Volunteers from the Rylstone District Historical Society have been visiting museums around the region, picking up ideas to revitalise the society’s Cottage Museum.
The cottage museum is positioned at the rear of the Bridge View Inn grounds, a property which belongs to the Historical Society and also includes an old slab structure and a kitchen block, along with the inn itself, “the gem of our collection”.
The cottage was moved to the site and stocked with memorabilia and items of local historical interest from the late 1800s to the 1920s.
The Rylstone District Hospital Cottage Museum think tank is strategising “how to make the most of the opportunities we’ve got up there.”
The group visited Mudgee and Gulgong museums in recent weeks, to see how other groups managed, what issues they had faced, and how they overcame them.
The group will report back to the whole Historical Society by the middle of the year, with ideas for making the Cottage Museum more accessible and sustainable in the long term.
“We might all be passionate but I think we’ve got to pass that on, make it easy for people to step into our shoes,” said think tank member Jeannette McCarthy.
Ideas include expanding the family history resources, finding the stories that connect to items in the collection, and involving more members in the museum’s operation.
Ms McCarthy said one of the challenges faced by the Cottage Museum was that its curator was an outstanding source of local knowledge, but the knowledge was not stored anywhere for a time when the curator was no longer around.
The think tank members said sometimes problems faced by historical societies seemed insurmountable, but talking to other groups who faced them, either successfully or unsuccessfully, allowed the issues to be either resolved or accepted and let progress continue.
Ms McCarthy said different groups approached museum management differently, depending on their interests and passions, but all were united by “that shared passion for preserving what we’ve got and sharing it about.”