2018 was the year that a decision was finally made on the future of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.).
On the outside the centre may look the same but with a new name, Eureka Centre, and the appointment of a manager, the future of the origin of democracy in Australia, is looking a lot brighter.
Anthony Camm has been in the role of Eureka Centre Manager since September, having previously served as the Director of the Ararat Gallery TAMA for the past 11 years.
“What kept me in the job for that long in Ararat was the ambition to grow the gallery, both in terms of its reputation and also spatially,” he said.
“My time there concluded with the completion of a multi-million dollar redevelopment, so that was very good closure for me.”
Anthony says he comes to Eureka at an exciting time in the centre’s history.
“The Centre’s strength is that we are located on a nationally recognised historic site and we have a compelling story, central to the Australian story,” he explained.
“So we don’t have to work hard to sell Eureka, we don’t have to work hard to develop a new brand, we’ve already got that. It’s inherent in the story, it’s inherent in the iconography of the flag.
“So our job is really to stay true to the story, to honour the sacrifice of those who fought who died, looking at both sides of the story and how that impacted on greater rights for citizens.”
Mr Camm said that in the past there was an issue as to the identity of the centre.
“First and foremost we are located on the site of the battle and I guess you could argue that with all of the interventions over time, it is easy to lose sense that this is a place where people have fallen and died and stood up for their rights, and how this has had a massive impact on how we live today,” he said.
“So our job is to really work with this site and to highlight the story in a subtle and appropriate way – we are not looking to create a theme park, we are looking to honour this as a very significant cultural site.”
The Eureka Centre will be more focused on the Eureka Stockade and the impact and aftermath of that event.
Mr Camm added that they also wanted to connect more with the local community.
“We are not looking to be just a tourist attraction, we are not looking to compete with other tourist attractions, we are affectively a museum but also a community gathering place,” he explained.
“”It’s important for the community living in and around Eureka and Ballarat East feel that this is a place that they can comfortably come to, that there are things for them to do and that they feel some ownership of the Eureka Centre.”
With this is mind an advisory committee has been established – 7 community members with different areas of expertise.
The City of Ballarat is also seeking to engage the community in developing an interpretation plan for the Eureka Centre and Eureka Stockade Memorial Gardens.
A survey is available at mysay.ballarat.vic.gov.au and closes 31 march 2019.