Julie Harris, our Guest Speaker on Jan. 30, is part of the “Harris dynasty” of newspaper owners. Seen at right with Rot’n Wayne Richards, Julie is also a member of the Burnie Concert Band. Her talk, though, was based on the activities of the Friends of the Regional Museum in Burnie, of which she is President.
At the recent Australia Day ceremony in Burnie, the Friends were acknowledged for creating the Community Event of the Year – the re-opening of Federation Street at the Museum in March 2022. This recognition was very gratifying, Julie said.
The Burnie Museum opened in 1971 and at that time it was the only such museum in Australia – largely due to the initiative and hard work of Peter Mercer and his staff in the 1940’s in establishing Federation Street based on authentic 19th Century architecture and objects.
Julie said; “What a shock it was when the Burnie Council closed the museum in 2020-21, including Federation St.” However, relying solely on volunteers, the Friends were able to keep the street open to visitors for a limited time each week. This surprised the Council!
Julie also reported that Laura Courto started as Curator of the Museum in October 2022. Laura has recently graduated with a PhD from Cambridge University.
Julie continued; “We have good links with UTas and local schools and we often receive donations made directly to the Volunteers!”
She listed some of the many significant historical collections that are housed in the Museum, e.g., those from APPM, David Chalk, Emu Bay Railway, Marine Board, Van Diemen’s Land, etc. plus around 1,000,000 photos from the Advocate newspaper archives and over 340,000 photos from Winter’s Photo Studios. Many of the latter are glass negatives and the quality of the photos made from these is simply astonishing! Some of these are currently on display in the Burnie Art Gallery – well worth a look!
Julie predicted the Museum might soon have more staff than before it closed down!