Treasures of Townsville go on display

“Treasures” of north Queensland, some never previously available for public viewing before this year, are being exhibited at the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery as part of JCU’s 50th birthday celebrations.

JCU Library’s 50 Treasures is an exhibition exploring the people, places, and events that have shaped northern Queensland, featuring rare and precious artefacts including original manuscripts and artworks from the JCU Library Special Collections.

Bronwyn McBurnie, Manager Special Collections and curator of the 50 Treasures Exhibition, said the items are considered treasures because they hold historical value for north Queensland.

“We’ve chosen a stunning collection selection of rare and precious artefacts,” she said. “Together, they showcase more than 150 years of history and give us valuable insights into life on the land, in our towns, and on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Helen Hooper, Director, JCU Library and Information Services, said the exhibition has been an important way of making the region’s history more accessible to the general public.

“As part of celebrating our 50th birthday year, each week we’ve highlighted different treasures and placed them on display in the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library,” she said.

“Some of these treasures have never before been placed on public display so it has been very exciting to display them at the library on campus and now at the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery.”

Townsville Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson Ann-Maree Greaney said it was fantastic to have the pieces from the JCU Special Collection at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery.

“With art, artefacts, and treasures such as these, we are treated to a rich sample of North Queensland life and culture,” Cr Greaney said.

“Collections such as these are so important because they show us who we are, who we have been, and hopefully who we will be.”

Of the 50 treasures, Ms McBurnie said her favourites include Ray Crooke’s painting Last night in Normanton, and the unpublished manuscript of author Jean Devaney.

“We have been given very special permission from the family to share the manuscript, which is about Magnetic island,” she said. “One of our librarians has recorded the first chapter to include in the exhibition and bring the manuscript to life.”

Ms Hooper said there are so many intriguing, rare, and unique treasures in the exhibition it’s hard to pick a favourite.

“I have to say that Rose Popham’s Autograph Album, the Victorian Lady’s Sketchbook, and the beautiful Croydon Silk Newspaper are stand outs,” she said.

“It’s also difficult to overlook the Investigator maquette which usually resided in my office. It’s described as a crocodile submarine and is based on the research equipment used in the sciences; like a research submersible for the fine arts.

“It’s very steampunk and I think a perfect interpretation of the melding of the arts and sciences, making it uniquely JCU.”

The exhibition opens this weekend and will run until 10th January 2021.

The treasures come from the JCU Art Collection, Sir Charles Maurice Yonge Collection, NQ collection, Shaw Collection of Australian Art & Culture, Bragge Collection, Rare book Collection and Library Archives Collection.

Learn about the 50 Treasures before visiting: https://nqheritage.jcu.edu.au/view/exhibitions/fifty=5Ftreasures.html

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