Friday, February 23, 2024

Greater Geelong casts on 30-year plan for wool museum

City of Greater Geelong Councillors have endorsed a 30-year vision for the National Wool Museum to extend its focus beyond wool to represent the broader story of Geelong.

Council says its vision aims to broaden the scope and purpose of the Museum to reflect the region’s 60,000-year living culture and history, from First Nations People to the emerging and advanced industries of today.

“The Museum will become an institution dedicated to Geelong’s human ingenuity, resilience, and enterprise – and actively shape the region’s future through its relationships, programs and legacy,” said Mayor, Peter Murrihy.

“We’re responding to feedback from visitors and members of our local community who have told us they want to experience and understand more about Geelong’s unique culture and shared future.

“We want to create a museum that is of and for Greater Geelong. The story of wool and the related collections will remain a core component of the Museum and the new vision will build on its success and legacy.”

The multi-award-winning National Wool Museum was opened by the City in 1988 with a focus on the cultural life of Australians as told through wool, fibre and textiles.


However, Council says research and engagement studies have shown that the Museum’s focus on wool limits its ability to connect with a broader audience and align with Council’s strategic objectives.

Since 2010 the Museum has been broadening its programming to reflect changes in the Geelong community and the expectations of visitors.

“The vision builds on the successes and legacy of the National Wool Museum. It is an evolution and expansion of scope. The story of wool and collections will remain a core component of the Museum,” the Mayor said.

He said a business case will be developed to fully explore the opportunities for the reimagined and expanded museum, including a potential development of the Dennys Lascelles Wool Stores to display and interpret Council’s large and diverse art and heritage collection.

The City will seek funding support from the Victorian Government to undertake the business case as well consider funding in future City budgets.

“The new vision will help community and visitors connect with our region’s remarkable cultural heritage,” said Council Creative Communities and Culture Chair, Trent Sullivan.

“This is an important step towards expanding and evolving the Museum so that it’s a place that everyone can enjoy in the heart of Geelong.”

Council says independent analysis has shown that the expanded vision could deliver a net benefit of up to $72 million to the region over a 30-year period – or around $2.3 million a year.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum and Shop attracted between 65,000 and 80,000 on-site visitors and 257,000 online exhibition and program participants annually.

The Museum’s current collection of wool related items comprises more than 8,200 objects of state, national and international significance valued at more than $8 million. The expanded Museum would become the home of Council’s larger Art and Heritage Collection, comprising approximately 20,000 items valued at approximately $20 million.

Council says community feedback will soon be sought on bringing the new vision to life.

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