Cultural Heritage Significance in Specialist and Local History Collections

Collections across Victoria focus on everything from 19th century or contemporary local history, to gliding, medicine, botany, shipwrecks, protest marches, education, and beyond. Every possible aspect of our history is represent in some format in the 500 or so collections found in buildings, barns and back rooms around the state. The caretakers of these collections are the backbone of Australia’s cultural heritage. They manage, collect, preserve, interpret, display and research. They make these collections publicly available for enjoyment, education and further research. They provide meaning (significance) to the community they represent.
— E Russell, History@Work, "Significance Assessments and Community Collections" in INSITE, Museums Australia (Victoria), June 2008

A large part of my work has been significance assessments of collections like the ones I've described above. One of the great things about doing history work in the community is the number of places you get to visit, things you see, and people you meet. Most are not professionally trained  in history, heritage, collection management or museum work, but all are passionate, dedicated and an absolute font of knowledge. There is no doubt I've got as much from them as they have from me and their significance assessment. The benefits and process of a significance assessment is described in the article above, if you are interested you can read it in my Scrapbook in this blog.

The specialist collections I have assessed include:

  • Australian Racing Museum, with Sonia Jennings
  • Fire Services Museum
  • Gliding Museum
  • Scouts Victoria Museum and Historical Collection
  • Southern Health Historical Collection
  • St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Archives and Historical Collection

The local history collections I have assessed are:

  • Memory Victoria Project - 56 public library local history collections around the state. With Lesley Alves, Tsari Anderson, Claire Sandell, Michelle Summerton, Kim Torney
  • Man From Snowy River Museum, Corryong
  • Bank of Victoria Museum, Yackandandah
  • Casterton Historical Society Museum, with Vicky Ryan
  • Ambleside Museum and Knox Historical Society, Ferntree Gully
  • Maffra Suger Beet Museum, Maffra
  • Port of Echuca
  • Port Welshpool Maritime Museum
  • Sorrento Museum, Nepean Historical Society, Sorrento
  • Upper Yarra Museum, Yarra Junction
  • Williamstown Historic Museum, Williamstown