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vol 19 (2) – november 2010

Museums Australia


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Join [ Museums Australia ] Be part of conversations, information networks and events for people who love museums and galleries. Museums Australia connects individuals and institutions to the sector locally, nationally and internationally through our National Networks, State and Territory Branches, Chapters and through our partnership with ICOM Australia. Various categories of membership are available – including concession rates – each with their own benefits. Information is available online or through the National Office. Telephone (02) 6273 2437 Email ma@museumsaustralia.org.au Web www.museumsaustralia.org.au


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Connecting museums and communities

Institutional members are eligible for a 35% discount on advertising for exhibitions!

Our newly designed magazine is a diverse publication that features items of interest for museum and gallery professionals and all those involved in the sector at large. Our distribution reaches beyond our membership and allows advertisers to reach thousands of industry and professional people in metropolitan and regional Australia and overseas in New Zealand and beyond. Museums Australia Magazine includes collection overviews, education and related information, book reviews,

reviews of conferences and workshops, information for professional development, coverage of new museum and gallery developments, international news including ICOM events, advertising and design, and web developments. Museums Australia Magazine is published four times a year and has a readership of more than 17,000 professionals, volunteers, students and colleague agencies in Australia and abroad. Advertising rates and specifications can be found online or by contacting the MA National Office.

telephone 02 6273 2437 web www.museumsaustralia.org.au email ma@museumsaustralia.org.au


8 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Contents

In this issue Museums Australia National Council 2009—2011

top: middle: bottom:

Contents

left: right:

President’s message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 ICOM Australia 2010 International Awards . . . . . .11 Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections . . . .12

president

Dr Darryl McIntyre (CEO, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra)

vice-president

Lorraine Fitzpatrick (Senior Project Officer, Royalties for Regions, Cultural Centre, Carnarvon, WA)

treasurer

2010 MAPDA Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Timothy (Tim) Hart (Director, Information, Multimedia & Technology, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne)

Celebrating the outstanding achievements of

secretary

Queensland’s museum and gallery sector . . . . . 18

William (Bill) Storer (previously: President, MA-NSW; Chair, Community Museums Network; Newcastle)

Museums and galleries profiled for excellence in

members

NSW/ACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Opening doors to humanities research – the ‘MME Project’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 New concepts in design that expand the scope of visual arts projects in museums. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 MA National Network for Education . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Indigenous directions: A compendium of Australian Indigenous art on view at NGA,

Suzanne Bravery (General Manager, Programs and Services, Museums & Galleries NSW, Sydney) Belinda Cotton (Head, Travelling Exhibitions, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra) Richard Mulvaney (Director, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston) Jennifer Sanders (former Deputy Director of Collections and Outreach, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney) William (Bill) Seager (Redevelopment Content Manager, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart)

Canberra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Soula Veyradier (Curator, City of Melville Museum & Local History Service, Booragoon, WA)

cover image: Professor Robert Baines, GOLD RINGS a very sweet tune . . . . 2007

state/territory branch presidents/ representatives (subject to change throughout year)

Photographer: Garry Sommerfeld

ACT Carol Cartwright (Head, Education & Visitor Services, Australian War Memorial, Canberra) NSW Andrew Simpson (Director, Museum Studies Program, Macquarie University, Sydney) Museums Australia Magazine PO Box 266, Civic Square ACT 2608 MA National Office (physical location): Old Parliament House, King George Terrace, Canberra, ACT Editorial: (02) 6273 2437 Advertising: 02) 6273 2437 Subscriptions: (02) 6273 2437 Fax: (02) 6273 2451 editor@museumsaustralia.org.au www.museumsaustralia.org.au Editor: Bernice Murphy Design: Art Direction Creative Print: Blue Star Print

© Museums Australia and individual authors. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. Museums Australia Magazine is published quarterly and on-line on the MA Website, and is a major link with members and the museums sector. Museums Australia Magazine is a forum for news, opinion and debate on museum issues. Contributions from those involved or interested in museums and galleries are welcome. Museums Australia Magazine reserves the right to edit, abridge, alter or reject any material. Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor. Publication of an advertisement does not imply endorsement by Museums Australia, its affiliates or employees. Museums Australia is proud to acknowledge the following supporters of the national organisation: Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; National Museum of Australia; National Film and Sound Archive; Museum Victoria (Melbourne Museum); Western Australian Museum; and Link Digital (Canberra). Print Post Publication No: 332582/00001 ISSN 1038-1694

NT Michelle Smith (Curator, Territory History, Museum of Central Australia, Alice Springs) SA Robert Morris (Head of Collections, South Australian Museum, Adelaide) TAS Chris Tassell (Managing Director, National Trust of Australia (TAS), Launceston) QLD Lisa Jones (Curator, Queensland Police Museum, Brisbane) VIC Daniel Wilksch (Coordinator, Digital Projects, Public Record Office Victoria, Melbourne) WA Christen John Bell (Curator, History House Museum, Armadale, WA)


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 9

President’s message Darryl McIntyre

Future conferences

ur Victorian colleagues organised an excellent 2010 National Conference in Melbourne at the end of September. Congratulations must go to the MA (Victoria) state branch and the Organising Committee for their sustained work throughout the year in putting together all the elements of a highly successful conference that was attended by more than 600 delegates. Participants included the return of a group of distinguished international guest speakers this year, after the effective regional/national emphasis of the Newcastle Conference in 2009. Our generous Principal Partner, the University of Melbourne, proved a wonderful host and gathering point for the main sessions, with various colleague institutions on the ground in Melbourne providing ideal venues for the peak social events in the evenings, as well as rallying points for special visits in some program segments over five days. The mix of plenary and parallel sessions this year worked very well, with an outstanding variety of options and choices for special-interest paths to be pursued through the Conference. The crossover from plenary to specialised sessions (and back again) also facilitated many opportunities for topical discussions and debate to be revisited over several days. The regular Regional and Remote museums program this year occurred on the Saturday at the close of the conference (rather than preceding it), and interaction around issues that particularly affect colleagues in disparately located, largely volunteer-managed museums and collections were intensively pursued in this forum. Noting much appreciated addresses by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, and Victorian Minister for the Arts, Peter Batchelor MP, Museums Australia also expresses thanks to a series of institutions. First to Museum Victoria (for the outstanding Welcome Event and evening opening to guests of its award-winning Science and Life gallery displays); to the University of Melbourne (in addition to provision of such congenial, well-connected facilities as a conference venue, for the welcome on the opening morning in Wilson Hall – following the Welcome to Country – by Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis AC; and the subsequent plenary address on Day 2 by Deputy VC Professor Warren Bebbington on university collections). Appreciation is also due to the National Gallery of Victoria (the Great Hall being a memorable venue for the Conference Dinner); and to the State Library of Victoria for an evening reception that included the 2010 MAPDA Awards presentation. Final tributes are due – for a special enrichment this year – to the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser AC, for his personal welcome and facilitation of a reception at Government House for international guests, principal speakers and key hosts and peak body participants during the 2010 conference. Professor de Kretser stands high on Museums Australia’s personal ‘honour roll’ for 2010 for his support of science education, and for his address on this topic in the MA (Victoria)-organised symposium during Science Week in Melbourne in August. 

The 2011 National Conference will be held in Perth in September 2011, and members are encouraged to suggest topics and issues that might be explored during the conference to the Western Australian branch of MA. The 2012 National Conference will be held in Adelaide, for which planning is similarly underway; and in 2013 the event will be staged in Canberra, contributing to celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Canberra’s foundation as the national capital. The ACT Branch of MA has already established an organising committee for 2013 and begun identifying some key themes that the conference might explore – and members are encouraged to send suggested topics to the South Australia and the ACT Branches of MA similarly, for consideration for the preceding conferences.

O

Advancing ‘common ground’ and national advocacy On 19 September 2009, Museums Australia hosted a Common Ground meeting in Melbourne (again with the steadfast collegial support of Museum Victoria). This brought together representatives from the museums, heritage and cultural sectors to discuss issues of shared interest and common advocacy value. As a result of that meeting, MA made a submission in October 2009 to the former Minister for the Arts and Heritage, the Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, summarising issues of broad and shared concern that might be included as reference-points in a proposed National Cultural Policy (NCP). Recognising that the plan for a NCP remains a deferred but continuing objective of the Commonwealth government, a further Common Ground meeting will be organised by Museums Australia, to be held in Canberra on 3-4 March 2011. This meeting is designed to continue MA’s initiative in working with colleague bodies to explore some of the ongoing issues-in-common arising from the 2009 meeting, as well as providing an opportunity to examine the evolving political environment relating to arts and culture nationally. Key issues for the March meeting will therefore include continuing development of a National Cultural Policy; the roll-out of the National Broadband Network; digitisation of collections and access; disaster preparedness for museums; new technologies and social capital considerations; education and the evolving Australian national curriculum; international issues, including repatriation – both from abroad and within Australia; and continuing issues of affirmative action on Indigenous policy and museums, as well as continuing action on disability access and culturally inclusive policies for museums’ positive impact on the social development and heritage of all Australians.


10 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Interface with the new federal Minister

National Networks review

I have already written to the Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for the Arts (and Minister for Regional Development, and Local Government), and outlined the work that MA is undertaking nationally as well as regionally. Hopefully there will be an opportunity before long to meet with the new Minister and discuss our priorities with him, in addition to learning of his own plans for the sector in more detail.

The National Council is meanwhile keen to review the National Networks, considering options to reactivate any special interest groups (SIGs) that have decreased activities for some years, while other networks have meanwhile arisen around new areas of interest. If any dormant SIGs can be reactivated, this will create more involvement nationally with these networks by MA members at large, and generate more regular national meetings and events over a year across the SIGs/ Networks. One option might be for members of Council to champion particular SIGs/ Networks and the enhanced networking opportunities thereby possible for enriched services and impact across the sector.

Expanding the time-frame for MA’s strategic development I have recently drafted a strategic plan for Museums Australia for the period 2010 to 2015 – taking a longerrange overview of the association’s development than in previous three-year planning segments. This plan is being reviewed with the National Office and prepared as a paper for consideration at the next Council meeting and, subject to any amendments proposed by Council, it will then be finalised and placed on the MA website to provide clear navigation paths for the association’s development as we move into 2011.

Museums Metadata Exchange (MME) MA and CAMD continue to work closely on the ANDS (Australian National Data Service) project – now known as the Museums Metadata Exchange (MME) project. I have participated in the regular meetings of the steering committee for this project and co-chair these meetings with Margaret Anderson, Chair of CAMD. I will be able to provide a more detailed progress report on the MME project and its outcomes at the Annual General Meeting of Museums Australia in May 2011.

2011 events, Council renewal and the next AGM The next AGM for Museums Australia will be held in May 2011 in Canberra, at the National Museum of Australia. The date is soon to be finalised since ICOM Australia will hold its AGM on the same day and at the same venue, where a symposium on ethics and current issues for museums, as well as a workshop on ethics training at a practical level, will also be offered. Nominations for some posts on the MA National Council through expiry of terms (Treasurer, VicePresident and two Ordinary Members) will be advertised and sought shortly, and nominations will need to be submitted by 15 February 2011 (i.e. 90 days before the AGM). Council is also keen for Indigenous representation on its national body. The AGM will consider implementation of the MA Strategic Plan for 2010–15, as well as action plans for national staffing and a review of the annual budget, together with the auditor’s report on 2010 financial accounts.

Internships and career paths in the museums sector MA Council might well explore opportunities for stimulating internship exchanges – an area focused upon through a special article by Dr Sharon Peoples in the previous Magazine issue on museum internship management.[1] A dedicated site to facilitate such internship opportunities could be created on the MA website, which might work to strengthen career opportunities across the museums and galleries sector, as well as being a more manageable interchange-point for ad hoc requests for assistance in international internship placement that come to the National Office (mostly seeking placements from abroad) throughout the year. In conclusion I would like to extend my thanks to the National Office for all its dedicated work in 2010, and similarly to all members of the National Council, and to staff and/or executive committees of State and Territory branches – as well as extending a general vote of appreciation to all members of MA for their continuing support of the organisation. I wish all members Season’s Greetings and best wishes for a very successful 2011. If you are travelling on the roads in this festive period through New Year, please take special care. Our members make up our most precious resources – tangible, intangible, unique and irreplaceable! Dr Darryl McIntyre FAIM President, Museums Australia

1. Sharon Peoples, Museum internships: Making them a successful venture for all parties’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol.19 (Issue 1), September 2010, pp.37–39.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 11

In recognition of jobs well done: ICOM Australia Awards for International Relations 2010

ICOM Australia 2010 International Awards

Annette Welkamp

T

he role of Australian museums in enriching the cultural, social and intellectual lives of all Australians, and in contributing to the development of well-informed, tolerant and cohesive communities, should not be constrained by our national borders. Australian museums have both the opportunity and the responsibility to share our expertise, information and resources, especially with our near neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region. In its work, ICOM Australia complements that of Museums Australia. Both associations provide advocacy and membership services on behalf of the Australian museum community. ICOM Australia provides an international perspective; Museums Australia has a national focus. The ICOM Australia Awards for International Relations (IAAIR) recognise and celebrate the outstanding work undertaken by Australian institutions and individuals that has strengthened international relations and contributed to the cultural richness of our region. 2010 is the third year of the ICOM Awards with two being presented recently at the Museums Australia 2010 Conference Dinner in Melbourne by Frank Howarth, Chairperson, ICOM Australia and Director, Australian Museum. One recognises an individual’s lifetime achievement and the other is for a discrete project. The first award was given to one of the most distinguished long-serving figures in both the Australian art world and in Australian art museums, Daniel Thomas AM. To colleagues who have known him since the 1970s, and worked with him in various positions, Daniel is known and respected for the determined internationalism of his vision as much as for his expertise in Australian art. He also has been unusual among his art museum colleagues in working collaboratively with science and history museum colleagues to advance professional training, development and related international connections and networks throughout Australia. Daniel’s commitment to knowledge of international art and nurturing Australia’s museum networks with the wider world over five decades has been outstanding. The second Award was for a discrete project, and recognises an exemplary museology workshop that brought together several organisations in Asia and Australia in 2009. It was presented to the Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific, Deakin University, for the Lampang Temples Project, with particular recognition of the work of Dr. Joanna Wills, Jonathan Sweet and Susanna Collis, and their significant project partners, UNESCO Bangkok and Chiang Mai University. The project facilitated the sharing of skills, knowledge and expertise, enriching all who participated. It provides a model to which many institutions can aspire. The Lampang Temples Project was a six-day museology workshop for 22 Buddhist monks from Thailand that took place at Wat Pongsanuk, Lampang,

above: Daniel Thomas AM receiving his award. Photo: Simon Peter Fox Photography top left: The group of participants. Photo: A. Srisomwongwathana bottom left: Deakin University award winners Suzanna Collis, Joanna Wills and Jonathan Sweet with ICOM Australia Chair Frank Howarth. Photo: Simon Peter Fox Photography

in northern Thailand in June 2009. Led by trainers from Deakin University and Chiang Mai University, the workshop focused on the implementation of an integrated approach to collections management, providing participants with skills to enhance management and interpretation of significant collections in their care. The project was part of the UNESCO Museums Capacity Building Programme, a broader strategy being designed with Deakin University to help identify a range of needs and priorities for museums and collecting organisations in the Asia-Pacific region and to provide guidance for the development of relevant museum programmes. Its success demonstrates the capacity of museum work to promote both the preservation of cultural material and the value of conducting local training in relevant environments so that communities can reconnect and enhance engagement with their own heritage collections. The IAAIR Awards are open to members of ICOM and will run again in 2011. Further information is available on the ICOM website at <http://icom.org. au/> including the complete testimonies for each of the recipients in 2010. [ ] Annette Welkamp is the convenor of the IAAIR subcommittee, and an ICOM Australia Board Member. Citation for this article: Annette Welkamp, ‘ICOM Australia 2010 International Awards’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, p.11.


12 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

2010 Museums Australia National Conference in Melbourne

Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections

top: Formal opening session of the MA 2010 National Conference at Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne, 29 Sept.2010. L to R: ‘Housekeeping’ from Bernard Caleo, Museum Victoria in the character of Professor Wilhelm von Blandowski (first director of Museum Victoria in the 19th century); Museums Australia National President, Dr Darryl McIntyre FAIM; Professor Glyn Davis AC, Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne; and Victorian Minister for the Arts, Peter Batchelor MP. Photo: Simon Fox.

Daniel Wilksch and Laura Miles

T

he 2010 Museums Australia National Conference was held at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, between 28 September and 3 October 2010. The organising committee was extremely gratified with the response to this year’s conference. We received more than 170 submissions for papers, and the conference itself was attended by 600 delegates from the Pacific region. While there were many discussions taking place around the theme Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections, one significant thread was brought out through the plenary sessions, where Professor Richard Sandell from the UK, Professor Morris Vogel from New York, and Joanne Orr from Scotland explored ways in which collections informed new understandings of social difference and change – looking at the different ways that museums have sought to illustrate social and political themes within communities. Dr J Patrick Greene, CEO, Museum Victoria, surveyed a long tradition of innovative display approaches from key US and European

natural history collections, including the 1994 renovation and reconception of the zoology display at the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris and the award-winning displays in the Science and Life galleries of Melbourne Museum, part of Museum Victoria. Innovations for MA’s 2010 conference included: • the integration of focussed side meetings conducted by the Art, Craft and Design and Performing Arts Special Interest Group, which along with the Remote and Regional training day on Saturday, allowed for concentration on specific themes alongside the conference’s broad discussions; • a ‘poster session’ displaying short papers and topical content in diverse formats; • two ‘xChange’ panel sessions, where conference speakers presented five-minute talks on topics of interest, separate from their conference paper topics, in the University’s Union building bar; these two lively sessions were moderated by ABC Radio presenters Amanda Smith and Derek Guille, including questions fielded from the audience.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 13

right: Dr J Patrick Greene, CEO and director, Museum Victoria, and Dr Darryl McIntyre, President Museums Australia, greeting Conference delegates at the generous Welcome Reception at Melbourne Museum for the MA 2010 National Conference. far right: Plenary session panellists in a lively debate chaired by Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, State Librarian (unseen). From L to R: Professor Dietrich Wildung, Professor of Egyptology, Free University Berlin; Professor Morris Vogel, President and CEO, Tenement Museum of New York; Dr Stefano Carboni, Director, Art Gallery of Western Australia; and Kylie Winkworth, museum and heritage consultant, NSW. Photo: Laura Miles.

Amanda Smith also hosted a discussion of the changing roles of collections as part of a Melbourne Conversations event supported by the City of Melbourne. Speakers at this event included Professor Stephen Heppell from the UK, who greatly animated all educators’ concern with museums as contemporary learning institutions; Michelle Hippolite, Kaihautû of Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, with a stirring review of biculturalism in action; David Revere McFadden from New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, reanimating visual arts presentations with artists using natural history concepts; and Professor Adrian Franklin, well-known to the audience from his role on the ABC television show The Collectors. Melbourne Conversations is a regular series presented by the City of Melbourne, and we were very pleased to be able to realise a public discussion on museums and collections as part of the 2010 Conference. Museums Australia would like to thank its sponsors and supporters for their generous contributions to the success of the event. In particular the conference’s Principal Partner, the University of Melbourne, was unstinting in providing staff, resources and space over the whole period of conference development, as well as sponsoring Professor Richard Sandell. It is particularly pleasing to thank our program partners, who made up a significant spectrum of crucial supporters and colleague institutions backing this important national event: the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), Arts Victoria, Museum Victoria, the National Gallery of Victoria, the City of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria, the Gordon Darling Foundation, Eight Creative, KE Software, Delatite Wines and God’s Hill Wines. We gratefully recognise the further support received from conference supporters, including the following robust list: Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the

Australian Showcase and Hardware Company, Collections Mosaic, Cultural Connotations, Delatite Wines, Eight Creative, envi, God’s Hill Wines, ICOM Australia, KE Systems, MA Historians National Network, the Public Record Office of Victoria, the Sovereign Hill Museums Association, the State Library of Victoria, Wiley & Sons, all of our exhibitors and many other conference sponsors who provided venues, financial support to speakers and delegates, and considerable in-kind support. We thank them all heartily. On behalf of the 2010 Conference Organising Committee we would like to say what a pleasure it has been to host this year’s Museums Australia Conference, to express the privilege we enjoyed when welcoming colleagues from across Australia and New Zealand and a few from the wider world, and to thank all delegates for bringing their energy, expertise and goodwill to a highly successful gathering. Conference papers and the conference website will be maintained on the web, and links will be circulated shortly. [ ] Daniel Wilksch is Museums Australia (Victoria) President, and Laura Miles is Executive Director of the MA (Victoria) state branch, and both are Co-Chairs of the 2010 Conference Organising Committee. Citation for this article: Annette Welkamp, ‘Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections, 2010 Museums Australia National Conference in Melbourne’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.12-13.


14 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards (MAPDA)

2010 MAPDA Awards

Jude Savage

T above: Jude Savage

he Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards (MAPDA) for 2010 celebrate excellence in design and communication in the museums and collections sector across Australasia. The MAPDA awards are traditionally featured during an evening event during the National Conference of MA. Although Chair of the MAPDA Committee, I was unfortunately unable to attend this year’s presentation event at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, on 29 September, during the 2010 MA National Conference Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections. Instead I was in a cargo shed in Perth, meeting the couriers and their precious cargo for the Peggy Guggenheim: A Collection in Venice exhibition, currently on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. However I was certainly there in spirit, having again been involved in the general steerage of the Awards throughout the year, and especially having chaired the judging panel that met in Canberra at the National Portrait Gallery in mid-August. Fortunately, Patricia Sabine was on hand to present the Awards at the cocktail function in Melbourne. She has been a loyal supporter of MAPDA as Museums Australia’s immediate Past President, and continues now in her new role as Design Director for the Design Forum Tasmania, based in Launceston. Patricia’s education, exhibitions and museum catalogues experience, and her general passion for design, together with her long-standing knowledge of both the museum and gallery sectors equally, has made her a frequent choice as a presenter for MAPDA. The MAPDA Committee was extremely appreciative that the Design Centre Tasmania was able to support a late request for her return-role as presenter of the Awards in Melbourne this year. 2010 proved that MAPDA is not only strong, but continues to recruit widening interest. There were 231 entries received from 75 different museum organisations. Each year the judging days involve a lively interaction of industry experts, who regard this adjudication gathering as a great opportunity to stay abreast of who is doing what in the area of museum publications and multimedia design. And of course it involves designers contracted by museums from the industry at large, as well as many designers from within museums and galleries. Judging the MAPDA Awards is when the meaning and value of this solid presence in MA’s annual calendar is intensified for all those who give their time and expertise to this event in an honorary capacity. Evaluating the MAPDA entries for a year in an encompassing overview becomes an intense exchange of differing perspectives. Most of all, it guarantees a day or so of being inspired by the vibrancy of the cultural industry’s activities. The publications in 2010 were judged across twelve categories: Exhibition Catalogue (small); Exhibition

Catalogue (major); Book; Poster; Corporate; Invitation; Magazine & Newsletter; Calendar of Events & Information Brochure; Fundraising & Membership; Educational Material; Website; and Multimedia. Each category was divided into three levels reflecting an organisation’s size in line with Museums Australia’s Institutional Membership levels. The MAPDA Committee is extremely grateful to the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, for once again graciously hosting the paper-based publications judging day – including the presence as judges of designer Ian Wingrove from Wingrove Design; Nat Williams from the National Library of Australia; Yvonne Kennedy from the National Archives of Australia; Rick Cochrane from BlueStar Print; and Peter Naumann from the National Gallery of Australia. My pleasurable role as MAPDA President was to act as convenor and moderator of the adjudication. After a successful trial last year, the electronic media judging was again conducted via teleconference, incorporating as judges the designers Brendan O’Donnell from Art Direction Creative in Canberra; Ian Wingrove from Wingrove Design in Sydney, and Dean Stevenson from Interactive Controls, Sydney, with myself as mediator. A big difference this year was that Patrick Cox, from Art Direction Creative, had in advance devised a web link for the judges to administer their scores against the selection criteria. One commented afterwards: ‘That


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 15

opposite: Portraits + Architecture from the National Portrait Gallery. Winner of Poster category for Level C. Designed by Brett Wiencke, Art Direction Creative. above: Anthony Mannix by Penrith Regional Art Gallery & the Lewes Bequest. Winner of Exhibition Catalogue (Small) category for Level B. Designed by Analiese Cairis. above right: The Best Thing Ever, Campbelltown Arts Centre’s 2009 Program. Winner of Calendar of Events & Information Brochure category for Level B. Designed by Suzanne Boccalatte.

was the most enjoyable judging I have ever done – thanks so much to Patrick for the superior navigation!’ As in previous years, not all levels or categories were guaranteed of ‘Winner’ or ‘Highly Commended’ awards being made, if entries seemed below par. This is a necessary reinforcement of MAPDA’s commitment to a level of excellence in design. Entries are judged according to the following general criteria: • Originality in creative idea / innovative concept • Level of design skill in expressing the idea – typography, photography, etc. • Ability to communicate effectively (which for electronic media includes navigation and ease of use) • Production values In 2010 year there were three awards for excellence.

From all the winning entries in the print media category, the Best in Show was finally awarded to Kaldor Public Art Projects for the publication 40 Years Kaldor Public Art Projects (designer, Analiese Cairis; publisher Kaldor Public Art Projects & Art Gallery of New South Wales). The judges were impressed by this monograph’s excellent production values generally, the subtlety of its design treatment and restrained employment of colour, including a ‘beautiful use of warm greys’. Lismore Regional Gallery was awarded Best in Show for electronic publications – notably for their website Splendid <www.splendid.org.au> (designer, Icon Inc). The site was judged to manifest the best production values of all those entered in 2010, as well as being a clearly well-crafted site supporting a range and extent of content, with ‘a social networking presence well located and strongly up front’ in its public interface. A Judges Special Award was given to the Sydneybased institution, Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design, for their website built around the travelling exhibition, Menagerie <www.object.com.au/> menagerie (designers: Canvas Group and Object). Menagerie was considered by the judges to be ‘the most beautifully designed website focussed on a single exhibition project’. Reviewing the Committee’s work in 2010, it should be stressed that MAPDA is organised through


16 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

The twelfth presentation of the Awards by Museums Australia

right: 40 Years Kaldor Public Art Projects. Winner of Book category (Level B) and Best in Show for printed publications. Designed by Analiese Cairis for Kaldor Public Art Projects & Art Gallery of NSW. Photo courtesy of MAPDA Committee and National Portrait Gallery.

voluntary collegial effort by members, and all have to manage their major institutional commitments, spread as most of us are in major state or national galleries around the country. Longstanding committee member Elliott Murray, from the Queensland Art Gallery, had to stand down regrettably in 2010, due to changed work commitments in his home institution. However with my colleagues Ian Watts as the Melbourne co-ordinator, and Suzie Campbell from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, we welcomed two new committee members: designers Jackie Robinson from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and Analiese Cairis from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Meanwhile the MAPDA Committee cannot produce such a successful event without the support of our respective institutions and the administrative backup in assembling and registering all entries in one catchment point, which has again been handled by the National Office of Museums Australia, acting as secretariat for MAPDA. The successful judging process, as indicated, was achieved once more with the outstanding support of the NPG in Canberra, which hosted the assembled entries and judges in one place.The MAPDA Committee is also acutely grateful for the continuing

‘Excellent production values, subtlety and use of colour, beautiful use of warm greys’ and loyal support of Interactive Controls and BlueStar Print as sponsors; and this year we were very happy to welcome Australian Book Connection as a new sponsor for MAPDA 2010. A comment is merited on the sensitivity of the MAPDA Awards to the economic environment. Design often booms in good times – in volume if not always necessarily in quality. The overall number of entries in 2010 was down from previous years, and it was clear that some major institutions did not enter due to budget constraints. This is inevitably disappointing, since we know there has been a spectrum of terrific design capabilities out there that have not been coming to fruition in major new publications. The MAPDA Committee is nevertheless hoping that


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 17

left: Len Lye Exhibition Invitation by Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Winner of Invitation category for Level C. Designed by Felicity Hayward from ACMI. below left: Winner of Website (B), Educational Material and Exhibition Catalogue (Major) categories for Level B as well as the Judges Special Award. Website: <http://www.object.com.au/ menagerie/>

MAPDA 2011, associated with the forthcoming MA National Conference in Perth in September next year, will be a bumper awards occasion – especially since we have already spotted a number of wonderful catalogues, invitations and websites that we trust will be submitted when the Call for Entries goes out on 1 June 2011. This will be the third occasion when the MAPDA design Awards will be presented in Western Australia – following the inaugural MAPDA, hosted in 1994 at the National Conference in Fremantle; and a subsequent edition of MAPDA at the conference in Perth in 2003. The winners list for MAPDA 2010 is available on the Museums Australia website at: <http://www. museumsaustralia.org.au/site/whatwedo_awards_ mapda2010_winners.php> [ ] Jude Savage, Chair of the MAPDA Committee for museum publications and multimedia design awards, is Registrar of Collections at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Citation for this article: Jude Savage, ‘MAPDA 2010: Twelfth edition of the MAPDA awards to designers by Museums Australia’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.14-17. 


18 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Museum and Gallery Services Queensland’s 2010 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA)

Celebrating the outstanding achievements of Queensland’s museum and gallery sector Debra Beattie

N above: Debra Beattie below right & opposite page (top and middle): Prejudice and Pride exhibition at Museum of Brisbane, Queensland. opposite page (bottom): Rebecca (front left), Isabelle and fellow Mudskipper Club members create 3D animal forms in paper clay under the guidance of Queensland artist Ron Fleming, during a workshop at Hervey Bay Regional Gallery. The Mudskippers Club was introduced by Hervey Bay Regional Gallery this year to give youngsters greater access to and appreciation of artworks and art forms. Photo: courtesy of Hervey Bay Regional Gallery below: 2010 GAMAA trophies created by Queensland glass artist, Joanna Bone. Photo: Joanna Bone.

ow in its seventh year, the Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA) is an annual event designed to celebrate the outstanding achievements, professional excellence, and innovation of Queensland’s museum and gallery sector. An initiative of Museum and Gallery Services Queensland, the GAMAA awards recognise the valuable contribution our State’s museums and galleries make to enriching their local and wider communities, and honour the extraordinary commitment and talents of paid professionals and volunteers working in the industry. Nominations for the 2010 GAMAAs were received from every region of Queensland. Winners were recognised in each of five categories, with a number of nominations being awarded a Special Commendation. Museum and Gallery Services Queensland (M&GSQ) announced the winners on 15 October 2010, at a gala event hosted by the Caloundra Regional Gallery, on the Sunshine Coast. Special guest Jenny Galligan (Executive Director, Arts Development, Arts Queensland) congratulated this year’s recipients and presented the winners with a specially crafted 2010 GAMAA trophy created by Queensland glass artist, Joanna Bone. Awards were given to both organisations and individuals for their exemplary contributions to the sector. In the category for Organisations (staff of five or more), the Museum of Brisbane won for the exhibition Prejudice and Pride: Recognising the contribution of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities to Brisbane. This project aimed to bring to light the histories that have often been hidden as a result of shame and prejudice in and around Brisbane’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities from the early-nineteenth century to the present day; it celebrated the contributions made by LGBT people to the vitality and diversity of Brisbane life.

The Ipswich Art Gallery was awarded a Special Commendation for its Children’s Gallery exhibitions and public programs, recognising the Gallery’s long-term commitment to young people and also the breadth of its programs that have engendered a high level of repeat visitation by the community. In the Organisation category for museums and galleries with under five staff, McKinlay Shire Council was the winner for their exhibition At the Creek. This exhibition is a community-based oral history project aimed at presenting the intangible heritage of Julia Creek and the McKinlay Shire in North-West Queensland, especially focussing on its rich pastoral and mining history, using a variety of interpretive tools. The Special Commendation award for this category was presented to two deserving entries: to Old Government House for Interpreting Old Government House: Setting a new twenty-first century benchmark in heritage interpretative displays; and to Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, for its Mudskippers and Little Skippers Education Program. Volunteer-run organisations are also celebrated by GAMAA. Surf World Gold Coast Inc, at Currumbin, won for their Surfing history and beach culture museum. This award acknowledges the special achievement of this volunteer-run organisation in taking a leadership role to preserve and present a unique part of the Gold Coast’s social and cultural history, with a special concentration on contemporary collecting. The museum also works within their community through key partnerships. The Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association meanwhile won the Special Commendation award in this same category, for its establishment of the exemplary Country Hospital Museum at the Rockhampton Heritage Village, Rockhampton. In making this award, the judges recognise the sustained and strategic volunteer effort by the Association in planning and delivering this massive project.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 19

Joolie Gibbs (Gallery Coordinator, Gympie Regional Gallery) was an Awards winner in the category for ‘Individuals: Paid’. Joolie’s contribution to Gympie’s cultural life through involvement with numerous committees and networks, her mentoring of the Gallery’s staff, trainees, volunteers and Friends, and her resolute support and encouragement of local artists, make her an outstading recipient of this award. Meanwhile Ken Brooks (Curator, Brennan & Geraghty’s Store Museum, Maryborough) received the Special Commendation award for his foresight and determination in forging a unique arrangement to ensure that Brennan and Geraghty’s Store Museum is maintained as a significant heritage asset for the Maryborough community and for future generations of Queenslanders. The winner of the category for ‘Individuals: Volunteer’ was Julie Ramsbotham (Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc. (CADCAI) in Cairns), who was recognised for her energy, vision and outstanding commitment to CADCAI and the Lit Sun Goong Temple collection. Julie’s success in encouraging and guiding members of the Chinese community in active custodianship of the collection demonstrated her considerable leadership qualities, combined with a strong cultural sensitivity to the community she works with. Further details of the winning nominations, photographs and a PowerPoint presentation from the 2010 GAMAA event and evening, are available on Museum and Gallery Services Queensland’s website www. magsq.com.au, and Facebook page <www.facebook. com/pages/Brisbane-Australia/Museum-GalleryServices-Queensland/95075788971>. Museum and Gallery Services Queensland congratulates all winners in this year’s GAMAA edition, and honours the Queensland museum and gallery sector at large for members’ outstanding responses and support of these awards. Acknowledgments: The 2010 GAMAA were proudly sponsored by the Caloundra Regional Gallery, Sunshine Coast Council, Brian Tucker Accountant, Brandi Projects, Archival Survival, Regional Galleries Association of Queensland and Museums Australia Queensland. [ ] Debra Beattie is the General Manager of Museum and Gallery Services Queensland (M&GSQ), based in Brisbane. Citation for this text: Debra Beattie, ‘Celebrating the outstanding achievements of Queensland’s museum and gallery sector: Museum and Gallery Services Queensland’s 2010 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards (GAMAA)’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.18-19.

1. Endnotes


20 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

The 2010 NSW IMAGinE Awards

Museums and galleries profiled for excellence in NSW/ACT

Michael Huxley & Ed .

above: Michael Huxley. top: ‘Gunna the goanna’s big ideas’. Illustration by Bruce Whatley for The Tinytoreum. Photo: Sotha Bourn, Powerhouse Museum.

The IMAGinE Awards, now in their third year, celebrate both individual achievements and the outstanding diversity of the NSW and ACT museums and galleries sector and those who work within it. The Awards inclusively honour the achievements of both paid and volunteer staff. Encompassing more than 650 organisations and approximately 5,000 paid and volunteer workers, these galleries and museums provide major contributions to their local communities, economies and cultural life as well as playing an important role in tourism across urban and regional NSW and the ACT. The Awards also forge important links and networks among the paid and volunteer staff across a wide spectrum of museums and galleries. The IMAGinE Awards are jointly presented by Museums & Galleries NSW, Museums Australia (NSW), Regional Public Galleries of NSW, and Museums Australia (ACT). The 2010 Awards were held on Friday 22 October 2010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, with special guest MC James Valentine ensuring a festive occasion. Michael Huxley, Acting CEO of Museums & Galleries NSW, emphasised in October, reviewing the 2010 awards: With so much diversity across NSW and ACT, the IMAGinE Awards shine a spotlight on cultural and community achievement. They showcase a sector

full of creativity, inspiration, educational initiatives, community engagement and concentrated knowledge. For the public the winners list provides a terrific guide to museums, galleries, their collections and programs, to be explored and enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. This year’s winners cover the widest cross-section of museums and galleries. Across each category, there were nominations and winners from large metropolitan institutions through to smaller local museums and regional galleries, all highlighting excellence, diversity and commitment to creating unique visitor experiences and cultural enrichment for both individuals and communities. Special congratulations are due to the winners in each level of the Awards, which focussed on the following categories: Collection Management; Exhibitions; Education/ Public Programs; and finally the Judges’ Awards for Excellence at an institutional level as well as for outstanding Individual Achievement. The category awards and winners are listed below. Collection Management • Port Macquarie Historical Society (in the volunteerrun organisations category); • Art Gallery of New South Wales Sydney (in the category of institutions with paid staff ). Exhibitions • Hurstville City Museum and Gallery (among


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 21

clockwise from top left: Toy `Nautilus’ submarine, painted tin plate with clockwork motor (made in association with Walt Disney, USA by Sutcliffe Pressings Ltd, Leeds, England), 1950-1959; and Netsuke, Japanese toggle, ‘Mermaid’, ivory (maker unknown, Japan), 1700-1900, part of the children’s tales in The Tinytoreum. Photo: Sotha Bourn, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. A young visitor, Oliver Montague aged 4 years, gets up close to the small treasures in The Tinytoreum. Photo: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

institutions with 6 or less staff ), for their locallythemed exhibition, Living on the Water’s Edge: Stories of St George, consisting of three galleries that explore the history of the St George district from its earliest people through to the 21st century; • Powerhouse Museum (among institutions with 7 or more staff ), for the exhibition entitled The Tinytoreum, which imaginatively deployed concepts of collections and their multiple interpretations, with a special focus on engagement of children. Education/ Public Programs: • Oaks Historical Society, Wollondilly (for volunteerrun institutions), for the Hands on History program for primary schools; • Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Bathurst (for institutions with 6 or less staff ), for Scattered Bones – a program providing a ‘virtual classroom’ and video-conferencing facilities to develop writing themed around the collection and designed to advance school learning in a number of core skills areas. Joint winners (for museums with 7 or more staff ) were: • Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra, for their Radio Frequency Identification Program, and • Questacon, Canberra, for The Shell Questacon Science Circus.

It was noticeable that all winners in the Education/ Public Programs category displayed an investment in high-quality, innovative uses of new technologies to engage with wider audiences. The Judges’ Awards for Excellence marked outstanding achievements at the collective and individual levels of performance in the sector. In 2010, the Judges singled out the following institutions: • Port Macquarie Historical Society and Museum (Excellence Award winner in the volunteer-run category); Joint winners (Excellence Award for museums with less than 6 staff ) were: • Glasshouse Regional Gallery, Port Macquarie, & • Lady Denman Heritage Complex Huskisson – a ten-hectare bushland/wetland site on the shores of Jervis Bay, NSW. The 2010 Award for Excellence (museums with 7 or more staff ) was made to: • Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Finally the judges also determined two Individual Achievement Awards in 2010. These were made to: • Pat Elkin, a volunteer from the New England Regional Art Museum, who was honoured for her continuous and sustained level of high-quality commitment to a regional museum over a long period; and • Kylie Winkworth, a long-established museum colleague and consultant in the culture and heritage field, marked out for being a ‘consistent and significant contributor to the museums sector, with great passion and driving force’. A full list of winners, photos and video from the event can be found at <http://mgnsw.org.au/ sector_development/2010_imagine_awards_winners_ announced> [ ] Michael Huxley, whose assistance in compiling this text is gratefully acknowledged, was Acting CEO of Museums & Galleries NSW from April 2010 to November 2010; Michael Rolfe commenced as CEO in mid-November 2010. [Ed.] Citation for this text: Michael Huxley & Ed., ‘Museums and galleries profiled for excellence in NSW/ACT: The 2010 NSW IMAGinE Awards’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.20-21.

Partial exhibition view featuring the children’s interactive area in The Tinytoreum at the Powerhouse Museum. Photo: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.


22 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Museums Metadata Exchange

Opening doors to humanities research – the ‘MME Project’ Meredith Foley

A

t a symposium on Material Culture at the National Museum of Australia in 2008, Dr Mike Smith noted that ’many historians will walk past objects to reach the archival records, photographs and audio recordings which seem to represent a richer vein of information about the past’.[1] Dr Smith suggested at the time that this was mainly a matter of training or disciplinary orientation on the part of historians and other humanities researchers. A closer consideration of the reasons for the relative neglect of museum collections by humanities, arts and social science researchers throws up another, even more fundamental, problem. Museum collections, particularly those of interest to humanities, arts and social science researchers, are highly heterogeneous and are most often organised object by object, in accordance with provenance and historical context, rather than by their relationship to other objects which may highlight events, historical periods, people, communities and places. This approach to registration and classification makes excellent sense from a museum perspective but has proven challenging for academic researchers to penetrate; with many still relying on individual relationships with museum staff and physical access to identify relevant cultural and historical collections. In the burgeoning digital research environment, researchers need efficient and effective online access to the material culture, associated data, archival and audio-visual collections held by museums. They also need tools for using that information productively, for repurposing it and for sharing and collaborating with their colleagues using that information. The success of CAMD’s collaboration with other natural science collecting organisations and institutions, which resulted in the highly successful Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) www.ala.org.au, has amply demonstrated the value of museum metadata projects.

Museum sector collaboration

1. Transcript, ‘Viewpoints on Material Culture’, 2008 National Museum Collection Symposium. <www.nma. gov.au/audio/detail/viewpointson-material-culture/>. Accessed 29 November 2010.

The pressing need for a humanities version of the ALA provided the starting point for the development of the Museum Metadata Exchange (MME) which is a joint project on the part of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) and Museums Australia (MA). The project is funded by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) which is, in turn, supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program and the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Super Science Initiative.  The Project’s Steering Committee is jointly chaired by CAMD Chair, Margaret Anderson and MA National President, Darryl McIntyre. This CAMD/MA partnership is particularly significant as it is the first step towards building museum collaborative ‘muscle’ so that a greater sharing of collection data and expertise can be instituted across the nationally distributed collection and peak museum bodies will present a strong coalition to Government.  The Steering

Committee is also grateful to have active representation from the Australian Academy of the Humanities, partner universities and partner museums. The project is being hosted by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney where a Project Team consisting of a Project Manager (formerly Ingrid Mason but, from 1 December, Dan Collins), two Data Analysts, Lynne McNairn (based at the Powerhouse Museum) and Julie-Anne Carbon (Museum Victoria), and Alex Johannesen, Technical Developer, are hard at work under Project Leader, Seb Chan.

Objectives

The basic goal of the CAMD/MA MME Project is to assist partner museums to create collection-level descriptions that can then be directly accessed by researchers through the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and explored further via contact with the participating museum. The practical steps towards this goal include: • site visits by the Data Analysts to each museum partner to assist in the process of identifying and preparing collection-level descriptions in a standardised format ready for harvesting; • creating a virtual exchange capable of feeding collection-level descriptions into the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC); • establishing routine capture and publication of museum collection descriptions using methods that integrate with the collection management system in each museum; • working closely with individual academic researchers, academies and universities to identify research priorities and common search terms; and • exploring the provision of a common collaborative thesaurus as a two-way service to assist museum data providers and to facilitate effective searching by researchers.

Museum participants

In seeking museums to participate in this groundbreaking project, CAMD and MA needed to satisfy the ANDS requirement that partners had the resources and capacity to begin preparing and publishing this data without delay and were able to contribute strongly to meeting the ANDS quota of seven hundred collectionlevel descriptions online by the project’s completion in mid-2011. Current project participants are the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian Museum, Australian National Maritime Museum, Australian War Memorial, Historic Houses Trust NSW, History SA, Museum Victoria, National Film and Sound Archive, National Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Queensland Museum, South Australian Museum, Sovereign Hill Museums Association, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and Western Australian Museum. Significantly, this is the first ANDS-funded public data scheme focussed on cultural and historical collections and researcher communities in the humanities. CAMD and MA are grateful that ANDS has invested with confidence in this first step, and


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 23

web publication and harvesting. Support material and model collection-level descriptions are being augmented continually, along with other guidance material covering automatic harvesting and manual data gathering – all of which can be found on the MME project website: www.powerhousemuseum. com/museumexchange/. The website also provides an interactive forum for sharing and solving problems encountered during the project by all partners.

Outcomes

top: Drawer, from Collectors cabinet of Lieutenant Hanbury Clements, 1830-1840 (Powerhouse Museum Collection). Photo: Powerhouse Museum.

hope to use this project to demonstrate the potential for follow-on projects with positive implications for the wider museum and research sectors. While the initial project will represent a modest start on releasing the enormous and relatively untapped resources in Australia’s collections, it will build infrastructure, tools and services that hold the potential for a sustainable and expanding program.  It is anticipated that the model created will lead, over time, to the development of a national program to make Australia’s cultural collections systematically discoverable and accessible.

On site

2. Ibid. 3. For further information about the CAMD/MA Museum Metadata Exchange Project, you can contact: Dr Meredith Foley, MME Executive Officer, Ph: 02 9412 4256; Mob: 0438 890 902; email: mfolwil@bigpond. net.au Ms Lynne McNairn, MME Data Analyst, Ph: 02 9217 0246 Ms Julie-Anne Carbon, MME Data Analyst, Ph: 03 8341 7607 Project team group email: museumex@phm.gov.au

The site visits by the Project’s energetic Data Analysts, Lynne and Julie-Anne, have been in full swing over the past few months. The preparation of collection-level descriptions for publication is a new departure for many of the museums involved in this project. Despite this initial challenge, Lynne has noted that ‘museum peers have enjoyed thinking about describing their collections at this broader level and moved quickly to identify these collections.’ The project has in fact given staff a good opportunity ‘to identify commonality and diversity across collections.’ So far the types of collections identified are far-ranging, covering such diverse thematic groupings as trade unions, surfing, the America’s Cup, glass plate negatives, Barossa German settlers, Australian computing, Lawrence Hargrave, Polish Dance costume, the Weatherley Sisters Circus Archive, Aboriginal paintings, x-ray technology and the Jenny Kee fashion collection. Following their site visits, the Data Analysts are continuing to work closely with each museum team to assist in relation to collection description creation,

It is envisaged that the project will have a number of beneficial outcomes for museums and academics: • the MME will assist collection managers to gain further expertise in creating, managing and sharing data in a form that can be directly accessed by Australia’s research community and which will encourage further collaboration across museums; • the MME will raise the profile of museum research repositories and enhance their value in research, education and policy input; • the MME will allow researchers to discover collections hitherto below the radar of online academic and generic search engines: to gain a sense of the full range of resources available in museum collections and to transform their topics and methodology through application of hitherto hidden perspectives; • the data held by ARDC will lead researchers back to the source museum and potentially foster new research collaborations between museum and scholarly researchers; and • the ARDC can also potentially feed data back to institutions about researchers’ use of the collections – highlighting the value of this data and allowing museums to better align with researchers. Museums have long known that material culture can provide a unique perspective on history, art and social science disciplines. Dr Mike Smith quotes Delia Falconer who wrote that, focussing on objects is like ‘walking though the back door of history; you don’t necessarily end up at the front door of the same house’.[2] A member of one museum MME team recently echoed this observation, noting that the accessibility of collection-level descriptions will help direct researchers down new pathways, away from well trodden traditional approaches, and potentially open new doors on historical inquiry and methodology and the use of museum collections. To keep up to date on the progress of the MME project, visit the website at: <www.powerhousemuseum.com/museumexchange/>.[3] [ ] Dr Meredith Foley is Executive Officer, Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), and is also Executive Officer to the Museum Metadata Exchange (MME) project until its completion in 2011. Citation for this text: Meredith Foley, ‘Museums Metadata Exchange: Opening doors to humanities research – the ‘MME Project’ ’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.22-23.


24 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Focus on design

New concepts in design that expand the scope of visual arts projects in museums

Anne Kirker

F

ollowing is a report on a gathering of the Art Craft Design Special Interest Group (an MA National Network) in conjunction with the 2010 Museums Australia National Conference [1] held at the University of Melbourne at the end of September. Visual arts institutions make up a distinct sectoral constellation worryingly overshadowed by the diversity and extensiveness of colleague bodies under the collective mantle of ‘museums’. Within a large constituency that spans a spectrum from social and heritage history, scientific collections and cultural artefacts of all types – including private alongside public museums, with diverse programs to match – the goals of collective recognition and common advancement of mattersvisual have proceeded unsteadily in recent years. Museums Australia has had the challenge through its annual National Conferences to ‘play fair’ to the breadth and diversity of its membership. While this has been well recognised by the ACDSIG – the MA National Network for Art, Craft and Design – there is nevertheless a sharpening appetite to consider more intensely the distinctive projects and ideas that pertain to this specialist area of museums and their programming. Many of these bodies after all engage living practitioners, contemporary exhibitions and audience-animating projects that do not necessarily revolve around permanent collections.

In response to such needs, more than 100 delegates signed up for an afternoon on 28 September 2010, on the eve of MA’s 2010 National Conference. Forming a kind of symposium on innovative ideas and envelopestretching projects, the event was dedicated to five speakers on the topic of current design developments impacting on the exhibitions and programs of museums. The speakers were David McFadden, Chief Curator and Vice President for Collections and Exhibitions at MAD (New York’s newly revamped Museum of Arts and Design[2]); Steve Pozel, Director of Object (Australian Centre for Craft and Design), Sydney; Roger Leong (NGV’s Curator of International Fashion and Textiles in Melbourne); Alison Page (a Tharawal woman from la Perouse and a rapidly developing designer focused on Indigenous design projects); and Meryl Ryan (Curator at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW). While all imparted valuable information and insights, for this review commentary I will concentrate on the first two speakers, since they highlight far-reaching concerns for museums in a focus on design. David Revere McFadden was an inspired choice to lead the session.[3] He’s been in the curatorial business for many years and has reached the view that ‘crossing boundaries’ is now the only way that art, craft and design can continue to be relevant in the twenty-first century. Passionate and witty, David McFadden drew particular attention to his recent exhibition Dead or Alive,[4] which I had been fortunate to see this year on

above: Anne Kirker below: Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Left to right, performance costumes by U.S. artist Nick Cave (made from articulated twigs); Colombianborn Australia-based artist Maria Fernada Cardoso (made from emu feathers), and U.S. artist Sanford Biggers, made from various bird feathers.

1. Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections, Museums Australia National Conference 2010 (28 September – 2 October 2010; University of Melbourne and various museums/ galleries in Melbourne). 2. The Museum of Arts and Design is a recently reinvented museum, positioned today as ‘a center for the collection, preservation, study, and display of contemporary hand-made objects in a variety of media, including: clay, glass, metal, fiber, and wood’. The museum was founded in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York. It relocated in 1986 to 40 West 53rd, opposite the Museum of Modern Art, and was renamed the American Craft Museum. In a period of considerable controversy and re-examination of its future, the museum again changed its name (in 2002) to the Museum of Arts and Design, and embarked on a relocation to its present site on Columbus Circle (in 2008), where the museum’s space has been trebled and its programming and focus repositioned. 3. Mr. McFadden was brought to Australia as a keynote presenter at the MA 2010 National Conference, and at this special session on the preceding day, courtesy of the Gordon Darling Foundation.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 25

clockwise from top left: Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York: “8000 Miles of Home,” by U.K. born, Thailandbased designer, Angus Hutchinson of ANGO, made from 12,000 silkworm cocoons. Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Gallery view: center, “Cascade,” by U.K. artist Kate MccGwire, made from found pigeon feathers. Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York: left, “Extinct Birds Made from the Bones of Birds We Have Eaten,” by U.S. artist Christy Rupp, made from reclaimed chicken and turkey bones from fast food restaurants and picnics; right wall, “Untitled (Wall Hanging), by U.K. artist Jodie Carey.

4. Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, 27 April – 24 Oct. 2010. 5. Parallels with Museum Victoria’s Wild exhibition (a new collection display), covered in the previous issue of Museums Australia Magazine, are worth taking note of. It is tempting to compare artists using animals for creative endeavours and the rearticulating of natural history collections repositioned for new audiences – taxidermy being one such potent link. (See Ed. & various authors, ‘Australian natural history collections revitalised for new audiences’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol.19 (Issue 1), September 2010, pp.13-16.)

a visit to New York. The presentation went further than simply arguing summarily to dispense with all boundaries between the disciplines of art and craft, through an adroit incorporation of natural history into a common ground that both expanded and changed how the potential of art and craft can be understood. In fact the accompanying exhibition book’s chapters spell out a continuing symbiosis arising through the Dead or Alive project: for example, in the framework of `Hunters and Gatherers’, whereby McFadden delves back into history and reinterprets the phenomena of Wunderkabinetten (cabinets of curiosities created by wealthy amateur naturalists), showing specimen drawers containing beetles from the nineteenth century).[5] McFadden pointed out that while the term ‘craft’

(not to mention ‘decorative arts’) had served us well for a long time, the common terminology today for materials as diverse as fashion, textiles, furniture, non-utilitarian vessels and even architecture is firmly that of ‘arts and design’. MAD re-opened two years ago in a prime position in Manhattan on Columbus Circle, with display spaces that are intimate rather than gargantuan, and with its galleries vertically aligned, each reached by a lift. One of the top levels of the new site, as McFadden pointed out, has a studio enabling the museum to feature artists at work – easily viewed by the public through the adjoining corridor’s glass wall. In fact this breaking down of the distinction between object and maker is further reinforced by plasma screen videos throughout the Dead or Alive installation, presenting artists


26 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Focus on design

below and right: Dead or Alive, Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Chinese artist Xu Bing’s “Background Story” front and back, made from discarded garden detritus.

explaining their leading ideas and practice that have informed the works selected. Gone are the days of a hushed environment for exhibitions – replaced by a contextual setting that is far more lively and audienceengaged. The Melbourne audience for McFadden’s presentation was captivated by his PowerPoint examples of works from Dead or Alive. The mixing of hugely diverse contemporary artists from Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Cuba, England, Germany, Norway, Canada, Belgium and Colombia, including artists from the USA, brought fresh names to our attention. Some were well known, such as Damien Hirst and Xu Bing; others far less so. Within a section entitled ‘Leaves, Plants, Seeds, Flowers’, were works such as Helen Altman’s Spice Skulls (2009), where people could experience different aromatics at close range while possibly contemplating mortality. Costa Rican activist Lucia Madriz’s large-scale floor installation, Gold Fever (2010), was meanwhile formed from corn, beans and rice – wherein she pointedly highlights the historical links between subsistence foods from many Latin American cultures and their genetic manipulation today for profit. The installation process of this work was however kept ’open’ to audiences, once again in a gesture aimed at demystifying the museum. Xu Bing (who rose in Chinese avant-garde art of the 1980s, but is now very much a global citizen of contemporary art) created an installation for the exhibition that memorably appropriated the honorable tradition of Chinese ink-brush landscape painting – here revisited in an outsized version of a classic scroll. Instead of brush and ink, however, Xu Bing’s materials comprised found detritus from the garden (dead sticks, leaves, roots and blossoms). Titled Background Story 3 (2006), the work invoked a particular seventeenth-century century hand-painted scroll of Gong Xian, through placing the various found materials against a frosted glass panel to convey the recalled landscape when lit from behind. Visitors could also see (if they walked to the side of the work) the actual ‘means’ by which this reinterpreting image by Xu Bing was produced. An exhibition section turning to ‘Insects’ demonstrated the somewhat obsessional and labourintensive techniques employed for many of the works

1. Endnotes


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 27

1. Endnotes

in Dead or Alive. A case in point was Fabián Peña’s use of cockroach wings to form a life-size human skull, a foot and a heart – a work also meticulously composing the artist’s self-portrait. One of these intricate, mosaic-like designs also subtly incorporated a map of Cuba. Such multi-layered images obviously evoke a sense of anthropomorphic angst as much as pleasurable wonderment. Materials from vertebrates are close to those of our own species. And here, under the heading ‘Bones, Hair, Skin, Scales’, Keith Bentley’s Cauda Equina (1995-2007), provided a commentary on the horseflesh industry. From the hairs of 250 slaughtered horses, the artist stitched and knotted approximately 1.4 million individual hairs onto a fabric ground. This mantle, reminiscent of a Victorian veil worn by widows during mourning, was draped across the body of a taxidermist’s presentation of a horse. Through this and other examples, McFadden pointed to an important distinction: that unlike much craft in the past that pared down its approach to form, much contemporary design is elaborate in form and contentrich – extending its reach far beyond the primary pleasures of the eye and hand. It would be interesting to explore whether the ACDSIG audience participants felt that this exhibition would be primarily relevant in a contemporary


28 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

Focus on design

art museum per se, or would sit equally well in a museum devoted to natural history. Such a topic itself is worthy of another special gathering of the art, craft and design specialists within the broader museums community! Steve Pozel’s address was focused on Australia’s Object,[6] an organisation that has evolved from the heritage of its predecessor body, the former Crafts Council of Australia, and which therefore continues to build on a forty-five-year history of providing a national focus on crafts, object making and associated visual arts/design streams in Australia. Based in Surry Hills, Sydney, Object carries under its masthead name the more descriptive title: Australian Centre for Craft and Design. As an organisation, Object continues to mount and tour nationally some of the most exemplary exhibitions on the work of our finest craftspeople in its Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft series (monographic expositions of the work of Les Blakebrough and Jeff Mincham in ceramics; Marian Hosking in jewellery; Klaus Moje in glass; and the remarkable body of textile works and weavings evolved by Liz Williamson). Meanwhile Object is undergoing a radical re-assessment of wider questions its developmental plans must deal with in a fast-changing environment: how to reverse the apparent lag in recognition and development of our design culture; how to capture the intersections evolving between art/craft/design, internet-based technologies

and the quickening social interface affecting creativity. In defining his organisation’s response to these issues, Steve Pozel led his Melbourne audience through Object’s ‘2015 Vision’ document. Following his instructive overview of past exhibitions, such as Sydney Style, staged at the Sydney Opera House by Object in 2004, and touring projects such as the Masters of Australian Craft and various successful Indigenous exhibitions, Pozel spoke in some detail on Freestyle. This was a major collaboration with the Melbourne Museum, wherein 40 Australian designers from the fields of furniture, lighting, textiles, home-wares, fashion, jewellery and accessories were showcased during 2007-2008 – not only in Australia but also in Milan, arguably Europe’s pivotal centre for design. Through PowerPoint detailing, the audience at the ACDSIG session was provided with a range of design outcomes in the Freestyle project; items that highlighted the translation of desire modelled as responses to the pursuit of contemporary life-styles. Moving through his unpacking of Object’s programming, Post-Freestyle and the Chapel Series (so-named because the site of Object Gallery in Surry Hills encompasses what was originally a hospital chapel), Pozel presented intriguing installations that also suggested new paradigms in design. Design forms emerging through these projects showed a turn towards participatory solutions that break beyond concepts of high finish and discrete objecthood. The

below left: Mobile facility for Outreaching Design program for schools. below right: Graphics from Object’s ‘2015 Vision’ document.

6. Steven Pozel has been Director of Object since November 1999. Originally Director of the Powerplant in Toronto (Canada’s leading contemporary artspace), he moved to Australia in 1997, initially to the Executive team of the MCA Sydney.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 29

above: Professor Robert Baines, GOLD RINGS a very sweet tune . . . . [detail] 2007. Photo: Garry Sommerfeld. The exhibition, Robert Baines: Metal, will be on display at Object Gallery, Sydney, until Sunday 16 January 2011, and afterwards tour nationally to ten venues from 2011 to mid2013, assisted by the Visions of Australia touring program. More information on Object’s touring program is available at: <www.object.com.au>.

social interface is reshaping design outcomes as much as it is changing communications daily. Similarly, Secrets + Stories, launched just before this ACDSIG session in September 2010, again shifted emphasis beyond the exemplary practitioner’s ‘end result’, to capture what could be considered Object’s social interface with communities that do not normally consider design (or art) as a force for positively shaping their well-being or anticipate ways that this might occur. For this project, architect and designer Michael Alvisse worked in collaboration with students from both Dulwich Hill High School, Sydney, and Green School, Bali. Steve Pozel stressed how Australia frequently lags in fostering a creative culture, and emphasised how engaging youth is a crucial step in reclaiming this important objective. As revealed in an illustrated pie-chart, Object intends to model its future according to a tripartite division of planning: into a third ‘physical’, a third ‘on-line’ and a third ‘public realm’ emphasis in its operations and programming by 2015. Already projects over the past three years, described above, go a substantial way towards implementing this model in the organisation’s future. Steve Pozel and his colleagues at Object are therefore not only rethinking their organisation’s future in terms of the content and tenor of exhibitions and community involvement in projects, but also taking these objectives into other areas of their services delivery at the same time. For instance, Object magazine, loved by many of us for years for its innovative design and up-to-the minute content, was in 2009 concluded in anticipation of an online version replacing it that will be read on an iPad or similar portable e-platform device. For Object, such a change involves not simply putting up the same content via an organisation’s website that is the inevitable the focus in such a move, but a response to how web-based design must come into the production process more actively and tailor content accordingly. Trialling of the first-such electronic Object magazine will be pursued before the new model is officially launched. Some catch phrases in Steve Pozel’s summary of his organisation’s re-evaluation of services may be reprised here. He highlighted ‘design thinking’, ‘design-as-solution’, ‘service design’, ‘social design’, and the ideas-nudging concept, ‘change-makers not stuff-creators’.

Among the prototype creative programs that extend Object’s platform into the future are those that address ‘bio-inspiration’ design, and projects involving sophisticated projected light imagery on public buildings to enliven urban contexts. Pivotal to the organisation’s self-examination meanwhile is the term CUSP, which collates diverse initiatives for taking Australian design into the next decade. While not in the league of brokering ambitious light projections with city councils, the Melbourne audience was particularly delighted, at the end of this stimulating address, by an ingenious venture of Outreaching Design to school children by way of a mobile facility (in fact a decommissioned ambulance). As Steve Pozel explained finally: [T]his Design Emergency project is about allowing students (and teachers) to experience how design thinking can be applied in their everyday lives, to things and ideas they interact and engage with, and to experience how design methods/approaches can help us to view current situations differently and envisage or test out future possibilities. Dr Anne Kirker, a freelance art consultant, curator and writer, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane. Citation for this article: Anne Kirker, ‘New concepts in design that expand the scope of visual arts projects in museums’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol.19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.24-29.


30 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

A report from the MA National Conference

MA National Network for Education (MAENN) David Arnold

above: David Arnold right: L-R: Tony Preston, Alison Fraser, Ian Watts, Robyn KrauseHale, Graham Morris. Photo: Yolande Kerridge

1. Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections; Museums Australia National Conference 2010 (University of Melbourne, 28 September – 2 October 2010)

Conference highlights The 2010 MA National Conference in Melbourne[1] presented museum educators with a number of excellent offerings from their fellow professionals, providing both nourishment and stimulation. There were twelve papers and one workshop session specifically devoted to museum educationrelated themes. These included working creatively with collections; making history come alive for school students; and stimulating audience learning through the application of digital technologies. Museum educators from around the country went to great efforts to share their practice and lead discussions with colleagues. Of particular interest was the keynote address – and subsequent workshop presentation – by internationally renowned learning expert Professor Stephen Heppell. Professor Heppell shared some of the latest innovations in learning that employ digital technologies, but focused on the question: ‘What do we want technology to do for us and our visitors?’. He continually reinforced the critical point that technology is a means to a much more important end – which is the enhancement of creativity and learning in a museum context. He went on not only to thrill us with examples of student-centred learning from around the world, but also challenged museums to stay relevant to the world of young people or face the prospect of being sidelined by an audience that will demand new and different ways of experiencing and learning about their world. 35th Anniversary lunch – Museum educators networking since 1975 The 2010 conference also witnessed a very enjoyable luncheon to celebrate the 35th anniversary of museum education in Australia. More than 50 people attended the event at the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. Colleagues ranged from current education members recently joined to those who had worked steadily in the sector between 1975 to 2010 – these included Alison Fraser and Graham Morris from the founding committee of what is now known as the Education National Network. Chris Hopkins from the ‘class of 75’ spoke first, followed by myself. What struck me in particular was a convergence in comments made by former members: that so many of the issues facing the current MAENN committee were also faced by previous committees and members. This emphasised the persistence of issues, and the continuing values and matters of relevance to museum educators that remain strong, no matter how much communication changes and an ever more mediatised environment may be rapidly carrying us forward onto new grounds of social interaction. Meanwhile the anniversary lunch was, above all, a happy, humorous and heart-felt gathering – and my sincere thanks are extended to Ian Watts, who first spoke to me about the idea to have a 35th anniversary celebration more than a year before. Ian later had the great sorrow of witnessing first-hand the demise of

the Melbourne City Museum in 2009, yet maintained his wonderful commitment and generosity to the cause of museum education by organising the 2010 anniversary event at Melbourne University during the National Conference. Invaluable contact with New Zealand colleagues A further highlight of the MA conference was the attendance of two museum educators from New Zealand: Margaret Tolland, President of the Museum Education Association of New Zealand; and Julie Noanoa, a museum educator from Te Papa in Wellington. They presented an excellent workshop and spoke at the Education Network’s AGM about forging closer ties between MEANZ and MAENN. These sentiments were echoed by their trans-Tasman colleagues generally, and plans are underway to organise a gathering of Australian and New Zealand museum educators in New Zealand in early 2012. Other MAENN matters Much attention continues to be paid to ongoing work on the development of the Australian Curriculum, which – despite recent delays in completion of the first four learning areas (English, History, Science and Mathematics) – will have a significant influence on museum educators in the year ahead. The next two learning areas to be developed – Geography and the Arts – will also be of great interest to our National Network. Finally, the latter part of 2011 will mark a possible change of membership for the MAENN committee, as periods of service will have been accomplished and renewal of committee executive positions comes up for consideration. Readers who work in any area of museum education are encouraged to consider nominating for positions across the board on our Network’s committee in 2011, which merits some thought before the new year begins. Forward planning is what will keep the MAENN network a strong force in the national association, in which our members have always been a lively and progressive force since Museums Australia was formed. [ ] David Arnold is President of the Museums Australia Education National Network (MAENN), and Manager of Education at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra. Citation for this article: David Arnold, ‘MA National Network for Education (MAENN): A report from the Museums Australia National Conference 2010’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, p.30.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 31

National Gallery of Australia extension: Stage One

Indigenous directions: A compendium of Australian Indigenous art on view at NGA, Canberra

clockwise from far left: View of Stage One, new entrance extension of National Gallery of Australia. Architect: Andrew Andersons and PTW Architects. Photo: John Gollings. View of foyer, with suspended Fish Trap (Maningrida elder George Ganyjbala & Urban Art Projects), and The Aboriginal Memorial viewed in distance. Architect: Andrew Andersons and PTW Architects. Photo: John Gollings. Raminginging, Northern Territory, Australia. The Aboriginal Memorial 1987-88 (installation of 200 hollow log bone coffins) natural earth pigments on wood height (irregular) 327 cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased with the assistance of funds from National Gallery admission charges and commissioned in 1987. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

Belinda Cotton

A

new era has been launched at the National Gallery of Australia with the opening of the Stage One extension that brings its Australian Indigenous collection to the fore. Accompanying key initiatives are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection Highlights publication; the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship; and the second National Indigenous Art Triennial, unDisclosed. Director of the National Gallery of Australia, Ron Radford AM, has stated his sense of the pivotal place Indigenous art occupies in the National Gallery’s mission to present Australia’s visual arts heritage to our own people and the world, alongside the art heritage of other peoples, traditions and nations: Indigenous Australia is the longest continuing culture in the world, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ art and traditions are among the oldest and richest in human history – both dynamic and diverse. These qualities are celebrated at the National Gallery and we are committed to showing the best of Indigenous art, presenting programs and publications that will build knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art by all Australians.

The eleven dedicated Indigenous galleries at the NGA now showcase more than 500 works of art – some never shown before; many not displayed for a long time – together with new acquisitions and installations, including a purpose-built ‘cupola gallery’ specially designed to house The Aboriginal Memorial,[1] which has become a centrepiece work within the Gallery’s collection since its acquisition more than two decades ago. Never before has the national collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art been seen to such advantage, with each gallery carefully designed for a different geographic region or aspect of Indigenous art illuminated in each space, and where possible shown in filtered natural daylight, comparable to the ambient light of day in which most works were created. Accompanying the presentation of installed works in new gallery spaces is the newly launched Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection Highlights, a publication that provides an overview of what is now the largest collection of Australian Indigenous art in the world. Curators, academics, advisers and researchers from around the country have contributed to this publication, including the Gallery’s own curatorial team: Franchesca Cubillo (Senior Curator), Tina Baum (Curator) and Kelli Cole (Assistant Curator).

1. Ramingining Artists, The Aboriginal Memorial 1987–88. The Aboriginal Memorial consists of 200 hollow log coffins from central Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and is one of the most significant Indigenous works of art in the Gallery’s history. It was created in 1987–88 by some 43 Aboriginal artists from Ramingining and the surrounding area. Each pole represents a year of European occupation and together they stand as a memorial to all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who lost their lives during the colonial occupation in Australia from 1788 to 1988. The path through the installation represents the Glyde River in central Arnhem Land. The poles are located along the river according to their specific homeland. See further: <http://nga.gov.au/ ATSIART/GALLERY.cfm?GALID=1> (accessed 30 November 2010).


32 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

National Gallery of Australia extension: Stage One

above: EARLY WESTERN DESERT (Gallery 3). ‘During the period 1971–74, a new and dynamic painting movement emerged from the Aboriginal community of Papunya in central Australia.’ right: BARK PAINTINGS & SCULPTURE AFTER 1980 (Gallery 8). ‘Rich visual imagery has existed in the Arnhem Land region for tens of thousands of years. Most prominent are the paintings on the rock surfaces in the magnificent escarpment country in western Arnhem Land.’


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 33

above: DESERT PAINTINGS FROM 1975 (Gallery 4). ‘The Desert Painting movement has developed into a dynamic arts industry since its modest beginnings in Papunya during the early 1970s.’ left: THE KIMBERLEY (Gallery 6): ‘The Kimberley region of Western Australia is renowned for the Wandjina figures painted on rock walls, a tradition dating back thousands of years.’


34 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010

National Gallery of Australia extension: Stage One

clockwise from top: Ron Radford, NGA Director, and Indigenous staff and colleagues at launch of new Indigenous galleries, September 2010. Centre, to Director’s left, is Franchesca Cubillo, Senior Curator of Indigenous Art. HERMANNSBURG SCHOOL (Gallery 5). Albert Namatjira was the first Aboriginal artist to be recognised within a wider Western art tradition. His watercolours have become synonymous with central Australia. TORRES STRAIT ISLANDS (Gallery 13). ‘The art from the Torres Strait Islands is stylistically distinct from that of mainland Aboriginal Australia.’

Further publications will continue to expand general understanding, research and exploration of the Australian Indigenous collection as a vital resource for understanding Australia’s heritage as a whole. While augmenting and exhibiting the collection is central to the National Gallery’s work, so too is its role in contributing to development of the visual arts sector in Australia nationally. Indigenous visual art now plays a defining role in the cultural life of the nation and contributes an estimated $500 million per annum to the Australian economy. While Indigenous Australians play a prominent role in the creation of visual arts, they have not been comparably represented in the management areas of visual arts. Another timely initiative of the Gallery, the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship, is intended to change this situation. At the launch of the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship, Ron Radford emphasised the Gallery’s partnership in this venture and its importance in a broader national perspective: ‘It represents a major commitment to the long-term development, training and mentoring of Indigenous people for senior roles within the visuals arts industry.’

In addition to the greatly expanded commitment to the physical presence and prominence of the Gallery’s Indigenous collections, in their frontline connection with all visitors entering the Gallery, a spectrum of accompanying initiatives forms part of the ongoing Indigenous programs, to which the Gallery has long been committed in its mission as the National Gallery for all Australians. The last word should be given to the Gallery’s Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Franchesca Cubillo: It is a real honour to be custodian of this collection that celebrates the best of Indigenous art. This art, which has been created for more than 40,000 years, continues to evolve and change, to surprise and stimulate. [] Belinda Cotton is Head of Travelling Exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia. Citation for this article: Belinda Cotton, ‘Indigenous directions: A compendium of Australian Indigenous art on view at NGA, Canberra’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (Issue 2), November 2010, pp.31-35.


Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 19 (2) – November 2010 35

above: URBAN (Gallery 11). ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is political, and the work of urban-based artists engages with issues in intellectual, provocative and often humorous ways that can be confronting or more subtle.’


1. Endnotes

middle:

bottom:

left:

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The Australian Showcase & Hardware Company ~ Showcasing Australian History for over 35 years www.tashcosystems.com.au

Grant Hancock Photography ~ Images reproduced with kind permission

~ South Australian Museum ~ South Australian Biodiversity Gallery ~

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Museums Australia Magazine 19(2)  

MA Magazine 19(2) November 2010

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