Nine new public galleries could be realised as part of a significant refurbishment of the UNE Museum of Antiquities (UNEMA), with the help of some generous supporters.

The UNEMA is only able to be maintained, expanded and improved to benefit teaching, research and community engagement with the help of passionate donors like the late Bruce Reuman.

Up until his death in April last year, Bruce, a TAFE teacher, grazier and member of the Peace Corps with a passion for the preservation of traditional crafts and cultures, had donated around 200 pieces to the UNEMA from a lifetime of travel; from carved Jamaican coral beads to African Shona sculptures, Ming ware from Indonesia, Guatemalan traditional costumes and Indian cow horn vials.

A collection of Guatemalan indigenous clothes collected while Bruce was serving in the Peace Corps in Guatemala in 1988 has been the focus of several successful public exhibitions since they were donated in 2001.

“He was an unassuming man, but his curiosity took him around the world … He wanted to share his fascination for different cultures with others, and UNEMA is now the beneficiary of that,” UNEMA Curator, Dr Bronwyn Hopwood, says.

Bruce has also established two bequests worth $200,000 bearing his name – an Ethnographic Collections Acquisition Fund to support UNEMA’s collections from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Oriens, and a Collections Conservation Fund to support the upkeep of all UNEMA’s artefacts.

“Our donors are the lifeblood of the museum,” Dr Hopwood says. “It’s philanthropy that has enabled us to expand the collection, host exhibitions and speakers, and to purchase individual artefacts to celebrate museum, patron or university milestones. We would not be here without it.”

Donations also enable the establishment and continuity of annual prizes, lectures and research projects that champion the cultural value of the artefacts in the UNEMA.

For example the Charles Ede Prize supports an annual prize for the best written work submitted by a UNE student on an artefact or aspect of the collections or history of UNEMA. Significant funds from donors also enables the annual Maurice Kelly Lecture, which shares research undertaken on museum objects.

The UNEMA accepts support in the form of volunteering, making tax-deductible donations to future projects, research and exhibitions, gifting artefacts, becoming a patron, establishing a named fund and contributing to an existing fund.    

You can learn more about Bruce’s fascinating travels and legacy here.

You can help protect and improve this unique UNEMA facility by donating towards its upgrade and refurbishment. For more information about how to support UNEMA and get involved, go to the UNEMA website here or email Dr Bronwyn Hopwood.