Fairfield City Museum & Gallery’s brand new website brings together collections relating to the history and heritage of the local area. Designed for local history enthusiasts and professional researchers alike, people are now able to browse objects from the Fairfield City Museum & Gallery Collection including historical photographs, oral history recordings and local history resources such as Council Minutes, maps and publications.
Visitors are also able to help build the collection by contributing their own content, too. Whether it be information, images or suggestions, people can simply register to login, browse the collection, and share in Fairfield’s City’s Heritage Collection. Curator Alinde Bierhuizen gave us insights into the website’s development:
M&G NSW: How long did the project take and were there any challenges during the process
Alinde Bierhuizen: The project was initiated more than a year ago, when the decision was made to use ‘Recollect’ as the platform to build our online collection. The challenge was to find time and resources to develop the site; to determine the layout and infrastructure and populate the database. Temporary closure of FCMG due to Covid-19 allowed staff to spend the time needed on this project, including working with Silversalt Photography on professionally capturing our collection items.
M&G NSW: Do you have a personal favourite object, photo or story that you think people should check out?
Alinde Bierhuizen: Some of our favourite and most significant items belonged to the former Villawood Migrant Hostel. Commonwealth Hostels Limited operated the Villawood Migrant Hostel, known as the Reception Centre, for the Department of Immigration from the early 1950s. The hostel was to cater for the influx of post-war migrants, refugees and displaced people. Families were issued with serving trays, crockery, cutlery and glassware on arrival at the hostel and food was served in a communal dining hall. One of the items in our collection is the 1959 Christmas Day Menu, serving a traditional British feast including Christmas pudding and mince pies.
Through this website we were able to create connections across the different collections by linking objects, photographs and information in completely new ways. We recently discovered that the dress worn by the baby in the photo, 8 week old Dorothy, held by her parents Eli and Rachel Quartermain, was donated to the Museum & Gallery in 1983 by another family member. Discoveries like these enhance the value and knowledge of our collections and offer new opportunities for interpretation.