Abbey Museum Celebrates 30 Years

Thirty years ago on a warm Saturday afternoon in late June a group of friends, members of the Abbey Community, builders and museum staff gathered with over 100 invited guests  to hear the Abbey Museum declared officially open. It was a moving moment: the culmination of more than six years of research, design and fund raising.

There were times when it seemed that the modest design for the gallery would run out of funds and remain an empty shell. Despite the nightmares, remarkably money always came just in time to pay the bills. The Museum team became incredibly inventive in attracting funds and in-kind gifts of materials. At one stage the deputy director of the Queensland Museum (itself nearing completion) remarked to Michael Strong that there were more members of his staff working as volunteers at the Abbey Museum than there were at South Brisbane! Most of the case designs were done with the help of David Bligh and Robert Allen, two senior design artists at the Queensland Museum, and they relished the task of designing a museum without strictures …

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So was it all about love letters?

On Saturday 26 October, 40 members and guests of the Friends of the Abbey Museum sat down in the Abbey Hall to a delicious lunch, beautifully presented by the Museum Catering Team.  The lunch is an annual event in the FOTAM calendar and, in accordance with tradition was followed by a talk given by an invited guest speaker.

This year, our guest speaker was Dr Caillan Davenport, a lecturer in Roman History at the University of Queensland.  His topic, the Letters of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius caught the attention of all his listeners. Dr Davenport used the correspondence between the young Marcus Aurelius and his tutor Cornelius Fronto to illustrate the more intimate details of life in Rome at that time than is found in most history books.

This was no dry old history lesson about the philosophy of a Roman Emperor, but a lively discussion based on private correspondence which was not originally written for publication.  After filling in the background of the finding of the letters and of the two correspondents, Dr Davenport …

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