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Museum of Adelaide

Adelaide has some excellent museums devoted to various kinds of natural, cultural and social history. But unlike Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and a number of smaller regional cities and towns, we lack any institution specifically dedicated to displays and exhibits which explore how this particular urban setting came to be the sort of place it is today.

A museum devoted to the historical development of South Australia’s capital city is a worthy cause, and one which is not going to go away. For Adelaide remains unique among Australian state capitals in various interesting respects. Ours was the first Australian city to be laid-out and built according to a formal plan. And while still maintaining an unrivalled demographic and economic dominance over the rest of the state (South Australia has no major regional urban centre comparable to Victoria’s Ballarat and Geelong, or Newcastle in NSW), Adelaide was slower to industrialise than Melbourne or Sydney. This also helps explain the city’s distinctive appearance; Adelaide still boasts a remarkably large colonial architectural heritage, especially cottages and houses, within its metropolitan core.

An extensive report on options for a Museum of Adelaide was prepared in 2009 by the consultant Bronwyn Halliday. But after her feasibility study was submitted to the Adelaide City Council, the whole issue seems to have faded from view.

But perhaps we should really be pushing for a new Museum of Adelaide and South Australia combined, as both a significant drawcard for tourists and a cultural and educational resource for all South Australians. Located in central Adelaide, such an institution would fill the large gap left by the regrettable 1990s closure of the former Constitutional Museum established in the old Legislative Council Building. It would also enable History SA (the History Trust that was) to display much of their large collection of historical materials and memorabilia illustrating the unique development of our city and state, which at present languishes in storage.

You can read an opinion piece about this issue , written by our President, which appeared in The Advertiser in July 2012.

Photo Credit: Flickr: GreenTreeFrog

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