A Museum Tour with a Difference

4 May 2017 | General Interest

Sr Kristin Johnston recently invited us to attend a tour of the Mary MacKillop Museum and Alma Cottage facilitated by drama students from Australian Catholic University (ACU).

These students prepared the scripts, and acted as the characters in the story as they narrated the tour of the museum.

2017 Museum TourSr Colette Forde also accompanied us on the tour, which began with us being greeted by a student in the character of a “Sister” in the schoolhouse, where we then prepared for our mental arithmetic class.

As would have been done in Mary MacKillop’s time, we were given slate boards and chalk to assist us with our calculations should we need it.

We were asked various addition and subtraction equations, as well as some trickier questions about pounds, shillings and pence which had most of us calculating in silence for an extended period. Thank goodness Sr Colette was there. Having been a Maths teacher, she led the way for us all.

We then proceeded to Alma Cottage where we were greeted by “Fr Julian Tenison Woods” himself. The character noted that he had never come to Alma Cottage, but did want to introduce us to the Sisters. In real life, Fr Julian was a very charismatic man. His knowledge and passion about science and nature was clearly evident.

2017 Museum Tour 2Another two students in the role of "Sisters" then gave us an overview about how today we take washing machines for granted.

They showed us the clothes board and passed around a solid iron made of cast-iron. Sisters used to repeatedly heat these irons on the stove in order to iron their clothes and bedding.

The tour gave us insights into the life, times and ministry of Mary MacKillop and the early Sisters. We also came to realise that patience truly is a virtue perfected by those who lived before our times. Nothing came quickly or easily back then. Even a jug of water had to be fetched from a well, boiled on a stove, and then cooled before it could be consumed or used for washing.

Thank you to the students whose informative role play made the factual information easy to remember, and the past come back to life for the thirty minutes of the tour.

Steph Walker and Mary Baynie