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Jeff Brownrigg / Heaven, Earth and Canberra: Shakespeare and the Ghosts of Australia's National Film and Sound Archive

  • Jeff Brownrigg / Heaven, Earth and Canberra: Shakespeare and the Ghosts of Australia\'s National Film and Sound Archive
In 1984, after a somewhat acrimonious move out of the National Library of Australia, the newly minted National Film and Sound Archive took up residence in the old Institute of Anatomy in Canberra. From the first day, it seems, living archivists were not the only occupants of the building. The place had a colourful history associated with human and other animal remains, including racehorse Phar Lap’s heart and what was thought to be Ned Kelly’s skull. The fine art deco Institute building mostly cleared of soft tissue war-wounds floating in jars of preservative, as well as articulated skeletons, standing tall in elegant display cases. Within a year or two, as the beginner-archivists settled in, struggling with issues of identity and management, limited funding to preserve the nation’s sound and moving image heritage, workers began to see and to hear things. An accusation persisted that film and sound had been ‘deceitfully’ ripped out of the National Library. Also, sound and moving image seemed incompatible bed-fellows. Could that have been a cause of disturbances at the Archive? People saw pestering spirits on balconies and in shady corridors. Incomprehensible voices hung in the air. There was nothing in the Occupational Health and Safety Manual that covered accepted behaviour and best practice in haunted buildings. But the author found Shakespeare helped. The Bard’s works provided, perhaps, the largest catalogue of paranormal occurrences to compare and contrast with the encounters archivists described. Before long the National Film and Sound Archive was being touted as Australia’s most haunted building. This book presents stories from that haunting. Investigating likely causes, it offers a tentative explanation as to why ghosts seemed to arise to bother the living.
978 1 76109 214 5, 308pp




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