Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vale Leslie Quick Bown

Everyone at the Norfolk Island Museum was saddened to hear of the recent death of Les Brown. In 2004 when he received his Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award, he was described as being “known on Norfolk Island and throughout historical circles in both Australia and New Zealand as the foremost historian on Norfolk Island history. Les’s passionate interest in all things Norfolk has led him to dedicate his life to the ongoing pursuit of knowledge in this particular field”.

Les was a member of the first Norfolk Island Museum Trust and served for a number of years. Importantly while researching artefacts for a museum exhibition in the early 1990s he identified two basalt patu in the Australian Museum as being those that Tuki and Huru presented to Philip Gidley King in 1793. This led to a ceremony on Norfolk Island where the patu were repatriated to Tuki and Huru’s descendants, and subsequently gifted to the people of Norfolk Island. Les undertook vast amounts of research on that one project alone. Over the years subsequent Museum Director’s, including myself, came to rely not only on Les’ fabulous memory and capacity to bring forth a detail or information on the question at hand, but also on his incredibly generosity – he would never say he was too busy or didn’t have the time to research our questions, never receiving any more payment than thanks.

Over the years Les also donated many valuable items to the museum including books, diaries, maps and artefacts. Now, thanks to the Executor of his Will Mr. Paul Bowe, the entirety of his collection has come to the Norfolk Island Museum. Many hundreds of books and papers covering every aspect of this islands history were accepted into the museum collection this week. This is the largest single donation that the museum has ever received. Obviously the quality of the material is exceptional with all of the key research books on Norfolk Island included. Because of the size of the collection it will take us more than a few months to sort and catalogue each item. We are hopeful of being able to keep the collection physically together in one place, identifiable as the ‘Les Quick Brown Collection’. It will eventually be available to anyone wishing to research Norfolk’s history.

Our sincere thanks to Paul and his wife Lynne for deciding to donate Les’ collection to the Museum. While Les’ legacy to the museum during his lifetime was immense, having his wonderful collection now available to us all will provide an enduring contribution to the historical research of this island for years to come. The photo shows Paul handing over the books to Lisa Richards.

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