My work as a heritage consultant and historical researcher, takes me to many places across the globe and many types of heritage structures and institutions some of which would not consider themselves as museums.
I have learned that comparing museums across the world is not the best way to enjoy or to review them. Their merit should be based on their content, curation, display and ability to engage publics, bearing in mind they may be on quite difficult funding, personal and space constraints. I therefore have only one scale, in that I divide museums into “large” (often national), “medium” and “small”.
One of the interesting recent museum visits was to the Warship & Marine Corps Museum on the striking East coast of Tasmania. This is a small museum tucked away on a side street off the main street in the small town of St. Helens.
This museum includes over 10,000 artefacts passionately collected by curator Brian Morrison over a period of 55 years and now displayed in eight rooms of varying size. The eclectic yet specifically maritime collection really is a treasure throve.
As ex-merchant navy man, Mr. Morrison was drawn to collect and preserve Tasmania’s rich colonial maritime history. But the collection includes many artefacts that are not related to Tasmania and a few date back over 600 years.
I was amazed to find in this collection a life-buoy from the First World War German cruiser SMS Königsberg, destroyed in the Rufuji Delta, Tanzania, as well as images of Rear-Admiral Herbert King-Hall. All of this is very much part of my family history and a narrative I never expected to interact with in Tasmania, let alone in St. Helens.Museum Information: http://warshipmuseum.com