At the AGM of the Lord Howe Island Historical Society and Museum on October 18, President Robyn Warner stepped down – after twenty years in the role.
Robyn has been an enthusiastic and effective leader at the Museum, and during her time oversaw many improvements to the building and displays.
Robyn’s report to the meeting is reproduced below.
At the AGM a new committee was elected:
President – Hayden King
Vice President – Ian Hutton
Secretary – Chris Murray
Treasurer – Kevin Rickard
Committee – Kellie Ellis, Anna Thompson and Meredith Dunford.
A slide show of Robyn Warner at various museum functions was played, and following the meeting there were drinks and a preview of the new Historical Gallery display.
President’s Report — AGM 18 October 2023
Welcome everybody, it is heartening to see many new members for the museum at our AGM, I hope that you become involved in the museum in ways that you can enjoy and contribute to its ongoing success.
It has been a few years since we have held an AGM – it was 2019 in fact. COVID came along and turned all our lives upside down, then various events in people’s lives delayed until now.
This gap in AGMs was sanctioned by the Department of Fair Trading for all Incorporated Associations who may not have been able to meet, owing to COVID. Throughout this turmoil we kept the museum open as often as possible – and coped with the masks, the sign in sheets, the social distancing, the sanitiser etc.
The highlight of the period since our last AGM has been that, through a generous grant from NSW government, we have been able to redesign our History Gallery. This has been very important – to be able to use the artefacts, archives, photographs, and skills in the community to present the unique story of LHI. We have called the display A Community History, The Family of Lord Howe Island; and we are a big family. As a reminder to young generations, and to visitors we feel we have been able to present it in a lively contemporary way. Ian may give more detail of this, and after the meeting I invite you to come and have look at this new part of the museum.
We did carry out some major maintenance projects as well – in 2020 re-oiling the front and rear decks; in 2022 we closed for a few weeks while the central floor area was sanded and oiled, with great skill by Neville Prout. We also had major sections of our boundary fence replaced.
As part of our Family history grant, we contracted John MacLulich to create a new website for the Museum. This has a new look, is more accessible and regularly updated with short blogs on various happenings in the museum, and regular digital newsletters sent to our members. The website has attracted a number of sponsors to assist with projects in the museum.
It is twenty years since I have been on the committee as President, and this year I am stepping down. I have enjoyed working with many committee members and helpers. In that time, we have managed some big projects. With George’s help, the design and construction of the annex for storage and workshop area, the new front veranda, and the new enlarged kitchen. Not to mention the many smaller projects such as the Pine desks, various shelves, front road sign, Coral Café sign. Ken Lipscombe was a great helper with George on these projects.
With grants from the NSW Government, the LHI Board and various private sponsors we have managed to complete the displays in the Environmental Gallery and now the History Gallery. We have tried to have as much local input into these, to bring out the best local knowledge, and give community a sense of pride and ownership. Many community members have been active in all this, reviewing plans, giving comments, helping with moving things around etc.
Peter van Dijk has been a great asset for the museum, from 2009 he became involved in setting up a very sophisticated computer system to digitise our archives. This has required continual upgrading and maintenance, which Peter does free of charge. This is becoming more important as we move the archives to the digital realm. With Peter’s advice we purchased a high-speed scanner and had volunteers assist, scanning all of the Signal newspapers into searchable PDFs, which make accessing key words, names, topics a matter of seconds. Our 6,000 photographs have been created as PDFs and the same search program can locate key words and people in our photographic archive. When internet came to the island, Peter has also set up and maintained a visitor internet facility which brings visitors to the museum, and has greatly aided our income, to allow us to carry out renovations and pay the bills.
In 2017, with the help of a few generous sponsors we negotiated the purchase of a large collection of books, maps, magazines and journals from Hans Reuckert. This now gives the Lord Howe Island Museum the largest collection of LHI books and maps in the world.
During the period we have had many old books, photograph albums and collections donated, which have been scanned and archived.
We have managed to work well with all of the tenants in the building – the Coral Café, Visitor Centre, shop, and lecture room. I thank everyone for working so well together.
We have had a great number of supporting members and community members who have helped us daily at the reception desk, answering visitors’ questions, selling the shop items and being there to welcome visitors. Through my twenty years we have lost a few of our helpers but we do remember them fondly – Thelma, Noni, Sue, Wal, Lance, Norma, just to name a few of our local “treasures.”
I am so pleased that the museum has become a popular meeting place for all ages of the community – we see various small groups of friends having lunches at the café; Mums with their babies, and the older children exploring the museum. Many regular visitors do like to come to the museum and meet up with Islander friends.