Roslyn Russell, Kylie Winkworth
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
ISBN 97 80977544363 (pbk)
In situ collections
Photo: George Serras. Reproduced courtesy of the National Museum of Australia
The appeal of many historic places resides in holding the items that were used in the place in the lifetimes of those whose stories are told there.
Indigenous communities look after items of particular significance to their culture in keeping places within the community. Some works of Indigenous art are deemed to be so significant that they must never leave a community permanently. For example, a large work, the Ngurrara canvas painted c. 1977 by a number of artists at Fitzroy Crossing, WA, was brought to Canberra to demonstrate to federal politicians debating amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 in Parliament House the community's knowledge and ownership of its country. The Indigenous community at Fitzroy Crossing has decided that the canvas must never be allowed to leave the community permanently.
If circumstances, such as the sale of a property, dictate that items must leave their place of use, the items should be thoroughly documented, both by photographs and by recording the stories of those who lived in the place or used the items.
In late 2004 a team from the National Museum of Australia spent several weeks at Springfield Station, in the Southern Tablelands south of Goulburn, packing and documenting nearly 1500 items relating to the history of this pioneering merino sheep station. The Springfield collection comprises material highlighting aspects of the pastoral economy (for example, shearing equipment, wool samples, framed photos of stud rams) as well as all the paraphernalia of the household. The collection illustrates the everyday lives of the property owners, the Faithfull and Maple-Brown families, from the early 1800s until the present day.
The current owners of Springfield, Jim and Pamela Maple-Brown, Jim's sister Diana Boyd and their extended families are aware of the significance of the historical items relating the property to a wider group of people.
Thorough documentation, including extensive photography, has meant that as much of its context as possible was captured before the significant Springfield collection left its place of origin, making it possible for the National Museum to convey its rich stories in the future.
1 C Cooper, 'The Springfield Collection: an exemplary cultural gift', Friends Magazine, National Museum of Australia, vol. 16, no. 1, March 2005, pp. 6–9.
Significance in action
Significance assessment applications and case studies
- Conservation treatment
- Collection risk assessment
- Collection care
- Copying and digitisation
- Collection analysis and policy development
- In situ collections
- Shared collections
- Exhibitions and interpretation
- Online exhibitions
- Online access and education
- Assessing cultural heritage website quality
- Nominating to a register
- Applying for a grant
- Advocacy and resourcing
- Fundraising and promotion
- Thematic studies and regional surveys
- Collections mapping
- Significance training