A Night At The Museum

By: Matt Weedon – Tobin Brothers Funerals
Friday, October 17, 2014

Just as Ben Stiller described his experience in the 2006 film Night at the Museum as "freakin’ awesome", so too was the official opening of the Tobin Brothers Funerals Museum on Thursday 9th October.

First conceived by Tobin Brothers Funeral’s Chairman, Michael Tobin, as a ‘living Museum’ that is not only a fascinating history of the family owned company of over 80 years, but also an evolving modern testament to the innovation and professionalism of the people who work here.

Laura Flowerday, the key designer of the Museum space, spent several months researching, conceptualising and project managing each section down to their finest details. Working within a relatively confined floor space, Laura’s prudence in developing effective solutions to present, display and ultimately tell a story proved overwhelmingly successful, as can be seen from the before and after shots below:

The buzz in the air at the opening night sparked with anticipation. From arriving at the beautifully appointed foyer, presented with ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek artefacts to walking down the red carpet, collecting a ticket and being led through the Museum on a tour by dedicated guides, people were treated to nothing short of a fascinating and unique expedition.There was so much to see and absorb. Walking down the stairs you were greeted by the Founding Fathers and the family tree of Tobin’s who have worked in the company for four generations. Further inside, the fine craftsmanship of the polished cabinetry made an immediate impact and displayed objects, tools and historical documents of the funeral industry including the first advertisement of AV Tobin Funerals (later named Tobin Brothers Funerals), and funeral documents and records from the 1800’s.

Further along there were highlighted photos of branches from their initial opening to their current modern refurbishments, and above them wines and plaques from their opening events.

In the centre of the cabinetry sits strikingly, the original hand crafted coffin (circa 1930) highlighted by lights taken from the recently acquired Herbert King Chapel, this aptly began the section of arranging a funeral and included coffin making tools, photos of the coffin making process and arrangement manuals and guides for funeral directors.

Beside this was a display of the many community events, awards and conventions Tobin Brothers Funerals has been and in many cases still are involved in, including Tribute Trees, Art for the Heart,Christmas Remembrance Services, Remembering Our Angels, and Australian Funeral Directors Association awards and events.

A more current addition was the display of the Tobin Brothers brand evolution, illustrating the change in logos and bylines, and the various styles and content of brochures and collateral over the years. Also included here was the Memory Maker App which now allows families to plan a funeral using their iPhone, tablet or computer and arrange any personalised funeral stationery such as DVD slideshows and Mass Booklets through the Memories and Tributes division.

Skilfully leading each tour group on a journey in time, the tour guides, Alan Muller, Julie Pearce and Glenda Tombs talked in depth of the history and various personalities that made Tobin Brothers Funerals what it is today.

Two of the Founding Fathers Leo and Alphonse were both fireman and Leo’s brass hat and an original copper fire extinguisher have been taken from the Sunshine branch to be included in the Museum.

Tying all of these displays together are the colourful and graphical history timelines along the walls from 1934 to today, including the changes in funeral vehicles from horse and cart to the Harley Hearse.

The glass framed uniform display showing changes in funeral director uniforms from 1930’s to today proved popular, as was the entire section on celebrity and high profile funerals, including Peter Brock and Archbishop Daniel Mannix.

Turning the corner, the tour group were fascinated to see an original typewriter, radio receiver, and engraving machine (used to create name plaques), all circa 1920. These items were carefully restored and spotlight with the original ‘New Age Engraving Machine’ instruction manual reprinted on the wall and ceiling.

Perhaps the most impressive transformation to the Museum space was the recreation of the Herbert King Chapel. The original stained glass windows and altar were expertly housed in a sandstone wall replica, with the altar and brass fittings standing proud, as though the front section of the original chapel has been relocated into the museum space.

To highlight the ever evolving nature of Tobin Brothers and the desire to remain at the forefront of the industry, this section also houses a Samsung Tablet which has been retrofitted to an original brass lectern. This then connects wirelessly to the LED smart display for contemporary multimedia interaction, history and information.

After the tours, Tobin Brothers Funerals Managing Director, James MacLeod talked of the hard work creating the finished Museum, praising the many individuals involved and its importance to tribute the history of the company, its story and most vitally the professional people who work and have made Tobin Brothers Funerals the great company it is today.

Michael Tobin had the honour of officially opening the Museum, revealing the plaque that signified the occasion. He reiterated that like the movie “Night at the Museum”, the Tobin Brothers Funerals Museum is “living” and will continue to evolve and grow as new events unfold and new developments and changes are made to the industry.






Written by: Matt Weedon - Tobin Brothers Funerals
Photography by: Matt Weedon - Tobin Brothers Funerals

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