Sunday 15 May 2011

History – the missing link!?

Words? Surely not. It’s a museum... it should be about objects, items and maybe old photographs. Some words are permitted, but only to interpret or describe an object in the collection. Anyway – people go to a museum to look and see, not to read!

It may be wise to remember that most small museums across metropolitan and regional Australia were established by historical societies. These societies were normally founded to document, preserve, research, publish and promote local history. This is well served with a museum and a museum is a worthy endeavour, but what about that history?

What about the items not in the collection? What about the people – upstanding, struggler, ordinary citizen or otherwise – who don’t have any connection to any of the museum’s objects? Are their stories not worth telling? Are we only interested in a story that has an aesthetic object to accompany it?

We've tried very hard to keep some of our focus on history, and not just running our museum. Objects in our collection tell some valuable stories, but we want the whole picture. We also want to preserve otherwise unrecorded history just as we want to preserve the objects in our collection.

Our way of doing this has been to compile a database of past residents. It’s an ambitious endeavour, but we’re trying to tell the story of everyone who has ever lived in the district. Rather than document the history by chapter we instead decided to do it person by person.

The result? Well we think it’s working! Everyone and everything wins. Our museum and its collection are enriched by valuable information and documented history (so the museum really didn’t suffer for losing some attention!). We get more people interested in Carnamah’s past and wanting to visit our museum. Almost 20,000 people a year look at our database on our website from all over Australia and the world. Best of all – our masses of information is arranged by person, and as a local museum it’s usually a person that our patrons and visitors are interested in.

History (full stop).

What do you think? Please comment!


Anonymous said...

I love the way this guy talks about history and the way he presents it to us. I have had the luck to talk to him in person and his passion and enthusiasm is undiminished by stuffiness or boring rhetoric. Onward

Anonymous said...

My name is Tracy Joanne Strahan[higgins]Ive found alot of my family history right here on this web site I keep comming back to it my granparents grategrand parents aunties uncles so much family all started here and there still more to find i need help to fit it all together please help...

Carnamah Historical Society said...

Hi Tracy and thanks for your message. We'll send you an e-mail :)