(Pictured above is an example of an immersive, interactive display from the National ANZAC Centre, Albany, WA. Credit Lee Griffith Photography)
Visitors stepping across the threshold into the city’s new Museum and Gallery would immediately be immersed in stimulating and interactive permanent exhibitions telling the stories of the Gumbaynggirr people and broader community using a quality range of contemporary audio, visual and digital displays, as well as fascinating artefacts.
‘Stories of Coffs’ and ‘Welcome to Country’ Gumbaynggirr exhibitions are planned to be the centrepiece of the new Museum and Gallery, designed by Council staff together with specialist museum design consultants to wrap around and grab the attention of visitors from the very first moment.
“Today’s museums focus on the visitor experience and visitors these days expect a lot more than simply to look at ‘old things’,” said Jo Besley, Council’s Gallery and Museum Curator. “They want them brought to life and made interactive in exciting and thought-provoking ways.
“Museums are now about education, lifelong learning and pleasure. We all want to see our identity and history told in an exciting and inclusive way.
“Nostalgia and community pride are very important, but our stories can be told in a way that stimulates the viewer and really makes them think about the past – and its relevance to the present experience of living in the Coffs Coast region.”
Ms Besley explained that Museums are no longer places to ‘warehouse’ old and valuable objects, but are fun, welcoming and inclusive places to spend your leisure time.
They also play an important role in conserving the collections they showcase by ensuring they are contained in quality displays with atmospheric controls that keep artefacts safe for the future.
“Across the world, visiting museums and galleries is the most popular form of cultural tourism and here in Coffs Harbour we will have the newest and most significant museum/gallery between Newcastle and the Gold Coast,” she added.
The ‘Welcome to Country’ would be created in partnership with the Gumbaynggirr community and designed specifically for the space. Its design will be led by an Indigenous artist or media specialist.
‘Stories of Coffs’ would present the social history of the Coffs Coast, showcasing much more than has previously been able to be shown of the Museum’s existing, significant collections of textiles, furniture, transport, domestic items, work and domestic tools, photographs and other resources.
The exhibitions would be designed to be in place for eight to 10 years with sections that can periodically be changed or updated. Entry to the permanent exhibitions will be free.
Councillors last night agreed to consider an allocation of $734,606 in 2021/22 and a further $1,151,719 in 2022/23 to fund the new permanent exhibitions. Staff will also seek grants and other external funding sources.