The Museum holds many documents relating to the island’s history: Lord Howe Island Board reports on various aspects of the island. These include documents involved in preparation for World Heritage Listing in 1982. Various original diaries, shop ledger books and lodge guest books donated by island families. Telegrams between the Board and the NSW government …
The Museum holds an extensive collection of Island newspapers.
The first local newspaper started in the 1930s, written by Will Whiting. In 1954 Jim Whistler and Trevor Nixon commenced the The Signal. This was hand typed and reproduced on a spirit and ink print press known as a Gestetner. More recently the newspaper was reproduced with a photocopier machine. Jim had a break from September 1987 to October 1988 when Daphne Nichols produced a newspaper called Sailo.
Jim then again ran the The Signal until 2006 when Barney Nichols took it over and ran it until October 2014. Then Stephen Sia took over its operation, using a team of local contributors.
The collection also includes many mainland newspaper and magazine clippings relating to Lord Howe Island.
The Museum received a grant from the Lord Howe Island Board to purchase a high speed scanner. In 2019 the entire collection of local Signal newspapers was scanned as searchable PDFs, enabling rapid search of names, words etc, and these are available in the museum on computers and iPad for residents, visitors and researchers.
A recent major acquisition, the maps and books of collector Hans Rueckert are now on display in the Historical Gallery and the Library. The backbone of the library is a recently acquired collection from Hans Reuckert. Hans lived on the island in the 1970s and 1980s and collected books and maps from sources all around …
The Museum holds numerous reference books on the island’s discovery, early history and whaling. The Lord Howe Island Museum now holds the world’s largest single collection of Lord Howe Island historical books. Some of these are on display in cabinets in the Historical Gallery; others are locked securely away but can be viewed in the …
At the time of forming the original museum in 1978, the Curator Jim Dorman had collected many artefacts and items from the community.
There is a wealth of items illustrating the island’s past – communication equipment from the Aviation Department; everyday household items, farming equipment such as cream separators and corn huskers, whaling implements (donated by Ian Kiernan); shipwreck items including the ship’s bell from the S.S. Ovalau donated by Greg and Ellis Whitfield
In 2004 PhD student Kimberley Owens carried out a project on the early archaeology of the island. During this research she excavated several sites and uncovered what is believed to be the 1834 foundations of the very first cottage on the island, buried under sand in the Old Settlement paddock. She uncovered over 3,000 artefacts which, along with her research papers, are all lodged at the museum.
Many models can be found in the Museum – ships, aeroplanes, animals, birds, and geological structures. The Museum houses quality models of various items. These include two of the First Fleet ships, Supply and Lady Penrhyn, involved with Lord Howe Island’s discovery; the 1850s American whaling ship Charles W Morgan; the SS Morinda that serviced …
There are several collections of natural history items endemic to Lord Howe Island – from snail shells to stuffed birds. The collections of natural history items include marine snail shells collected and donated by many residents; collections of rock types found on the island; skeletons of other marine organisms; a collection of taxidermed birds that …
The Museum is home to many original artworks, photographs and limited edition prints.
• original black and white photographs hand printed by Max Dupain in the 1970s, donated by his daughter Danina Anderson.
• two of Jack Earl’s original oil paintings – one depicting the Supply at the time of discovery of Lord Howe Island; the other depicting the early Island trading boat Sylph in a storm off Ball’s Pyramid.
• three original paintings by Irwin Weber done in the 1970s.
• a set of two Island bird posters done by artist Kevan Hardacre in the 1980s.
• several prints of extinct birds from 1790 publications.
• original artworks by local artist Margaret Murray as part of the Environmental Gallery displays.
• a watercolour commissioned by the owner of the ship Ovalau that burnt off Lord Howe Island in 1903.
On display in the Historical Gallery are several maps of Lord Howe Island dating from the mid 1800s, including some rare first editions. The prize of our collection is an original 1853 map, prepared from data given to a Sydney mapmaker by the British research ships Herald and Torch in 1851. The map shows detailed …