Council staff don breathing apparatus as they empty the museum back in April.
Council staff don breathing apparatus as they empty the museum back in April.

Coffs Regional Museum still closed

COFFS Harbour’s flood-prone Regional Museum building in Harbour Drive remains shut nine months after it was closed by the March 31 flood.

Even though the work of the Coffs Harbour City Council-managed museum continues, concern is increasing about the future of the facility.

Museum volunteers and staff are currently working out of non air-conditioned premises in the Isles Drive industrial area, a site which also houses most of the museum’s collection.

The co-ordinator of the Friends of South Solitary Island, Rob Trezise, has declared his support for moving the museum to high ground on City Hill, to provide a better public display of the Museum’s signature exhibit, the prism from the South Solitary Island Lighthouse.

“It would be magnificent if the light was to be a feature of any new building and that it could be seen far and wide, shining its light of hope over the city from City Hill to remind future generations of the light’s significant in the development of Coffs Harbour,” Mr Trezise said in the FOSSI news-letter

He said he was not in favour of a Brelsford Park site.

The closure of the Harbour Drive building means members of the public cannot view the large lighthouse prism, the pride of the museum’s maritime collection, which sits in a specially-constructed well in the museum floor, housing the machinery for rotating the light.

Coffs Harbour’s museum was closed for almost two years after volunteers’ efforts to clean up after the 1996 flood took such a toll that the Coffs Harbour and District Historical Society went into recess.

Coffs Harbour City Council took over the museum and later appointed Dr Leigh Summers to oversee the facility as well as the Bunker Cartoon Gallery and Regional Art Gallery.

Building a second storey or even two storeys on top of the low-lying museum building, which sits beside the Cavanbah Centre on the bank of Carralls Creek, has been suggested as a solution to the flooding problems which have plagued the facility, but a museum as part of the Brelsford Park cultural facilities plan has also been suggested.

A selection of museum artefacts are currently put on display in small exhibitions at the Bunker Cartoon Gallery on City Hill, which is thus fulfilling three different roles – its original function as a cartoon gallery; a temporary museum exhibit area and a community art gallery.

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