The University of New England Heritage Centre has won a national award for a popular exhibition it mounted in Armidale earlier this year.
The inaugural Museums & Galleries National Awards, including a “Highly Commended” award for the UNE exhibition, were announced last week at the Museums Australia and Interpretation Australia National Conference in Perth.
Through the Collector’s Lens: Dissecting “Booloominbah”, which was on show at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) from the 11th of February to the 15th of May 2011, used UNE’s important scientific, historical and cultural collections to explore the style and character of the grand late-nineteenth-century house around which the University has grown.
Through the Collector’s Lens, prepared by the University Curator, Ian Stephenson, and UNE Art Collection Manager, Michelle Arens, brought together an eclectic array of items in exploring the common theme of “Booloominbah”. Those items included basalt from UNE’s Mineral, Rock, Fossil and Drill Core Collection of the type that can been seen in the outer walls of “Booloominbah”, pressed specimens (from the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium) of hydrangeas and other plants found in the “Booloominbah” gardens, brightly coloured bird skins from the Zoology Museum, a soldier’s Crimean War diary from the UNE and Regional Archives, a blackboard from the Museum of Education recalling long division, ancient urns and vases from the Museum of Antiquities displaying patterns to be seen in the interior detailing of “Booloominbah”, and a Landseer steel engraving of a dog from the UNE Art Collection evoking the taste in pictures of the house’s original owner, Frederick Robert White.
The judges commended the UNE exhibition for “the quality of its research” and its “insight into the objects and their context, creating a picture and understanding of a remarkable historical New England home and its inhabitants through time”.
In welcoming the news of the award, Mr Stephenson said that the exhibition had been “done on a shoestring” but had been successful “because it made great use of the University’s talent and skill.”
“That involved drawing from our extensive scientific and cultural collections – probably the most significant aggregated collection of scientific and cultural material outside the capital cities – and bringing a team of specialists together to explain how the artefacts within their particular discipline could contribute to an understanding of the history and fabric of “Booloominbah”, he said. “The collections themselves, and the team – comprising Professor Jeremy Bruhl and Ian Telford of the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium, Dr Nigel Andrew of the Zoology Museum, Dr Nancy Vickery of Earth Sciences, Bill Oates (the University Archivist), Michelle Arens and myself – were the key.”
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here was taken on the opening night of the exhibition at NERAM in February.