The Sisters’ Heritage Centre and archives reopens cautiously after the pandemicPrint
All worthwhile endeavours require effort and patience. We closed in 2020 for the first pandemic lock-down and in the months that followed, plans and schedules were set aside or delayed as we collectively braced ourselves against the unknown.
When the staff of the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre and Archives returned to “normal” a few months back, we had to complete a significant upgrade to our climate control before we could throw open our doors to visitors.
With patience, the right expertise, and faith in the outcome, this project is almost finalised. Bookings recommenced in mid-April, but prior to this, Heritage Centre staff reacquainted themselves with the business of being open for business.
During prolonged closures, the digital provided a proxy home for the Centre. We could engage with our audiences and contemplate new methods for sharing the Sisters’ story and charism in a virtual space. The time to cultivate our on-line presence was a blessing and we are now better positioned to work with schools and formation leaders in other States.
From this, however, we are turning our attention to the here and now; the physical and the tangible (that’s what exhibitions are all about). As we began thinking about welcoming people into the Centre, several procedures and everyday tasks were revisited and tweaked. It was a change of focus, a very welcome one. We are weeks into the renewed rhythms of working on-site again and overall, I think we have returned to our roles a little bit wiser and with a reinvigorated sense of purpose.
Since early April, we have welcomed Formation Leaders and Mission Directors from St Vincent’s Health and hosted workshops for advisory councils. Most recently, we organised a tour for members of the Sisters of Charity Foundation Board and staff.
We are fortunate to have the unstinting support of Sisters, who guide our visitors around the exhibition and share a little of their own story and expertise in the process. Sr Eileen Browne has been a regular fixture since our reopening, and we expect to see the return of our other Sister volunteers in the next month.
We are mid-way through a series of bookings with the year 7s from St Vincent’s College, facilitated by Sr Anne Taylor. This is a wonderful opportunity to guide the students into a deeper investigation of the key themes and objects on display.
The Object Study Tour was co-created by Sr Anne and our Engagement Learning and Program Developer, Dr Allison O’Sullivan, and will be used in the upcoming visit from Bethlehem College students.
Bookings are still required, but making one is a simple as an email or calling 02 9138 0835. We look forward to re-introducing visitors to this wonderful space.
By Rachel Mensforth, Manager, Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre