Developments at Kowie Museum

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PRESERVING HISTORY: The existing ranks of the Kowie Museum trustees were bolstered with several new members at its AGM last week. From left are chairman Rob Crothall, Mike Coleman, Gwynn Crothall, Erika Freeme, Hennie Marais, Joy Billing, Heather Howard, Mitch Ramsay, curator Yvonne Surtees and Sue Gordon. Picture: JON HOUZET
PRESERVING HISTORY: The existing ranks of the Kowie Museum trustees were bolstered with several new members at its AGM last week. From left are chairman Rob Crothall, Mike Coleman, Gwynn Crothall, Erika Freeme, Hennie Marais, Joy Billing, Heather Howard, Mitch Ramsay, curator Yvonne Surtees and Sue Gordon. Picture: JON HOUZET

THE past year was described as one of development, cooperation and goodwill for the Kowie History Museum at its AGM held at Richmond House last week. “We have begun to project the museum into the 21st century,” curator Yvonne Surtees said.

She praised chairman Rob Crothall has “a man of considerable vision with a wide knowledge of information technology and modern business methods, and his wide leadership is laying down structures and methods for the future.”

In his chairman’s report, Crothall gave an overview of the valuable input of all the museum trustees, from record-keeping and information technology to liaising with Ndlambe Municipality and improving exhibits.

The museum lost three trustees during the year for various reasons and their roles were taken up by others in the team.

“Despite losing our treasurer earlier this year, we have had our 2014/15 and 2015/16 books reviewed and signed off by Juan Southey, our honorary auditor,” Crothall said.

Up to the present, the deeds for Bradshaw’s Mill have been retained in the name of the Kowie History Museum, but Crothall said the Historic Bathurst organisation was ready to accept ownership of the mill, so the trustees would have discussions with both Historic Bathurst and the Bathurst Agricultural Museum, and once consensus had been reached, would effect the transfer.

The deteriorating condition of the roof at the old station was also brought up.

The building still belongs to Transnet, even though the trustees had believed a transfer of the property to the municipality was imminent when they moved the museum to the premises three years ago. Crothall said Transnet did not want to spend money on maintaining the building so they are looking for a private donor to sponsor the repair of the roof. The job is estimated to cost about R175 000.

The museum will also be applying for public benefit organisation status, which will allow it to apply to the general public for funds. The museum has also applied for a grant from the municipality.

Also wearing the treasurer’s hat, Crothall thanked his predecessor Laura Mitchell for handing over the financials to him before she went on a trip overseas.

Museum funds at the end of June amounted to R16 244, about R2 000 down from the previous financial year. Total sales improved from R25 759 to R27 012, but revenue from entry fees and memberships decreased by R4 415.

“This is probably due to the current economic issues that we have in the country, but we need to take action to address the issue,” Crothall said.

Surtees said the number of visitors had fallen slightly over the past year, probably after initial interest in the museum’s new premises waned. Most foreign visitors were from the UK, followed by Germany and Austrialia, and then Canada, USA, Thailand, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and one visitor each from Japan and Denmark.

She said the biggest challenge was to get schoolchildren into the museum, but she hoped this would change.

The museum is working closely with tourism and has a good relationship with the other museums in the area, with the biggest example of cooperation being the Ndlambe Heritage Challenge, which took the place of the Five Museums Treasure Hunt. The annual membership fee for the Kowie Museum has increased from R50 per couple to R60. Life membership has accordingly increased to R600.

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