The Wesley Museum, at Albany Wesley Uniting Church, was the inspiration of Rev John Phillipson, who collected and displayed historical photos, artefacts and papers in ‘The Upper Room’ – the balcony in Wesley Church.
His work was enlarged on and reorganised some years later by Bonnie Hicks, whose information boards form the basis of the present museum. The museum is now situated in more spacious accommodation in Centenary Hall and has again been extended to include many historical books, one of which is a very old Bible and a complete set of Methodist Conference Reports.
The music table contains beautiful old hymn books and other music memorabilia; choir pieces from many years ago; photos and programs of Methodist Music Society Concerts and photos of our much loved organists. There is even a portable organ used for services at out-stations who did not have an organ of their own.
The ‘Communion table’ has a collection of travelling communion sets used by ministers as they attended isolated or ill parishioners.
There are some lovely old books and certificates dating back to the 1800s, on the Sunday School table, which is next to a collection of old toys, books, puzzles and a display of early 19th century children’s clothes, shoes and a dear little Sunday school handbag.
The photo display in the glass cases is a valuable and precious record of the founders of our church. We have a display of wedding gowns from 1900 to 2008; and a selection of women’s garments up to 150 years old, given to us by the Albany Historical Society.
We are fortunate to have been contacted by folk whose family history is closely associated with that of Wesley and therefore Albany itself. The Thomas’, just one of these, are related to Joseph Thomas who built the first Wesley Chapel in 1863 and whose 150th birthday we have just celebrated.
There is an interesting display of the ‘maid’s room from the manse’ and the minister’s desk.
Many photos which have been treasured by church members for years now form a lovely display on the walls. Shelving contains copies of records and other photos, plus newspaper articles.
This is a ‘hands-on’ museum. Children love it because they can look, touch and play; adults love to feel and examine the wonderful old materials in the garments and look and read about our history.
Judy McKechnie, curator of the