The museum’s collection is an amalgamation of those originally established by Tamworth-based volunteers groups the Heritage Hall (HH) and the Australian Country Music Foundation Inc. (ACMF) in the early 1990s.
The museum’s collection is owned and managed by Tamworth Regional Council, who work with the ACMF to ensure the collection is cared for, digitised and available in various forms to the public.
A Brief History:
In 1969, Radio 2TM proclaimed Tamworth as Australia’s ‘Country Music Capital’. Only four years later 2TM launched the Tamworth Country Music Festival and staged the first Australasian Country Music Awards. This took the support of other local groups, including the Capital Country Music Association.
The Australian Country Music Foundation Inc. was established in Tamworth in 1991 and was the founder of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame. The ACMF Inc. was formed to establish a permanent National Country Music Archive and Resource Centre. To service its vision, it rented the heritage-listed Mechanics Institute Hall from former Tamworth City Council (TCC). The current museum collection was assembled following the amalgamation of two parent organisations, the Heritage Hall (HH) and the ACMF Inc., which were established by Tamworth-based volunteer groups in the early 1990s.
In 2002, recognising the archive’s value to the Tamworth community, TCC made overtures to ACMF Inc. and HH to consider amalgamation. In mid-2002, they joined forces, retaining the name ‘Australian Country Music Foundation’ along with the Mechanics Institute venue. The ACMF Inc. also acted as custodian of the country music Hands of Fame, the Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame and the Eric Watson Literary Award.
In 2015, the ACMF Inc. accepted an offer from Council to move to the iconic guitar-shaped building in Peel Street, formerly the Visitor Information Centre, where it is located today.
This allowed the museum to also combine with the Walk A Country Mile exhibit, already located at that site, although originally located at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC). This display was conceptualised by local company Max Ellis Marketing Pty Ltd. (MEM). They also employed technical and creative consultants including Barry Harley with creative design and construction, Glen Joseph in producing all the video material also consulted in technical aspects, Steve Gill was in the construction work. Display artist Ce-Anne Brennan was responsible for setting up the exhibits. A number of country music experts like John Minson, Pat Ware and Lorraine Pfitzner, helped shape the historical and musical content. The Australian Country Music Foundation (ACMF) under President Bob Kirchner, strongly supported the project with advice and the loan of memorabilia.
In 2020 the ACMF Inc. came to an agreement with Tamworth Regional Council to take over the administration of the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame with the volunteers of ACMF Inc. continuing to provide invaluable contributions in the management of the collection and the day to day running of the museum.