Exploring the Regional Museum this May

Power and the People tells the stories of various organisations in the Yarra Ranges, like the Yarra Glen Maternal and Baby Health Centre open day in 1954. Picture: YARRA RANGES AND DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTION.

By Mikayla van Loon

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum is preparing to open two new exhibitions after the close of its Code Breakers exhibit on 15 May.

During those colder autumn days from the end of May take respite in the museum and explore the history of the Yarra Ranges through the lens of the Power and the People.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of local government in Lilydale and the rest of the shire, 18 history groups and societies tell the stories of how the community and the local power has worked collaboratively to achieve a wonderful outcome for the town.

Museum program director Megan Sheehy said stories from the Save the Dandenongs League tell of the environment protection efforts, while another story focuses on the Oonah Belonging Place in Healesville.

“The interesting part of it is that there’s all these amazing community facilities and different stories from history that are from all across the region,” she said.

“There are 55 townships across the region and there’s only 18 stories, so it doesn’t cover every specific township but it does give you a really good feel for that breadth of the identity of different parts of the region.”

Power and the People can be found in the Chambers Gallery, as a nod to the first council chambers in the Shire of Lilydale, from Saturday 21 May to Sunday 31 July.

In the Box Gallery, witness the Newcastle Museum touring exhibition 1X4, a display of objects that invites viewers to project their own interpretation onto the item, whether social, economic or cultural.

“So each object in the exhibition tells four distinct stories and you can listen to or read each of the stories or just look at the objects,” Ms Sheehy said.

“But the point of it is that it’s really giving people an insight into how important historical collections are, but also how important they can be in telling very, very different stories.”

Ms Sheehy said 1X4 asks the audience to step into the role of the curator and question their own objectivity.

“We have this modern obsession with the idea that we can be objective on everything but your objectivity is only as good as the questions you ask,” she said.

“This exhibition is really encouraging people to come in and ask different questions from all sorts of different perspectives.

“It’s an important role that a museum plays in our community as well, which is to be a place where people can have critical conversations and ask different questions about what the past means and what we want the future to look like.”

It is the first time the exhibition has travelled to Victoria and was named best touring exhibition by the Australian Museums and Galleries Association in 2021.

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum will also provide opportunities to discuss these interpretations in floor talks and fascinating conversations throughout the exhibition running Thursday 26 May to Sunday 11 September.

To contact the Museum call 03 9294 6511 or email boxoffice@yarraranges.vic.gov.au. Entry is free.