PROJECTS: ORGANISATIONS WITH PAID STAFF
WINNER: Cairns Historical Society for Reimagining Cairns Museum
The reimagining of the Cairns Museum was a seven-year project for the Cairns Historical Society and represented an enormous undertaking for the volunteer-run Society, supported by funding from Cairns Regional Council. The process included external consultation and volunteer workshops that resulted in key themes for a renewed Cairns Museum and a vision, ‘To reveal the past and engage with the present of Cairns as a tropical city’.
The Museum opened in July 2017 and now operates with 2.4 paid staff and ongoing support from Council.
The strategic planning process for the ‘reimagining’ investigated the role of a Museum in a regional city, the existing cultural infrastructure, and the significance of the existing CHS collection. It created a contemporary thematic framework ‘Living in the Tropics’ that became the foundation for delivering a Museum that was about the past and the present of Cairns as a tropical city, rather than a more generic Museum about the olden days.
In addition to the extensive work around the existing collection, the project also engaged with two Traditional Owner groups and supported a volunteer curator who worked with a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island families for more than two years to bring their stories into the Museum, to be told and be displayed in Cairns for the first time.