This is a photograph of two people (James Toole and Beryl Witkowski) amid celebrations for St Patrick's Day at the Burke Museum in an unknown year. St Patrick's Day is traditionally an Irish religious holiday, but has been adopted in countries such as Australia to celebrate an idea of Irish culture. These celebrations often include wearing green clothes, especially a shamrock hat, and drinking beer, all pictured here.
This celebration appears to be taking place within the Burke Museum itself, with museum's iconic stained glass oval window in the background. The Museum, situated in Beechworth, holds a collection of over 30,000 individual objects - including this photograph.
James Toole (left) was the 'face of the Beechworth Post Office' until his retirement in 2015, following a 45-year career in mail service. He is a Friend of the Burke Museum, volunteering on projects such as crafting the Burke Museum's float in the 2018 Beechworth Bakery and Beechworth Honey Grand Parade at the Golden Horseshoes Festival. He is known for his flamboyant character.
Beryl Witkowski (right) was a historian and curator for the Burke Museum, retiring from her position in 2016. She was involved as a Friend of the Burke Museum from at least 2004.
This photograph is significant to the Burke Museum and Beechworth as it depicts two prominent, contemporary members of the museum's paid and volunteer staff in the museum itself. It highlights both how the staff interacted with the museum through celebrations and how the museum itself was used in capacities other than object display.
The photograph can also be used to interpret Australia's relationship to the St Patrick's Day holiday, especially given the presence of Irish immigrants to the Beechworth area in the nineteenth century.
A colour, square photograph printed on rectangular photographic paper.
Inscriptions & markings
WITKOWSKI, Beryl /
TOOLE, James /
BMM 3067 /
Burke Museum /