On Wednesday 17th November I travelled to Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill, which at this stage is the only regional site contributing to the Museum Metadata Exchange project. Sovereign Hill is administered by The Sovereign Hill Museums Association and is made up of an open air museum, representing life on Ballarat’s early goldfields, and the Gold Museum.
At Sovereign Hill I presented the project to Matthew Kaess, IT & Communications Manager and MME Site Coordinator, and Tim Sullivan, Deputy CEO and Museums Director. We discussed how collection groupings could incorporate Sovereign Hill’s range of buildings, artefacts and assets and also the collections of the Ballarat Historical Society, which they manage. We also looked at how collection descriptions, created for other projects, could be used.
Following the presentation I met with Elwyn Blood, who is progressively carrying out inventories of all Sovereign Hill’s outdoor museum buildings and their contents. She was a wealth of information and I was very lucky to be given a tour of the site and told some of the stories behind the buildings and objects. She had many ideas for collection groupings and kindly gave me access to information she has compiled about each building and its contents.
Later I met with Roger Trudgeon, Deputy Director, Museums at Sovereign Hill and Manager/Curator of the Gold Museum, who took me through the Museums’ cataloguing processes and showed me their Collection Management System, Inmagic. Roger explained that they have built up their object classification schemes over many years, but they are based on ‘Summerfield’s ‘Historical Collections Classification Scheme’ and ‘The Small Museums Cataloguing Manual Supplements- Classification and Authority Lists’. They have had to extend these terminologies over time to deal with specific areas of Sovereign Hills’ collections, such as mining.
The next morning I collated some additional collection ideas and squeezed in another visit to the outdoor museum before it was time to leave.
This year marks Sovereign Hill’s 40th anniversary and while my visit coincided with the lead up to a huge week of birthday celebrations, everyone was very generous with their time while I was there. Thanks Sovereign Hill and Happy Birthday!
Image Credit: Drawer from Collector’s Cabinet 2000/118/1. Powerhouse Museum Collection