A new cultural hub and museum is set to celebrate the heritage of the local Indigenous community.
To be built in Cessnock, the Madoo Museum will house and showcase a rich collection of local Indigenous artefacts currently stored in various sites around the region.
In addition, the renowned Morrison Collection – including canoes, stone axes, clubs, spears, boomerangs and hundreds of other artifacts from the Hunter Valley – will be relocated from the Australian Museum to the dedicated local site.
Announced today, the development is being facilitated by a $6.3 million grant from the NSW Government to the Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation (WNAC).
Chief Executive of WNAC, Laurie Perry, said that returning the Morrison Collection to the Hunter region was a massive outcome for the local Aboriginal population.
The collection is named after Singleton-born newspaper owner, Alexander Morrison, who collected over 120 Aboriginal cultural objects at the turn of the 20th century, many coming from the St Clair mission, where Wonnarua Aboriginal families lived at the time.
“This is a massive day for the Wonnarua Nation to have confirmation that the Morrison Collection will be coming home to the Hunter,” he said.
“The creation of the Madoo Museum Cultural Hub will not only honour our people’s heritage and culture, it will provide the opportunity to grow local Aboriginal tourism and employment.”
Hotel entrepreneur Dr Jerry Schwartz will provide land in Cessnock for construction.
Dr Schwartz is also proposing to build a revolving art gallery called ‘Hart’s Art’ to house a major exhibition of paintings by artist Dan Hart depicting the plight of Aboriginals in Australia.
He said the initiative would help preserve the heritage of the Wonnarua people and provide an opportunity for the wider community to share and experience their culture.
“From my discussions with Laurie Perry, the artefacts capture the heritage of the Wonnarua people, who are the original inhabitants of what is now known as the Hunter Valley,” he said.
“As well as being an important development to recognise Wonnarua heritage, we believe the Museum will become a focal point for cultural tourism.
“We envisage that the Museum and cultural centre will attract Indigenous, school and special interest groups to the region, and we will look to increase accommodation options at my Hunter Valley property to cater for them.”