the objects we find hard to discard

Cairns Museum Temp Exhibition

Have you ever donated something to a museum?  Had it been in your family for ages and did you feel too guilty to throw it out? Welcome to the wonderful world of local Museums and our new, family-friendly exhibition ‘The Trouble with Parting’

This exhibition explores objects commonly donated to the Cairns Museum and asks: what is it about them that makes people think they belong in a Museum? Why do so many people find these particular objects hard to discard?

And what about us? Why has this Museum collected multiples of the same object?

Objects are not discarded or donated in a vacuum. The value we place on objects reflects the world that shaped us. Museums are the same. What Museums acquire reflects changing fashions, politics and personalities.

The Trouble with Parting takes as look at the Cairns Museum’s most populous sub-collections and starts a conversation about what these objects reveal about us.

What we do know from researching and selecting the objects for the exhibition is that they hold memories. Seeing a sewing machine or a camera can spark conversations and reminiscences between generations.  Who doesn’t want to show their kids a proper Polaroid camera? Or talk about how most of us used to know how to sew – especially if you wanted the latest fashions!

Lets think about our large collection of hats

The Cairns Museum has 56 hats in its collection, 20 of which are on display in “the Trouble with Parting’

Most were worn and donated by women. Together they’re a mass of colour, technique and materials. Individually they reflect fashion trends or the particular style of the woman who wore them. Could you discard something well designed, hand crafted and perhaps worn by your mother? Have you got a hat that you can’t bring yourself to discard?

And what about the Museum. The collection reveals that we have been drawn to the hand-made, the beautiful and objects that reflect the past. Until the 1960s, hats were almost always worn outside the family home by both men and women.

Nowadays, it is a Bunnings Hat for sun protection, a baseball inspired cap for street identity or a fascinator for the races.

Which begs the question. What hat should we collect today?

Behind the Scenes

Our collections volunteers worked incredibly hard to identify, select, research and prepare over 150 items for showing in this exhibition. If you are in Cairns, you should drop by and take a deep dive into the dilemmas of collecting Cairns.