Some of the Australian Computer Museum Society’s 50,000-item-strong collection may be bulldozed next week, because the warehouse it occupies is scheduled for demolition and the Museum can’t find alternative accommodation within its budget.
The Society currently occupies a warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Villawood. Curator John Geremin said the Museum’s collection occupied more than 200 square meters on triple-level racks.
Among the notable items in the collection are an EAI analog computer from the 1940s, vintage minicomputers from the 1960s and 1970s, and what Geremin described as “disk drives that are bigger than your washing machine”.
Geremin said the warehouse in which the collection is housed would be closed on 10 August and subsequently demolished, but that the museum had been unable to find comparable storage space at the $5-$7 per square mere per month that it currently pays.
Some of the collection will this week be loaded into a 40-foot container, but Geremin said that would hold only ten per cent of the collection. He rates the Society’s collection of documents the most important artefacts in the collection, but said their weight meant it would only be able to fill the container a metre deep, with scant weight capacity left over for actual computers.
Geremin said government-funded museums have offered sympathy for the Society’s issue, but no space. Overseas museums have helped to publicise the Society’s plight, but can’t offer practical help. Geremin said a New Zealand collector would visit on 2 August, and has hinted at re-housing some of the collection, but nothing is certain.
Geremin has therefore called for anyone willing to house some of the collection to come and pick it up and take it away.
“We need bodies, we need people with a corner of a garage, a bit of basement, a caravan not being used by the grandparents,” Geremin said. “So long as they come with transport and a bit of muscle, come and grab some stuff,” he said.
He added that a scattered collection is better than no collection at all.
“I hope the collection is distributed to enthusiasts who have an idea what they are taking and its heritage, and who will care for it rather than scrape the gold off the connectors inside.”
“If it stays here and the bulldozer gets it, it is gone forever. If it goes somewhere else we may not see it for a while, but that will be better than not having it at all.”
If you’d like to house some of the Society’s collection, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.