Skip to main content

Roving Curators provide assistance in the establishment of the Deny King Heritage Museum

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

In 2009, Melaleuca, a remote location in the Tasmanian South West Conservation Area, was listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.  That same year, The Friends of Melaleuca, a branch of Wildcare Inc, was formed.  

The Friends of Melaleuca were keen to create a museum to preserve and display cultural heritage objects from the site and provide interpretation of the unique cultural and natural history of the area including reference to themes of tin mining, remote area living and the geology of the area.

The museum is located in a building constructed in 1990 by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. It was originally a bird observation hide, named in honour of local tin miner and naturalist Deny King. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service have supported the use of this building as a museum.  

Friends of Melaleuca applied to Arts Tasmania for Roving Curator assistance to develop an Interpretation Plan and funding for the design, printing and installation interpretation at the museum. In 2016, they received $9 217 and 8 days of Roving Curator time.

Roving Curator Melissa Smith made a site visit to the museum building by light aircraft, as there are no roads to Melaleuca. Dhe worked with several volunteers from the Friends of Melaleuca (including professional curators, a photographer and an ecologist) and a graphic designer to plan the interpretation and how it would be presented at the site.

Research of family archives, historical records and government reports and development of the interpretation material was undertaken by the volunteers with support from Melissa. Volunteers with specialist knowledge and experts in various fields were consulted and photographs from family, friends and visitors connected to Melaleuca were sourced. Historic images were contributed by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office. The material was then refined and edited for inclusion on interpretation panels and the graphic designer developed the designs.

Seventeen interpretation panels were matt laminated and mounted to aluminium composite, taking into consideration the damp climate at Melaleuca.  These travelled by boat and were installed in the museum by the volunteers.  A number of display cases were also constructed specifically for objects selected for display.

The isolation of the museum, provided challenges for the Friends of Melaleuca and necessitated comprehensive planning and detailed measurements to be taken during the initial site visit.  The workload in developing the final text and sourcing the photographs was also greater than anticipated.  

The new museum significantly enhances the experience for visitors at Melaleuca, engaging them with the lives of the people who lived and worked there, and provides a deeper understanding of both the cultural and natural history of the location.

Click here for more information about the Roving Curator program

Read more about the Deny King Heritage Museum at Melaleuca here.

Image: Welcome panel at the Museum, design Lea Walpole and installation of aviation panel, Denny King Museum, Melaleuca. Photographer:  Janet Fenton