Saturday, June 8, 2013

8. A bit more history

As I was rushing through the city today to meet a friend and do some shopping in the mid-year sales, I remembered that I wrote on yesterday's blog post that I'd take some photos and post to History Pin. I whipped out my iPhone as I got to the cultural heart of the city, took a pretty average picture of the old facade of the W.A. Museum (which happens to have the word LIBRARY carved into it) and rushed on. Although it's just the one photo, it has been uploaded to History Pin, and they informed me that I'll be able to see it there in about 6 hours. Mission completed!

Actually, I love this building. The site and also the building have gone through a huge number of changes, even since I toured through it with my school classmates around 30 years ago (unfortunately, nothing has been pinned to History Pin as far as I can see...). Some things I didn't know, or had just a hazy awareness of:
  • In 1850 it was a JAIL and housed convicts
  • In 1891 it became a geological museum, and housed geological specimens
  • In 1899, on the back of the gold rush, the old building was knocked down and up went the Jubilee Building, and housed the state's Library, Art Gallery and Museum.
  • Various bits and pieces of the museum and other cultural building were demolished (the Francis Street Building was destroyed because of the danger of asbestos) and new work generally came on the back of mineral booms.
  • The Museum Grounds are where the Francis Street Building used to be, and now they are the awesome venue of the Perth International Arts Festival's Festival Gardens.
And the biggest thing that I didn't know is that in May 2012 an announcement was made to the effect that a new museum will be built on the site of the old Francis Street Building, with a completion date of 2020! I must have had my head buried in the sand, but now that I'm a resident of the City I'm taking an interest.

I've been inside a few times since I came back from my 10 years overseas sojourn. I really love the sense of history in the main hall, which used to be the library. You can still see the old wooden bookshelves lining the walls. And I love the enormous modern glass wall they've constructed to connect the two old buildings - the wall is constantly changing as they stick up new exhibition posters. There have been some great exhibitions lately too.

Speaking of new buildings, Perth is getting a new city library, due for completion in 2014! It's going to cost more that $33 million to build, and the design looks pretty interesting. See what it will look like here! It's all happening in this booming state - the changes in the City of Perth are staggering. Almost every time I go for a walk around the city there's new construction going on or new shops opening up. Certainly it seems to be a good time for new projects like the Library and the Museum too.