Bringing the history and achievements of the Sisters of Charity in Australia to life in the Heritage CentrePrint
- From the Chair of the Heritage Centre Committee, Robert Cahill
Back in 2013, at the behest of the Congregational Leader and Council, the Heritage Working Party was convened, to review opportunities, options and possible locations to create a special place, to bring to life the wonderful history and achievements of the Sisters of Charity in Australia.
That was the beginning of this major project to create a place of heritage and history focus, including the re-location of the Congregational Archives then located within St Vincent’s College, Potts Point, to create the Heritage and Archives Centre.
The Working Party morphed into the Heritage Centre Committee, and by early 2015 the CL+C had endorsed the program developed by this Committee to create the Heritage Centre and Archives at 1 Rockwell Crescent, Potts Point.
Key aspects of the project were considered and developed by a highly specialised team brought together to design and document this complex project through 2017. Building works were completed through 2018 followed by the highly specialised installation of the exhibits, visual effects and IT installations completed in April, 2019.
The prime objective of the Heritage Centre and Archives has been to create a facility to reveal the history and achievements of the Sisters of Charity to act as a catalyst to promote the comprehensive initiatives and activities of the Sisters during the past 180 years to continue into the future.
In particular, the pervading impact upon a visitor to the Centre will be to identify key and present-day social justice issues, and challenge and stimulate all to respond positively to these issues.
In addition to this key objective, the project has been guided by the opportunity to
- co-locate and benefit from the common location of the Heritage Centre and the extensive Archives to promote a dynamic and developing exhibition over time, stimulate ongoing research and interest in the Sisters of Charity and their work in Australia
- integrate the Chapel, a key reflection and symbol of the life of the all Sisters, into the Heritage Centre visit.
- provide meeting facilities, reflection space for all those associated with the Sisters of Charity mission to gather at the Heritage Centre, reflect and better understand the past to support and guide the future.
The project has involved many specialist contributors including a curator, many design consultants to support an intensive building program, a specialist exhibition designer, development of integrated visual and sound displays and effects, and the design and completion of game plays. All this has been cleverly located in a building converted from what was once a 12-bedroom convent, compromising many small rooms. The many small rooms were the antithesis of what a Heritage Centre requires, but the careful reorganisation and expansion of the original building has allowed the completion of a wonderful facility, fit for purpose.
The project has taken more than six years to come together, driven by the coordinated efforts of two key Committees, one responsible for the design, construction and exhibition installation, the other for the content of the exhibition.
A host of dedicated individuals with highly specialised capability and gifts have then collectively understood, in the broadest sense, the vision of this facility, and worked together to create something special and enduring.