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New Nimbin museum could show how Aquarius changed the world

RUINED: The remains of the Kombi van at the Nimbin Museum, destroyed by fire last Wednesday morning. The building’s owner plans to rebuild and says the museum could be a tenant of the new building.
RUINED: The remains of the Kombi van at the Nimbin Museum, destroyed by fire last Wednesday morning. The building’s owner plans to rebuild and says the museum could be a tenant of the new building. Cathy Adams

FROM the ashes of the Nimbin Museum, there are hopes a new, purpose-built museum could take its place.

Museum founder Michael Balderstone told The Northern Star it might be time to build "a normal museum".

"People were always trying to give me stuff, but I was hesitant to take it because the nature of the museum was that we couldn't store it or show it off properly," he said.

Mr Balderstone said there was a possibility there could be tourism or heritage grants to do an Aquarius museum.

"We're not looking as silly as we were 40 years ago... permaculture, organic gardening, solar power, sustainable living; every one of the ideas (from Aquarius) is mainstream now - apart from drug law reform," he said.

"Nimbin is as busy as ever and people are curious. People want to visit Nimbin and see what we're on about."

Southern Cross University and the Mitchell Library have extensive collections of material relating to the Aquarius Festival and its impact on the region and beyond.

Graham Irvine is an adjunct fellow with SCU's School of Law and Justice and caretaker of SCU's Aquarius collection, currently housed at the Goonellabah branch of the Richmond Tweed Regional Library while renovations are done at SCU.

He said there have been discussions in the past about setting something up in Nimbin, including at the sustainable house project at 7 Sibley St.

"It's a bit premature to be talking now, but I would be in favour of the creation of a proper museum... or in a partnership in rebuilding a purpose-built museum," he said.

"We have a lot of visual material and could mount a permanent exhibition of posters and banners and artefacts. In order to encourage people to keep coming in we could do small exhibitions that change every few weeks or months."

The building's owner, Sydney businessman Richard Andary, said it was too early to say what his plans are.

"I'm looking at rebuilding, that's foremost what we need to do, but there are a lot of things to consider with the council," he said.

Asked whether he supported the idea of a purpose-built museum he said, "The museum (Michael Balderstone) was a tenant and would have rights under the existing lease to become a tenant again in the new building.

"I am sad and distressed by what's happened and for the community and we'll do our best to make good."

Topics:  aquarius festival, nimbin fire, nimbin museum




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