Pilgrim Badge Abbey Museum

Medieval Pilgrim Badge Donation Excitement

The Abbey Museum recently received a generous donation of a 14th century Pilgrim Badge of St Thomas Becket. A pilgrim badge, like the suit of armour also acquired this year, has been on the Museum’s wish list for a number of years as they represent an aspect of medieval life not previously represented in the collection.

Pilgrim Badge – Tourist Souvenir of the Middle Ages?

Pilgrimages were an important part of life in medieval England, and individuals were expected to make at least one major journey in their lifetime. Market stalls often lined the entrances to shrines, and here pilgrims could buy a variety of souvenirs such as badges and small vessels known as ampulae. This badge is in the form of St Thomas Becket and is one of a well-known series of badges that are miniature copies of the 14th century, life-sized, mitre-bust reliquary of St Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral. The badge would have been worn on the hat or outer clothing and would have been used as an amulet. The supposed miracle-working powers of the reliquaries that …

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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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Cuneiform – Mysteries of Ancient Script

One of the earliest known systems of writing in the world is Cuneiform which developed in Sumer in the Middle East from about 4000 BC. Of the two million cuneiform tablets which have been found, only about 100,000 have been read or published. This is because there are so few people in the world who can read them.

The Abbey Museum has a small collection of artefacts with Sumerian inscriptions. You can see them in Museum Case 21.

In July we were approached by Dr Luis Siddall from Macquarie University who can read cuneiform. He is working on a cross university project to read and publish all the artefacts with cuneiform script in Australia and New Zealand. The result will be a book on cuneiform and information about the field of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Australasia.

The project combines expertise from Monash University, Latrobe University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Who would have thought Australia had a community of cuneiform readers?

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stained glass fragments featuring a scourger in the Abbey Museum collection

Stained Glass Funding Success

The Abbey Museum staff are having a “pom-pom” moment!! What is that you may ask? Well, it is the way we celebrate when great things happen, those unexpected successes or some very good news. And we have just received some VERY GOOD NEWS. Late last year we applied to the Copland Foundation for funding for the conservation of nine of our medieval stained glass windows from our collection. Last week we received notification that our application was successful!!! Definitely a “pom-pom” moment!!

Why are we so very excited? Well it is because when we started fundraising for the conservation of the medieval and Victorian stained glass collection, over ten years ago, we had to raise a massive $165,000. For our small and predominately volunteer organisation that seemed a daunting task. However, through the generous donation of many wonderful individual donors who have funded the conservation of specific windows and through the fundraising efforts of the Abbey Museum Friends, who with the assistance of a grant from the Regional Arts Development …

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St Michael the Archangel 2

The Abbey Museum’s Icons Travel Interstate for Art Exhibition

We are so excited that two of the Abbey Museum’s icons from our wonderful Art Collection have been chosen as part of a special exhibition at the Ballarat Art Gallery in Victoria.

Abbey Museum’s Icons on display

EIKON: Icons of the Orthodox Christian World”, features eighty high-quality works, including some really sumptuous examples of Orthodox art. Most of the icons in the exhibition originated from Greece and Russia, with examples as well from Cyprus, Syria and Palestine, and date from the twelfth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries.

This exhibition is a rare opportunity to view two stunning icons from the Abbey Museum collection, so if you are in or around Ballarat why not join one of the special tour the Gallery is offering through the exhibition and hear the stories behind these wonderful artworks. These special tours are on at 11.30am from Wednesday to Sunday during the exhibition which opened on Saturday 18 October and will close on Monday 26 January, next year.

The …

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Museum Prepares for Brisbane Parade

Abbey Museum Volunteers on the World Stage

While some of the staff at the Abbey Museum were busily preparing for our recent Jousting Spectacular event, our Abbey Museum Volunteers were keeping up a busy social life for the Museum with parades and visits to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Abbey Museum Volunteers show off at the G20

The Queensland Government pulled out all the stops ahead of the G20 Summit to showcase Brisbane through live shows, street performances and interactive light shows across the cities CBD. The one event that caught our eye on the G20 Cultural Celebrations program was the ‘Brisbane on Parade’ event – a parade designed to showcase Brisbane and its finest. What a great way to not only promote the Museum but to celebrate what we do best. Between a group of Chinese Lion Dancers and Brazilian carnival stilt walkers was a group of wonderful and loyal Abbey Museum volunteers and re-enactors highlighting the eras represented by the Museum’s fundraising events and education programs. We say ‘wonderful and loyal’ to describe our Abbey Museum volunteers because not only did they …

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Senior Curator, Micahel Strong with Board member Dr Geoff Ginn review the Preservation Needs Assessment Report

The Past Preserved with funding success

A museum’s collection is the life blood of its business. As museum professionals we see proper custodianship of the artefacts in our care as a significant responsibility. These artefacts hold the memories of an individual, a community, a nation or civilizations that have disappeared in the dusts of time and which remind us how fragile human society really is.

Late last year the Abbey Museum was successful in an application for funding through the Community Heritage Grants administered through the National Library of Australia. There are very few sources of funds available for museums, galleries or keeping places that provide financial support for the preservation of our movable heritage. Having identified the significance that the Abbey Museum collection has as a primary teaching resource for Queensland schools studying medieval society and ancient civilisations, we were eligible to seek funding to have a Preservation Needs Assessment undertaken on our collection.

This was prepared for the Museum by conservator, Christine Ianna, and presented to the Board for consideration in mid September. The report outlined …

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Trekking with the Senior Curator along Emu Tracks

Travelling with the Abbey Museum’s senior curator is always an adventure, as a group of Museum Friends found out as we participated in a heritage tour in mid August. Appropriately called “Stone Circles and Emu Tracks” we set out from the Abbey Museum by coach under clear blue skies and headed north to Woodford and the site of Durundur, the first sheep ‘run’ in Queensland, north of the Darling Downs. Michael has a wealth of knowledge of this area and kept us all engrossed as he wove historical stories both inspiring and also heartbreaking.

From Woodford we wound our way along the Stanley River valley. As we looked out the window over a brown-grassed landscape struggling for survival at the end of drought ridden Winter, Michael painted a picture of times long past, of a densely forested valley with giant trees with trunks three to four metres in diameter, a valley rich with resources – fruits, yams, pademelons and emus. These were the traditional lands of the Dungidau, one …

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Sharing our Crowdfunding Success!

Recently Sues, the Abbey Museum Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, and I were invited to give a talk at a webinar (online seminar) being hosted by Museum & Gallery Services Qld, the peak body for museums and galleries in Queensland. The webinar was being produced for regional art galleries, museums, plus other tourism and affiliated businesses and organizations in central and outback Queensland.

The subject of our presentation was for our recent successful ‘Pozible’ Crowdfunding Project – ‘Bringing Back 16th Century Beauty’ in which we raised over $3000 towards the conservation of one of our medieval stained glass windows. Our Powerpoint presentation covered all aspects of our project from the marketing strategy, photos and memes (interesting Facebook photos), to daily tracking and, of course, communicating and thanking all our wonderful supporters.

Our audience included people from Qantas Founders Museum, Central Highlands Regional Council, Longreach Regional Council,  

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The Saga of the Senior Curator and his philanderings…

It’s All About Birds

Yes, you guessed it; he is at it again… Those who know our senior curator know that he has three passions in his life – firstly, his beloved wife (of course); secondly, the collections of the Abbey Museum and finally… BIRDS. Yes that’s right BIRDS.

In this case we are talking about the two-legged (feathered) variety.

Despite the fact that most holiday destinations are decided on the potential of seeing some rare bird species and that her husband spends frequent Sundays for hours at a time to gaze through his telescope at godwits, dotterels, snipe and stilts, his long suffering but loving wife is happy that he engages in a harmless pastime that brings him so much pleasure.

Inspired by Chidori

However, she does draw the line when he brings this pastime home and spends many hours mooning over two little birds embossed on the side of a 17th Japanese geisha lacquer …

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