The Bradman Museum

‘Today the Bradman Museum stands in Bowral where I played in my youth... I hope it will forever stand as a monument to our game.’ Sir Donald Bradman, 2000

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The Bradman Museum was created to preserve the history of cricket and ensure that its captivating story, both within Australia and overseas, can be experienced by successive generations through its many displays, collections and publications.

Garry goes into bat for The Don by Illawarra mercury. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Situated alongside the picturesque and historic Bradman Oval, in Bowral New South Wales (NSW) Australia, the concept of the museum gained momentum after its earliest proponent, Bowral lawyer and inaugural Chairman, Garry Barnsley first approached Sir Donald in 1983. Although initially hesitant, Bradman did not dissuade Barnsley from his goal. Cricket enthusiasts rallied to support the plan for a national cricket museum which also honoured the achievements of Sir Donald Bradman.

Bradman Museum Opening, Bowral - Sir Donald & Lady Bradman (1989-10-14) by Mirror Australia Telegraph PublicationsBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

In 1985 planning gained crucial impetus when funding was secured from the New South Wales Bicentennial Authority, followed by further backing from corporate sponsorship, individual donors and philanthropists.

The Bradman Museum Trust was formed in 1987 under the Chairmanship of Bruce Collins QC to oversee the construction and fit-out of the museum.

On 14 October, 1989 the two-level traditional cricket pavilion and Museum was opened by Lady Jesse Bradman, in the presence of Sir Donald and The Hon John Fahey MP, before a packed crowd assembled on Bradman Oval.

Bradman Pavilion and Oval today. The original Bradman Museum was housed upstairs. Take a self guided tour of the oval, pavilion steps and to Sir Donald Bradman's statue, reflection walk and memorial gardens. Street View by Google 2018

Bradman Museum, Stage 2, Collage of Media (1989/1991) by The Weekend Australian and Daily TelegraphBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The Pavilion proved a reliable but small home for the museum given the numerous cricket teams who also used it for the many matches hosted on the Oval.

The Trust energetically chased funding for a second stage, to create a totally dedicated cricket museum. The support of the New South Wales Cricket Association and especially that of their their CEO Bob Radford and President, former Australian player Alan Davidson, proved pivotal with Radford succeeding Collins as Chairman.

Showcase of Australian Test men's and women's uniforms. (1989) by Bradman MuseumBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

An original display from the 1989 Bradman Museum.

Pavilion and Library
The Pavilion is site of the first museum, reserved today for cricketers and community groups. Upstairs, the Bradman Reference Library houses a significant collection of cricket literature. Street View by Google 2018

Bradman Museum, Stage 2 Opening (1996) by Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sir Roden Cutler, the Inaugural patron of Bradman Foundation, turned the first sod for construction of Stage 2, in September 1994. Sir Roden, a lifelong friend of Sir Donald Bradman, remained a great supporter of the museum.

The museum's various incarnations were made possible through the positive, supportive and active role of Sir Donald Bradman, and its successive patrons: Sir Roden Cutler (1994 - 2002), Richie Benaud (2002 - 2015), and now The Hon. John Howard (2015 - present).

On August 27, 1996, Sir Donald Bradman's birthday, then Prime Minister The Hon. John Howard opened the dedicated Bradman Museum. Open 7 days-a-week and featuring detailed displays showcasing the history of cricket, it included a 94 seat theatrette, and dressing room immersion. All displays were finished to the highest standard.

The Bradman Gallery exhibits hundreds of significant artefacts directly associated with and donated by Sir Donald Bradman. Take a self-guided tour throughout the gallery and museum. Street View by Google, 2018

Sir Roden Cutler and Sir Donald Bradman (1979) by Bradman Museum Collection (Photographer Unknown)Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

“The Bradman Museum is probably the finest cricket museum in the world, and it is planned to epitomise the ethos of cricket, and give us a commendable way of life through enjoyment of one aspect of our leisure.”

Sir Roden Cutler, Inaugural Patron, Bradman Foundation, (1994 - 2002). Introduction to Stage 2 museum opening August 27, 1996.

“The museum complex is primarily for the youth of Australia. It is a symbol of what cricket has meant and will continue to mean to the people of our nation.”

Sir Donald Bradman, letter for Stage 2 museum opening, 27th August 1996.


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Sir Donald Bradman pictured with Sir Roden Cutler, 1979

England Cricket Team play at Bradman Oval, Bowral NSW (1999) by UnknownBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The dedicated museum was supported by matches played by touring Test sides with England, South Africa and New Zealand all playing on Bradman Oval before capacity crowds of 5,000. Spurred on by Sir Donald’s endorsement, new and precious objects were generously donated to the museum. Harold Larwood’s family freely gave many of their father’s personal effects from his playing days. Cricket photographer Viv Jenkins’ seminal photos from the days of World Series Cricket were donated, while innumerable other generous individuals donated items which have collectively added to the nation’s cricketing heritage.

The Bradman family, scattering the ashes (2001-10-19) by Alan Pyke/NewspixBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Sir Donald became the Museum’s greatest supporter and regularly facilitated donations and support to ensure the Museum was successful.

Following his death on February 25, 2001 and in accordance with his wishes, the Bradman family scattered Sir Donald’s and Lady Bradman’s combined ashes on and around Bradman Oval and in the dedicated rose garden.

A Final Salute, Bronze Statue, by Tanya Bartlett (2002-02-25) by Photograph by Martin Bult and Tanya BartlettBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

To commemorate the passing of Sir Donald Bradman, the Bradman Trust commissioned artist Tanya Bartlett to sculpt a life-size statue of Don Bradman tipping his Baggy Green cap.

'A Final Salute’ was unveiled after 12 months after his death on February 25, 2002, by his Test batting colleague Bill Brown, and former Test Captain and then Bradman Foundation Chairman Ian Craig. It appropriately acknowledges Bradman's enormous contribution to cricket. The bronze statue remains the most photographed aspect of the site's many attractions, complemented as it is by the specially developed Bradman Roses flowering in the background.

Bradman Museum & Bradman Centre, Bowral (2019) by Adrian Connelly, A.P.Connelly Photography and Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The centenary of Sir Donald’s birth in 2008 acted as a catalyst to expand the museum’s displays, to reflect the many changes within cricket, honouring Australia's international competitors in all three formats. Under Chairman Michael Ball, a third stage of construction saw an extension to the existing building to house interactive displays, which engaged audiences to probe deeper into world cricket history.

Opening ceremony of International Cricket Hall of Fame. (2010-10-29) by Bradman MuseumBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

In 2010, with the support of both Federal Government funding, the International Cricket Hall was opened by The Hon Martin Ferguson MP. For the first time the Bradman Museum truly reflected the broad reach of cricket played around the world by peoples of vastly different cultures, religions and histories, all united by their shared love of the game.

John Howard and Richie Benaud, at Bradman Museum (2012) by Bradman MuseumBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Richie Benaud was Patron of the Bradman Foundation from 2002-2015. He generously worked behind the scenes to support the museum, sharing his deep knowledge of cricket and leading the Museum’s Reference Panel. He greatly helped the museum develop its content, guiding and shaping what was presented and, sometimes, how it was presented.

The current patron and former Australian Prime Minister, The Hon. John Howard, has been an avid supporter of cricket throughout his life. Indeed, many former Australian Prime Ministers were great supporters of Australia's national game; from Edmund Barton, Ben Chifley to Robert Menzies, and Bob Hawke. As patron, Mr Howard recognises the importance of sports to our nation, and the significant role of cricket to all Australians and the game:

"[cricket] involves human endeavour, competition and human striving... sportsmen and women represent their country, and their involvement in sport is seen as an expression of opinion by that country."

John Howard, Patron Bradman Foundation (2015 - present). Interview with Mike Coward May 5, 2012

Showcase of heritage cricket items, Bradman Museum (2010) by Brett LeichtensteinBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Today, a collection of over 52,000 items are illustrated in dedicated galleries promoting cricket at a fundamental level, and its greatest players.
Displays also include 'the revolution' which was World Series Cricket, the history of the women’s game, the most memorable cricketing moments including a dedicated Bodyline Theatrette, detailed timelines containing on-demand ‘memorable moments’ in cricket and four giant screens depicting match footage across four eras. This alongside a totally new Origins of Cricket, and Bradman Gallery focussing as much on Bradman the individual as the cricketer, complement the upgraded displays. An enlarged retail store and on-site café complete the metamorphosis.

International Cricket Origins at Bradman (2018) by Mim Stirling, Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Explore the history of the game from it's medieval England origins, to international cricket in colonial times: The Origins Gallery at Bradman Museum includes a dedicated display on the history of Indigenous Cricket in Australia.

Intercolonial cricket display, Bradman Museum (2013) by John Gollings. Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The museum's Origins Gallery displays also showcase Australian Intercolonial cricket artefacts, the birth of Test cricket and 'The Ashes', up to The Golden Era.

The Bradman Gallery, Bradman Museum, Bowral NSW (2009) by John GollingsBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The Bradman Gallery, opened in 1996 by Richie Benaud, contains many significant match-used and original donated items by Sir Donald Bradman. It hold Bradman's first bat, his 1937/38 captain's Baggy Green cap, and his 1947/48 Australia blazer, worn on his last Test appearance in Australia.

World Series Cricket Gallery (2019) by Adrian Connelly, A.P.Connelly Photography and Bradman Museum Collection.Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The World Series Cricket Gallery highlights the revolutionary changes brought to cricket by Australian media magnate, Kerry Packer. Coloured uniforms and changes to equipment became important factors in the marketing of World Series Cricket from 1977 onwards. The gallery includes interactive displays with hundreds of hours of player interviews, a WSC documentary in the theatre, the first white ball played in November 1978 at the SCG, and Kerry Packer's famous signed bat.

International Cricket Hall of Fame, Bradman Museum (2019) by Mim Stirling, Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

The International Cricket Hall of Fame showcases the modern forms of cricket, internationally, alongside the traditional Test series.

Bradman Museum Bowral, external view (2019) by Adrian Connelly, A.P.Connelly Photography and Bradman Museum CollectionBradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

Bradman Oval Bowral, NSW (2011) by Bradman Museum Collection. (Photographer unknown)Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame

‘In the years ahead I trust that the Museum in its lovely setting will encourage and inspire the young people of Australia to serve their nation with courage, honour & humility.’

Sir Donald Bradman, October 13, 1989


The Museum Today
The oval, players pavilion, library, museum, cricket-themed children’s playground, and practice nets define the entire precinct known today as the Bradman Centre. It provides opportunities for cricketers and public alike to further investigate the game’s unique history, hone their skills in dedicated coaching clinics or simply take time relaxing in the nearby gardens and picturesque surroundings of what was Don Bradman’s childhood homeground.

Credits: Story

Authors:
David Wells, Rina Hore. Bradman Museum

Art Direction: Monica Donoso, Bradman Museum

© Bradman Museum 2019

Images:
Philip Brown
News Limited
Brett Leichtenstein
Alan Pyke/Newspix
Martin Bult
John Gollings
Mim Stirling
Cole Bennets/Google.
Adrian Connelly, A.P.Connelly Photography
Mirror Telegraph Bradman Museum opening 1989 (collage). Mirror Australia Telegraph Publications.

Objects:
Don Bradman Portrait by Bill Leak, 1989. Donation Bill Leak. Bradman Museum Collection.
Signed Photograph Sir Roden Cutler, Sir Donald Bradman 1979. Bradman Museum Collection.
Billboards, Weekend Australian, Daily Telegraph, 1989. Bradman Museum Collection.
Boundary Magazine 1991. Bradman Library Collection.
Illawarra Mercury 1983. Bradman Museum Collection.


Videos:
WIN News
Cricket Australia
Lightwell production for Bradman Museum
Timelapse construction video, Bradman Museum.

Google StreetViews, Bradman Oval, Bradman Gallery and Bradman Library (Pavilion) 2018.


Archive footage authorised for use by Bradman Museum for non-commercial gain.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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