Kandos Industrial Museum Lives

Image 1

I’ve mentioned the local museum in a previous post and that I hoped it would reopen soon. The building is special to me as it is the closest relation in town to the Convent with its distinctive Spanish mission style architecture.

Unfortunately it has been dogged by controversy and conflict over the last year or so which led to it being closed to the public mid last year. The Council have now committed to funding renovations and are handing ownership of the property over to the community via what will be a newly formed incorporated association.

Action is happening quickly with packers moving in this week to pack and store parts of the collection so renovations can begin. After all the past controversy, it is encouraging and inspiring to see the community get behind this project. The Museum is important to the locals as both the repository of their history and as a potential attraction to visitors and they are justly proud of the collection that they have built themselves.

The Museum is distinctive in that it reflects Kandos’s heritage as an industrial town – with a twentieth century past that has been forged out of mining and the cement works that founded the town. Unlike most rural museums, it is less pastoral and focuses on industries that flourished during the period of heroic nation-building. The collection has been described as idiosyncratic – it has it’s quirky elements such as the cement dress which was constructed by an HSC student and the Lady Bushranger’s teapot, but it also has a fascinating collection from cement and mining works which have played such an important and often undervalued role in building our country. These elements are often overlooked as we prefer to romanticise our pastoral heritage.

Over the past few days I’ve been helping record the museum collection as it gets packed and it has been a pleasure to meet the founding members who have popped in with words of encouragement. A sense of excitement is growing as we can see the Museum having a new lease of life (and a facelift).

The plan is that it will reopen prior to the town’s centenary celebrations over the October long weekend. There’s an enormous amount of work to do to get us to that point but if the level of support received so far is any indication, we’ll get there and have a grand reopening.

Kandos Museum

Kandos Museum

One of the first places I visited in Kandos was the Museum, where helpful and knowledgeable volunteers cheerfully showed me volumes of directories on the history of the Convent.

I consider the building to be a “sister” to the Convent given it is also built in Spanish Mission style. It was originally a Methodist Church and was built under the direction of the superintendent of the cement works in the style of Californian buildings of the time. It has since become the Kandos Bicentennial Industrial Museum and pays homage to the unique nature and heritage of Kandos, as a twentieth century industrial town.

The building is quite grand and a somewhat unexpected structure to find in the town (like, I can talk) and I could easily see James Stewart and Grace Kelly in a scene somewhere in the ramparts up high under the watchful eye of Alfred Hitchcock.

Unfortunately the museum has been closed for some months but the Council are now taking steps to give it to the community to run and manage. The Museum plays and important role, both in conserving the heritage of the town but also as a tourist attraction. I’m hopeful it will shortly have a new lease of life.