The doors are open


COFFS HARBOUR'S Bunker Cartoon Gallery and Historical Museum are to be united under a single management body.

Coffs Harbour City Council last week agreed to take over the running of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery and its permanent collection and to expand the gallery's management board to include representatives with interests in the museum.

The council was responding to a request from the board of management of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc following meetings between its president, Warren Grimshaw, and Coffs Harbour City Council staff.

The council currently contributes $50,000 annually to the operation of the cartoon gallery.

The decision will mean that professional expertise and costs can be shared between the two bodies.

The Coffs Harbour Historical Museum was closed in December 2004 after the Coffs Harbour Historical Society folded and the museum's collection was handed over to the stewardship of Coffs Harbour City Council.

The museum's collection includes a number of interesting maritime artifacts, including the optic (lens) removed from the South Solitary Island lighthouse when it was automated.

A former long-serving historical society member, Dulcie Martin, said anything that opened the museum's doors was a good move.

"Our history is dying ? no one knows it, after all the work we put into it," said Mrs Martin, who worked at the museum every day for six months to save the collection from floodwaters that poured through the building in November, 1996.

Mrs Martin, nee Duncan, is a descendant of the 25th family to settle in Coffs Harbour.

The amalgamation will allow the Bunker Cartoon Gallery's director, Dr Leigh Summers, to work with the museum's collection.

Yesterday Dr Summers, who is a museum curator as well as an art curator, said the decision was the best possible outcome for the museum to be re-opened in the shortest possible time.

She is also keen to refine the collection and begin engaging with the community.

"There are many excellent volunteers at the Bunker who are willing to assist in the process and make the museum shine," Dr Summer said. "And we will shortly be calling for other volunteers.

"The Museum has an astonishing collection of maritime history ? the lighthouse would be the most iconic artefact ? but it also has a wonderful collection of glass plate negatives documenting the fishing and timber industries."

She said there were also quirky collections like old movie theatre equipment and some extremely interesting and rarely-documented textiles from around 1915 as well as 'other little gems like diaries'.

At last Thursday's council meeting, Cr David Featherstone said it would be much better if the museum could be moved physically closer to the cartoon gallery.

He wondered if there was space at the Coffs Harbour Bridge Club on City Hill or if council could fund a new bridge club building.

Cr Ian Hogbin, a member of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc, said these matters were being addressed and discussions were being held with the Bridge Club.

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