30 Apr 2009

The New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery

The Benedictine Community of New Norcia was established in 1846 and in the years since has played a significant role in various aspects of Western Australian life. The purpose of a Benedictine monastery is to develop and maintain a community of prayer – liturgical prayer celebrated in common - nourished by personal study and piety and balanced by some kind of work which serves partly as recreation and partly to make to make the community self-supporting.

The monastery established its Museum and Art Gallery as a means of preserving and sharing its heritage with the broader community. The museum provides a gateway to the community and reveals glimpses of the lives of monks who have committed themselves to monastic life and to the work of our order in the wider community. It contains one of the finest collections of movable cultural heritage in Australia.

The collection reflects aspects of life shared with many other areas of rural Australia coupled with those unique to Australia's only Monastic town. The collection includes paintings by Spanish and Italian masters, and gifts from the Queen of Spain, as well as a fascinating array of more humble artefacts. Together, they tell the story of New Norcia's time as an Aboriginal mission, as a centre of the monks' extensive farming activities and as a place of education and culture.

This exhibition takes the visitor behind the gates of the monastery to a world of living history with links to people, places and events in locations as far afield as the Kimberley and Spain.

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Geoff Barker
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