@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): …

Comment on Fossil museum set to return to the CBD by Alex Nelson.

@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): There are several points to pick up on from your comment, Mark:
• The history of the Museum of Central Australia runs thus: the original display of natural history objects (for example, specimens of wildlife) was at the Arid Zone Research Institute in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as I recall just inside and to the right of the main entrance to the then brand new office complex – where the main administration offices are now. This was a temporary arrangement pending the construction of a dedicated natural history museum. In December 1973 the Whitlam Government transferred control of The Residency to the Museums and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) where a range of natural history items were on display, together with research facilities in very cramped conditions. The Residency also was used for art displays and continued to function for official receptions (which led to the unfortunate occasion in 1977 when Prince Charles and other dignitaries suffered poisoning as a consequence of food preparation undertaken in the same room where animal specimens underwent taxidermy preparations).
In late 1987 the museum was transferred to a new and expansive space on the upper floor of the new Ford Plaza (now Alice Plaza), it was rebadged “The Spencer and Gillen Museum”. This didn’t come without controversy, as the Department of Social Security had originally applied for this space but was rejected as the developers didn’t want Aboriginal clientele in the building (they were quite frank about this). Consequently there were protests at the official opening of the new museum in March 1988.
Unfortunately the Spencer and Gillen Museum suffered from poor visitation. During a national museums conference held there in April 1991, the NT Government announced the pending closure of the Spencer and Gillen Museum (this was the same month that the government’s Expenditure Review Committee announced sweeping cutbacks right across the board for the NT Public Service). I suggested at the time to the minister responsible for museums, Mike Reed, that the government should consider relocating the museum to the Araluen Art Centre precinct, perhaps with the new Strehlow Research Centre (SRC). However, the museum remained in Alice Plaza until its lease ran out in 1998 whereupon it was indeed transferred across to the SRC, officially opened there in August 1999 and where it remains to this day. Unfortunately this is a very unsatisfactory arrangement for both the SRC and the museum.
The proposal now to relocate the fossil display to a vacant premise in Todd Mall is a very short-sighted stop-gap measure that shows a marked lack of understanding and appreciation by the Department of Tourism and Culture of the museum’s true potential – it’s a very poor decision.
• I agree with your observations in relation to the Mayor’s comments on radio recently attributing the difficulty of filling empty retail space due to competition from online purchases. The fact is that there has been difficulty in filling empty shop spaces since Todd Mall opened in late 1987 (and even earlier, as the construction of the mall also disrupted trade). This was long before online purchases became a reality. The new mall immediately suffered from crime and vandalism (this problem was front page news two months after the mall’s official opening) and high rents from landlords also became a public issue in 1988. These problems came to the fore almost exactly 30 years ago and nothing has changed since that time.
• Your final point about the cost of air travel to the Centre is correct. It’s interesting to note that amongst the recommendations of the HKF Report into Central Australia’s tourism industry released in late 1969, two points of relevance stand out: first, the report made the first suggestion to convert Todd Street into a pedestrian mall; second, it was recommended to relocate the international airport from Darwin to Alice Springs. This was a time when Central Australia was by far the greatest tourist destination in the whole of the Northern Territory.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Police gets street parking, cops’ private cars in compound
On the odd occasion I walk past the police station vehicle compound in Bath Street, I recognise some private vehicles that previously were parked in Parsons Street outside the old police station.
I used to see these regularly after finishing work at Woolies and walking home that way late each evening.


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
Just read a comment piece by ABC North American correspondent James Glenday, who notes: “According to the Gun Violence Archive, 9,418 Americans have died from bullet wounds so far this year. 18,785 have been injured.”
To put that in perspective, more people have been killed and injured in the USA by gun violence up to the end of August than there are residents of Alice Springs.
That’s just this year. We think we’ve got problems?


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
I note this book becomes available on September 3, which this year marks the 80th anniversary of the declaration of war by Britain and France (which included Australia) on Nazi Germany following the invasion of Poland that started two days earlier.
In that same month the German Army Weapons Bureau commenced work, and one of its first projects was research into creating a nuclear bomb. German physicist Werner Heisenberg delivered an initial paper on building a workable atom bomb before the year was over.
Albert Einstein, whose equation of E=mc2 lies at the core of nuclear physics, had already warned the US of this research – as did British intelligence – but the warnings were largely ignored until 1941, and the Manhattan Project began shortly after Japan’s attack against Pearl Harbour forced America into the war.
The first nuclear arms race was actually between America and Nazi Germany; the first bombs were intended for Europe but the war ended there before they were ready so ended up being used on Japan.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had embarked on its own nuclear weapons research program, which was significantly aided by information obtained by spies from the Manhattan Project – and thus was born the arms race of the Cold War.


Aboriginal flag to fly year round on Anzac Hill
I wonder why everyone seems to insist this issue began 20 years ago? As I pointed out in my article last year (https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2018/03/25/in-a-flap-over-flags-a-possible-compromise/) the original request for flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill was first made in 1989 which by my mathematics is 30 years ago.
It’s also forgotten that the two large flag poles erected in 1989 replaced four smaller ones. These were used to fly the national flag (which flew on the east side of the monument) and the individual armed services flags which overlooked the town. These flags were only flown on Anzac Day and (I think) Remembrance Day but for the remainder of the year there were none.
This issue had its genesis from the protracted political and ideological disputes between the NT Government and the major land councils that dominated Territory politics during the 1980s.


Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians
@ Matthew Langan (Posted August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm): Not sure which universe you’re living in, Matthew, but of all the places you’ve listed as decisions by “Labor Party big knob socialist flogs” the only one that is an initiative of a Labor government is “the dinosaur museum” which I take to mean Megafauna Central in Todd Street.
All the rest were established during the long rule of the CLP before it ended in 2001.
None of these were ever expected to be profitable in their own right; rather, they are a reflection of a jurisdiction that was anticipated to be affluent enough over time to establish and support such facilities.
That aspiration increasingly appears to be a mirage; and in that sense the “case” put forward to justify the NAAG is a forlorn attempt to flog a now very dead horse.


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