100-year-old pressed pop­pies

Trea­sures at new ex­hibit launch­ing on ANZAC day

Chinchilla News - - NEWS - Brooke Dun­can Brooke.Dun­can@chin­chillanews.com.au

IT’S been years in the mak­ing, but the time has come for the Miles His­tor­i­cal Vil­lage Mu­seum to launch the ‘What War Meant to Miles: He­roes, Hard­ships and Heart­felt Sto­ries’ ex­hi­bi­tion.

The per­ma­nent fix­ture is val­ued at around $100,000, with more than 1000 hours of vol­un­teer work go­ing into the ex­hibit.

Miles and District His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Kylie Bourne said the ex­hi­bi­tion was made pos­si­ble with Anzac 100 and QGC fund­ing, al­low­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of the dis­plays as well as the com­plete cat­a­logu­ing of the mu­seum’s war col­lec­tion of about 4000 items.

“It’s been a huge project and it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing to see it com­ing to fruition,” Mrs Bourne said.

The ex­hi­bi­tion launch will be held on ANZAC Day, and Mrs Bourne said she was ex­cited to share some of the unique items on dis­play.

“We’ve got com­mem­o­ra­tive pen­nies, they were com­monly known as Dead Man’s Pen­nies and that’s a ter­ri­ble name for them.

“(They) were sent to fam­i­lies when their loved ones were killed.

“At the time they were quite con­tentious be­cause of course some fam­i­lies were like ‘well that’s not what my son’s worth, just a penny, thank you very much gov­ern­ment’, so some peo­ple hid them away or even sent them back.

“But we’ve ac­tu­ally got a col­lec­tion of ten and each one has prove­nance to our com­mu­nity which is re­ally quite sig­nif­i­cant.”

Dis­played along­side the pen­nies are some of the medals those ser­vice­men were awarded.

But it’s not only pen­nies and medals on dis­play.

“There’s shrap­nel... one of the pieces was pulled out of one of our sol­dier’s horses, out of it’s rump, and we’ve ac­tu­ally got that, that’s quite an amazing piece,” Mrs Bourne said.

“There are just so many amazing things, we came across lit­tle diaries or note­books and you open them up and there’s pressed pop­pies in them from 1914, and your heart just does a flut­ter.

“Lit­tle things like that.” The mu­seum will also fea­ture in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays, in­clud­ing lis­ten­ing posts where vis­i­tors can hear “beau­ti­ful, very heart-wrench­ing” let­ters, writ­ten by ‘lo­cal blokes’ the Free­man boys, read aloud.

“The theme of the ex­hi­bi­tion is re­ally to show­case what war means to small com­mu­ni­ties like Miles,” Mrs Bourne said.

“En­list­ment, what’s go­ing on at the time, the jour­ney to war, what’s hap­pen­ing at the home front, com­ing home, all of that.”

For Mrs Bourne, putting to­gether the unique ex­hi­bi­tion brought emo­tions she wasn’t ex­pect­ing.

“Re­ally, han­dling the col­lec­tion on such an in­ti­mate level, I didn’t re­alise re­ally the scale and the im­por­tance of what we have un­til this project, and re­ally not pre­pared prob­a­bly for, some­times, the emo­tional tug at the heart­strings you would get or the tear that might es­cape one’s eyes some­times,” she said.

“It re­ally has been very, very spe­cial and I think our com­mu­nity is lucky to have such an amazing col­lec­tion and peo­ple who’ve been so gen­er­ous over the years to do­nate such re­ally, re­ally per­sonal and spe­cial, im­por­tant things that be­longed to their fam­ily, or them­selves.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about the launch and peo­ple be­ing able to in­ter­act with the new dis­play and see­ing the ob­jects in a whole new light.”

PHOTO: BROOKE DUN­CAN

HON­OUR­ING THE PAST: Miles His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Kylie Bourne with her daugh­ter and vol­un­teer So­phie Bourne, and Miles Tourism Vis­i­tor Cen­tre of­fi­cer Ni­cole Franklin (back).

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