David Wells, the curator of Bradman Museum, feels extremely honoured to be associated with an institution that bears Sir Donald’s name. “Don is an inspirational Australian and much can still be learned from studying his life and the game he loved,” says David.
“We are working tirelessly to interpret not only Don’s history but also that of the game worldwide in as many engaging ways as possible.”
Q: We preserve history and heritage to maintain and reinforce our cultural identity. Linking the present to cricket’s glorious history is far from an easy task. How do you cope with this stupendous job?
A: It’s never an easy job to keep history relevant in a world that is ever focussed on the here and now. But, we work every day to implement Sir Donald’s Charter that the museum and surrounds exists specifically to promote and develop widespread understanding of the game of cricket, especially to young people. Sir Donald believed that cricket taught him character, values which helped him live a long, fulfilling and good life. This is why the museum exists and why we have worked so hard to interpret not only his history but also that of the game worldwide in as many different and engaging ways as possible.
Original artifacts have been combined with bright and attractive graphics, a detailed narrative, photographs, film, player interviews and interactive screens all combine to tell cricket’s story to our visiting public. We work hard to appeal to people of all ages from many different cultures and of both sexes so that their visit to the museum remains a sublime and fulfilling experience.
We also ensure that cricket is played regularly on Bradman Oval and that young people are taught not just the fundamentals of the game in our clinics but also to understand its history, laws and spirit. You have to make the museum interesting for visitors to learn.
Q: Please tell us about how the museum was conceived and designed.
A: I have been associated with this museum only since 2002. The museum was conceived by a consortium of local people and Sydney-based executives in the mid-1980s who sought to honour Sir Donald’s achievements. Sir Donald only agreed to be a part of the museum on the basis that its displays would be about the game first and foremost and his cricket career second. He was present when the museum pavilion was opened in 1989. Subsequent significant developments were the original museum in 1996 and the International Cricket Hall of Fame in 2010.
Q: Did you face any hurdles in the restoration work and in curating the museum?
A: We face many hurdles running this business. Being located in a regional setting (not Sydney) means visitation is relatively light (approx. 26,000 a year). Bowral’s total population is 8,000. We are a not-for-profit charitable trust governed by an honorary board and have to raise most of our own income. While Sir Donald gave the Foundation his naming rights, since his death in 2001 royalties have lessened significantly. However the government has been assisting in recent years.
Q: Does the government extend any help?
A: Both the Federal and State governments committed funding totalling $11 million to upgrade the museum in 2008, the centenary of Sir Donald’s birth. In 2010 the International Cricket Hall of Fame was opened. In 2012 the new Bradman Gallery and Origins of Cricket Gallery were opened and in 2013 the World Series Cricket Gallery was opened. We are currently working with the State government to ensure recurrent funding. So without recent government assistance, the museum would not be the standard you witnessed.
Q: Who lives at 20 Glebe Street now once occupied by Sir Don?
A: My boss, the executive director of the museum, lives there. She is indeed honoured to live in a house once occupied by young Don Bradman. The house was actually built by Don’s father George with his sons, Victor and Don’s help.
Q: Sir Don was born on 27 August in 1908. Does the Museum hold any special programme on that day?
A: We normally mark Sir Donald’s birthday with a celebratory lunch. In the past his former team-mates attended and held the audience spell-bound with their incredible stories but they are getting very elderly now and find travel difficult.
Q: How many visitors does the museum receive monthly?
A: Our visitation fluctuates during the year because of seasonal variations but we average over 2,000 visitors a month. Very pleasingly increasing numbers of visitors are international with increasing numbers coming from India.
Q: How many employees are there in the museum? How about volunteers?
A: We have 12 full-time equivalent employees whose duties range from management, visitor services, curatorial, accounts, café and functions. We have 25 volunteers who act as collection cataloguers, researchers, guides and assist with hospitality.