THE PHILLIP Island and District Historical Society (PIDHS) is disappointed by the Bass Coast Shire Council’s concept designs for the Cowes Cultural and Community Centre, with no replacement of the society’s museum.
Under the proposed plans, the historical society will have displays in different locations throughout the centre, particularly in the new library area.
At present, the society has its own building at the Cowes Cultural Centre, which allows visitors to explore the museum on Thursday and Saturday mornings, as well as by appointment for individuals or groups.
PIDHS committee member Pam Rothfield said the council is trying to fit all of the small organisations into one building, which won’t function effectively.
“They’re trying to compromise to the extent that it makes things totally unsatisfactory and it jeopardises the future of a number of smaller organisations – the historical society, the Phillip Island and District Genealogical Society and the Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre (PICAL),” she said.
“Under the proposed plans, the displays will be held under glass cabinets, so there’s no touching or feeling, no interaction with visitors and the displays.
“There’s a security issue, there’s a sun issue if it’s a lovely bright hall – a lot of the valuable artefacts will perish with sunlight.”
PIDHS vice-president Cheryl Overton stressed the importance of local history.
“You don’t just learn history in a classroom and you don’t learn history when you Google as much as you learn history when you go to a local historical society,” she said.
“You learn why Grossard Point’s called Grossard, you learn about the rich businessmen that owned the ferries that fought against having the first bridge built, you learn a whole lot of little things that you don’t get taught from books – it’s a hands on experience and it’s all there.
“There are lot of things there that you can learn about – where you live and where you came from, you can learn about your heritage.
“A lot of our displays you can’t put in a glass case, like the figurehead of the SS Speke ship and parts of the original Phillip Island Bridge.”
A suggestion has been made that the PIDHS is not worthy of its own building, as its only open two days per week.
But as Ms Rothfield points out, the Wonthaggi Historical Society is only open Saturdays and during Rotary Sunday Markets, the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society is open two days per week, the Koo Wee Rup Historical Society is open one day per week and the Hastings Historical Society is open two days per week.
All of these societies have sufficient buildings.
“There will be an element of loss when these organisations are integrated into a library or hall, and to lose that compounds everything else that the Island has already lost,” Ms Rothfield said.
“We’ve lost our tip, we’ve lost our hospital, and there is no wonder that the Phillip Island Progress Association is actually so strong.
“It’s a sad thing that we’ve continually got to stand up and say ‘Hey, Wonthaggi’s got this, why don’t we have it?’ but that’s really how people feel on the Island.”