More than 40 members and supporters of Newcastle Maritime Museum have vowed to re-estabish the museum as an an stand-alone entity. They are also seeking compensation from the state government for the loss of the museum’s Honeysuckle headquarters.
An emotional meeting held at Carrington on Wednesday night heard items from the museum’s nationally significant collection, which is currently in the care of Newcastle City Council, were salvaged from a skip bin last week.
“There were almost tears when I held up one of the books (a 1978 Llyods Shipping Register) that had been thrown out; people are angry about what has happened in recent months,” Restore Newcastle Maritime Museum working party spokesman Bob Cook said.
The Newcastle Maritime Museum, which had been based at Honeysuckle’s A Shed since 2007, folded in late May with debts of $200,000 owing in rent to the Hunter-Central Coast Development Corporation and Newcastle City Council.
The council took stewardship of the 7000-piece collection with the intention of incorporating it into the regional museum.
The Maritime Museum Society’s three remaining executive members did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting, however, Mr Cook said they had indicated a willingness to step down so a new executive committee to be installed.
Wednesday’s meeting called on the state government to compensate the society for the loss of the Honeysuckle museum site, which is presently being repaired.
The claim stems from the fact that the society was required to attract $2 million grant funding to repair and fit out the building prior to moving in.
In the short term Mr Cook said the working party wanted to work with Newcastle Council and the Hunter-Central Coast Development Corporation to find an alternative location for the museum.
“There was definitely a feeling that we can do better than what we had; people don’t want to focus on the past, they want to move forward,” he said.
A Newcastle City Council spokeswoman denied the council had disposed of any items from the maritime collection.
“Any claim otherwise is false and made by a person unfamiliar with the actual circumstances of the maritime collection,” she said.
She the future of the museum lay in the hands of the the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society’s board.
“If Mr Cook wishes to set up a working party to discuss the future of the museum, he is best speaking with the board of the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society. After all, they are the legal owners of the collection,” the spokeswoman said.
“That said, one might expect if Mr Cook wishes to assume ownership of the collection, that he would also need to assume responsibility for the debts of the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society, which are not insignificant.”
Hunter-Central Coast Development Corporation chief executive Michael Cassel said:
“As we have done over the last two years, the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation will continue to work with the elected representatives of the Newcastle Maritime Museum Society.”
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