Museum persists to make former Lands Office home
Despite hitting a financial roadblock, the Maitland Regional Museum committee has not given up on making the former East Maitland Lands Office their permanent home.
Last year the office’s staff were moved in town while remediation was undertaken on the 1895 building, but have not returned.
Community groups have shown an interest in making use of the building however, with the museum’s president Janece McDonald inspecting the space with representatives from Property NSW earlier this month.
Dr McDonald’s plan for the building sees two large exhibition spaces available for the museum’s use, plus a space downstairs which could host traveling exhibitions.
It also has room to house the Maitland and District Historical Society, the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles, and Maitland and Beyond Family History, creating what could become a heritage hub.
Currently, though, this plan is not feasible, with Dr McDonald advised that renting would be at commercial rates of $160,000 per year, or, if the building goes on the market, it has been valued in the vicinity of $1.7 million.
“Maitland Regional Museum doesn’t have that money,” she said.
“There is space for all four groups – we could make this a true community heritage hub.
“We could educate and bring experiences to the community.”
The Museum plans to apply for grants to try and realise their vision but in the meantime has attracted the support of Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison and Shadow Minister for Lands Mick Veitch, who visited the site with Museum members this week.
Ms Aitchison said she was concerned that money raised by the State Government from the building would be funneled away from Maitland.
“If they raise that money and send it down to Sydney what do we as a community get back from that?” she said.
“We have no regional museum that showcases our history – we need something to tell the story of Maitland.
“This is our social and cultural heritage.”
A Property NSW spokesperson said that a decision about the site’s future use had not been made.
“Property NSW is considering a number of options for the future use of the site,” the spokesperson said.
“No decision has been made.”
“Property NSW has met representatives from the Maitland Regional Museum to discuss their interest in the property.
“Property NSW has not received any formal proposal from the museum or other community groups.”