A treasure trove of Albany history

The Albany Uniting Church Museum, located in the Duke St building, is a treasure trove of church history and amazing textiles. The museum became a possibility when some old blueprints and a concept plan of a new church were found in an upstairs balcony which had previously housed the church organ. That ‘new church’, was the original Methodist Church, which was completed in 1893.

The priceless paperwork was repaired and conserved – marking the beginning of the journey to a museum in the church. Some more historical items from the early days of the church were recovered and moved from the balcony into the hall, including old photos, meeting notices, letters and various certificates.

Also on display are early Bibles and hymn books, original light fittings, door locks and a key, horse shoes and some old beer bottles found underneath the church when the floor was lifted.

Over time, the curator of the museum has collected a stunning array of wedding dresses, ranging from the 1880s right up until the 1990s, displaying all the glorious fashions of the time. The museum has about 60 wedding dresses on display – each one coming with its own fascinating, interesting or sad story.

As well as wedding dresses, the museum has a range of 20th century garments from the Albany Historical Society.

The museum’s curator, a member of the Albany Region Uniting Churches, said she has learnt a lot in collecting all the displays, especially about respecting people’s stories and their privacy. She also said she loved seeing the joy on people’s faces when they visit the museum from local aged care residences.

“They shuffle in on their walking frames, see the dresses, and their eyes open wide!” she said. “They look, smile and start talking. The supporters say they don’t talk much in their homes, at the museum they don’t stop!”

The Albany Uniting Church Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10.00am to 12noon, at 12 Duke St Albany.

For more information, visit findalbany.com.au/textileshistoric-wedding-gowns or email unitingchurchalbany@gmail.com

Heather Dowling

Top image: Judy admires her mother’s wedding dress, which is on show at the Albany Uniting Church Museum.

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