Council’s been working on grand plans for our museum

This is how visitors arriving in town from the east will see the Great Cobar Heritage Centre once the upgrade work is finished. 

There’s been a lot of planning, discussions and hard work by Cobar Shire Council staff to ensure that the Great Cobar Heritage Centre gets the best makeover it can.

The grand plans to upgrade the historic museum building were discussed at a Community Consultation Meeting last week.

Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko said government grants and funding from council had created this huge opportunity for the community.

“It’s a fantastic cake at the moment and we’re just going to put the cream on it,” Mr Vlatko used as an analogy for the project.

“Everything has its pros and cons, opportunity and risks and we’re going to do as much as we can with what we’ve got.”

Council’s project officer Tanya Gilbert saidCouncil staff have been working on the plans for the upgrade for over 12 months.

The aim is to not only improve the facility and make it more accessible, but to also restore many of the building’s heritage components.

“This will be a delicate process, and is not your normal construction job,” Mrs Gilbert said.

It’s also going to be a huge task for museum staff to catalogue all of the museum’s objects and plan the layout of the new displays even before the builders come in.

“We’re not just aiming to make this “gem” of ours shine, but we also want to make sure it lasts another 150 years,” she said.

“There’s a perception out in the community that we’re doing this just for the tourists.

“We’ve been looking at how we enhance the facility for the community,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“We want community input to tell the story of Cobar throughout the whole museum.

“We want the locals to get involved and be engaged in Cobar’s history.”

Mrs Gilbert said they have been consulting with various local groups on how best to move and preserve the museum’s displays, in particular the local indigenous display, which is currently located upstairs.

As part of the upgrade, all of the upstairs displays will all be disassembled and moved downstairs.

It’s one of the few ‘cons’ of the project.

Mrs Gilbert said as part of a fire and safety audit of the building and an assessment against the building code, a number of components in the building were found to be non-compliant.

“This explains why we are making some of the changes we are. We have accessibility problems with stairs and doorways.”

She said with the current building code, they will need to make the building accessible to all members of the public including people with a disability, frail aged and parents with prams and small children.

A new ramp will be installed and the public areas will all now be downstairs.

Another downside of the project is that the work will affect the Visitors Information Centre which is located in the museum building.

It’s expected the centre will need to be re-located in June 2020 for approximately
6-9 months.

The museum will have to also close for a period during the work however in the interim the staff are planning pop-up and online exhibitions and town tours .

while the museum is closed