The Bay Discovery Centre and Holdfast Bay History Centre are initiatives of the City of Holdfast Bay which together function as a museum. The Bay Discovery Centre is the exhibition and interpretive facility while the History Centre’s main role is to manage the local history collection. Each centre’s role has expanded over the last ten years in response to the growing demand for provision of historical and visitor information services to the local and wider community. Each centre has also a thriving volunteer program, with over 140 volunteers working across the two venues.
In 1997 Glenelg and Brighton Councils amalgamated to become the City of Holdfast Bay, and the Town Hall in Moseley Square, Glenelg designed by Edmund Wright was recognised as the ideal location for a new cultural tourism facility to interpret the history and culture of the area. Funding was provided by the Commonwealth Government’s Federation Fund and Council resources to complete the $3 million redevelopment of the building and formation the Bay Discovery Centre.
The Bay Discovery Centre features a series of multimedia displays which interpret the history of Holdfast Bay, from the time of European settlement to today. Changing exhibitions are also developed, showcasing the work of South Australian artists and celebrating South Australia’s beach culture. A master plan is currently being completed to guide a series of upgrades to rejuvenate the centre and provide visitors with better access to items from the collection.
The History Centre collects objects, archives, photographs and memorabilia pertaining to the history of the area within the boundaries of the City of Holdfast bay as well as those of the Holdfast Bay Council. The History Centre provides a history based information service as well as genealogical research facilities which are expanding all the time as is information on the area and individuals with a connection to the area.
There are two active Friends groups – The Friends of St Jude’s Cemetery and the Friends of North Brighton Cemetery. Guided walks, bus tours and open houses are arranged during history month or by appointment through the History Centre.
The History Centre also looks after the Glenelg Air Raid Shelter which was built in 1942 to house war-time communications systems and now contains exhibitions about local war history. It is open on the afternoon of the third Thursday of every month, plus Anzac Day (25 April) and Armistice/Remembrance Day (11 November). Note there are steep stairs down to the shelter.