep out the damaging UV rays, there is a ceiling fan to keep the air circulating and the room features two inbuilt cupboards with drying fixtures to store precious items away from high humidity levels.  Our Research Centre attendants are delighted with the move and look forward to utilising this material to complement their existing research resources. 
The relocation of this precious material was carefully managed by Norfolk Island Moving and Storage.  It was no mean feat relocating over one thousand books, three large double-sided book shelves, nine filing cabinets, oversized archival and map drawer cabinets, display material and equipment, and so much more. This project was made possible with the support of the Commonwealth’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.
In addition to the relocation activity, we have progressed with our Sirius Management Plan, a document that is a legislative requirement for the management and protection of the heritage values of the Sirius wreck site and relics.  Graeme Henderson, leader of the Sirius Project expeditions in the 1980’s, is the consultant engaged to undertake the review and update of this Plan.  Graeme has undertaken an enormous amount of work; in the lead up to his visit to Norfolk Island in December to meet with stakeholders and community and since his return back to Western Australia.  We are now at the stage of ‘almost’ a first draft.
Also, we’re looking forward to another Norfolk Island Museum Trust meeting early in February.  At this meeting I will have the pleasure of presenting more exciting ‘donations’ for Trustees to consider accessioning into our community collection.  We’ll let you know what they are as soon as we can!
And finally, don’t forget entry into the Museum is free for residents of Norfolk Island.  Check out our website for information on our venues and collections

Bamboo Mug

This unique bamboo mug was brought over from New Zealand by William (Bill) Gasson who believed it should be returned to Norfolk Island.  It belonged to his father, Corporal Jim Gasson of New Zealand’s ‘A’ Company during WWII. Bill isn’t sure how his father ended up with the mug; he assumes he was probably the last to drink out of it, ‘he was a real character’, said Bill.
The handmade mug is made from bamboo with a handle secured by screws, it has been varnished and handpainted with an ink drawing of an oversized allied serviceman putting his hand up to stop a proportionally smaller drawing of a tank carrying the Axis leaders, Hitler, Hirohiro and Mussolini, the artist is unknown. The caption reads ‘What-a-way-you ‘Little’ men’.  It also features fifty-two signatures of the New Zealand servicemen who were stationed here in 1943, it’s quite a treasure.
Bill also provided us with copies of part of Jim’s diary, as well as photographs of his time here.  Jim records the arrival of ‘A’ Company at Norfolk in April 1943. ‘Landing at Norfolk Island had a dash of excitement.  The transport lay half-a-mile off-shore and we loaded up with full equipment, rifle slung on back, and climbed down a landing net into a motor launch below.  It was typical of Army training that for the only exercise with some suggestion of danger we had been given no training at all’.
Jim writes of the time the ship ‘Ronaki’ stayed fast on the reef and the troops were given the job of unloading her over the side – ‘Our boys caught on to the possibilities with cases of cigarettes but those boxes were damned hard to break by dropping them on to the rocks.  We scored one box of ‘Lucky Strike’ and hid it under a big rock but a blasted MP came along and found it’.
Jim also assisted Stan Gazzard, owner and editor of ‘Nformation’, the local newsletter for the forces on the island during World War II. He says, ‘I found relaxation visiting Stan Gazzard, owner and editor of the local paper ‘Nformation’, which was a cyclostyled job. Stan persuaded my company commander to release me to help him produce the paper so I spent some time there.  Helping to produce the paper consisted of drinking his liquor and eating the sumptuous meals his sprightly young daughter cooked’.
The bamboo mug has been accessioned into the Norfolk Island Museum Trust Collection and will be on display in the Pier Store Museum once an appropriate display cabinet has been sourced.  A fantastic object to enhance our display on World War II and Norfolk Island.