Treasure trove: Richmond River Historical Society secretary Geoffrey Foley in the maritime section of the Lismore museum that beat 100 others in the nationwide award run by Radio National.
Treasure trove: Richmond River Historical Society secretary Geoffrey Foley in the maritime section of the Lismore museum that beat 100 others in the nationwide award run by Radio National. Jerad Williams

Museum makes history

THE Richmond River Historical Society and Museum has recorded the life and times of the region, from the original inhabitants to the days of the cedar runs with sailing ships plying the rivers, and local fauna and flora.

Yesterday the 64-year-old voluntary organisation was recognised for its exceptional work with the ABC Radio National 2010 Regional Museums Award, seeing off more than 100 museums across the country.

“We thought we would do well, but it was a very pleasant surprise to find out we got the top award,” the society’s secretary, Geoffrey Foley, said.

It was third time lucky for the museum. With the awards now in its third year, the society has twice won highly commended.

Entrants are judged on the historic value of the collection, how it relates to the local community, and how it is presented.

Mr Foley said, having twice been the runner-up, this year the society decided to take a slightly different tack and focus on its maritime collection, in particular the recently restored 1883 painting of the brigantine Lady Franklin which carried timber, a 1930 painting of the river steamer Britannia, and a ship’s medicine chest, complete with 100-year-old drugs.

The judges said they were impressed with the extent of the collection.

“We were impressed with the inclusive approach taken to local history, incorporating Bundjalung Aboriginal history alongside pastoralist settlement, the rich maritime history of the Richmond River and more recent changes,” the judges said.

“The historical society and museum is clearly demonstrating the importance of community service today as the front line for consolidating the value of historical resources, educational programs and a strong cultural future.”

Adding great depth to the 25,000 items in its permanent collection is the painstaking research volunteers have undertaken to trace the people who owned the items.

Unfortunately the award has no cash prize to help the society restore and maintain its collection, but Mr Foley is hopeful it willassist when applying for grants.

Its primary source of funding will remain the historical publications it produces.



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