The Richmond River Historical Society & Regional Museum, in Lismore, New South Wales, has been selected from this year's nominees as the winning entry. The Museum, entirely community-run by volunteers, was judged to have the best performance against the range of competition criteria. We were impressed with the inclusive approach taken to local history, incorporating Bundjalung Aboriginal history alongside pastoralist settlement, the rich maritime history of the Richmond River, and more recent changes. The Museum and Historical Society (supported by the Lismore City Council since 1936) demonstrates an impressive care of resources and imaginative development of its facilities.
In addition to maintaining a research centre, huge archival records and a permanent collection of 25,000 items (including paintings), the Historical Society has a strong commitment to publication and develops changing displays to engage visitors and a broad public. The close links with local tourism show a vital commitment to promoting the economy, history and identity of this region of north-western NSW. The Historical Society and museum is clearly demonstrating the importance of community service today as the front line for consolidating the value of historical resources, education programs and a strong cultural future.
As it happened, only yesterday was I able to buy a second hand copy of Louise Daley's Men and a River: a history of the Richmond River District 1828-1895, a book whose publication was subsidised by the Society.
Congratulations, too, to the other New England museums that made the commended list - Port Macquarie Museum, Land of the Beardies History House & Research Centre, Quirindi Heritage Museum and the Australian Museum of Clothing & Textiles.