Museum awarded 2022 Forbes Medal for Osborne Hall restoration

They have scraped, they have sanded, they have lobbied for funding and sorted through decades worth of donated and collected local history.

Now our incredible Forbes and District Historical Society volunteers have been awarded the Forbes Medal for heritage preservation as part of Forbes' 2022 Heritage Festival.

"You don't get prizes for blood, sweat and tears but there ought to be one," were the words of Heritage Advisor Graham Hall in announcing the honour on Tuesday night.

The volunteers - small in number - have worked for countless hours over the past two years to create more exhibition space in the historic Osborne Hall which houses our local museum.

The two-storey building in Cross Street dates back to 1878, when it was built as the music hall for the pub next door.

"It's had this amazing series of uses: balls, concerts, courthouse, auctions, flower and produce shows, a gymnasium, a cinema, military training, Salvation Army services, a motor garage, joinery works, funeral parlour, miniature rifle range and panel beaters," Mr Hall said.

"That range of uses ... have resulted in enormous changes to the building over time.

"When buildings have been through so many changes the difficulty is deciding what changes are significant and what changes should be reversed - and that's always a bit of a balance."

With the goal of creating an accessible exhibition space that better tells the story of our community, volunteers bid for funding for a lift and then went to work on the upstairs area which was packed with donated and collected local artefacts.


Mr Hall described the upstairs as "an absolute rabbit warren" but the partitions were not structural and much has been cleared and rearranged.

One of the most onerous physical tasks was the removal of the "tar paper" covering the beautiful timber floorboards.

"There was 'Black Japan' (floor varnish) on that floor - a traditional floor finish which takes 'a bit of getting off', countless man hours," Mr Hall said.

"It's an enormous volunteer effort."

The result, he says, is a "fabulous space" with a professional display of objects.

"They're part of our history, part of our life, and most of them are related to local people so there's that personal connection as well," he said.

Mr Hall also paid tribute to this year's other nominees: Forbes Town Tennis Club for their work to restore the verandah on their clubhouse in a historically accurate way, and Forbes Shire Council's for the restoration of the Victoria Park rotunda.