Tamworth Regional Museums
Tamworth is home to a number of professionally and volunteer run museums throughout our region. The Tamworth Regional Museums collections tell the stories of the people, places and events that have been instrumental in our region becoming the unique regional centre that it is today.
While each of the ten museums has a unique offering, common themes are evident across the collections, including The City of Music, The City of Light and Mining & Minerals. Each museum houses documents, artefacts and exhibits that are vital community assets, helping to contribute to Tamworth’s collective memory. These common themes relate back to Tamworth’s unique identity and connection to place.
This Regional Museums Engagement Strategy (PDF 8.5MB) outlines a framework for the support of ten public museum and social history collections located in the Tamworth Regional Council catchment area and associated with Tamworth Regional Council. The intention of the document is to create a blueprint for the ongoing support and development of each unique collection and to identity the most effective manner for Tamworth Regional Council to support and resource the preservation of the region’s heritage.
Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) has a continuing commitment to the preservation and conservation of cultural collections, as demonstrated by many years of support for our local museums. This assistance occurs in tandem with support offered to a number of heritage collections which are maintained by volunteers across the council catchment.
Across the ten collections, each museum model is slightly different, with different organisational structures ranging from Section 355 Committees through to independent, incorporated bodies and some co-locating with Visitor Information Services, as demonstrated below:
The Tamworth Powerstation Museum
The Tamworth Powerstation Museum was established in 1988. The museum celebrates the history of Tamworth becoming the first town in Australia to be lit by municipal electric street lighting in 1888 and is located on the site where the steam engines powered the street lighting system.
The 1907 Power Station/Municipal Electric Showroom building has been refurbished to display a range of exhibits that chronicle the use of electricity in Australia. The diverse collection covers everything from household items like washing machines and stoves to important innovations in electrical science and design from around the world.
Visit The Tamworth Powerstation Museum website to find out more.
Located at: 216 Peel St Tamworth NSW 2340
The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame
The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Walk a Country Mile Exhibit are both housed within Tamworth’s famous guitar-shaped building.
Together, these two exhibits showcase the history of the Australian country music industry with an unmatched collection of memorabilia including stage clothing, instruments, posters, photographs and more. Some of the artists featured in the exhibits include early pioneers of Australian country music such as Smoky Dawson, Buddy Williams, Tex Morton, June Holms and Shirley Thoms right through to current artists Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, Amber Lawrence and more.
Visit The Australian Country Music Hall of Fame website to find out more.
Located at: 561 Peel Street, Tamworth. (Corner of Peel and Murray Streets).
The National Guitar Museum
The National Guitar Museum is the Tamworth region’s newest attraction, and celebrates unique and specialised instruments and their players.
Featuring more than 45 guitars, the collection is continuing to grow. It also exhibits Chuck Bradley's Instrumental, an illuminating picture collection of guitars and other instruments from country and rock icons.
Visit the Destination Tamworth website to find out more.
Located at: The Tamworth Visitor Information at the Big Golden Guitar, 2 The Ringers Road Tamworth
The Nandewar Historical Society
The Nandewar Historical Society is made up of dedicated volunteers who are passionate about preserving this history of Barraba and the surrounding district. Much of the memorabilia and material collected and preserved by the society relates to early pioneering families and the area’s mining, agricultural and military heritage.
With the help of Tamworth Regional Council and the State Government, The Nandewar Historical Society reopened the Barraba Museum in April 2019 after upgrades and refurbishments.
Visit The Nandewar Historical Society website to find out more.
Located at: 71 Queen St Barraba
The Manilla Heritage Museum
Generations of passionate locals from the Manilla Historical Society have preserved the town’s history, with a showcase of unique artefacts and memorabilia housed within the Manilla Heritage Museum. The museum is home to the Yarrambully School House, Royce House, Chinese Memorial Gardens and the curious tale of Burrell’s Platypussary.
Visit The Manilla Heritage Museum website to find out more.
Located at: 197 Manilla Street Manilla
The Gil Bennet Rocks, Gems and Mineral Collection
Located within the Nundle Visitor Information Outlet, the Gil Bennet Collection is the work of Gilmore Thomas Bennet who spent over 20 years collecting rock, gem and mineral specimens from all over Australia. With over 1500 individual pieces, the collection is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive in the world.
Located at: The Nundle Visitor Information Centre, 103 Jenkins Street Nundle
The Moonbi Museum
This venue is currently closed for the foreseeable future to help minimise the spread of COVID-19.
The Moonbi Museum displays artefacts, photographs and documents that showcase the history of Moonbi and surrounding areas. With some of the images and implements on display date back to the time of settlement in 1856, the museum provides many fascinating insights into the history of this small, close-knit community.
Located at: Gill Street Moonbi
The Tamworth Regional Film and Sound Archive
The Tamworth Regional Film and Sound Archive is dedicated to preserving the region’s film and sound heritage. It houses about 8,000 cans and cassettes of locally and regionally produced visual material and over 20,000 items on the database, plus historical audio material. Tamworth and regional material dates back to 1916 and includes many local collections.
Visit the Tamworth Regional Film and Sound Archive to find out more.
Calala Cottage Museum
Calala Cottage Museum is made up of several buildings including The Shepherd’s Hut which is Tamworth’s oldest surviving building, built in approximately 1840. Calala Cottage itself was built in 1875 by Tamworth’s first mayor, Philip Gidley King.
The Tamworth Historical Society preserves and displays items within the museum’s various buildings, from early Aboriginal artefacts to items from the time Tamworth was established as a city. The collection includes clothing, portraits, photographs, furnishings and machinery.
Visit the Tamworth Historical Society website to find out more.
Located at: 142 Denison Street Tamworth
The Chris Bowman Mineral and Fossil Collection
The Chris Bowman Mineral and Fossil Collection is an exceptional showcase of mineral specimens from the New England and Tamworth area. Many of the specimens were collected in the late 1800s to early 1900s. This collection will be exhibited in the new Tamworth Science and Astronomy Centre currently under construction and due for completion in late 2019.
The Tamworth and District Family History Group
The Tamworth and District Family History Group began in 1983 with a membership of just 16. Today that number has grown to over 160 members who pay a small annual membership fee. The group has links with more than 80 other Family History Groups and societies and maintains the Tamworth and District Historical Card Index. The index has over 25,000 entries including; newspapers, gold registers, commercial directories, church records, cemeteries, government records, coroner's inquests and local history sources.
Visit The Tamworth and District Family History Group website to find out more.
Located at: 62-64 North Street Tamworth.