Tatura’s war history set to be restored

By Liz Mellino

The history of Tatura’s prisoner of war camps will be conserved thanks to a $75,000 grant awarded to Tatura Museum.

The funds will ensure 19 historic objects in the museum’s collection, at risk of loss and deterioration, will be maintained to ensure their longevity.

Awarded through the government's Living Heritage Program, Tatura Historical Society Museum secretary George Ferguson said the funding was an important step in preserving the town's rich history.

“It is very important; once you get into it, it sort of grows on you and you feel it's so important that (the items) are not lost because (they) will never be able to be replaced,” he said.

“We are looking after the community's heritage because it belongs to the community.”

Mr Ferguson said it was not the first time the museum had applied for the grant, due to a number of objects slowly deteriorating and in need of conservation.

Tatura Historical Society Museum secretary George Ferguson says the funding is an important step in preserving the town's rich history.

Held in the Tatura WWII Interment and Prisoner of War Camp collection, the objects were deemed the most at risk of loss and deterioration due to their fragile condition, and include 14 puppets, an oil painting, model ships and water-colour paintings.

All of these works were created by internees and POWs held at Tatura during WWII.

Mr Ferguson said the items had experienced a significant amount of wear and tear.

“We have puppets, for instance, which they look all right but they are already 70 years old ... so maintaining them so they don't deteriorate any more is what the grant is all about.”

The works will be undertaken at University of Melbourne, with conservators conducting surface cleaning, repairs, re-framing and documentation.

The government's $60 million Living Heritage Program was launched in 2016 and this year saw the most applications with more than $3 million awarded.

“Heritage is not just about preserving history, it's a major part of rural and regional Victoria's tourism and contributes to sustainable economic development,” Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said.

Applications for the next round of the Living Heritage Program will open early next year.

The Taura Museum at 49 Hogan St is open Monday to Sunday, 1pm to 4pm.