Observatory Museum renovations to start
The Albany Museum management and representatives from the Provincial Department of Public Works met last week to officially hand over keys to the building contractor who will renovate the iconic Observatory Museum in Bathurst Street. The works are expected to be completed by October.
The museum held festivities during Heritage month last year to mark the temporary closure of the building. The closure coincided with the arrival of new Museum His- torian, Gcobisa Zomele and Conservator, Anva Chiazarri. Immediately after the official closure the two women, with assistance of other staffers set about the mammoth task of neatly packing the collection with 6,243 collectibles. “This has given me an insight about what the collection is about which is quite useful," Zomele said. "We have upgraded and updated the system which will make it much easier to track the collection.”
Added Chiazarri: “This is an amazing opportunity to assess the condition of the collection and take important conservation measures. This will help preserve this unique collection and the history of the Galpins and Grahamstown. There are many 'one of a kind' items on display that deserve to be conserved and restored. The renovations will give us the time needed for the proper care of the collection."
The Observatory Museum which accommodates the only Victorian camera obscura in the Southern Hemisphere was originally a shop and home of watchmaker and jeweler, Henry Galpin, who lived in Grahamstown between 1850 and 1886. The rooms are filled with antique furniture, bric-a-brac and various scientific surprises. There is also a fascinating meridian room on the top floor where Galpin worked out Grahamstown time, resetting the clock in the turret each day. This museum is extremely popular with tourists and has become an icon in Grahamstown.
• Linda Dyani is the Marketing & Communications Officer at Albany Museum
Babalwa Mesani (left) and Levonia Mains assemble packing boxes at the Observatory Museum.