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Huge pastoral gift to National Museum

6 NOVEMBER 2004

One of the largest and best-documented collections on the history of a major rural property has been donated to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

The collection of more than 1000 objects traces the history of Springfield, a large wool growing property which has remained in the same family since it was established near Goulburn in the 1820s.

"The Springfield Collection is extremely significant in its breadth and detailed history, tracing carefully the property's development and the family's colonial and social life over more than 170 years," said National Museum director Craddock Morton.

The Springfield Collection is the largest ever donation to the National Museum under the Cultural Gifts program. It substantially boosts the museum's colonial holdings and a team of eight museum staff will work next week to pack objects, which range from an 1890s custom-built buggy and cricket trophies to wedding dresses, wool samples and a stuffed green parrot.

A dedicated storage area has been constructed at the National Museum's Mitchell warehouse where all objects will be freeze treated for pests before being fully catalogued and valued.

"Our family is very pleased that this very personal collection is going to the National Museum and that it will be well looked after and kept in tact," said Jim Maple-Brown, great-grandson of Springfield founder William Faithfull. "This is the prime concern for us so that we and future generations have the opportunity to see it and remain connected to it."

The collection is unusual because family members have continuously saved objects relating to the history of Springfield's sheep studs, costume, sporting memorabilia, children's toys, domestic items and decorative arts. There is also significant early colonial material, and objects relating to a bushranging attack by Ben Hall in 1865.

The collection comes from a two-room museum established in the family home in the 1950s and the property's historic woolshed. The collection is supported by an extensive array of written material and vintage photographs.

Springfield is being auctioned on 9 December. The National Museum plans to have material from the Springfield Collection on show in its permanent galleries from late next year.

For interviews or more information please contact Leanda Coleman on 0438 620 710 or l.coleman@nma.gov.au