MEDIA RELEASE - Sutherland Library unveils link to local Indigenous history with launch of the celebrated Matson Collection

Visitors to Sutherland Library are now able to explore a unique window into the past, following the recent launch of a new display showcasing an extensive collection of Aboriginal artefacts gathered across the Sutherland Shire.

The painstakingly curated collection of artefacts known as ‘The Matson Collection’ has now been showcased in a new display at Sutherland Library, offering local history buffs and those interested in learning more about local Indigenous culture and customs a unique glimpse of life as it was before European arrival.

The collection, gathered over decades by Sutherland Shire identity Fred Matson, was eventually entrusted to Council to be placed on permanent display, serving as a companion piece to a similar display held by the Sutherland Shire Historical Society.

Before going on display, the collection was subject to countless hours of research and scholarship from former Deputy Chair of the Sutherland Shire Council Aboriginal Advisory Committee and renowned Aboriginal knowledge holder, Bruce Howell, with Mr Howell carefully assessing each item to determine its origin and significance.

Mayor Pesce thanked Mr Howell for his extraordinary efforts in cataloguing each item in the collection, enabling modern day audiences to gain a greater appreciation for the culture of local Aboriginal peoples.

“There are few people as passionate or as knowledgeable about local Aboriginal history as Bruce Howell, and it’s through his in-depth research into each item in this collection that the story of the traditional custodians of this region is really brought to life,” Mayor Pesce said.

Speaking at the recent launch of the display at Sutherland Library, Mr Howell paid tribute to Mr Matson and the decades of dedication he had put into seeking out each item in the collection over the course of his life.

“Fred Matson was a fascinating individual – a well-known local boat builder, a champion ballroom dancer and a genuine local character, who amassed an incredible collection of Aboriginal artefacts he scoured from across the local landscape over many decades,” Mr Howell said.

“For a man of his time, Frank had an uncommon curiosity in Aboriginal history and a keen eye for seeking out artefacts that tell the story of how the traditional owners of our country hunted, fished and made the tools they needed in everyday life.

“It’s been both a great challenge and an incredible honour to investigate the origins of each of these items and try to stitch together a greater understanding of where each item is likely to have come from and how it is most likely to have been used.”

The Matson Collection is on display for all visitors to Sutherland Library to view during library open hours, with copies of Mr Howell’s accompanying book ‘The Matson Collection – Sutherland Shire Libraries’ also available for loan or purchase from the library.