2024 ‘Creativity and Culture’ Category Honourable Mention

Lake Macquarie City Council, NSW

Sugar Valley Library Museum, kirantakamyari

2024 ‘Creativity and Culture’ Category Honourable Mention

The Initiative

Sugar Valley Library Museum, kirantakamyari, is a converted library museum in Lake Macquarie City. One of only a few of its kind in the world and a first for the Hunter region, it combines creativity and culture through contemporary library services, technology, and community facilities.

The unique space is a true partnership between Lake Macquarie City Council and the West Wallsend District Heritage Group (WWDHG). The WWDHG collection was founded at West Wallsend High School in the 1980s as an innovative initiative to develop students’ museum skills and respect for heritage. Students collected, catalogued and cleaned items, recorded oral histories from long–term residents and developed a sense of community through understanding local history.

By 2017, population growth and access issues led to WWDHG approaching the Council to assist with relocating the collection to a new space. With the initial brief being formulated for a new library in neighbouring Cameron Park, the concept of converging the two initiatives, a library and a museum, was born.

Developed from the West Wallsend collection, the museum’s debut exhibition, Westy: We built this history, presents the story of the region through enticing and immersive experiences, objects portraying the life and times of this unique township forged by mining, the Depression, community and geographical isolation. The exhibition contains stories of people who worked, lived and played in the shadow of Mount Sugarloaf, including through interactive elements like the Hunter’s first virtual reality experience of an underground coal mine.

The museum is the city’s first professional museum and the Council continues to partner with the WWDHG to provide training to the group’s volunteers in cleaning objects, cataloguing, digitising records and establishing best practises.

The library hosts regular early literacy programs, art classes and books clubs, while the museum engages an active group of volunteers and provides public through tours and professional development programs. The facility provides an engaging, innovative space where people can come together to learn, create and connect.

About the Category

The ‘Creativity and Culture’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • create opportunities to showcase the best of communities through arts and culture;
  • embrace wellbeing and diversity, and encourage social inclusion through community participation in artistic activities; and/or
  • leverage arts and culture to improve community sustainability and increase local economic opportunity.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • fostering opportunities for the enjoyment of the arts through broad community engagement;
  • establishing local arts hubs for community arts, performances and exhibitions; and/or
  • supporting arts initiatives that foster inclusion and skill development.

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