This brand spanking new museum is the cultural heart of an era gone by.
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is the largest institution of its kind in Australia outside a capital city. From 1895 until 2001 it was housed at a purpose-built site in Royal Park that's still home to a natural history collection, Chinese temple and planetarium.
In 1996, when the Launceston Railway Workshops in Inveresk were vacated, the museum began major renovations to create a second site for the museum and gallery. The new site is twice as large, so many mothballed exhibits are now able to be shown.
Architects maintained the integrity of the former site in their plans for the new building, so while it bears the stamp of modernity, it still looks like the original.
An original carperter's workshop remains, and is a reminder of the vital role locomotives and freight wagons played in the development of Tasmania. It has two locomotives, including one old, red Y-class that you can board; another carriage with an old Holden on top (a reminder of when there were few roads in the state); and a Kraus locomotive that used to cart iron ore on the west coast.
The Duke of Edinburgh turned the first sod for the railway in 1868 and the beautifully-carved ceremonial wheelbarrow used on that occasion is on show, as well as a large portrait painted by Colonial artist Robert Dowling.
The Blacksmith Shop provided work for 100 people in its time, making springs, spikes, bolts, coupling hooks for rolling stock and cranes, and faces for padlocks. A blacksmith who did his apprenticeship there works from time to time, and you can watch him beating the anvil amongst the huge pneumatic hammers and equipment used for testing chain strength.
Migration was also important to Tasmania's progress and the arrival of post-war immigrants from Europe is recognised and remembered. The Foyer features a wonderful silver Alfa Romeo which was built in 1920. The engine and chassis were imported from Europe by a local resident and the aluminium body was build by a Launceston coach-maker.
The Art Gallery is 1350 square metres and is in what was the main workshop area. It is vaulted with a mezzanine level running around the edge of the building and exhibits 500 pieces of work, including masks, kimonos, prints, textiles and headdresses.
There is an exhibit of Tasmanian art from colonial times and a growing collection of contemporary crafts and designs. There are also Aboriginal shell necklaces dating from the 1830s on show, as well as jewellery, weaponry and sculptured paddles and headdresses from Pacific islands. They tell the stories of missionaries, whalers and traders who went there and returned to Tasmania with relics.
The Asian Collection includes dolls, musical instruments and examples of packaging techniques from Ikeda, Launceston’s Japanese sister city.
The Small Gallery, which is less than 100 square metres, has an exhibition of ambrotypes and daguerreotypes, the earliest forms of photography.