vol 20 (2) – november 2011
‘from open-work fabrics to open-work structures’ (Love Lace, 2011, reviewed)
Save the date! 24-28 September 2012 University of Adelaide, South Australia In a connected world, information is everywhere. How can museums and galleries contribute to the needs of a world that is awash with information but hungry for meaning? The 2012 Museums Australia National Conference, “Research and collections in a connected world”, will explore the potential of research: •
By museums: the role of collections and curatorial expertise in understanding current global challenges such as climate change;
With museums: research collaborations with industry, academia, government and community;
About museums: how the process and outcomes of research can transform the social, economic and educational role of museums in a rapidly-changing world.
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6 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
In this issue Museums Australia National Council 2011—2013 Contents President’s message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Temple museums in Thailand and community museums in Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
The NGA’s Art and Alzheimer’s Programs. . . . . . . . 16 Museum theatre ‘accessing all areas’. . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Dr Darryl McIntyre FAIM (Retired CEO, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra) vice-president
Belinda Cotton (Head, Travelling Exhibitions, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra) treasurer
Suzanne Bravery (Manager, Grainger Museum, University of Melbourne) secretary
2011 MA Conference debrief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
William (Bill) Storer (previously: President, MA-NSW; Chair, Community Museums Network; Newcastle)
Cultural policy, heritage and story-telling. . . . . . . . . 22
The largest museum and art gallery outside an Australian capital city . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Meredith Blake (Research Fellow, RMIT University, Melbourne)
We are all made of lace. . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Rebekah Butler (Executive Director, Museum & Gallery Services Queensland, Brisbane)
Vienna: Art & Design — and two more views of Vienna. . . . 32
Richard Mulvaney (Director, Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston)
2011 State & Territory museum awards roundup. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Making a difference – CollectionsCare Goldfields WA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Tribute to Sue Atkinson: Supporting volunteers caring for collections . . . . 40 Book Review: a guide to managing volunteers. . . 42
Belinda Nemec (Museum consultant, Melbourne)
Robert Heather (Event & Exhibition Manager, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne) Soula Veyradier (Curator, City of Melville Museum & Local History Service, Booragoon, WA) ex officio member
Frank Howarth (Chair, ICOM Australia), Director, Australian Museum public officer
Dr Don McMichael CBE, Red Hill, Canberra state/territory branch presidents/ representatives (subject to change throughout year)
COVER IMAGE: Tomy Ka Chun Leung, The Moving Pattern. Dimensions: 600x450x3mm. Materials: Sheets (5): Adobe Illustrator, laser-cut pasteboard. Photo: Powerhouse Museum.
Museums Australia Magazine PO Box 266, Civic Square ACT 2608 Editorial: (02) 6230 0346 Advertising: 02) 6230 0346 Subscriptions: (02) 6230 0346 Fax: (02) 6230 0360
© 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.
Editor: Bernice Murphy
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.
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Museums Australia is proud to acknowledge the following supporters of the national organisation:
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ACT Carol Cartwright (Head, Education & Visitor Services, Australian War Memorial, Canberra) NSW Dr Andrew Simpson (Director, Museum Studies Program, Macquarie University, Sydney) 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 Soula Veyradier (Curator, City of Melville Museum & Local History Service, Booragoon, WA)
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 7
he 2011 Museums Australia National Conference was held 14–8 November 2011 in Perth, one of Australia’s great cultural cities. For the first time, the MA Conference partnered (through the WA Organising Committee) with another national organisation, Interpretation Australia, in jointly presenting a national conference that spanned the interests of both organisations. The theme was ‘At the Frontier: Exploring the Possibilities’ – a theme highly suited to Perth and the state of Western Australia, given their special location, history and orientation. On the opening morning at the State Theatre Centre, a memorable Welcome to Country was delivered by Richard Walley and Trevor Walley, elders of the local Noongar community. The conference was formally opened by the Western Australian Minister for Culture and the Arts, the Hon John Day – the Government of Western Australia and his Department having acted as Principal Sponsor for the 2011 Conference, with the City of Perth an accompanying key sponsor. Museums Australia also acknowledges the Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia) as a Major Sponsor of the WA event. Thanks are due from the museums sector to the federal Minister and his Office for the Arts, which funded a number of bursaries directly to assist delegates to attend the conference on the western side of the continent this year. The Minister for the Arts, the Hon Simon Crean MP, was himself unable to attend, but sent his best wishes for a successful event. Thanks are also expressed to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum (which hosted the Conference Dinner and was itself a significant supporter), as well as the Western Australian State Library (which hosted and displayed winning entries in the 2011 MAPDA Awards for museum publications and design). Tributes are due to the Western Australian branch of Museums Australia and WA Planning Committee for their sustained work in realising a successful national gathering for the museums sector, professionally and socially, in Western Australia in 2011. The Conference Program of plenary speakers and parallel sessions across four days (and notably including Indigenous cultural perspectives) reminded all present of the rich contribution of museums to social development and the life of the nation. Museums are vital resources for social development because they are dedicated to preserving our heritage, reminding us of our history, and revealing who we are and our place in the world. Museums have gained strong cultural significance because they hold long-formed collections of objects in which both history and attitudes are reflected. Progressively there is a reframing emphasis in museums on content, engagement and meanings, motivated
by a determined effort to unlock the associated intellectual knowledge of museum objects and collections so that this knowledge is accessible to everyone. Museums in the latter part of the twentieth century became much more socially inclusive, and as greater emphasis has been given to access to collections, scholarship, expertise and skills, there has also been increased attention to social and intellectual disability access and enhanced opportunities for learning and dissemination of knowledge that affirmatively engages cultural diversity. This trend has occurred not only in Australia, but also in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America and Europe. The landscape of major forces that will shape the future of museums and their communities in the coming decades highlights economic, cultural, demographic and technological factors. In many countries the demographic profile of cities and communities is meanwhile changing. In some European nations, as well as in North America and Australia, refugee communities are increasing and there are also internal migrations of communities to take into account. In London, a city of eight million people, there are in excess of 300 communities drawn from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, south-east Asia, and the Caribbean, and ethnic communities will often relocate from one borough to another to be closer to their own cultural community. In the United States of America, Hispanic and Black American communities are an ever-increasing presence in major metropolitan centres, and museums will increasingly be under pressure to provide scientific, historic, artistic and cultural resources that will benefit all segments of society. The new National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of the Smithsonian Institution, will open on The Mall in Washington DC in 2015 (following completion of the construction and exhibitions installation in the new museum). Its Director is Lonnie Bunch, formerly Deputy Director of the National Museum of American History, Washington, and previously of the Chicago History Museum. He has been heavily involved with the planning and development of the new African American Museum, gathering international comparisons along the way. Also in 2015, the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights will open in Winnipeg, Canada. Outreach and civic engagement are therefore two priorities for museums to ensure that they interact with and engage all citizens. Increasingly museums are working in collaboration with major broadcasting channels (radio and television) so that their resources reach as large an audience as possible. In addition, museums are using social media opportunities as well as their own websites to engage new national and international audiences. For some museums, 40 per cent of the users of their websites are drawn from abroad, which illustrates the growing importance of digital media for museums in reaching ever more diverse audiences who might not be able to visit our institutions in person.
8 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Museums can assist with the development of social impact indicators by working closely with culturally diverse and socially inclusive community initiatives – and the results can positively inform government policies, demonstrating that museums are agents of social development and change. Museum experiences have the potential to significantly change individuals’ lives and experience, and demonstrate how these experiences have long-term impact on personal lives and social outcomes A major challenge facing all museums, galleries, libraries and archives is the task of digitising their collections. This involves many challenges, including funding from government to underwrite the cost of these projects, developing national and international standards for digitisation of various media, the need for substantial infrastructure such as robotic servers to store digitised information (as well as back-up servers with copies of this digitised information), and the challenge of changing technologies over time. Since the changing agenda is one of the major challenges facing museums in the twenty-first century, it is important that leaders hear clearly the views and perceptions of community groups, and understand the experiences they wish to gain from their visits to museums, so that museums can better plan their exhibitions and public programs to meet the expectations of their audiences – both in situ and increasingly in the online world. My thanks again to the Organising Committee for the 2011 National Conference in Perth, to the speakers from Australia and overseas, to the conference session chairs and the various Western Australian cultural institutions who assisted in providing a rich program for all colleagues visiting WA. The 2012 MA National Conference will be held in Adelaide in 2013 (24–28 September); the 2013 Conference will be in Canberra (17–20 May) during the centenary year of the national capital; and the 2014 Conference has recently been confirmed to take place in Launceston – a very welcome return to Tasmania after many years. [ ] Dr Darryl McIntyre FAIM National President, Museums Australia
Museum Victoria Chief Executive Officer Dr Patrick Greene has been appointed the new Chair of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD).
Dr Patrick Greene – new CAMD Chair
CAMD brings together the leaders of the major national, state and regional museums in Australia and New Zealand. CAMD’s 21 museums operate in 67 locations across Australia and New Zealand and include natural science and social history museums, industry and technology collections, science centres, combined museums and art galleries, heritage houses and outdoor museum sites. CAMD former Chair, Ms Margaret Anderso,n said Dr Greene was elected by his peers at the CAMD annual general meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in November 2011. “Dr Greene is a highly respected figure in the museum world, both in Australia and internationally, and will bring a wealth of experience to the position,” said Ms Anderson. Under Dr Greene’s management, Museum Victoria has become Australia’s largest museums organisation and now experiences record visitation numbers. With venues including Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum, in addition to the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and IMAX Melbourne Museum, Museum Victoria has become both a major cultural tourist destination and a source of academic authority. In addition to this appointment, Dr Greene was also recently announced as CEO of the Year at the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) Awards. The AHRI Awards recognise outstanding individuals and organisations that have demonstrated excellence in the contributions they have made to their business, as well as to the HR profession. Dr Greene completed his PhD in Archaeology in 1986 from the University of Leeds. He received an OBE in 1991 and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Salford University in 1997. He took up the position of CEO of Museum Victoria in August 2001.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 9
A further cross-cultural reflection on temple museums in Thailand
Temple museums in Thailand and community museums in Australia – some comparisons
Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, located 60 km east of Bangkok in the province of Nakhon Pathom
1. See Jonathan Sweet & Jo Wills, ‘Regional collaboration and the preservation of cultural heritage: The Lampang Temples Project, Thailand’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 19(4), Museums Australia, Canberra, May 2011, pp. 22-25.
Kiralynne Hill & Andrew Simpson
he recent report on the Lampang Temples Project in an earlier issue of Museums Australia Magazine provided a fine example of mutually beneficial cross-cultural engagement in the respective collecting sectors of Thailand and Australia. The partnership reviewed between Deakin University and Chang Mai University was focused on providing collections training fostered through a collaborative ethos and delivered through a variety of instructional pedagogies as outlined in the article by Sweet and Willis. In another partnership with a focus on crosscultural student engagement, which will be briefly outlined here, one of the unanticipated results was insight into the differences and similarities between community museums in Australia and temple museums in Thailand. Macquarie University’s former Division of Environmental and Life Sciences (in Sydney) and Mahidol
University’s Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development (in Bangkok) had both established fledgling museum studies programs in the previous decade. Between 2005 and 2008 Macquarie University undertook a series of 10-day tours of the collections sector for students and staff of both programs, with funding support provided through the Australia-Thai Institute (ATI). The aim was to expose students to the diversity of the collections sector of both nations, with the rationale that cross-cultural engagement is an essential component in the training of future museologists who will operate in a globalised world. The comparative observations explored below are based on the work of one of us (Hill), who was undertaking a Masters program at Macquarie University at the time. In both Thailand and Australia, ten days were spent visiting more than thirty museums – ranging from state controlled/ subsidised museums, community-based museums, to some privately owned, special-interest museums. Excursions in both countries revealed a plethora of museological approaches in terms of venue, exhibition, storage and funding, in addition to a wonderful array of cultural, science and social history objects collected or displayed. Out of the large number of museum venues visited, the community museums attracted our interest strongly, and commonalities between these museum types in both Australia and Thailand emerged in comparative review. Roles and services common to these museums in both countries include: collection of local and regionspecific items of significance; direct involvement by members of the local community in the operation of the museums; exhibitions serving simultaneously to educate visitors from afar as well as the local community itself – about its history and identity – and issues around access to funding for these objectives to be well accomplished. Such striking commonalities discernible behind great cultural differences registered at national levels reflect the international need for community museums to exist as institutional focal-points for communicating past and present local stories, serving local communities as well as regional audiences and visitors from far beyond these communities. Collectively, such community identities within a single country eventually go to make up a composite ‘national’ identity in terms of shared culture, history and heritage. In Australia, the Pigott Report on the museums sector (1975) identified three broad categories of museum provision in relation to ICOM definitions of the time. These included major museums at a state and federal level supported by public funding; associated museums that hold collections of national significance and require some form of government support (many art galleries, some open-air heritage sites, university museums and other institutions came into this category); and small local museums. Community museums in Australia are often referred to as local museums or folk museums, where the collection
10 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
A further cross-cultural reflection on temple museums in Thailand
focus is on the ordinary as opposed to the extraordinary; and content tends to be heavily reliant on local history (Schulz, 2003). The use of the term community relates to the smaller source-area the museum serves in comparison to a regional or state museum, although some blurring of boundary indicators, such as population size, geographical range, local governmental areas etc., occur in practice (Schulz, 2003). More often than not, the premises of small museums are historic or heritage buildings. Many of these museums are organised or controlled by an historical society, creating a cohesive link between a town’s local history, both written and oral, and the objects that have survived to illustrate that history. Their role is to serve as local repositories of civic identity pertaining to a particular community. Interestingly, a similar situation exists in the Thai context, where small community-based museums also carry out primary museum functions to varying degrees. They serve a much smaller population base or geographic area in comparison with substantial provincial or ‘national’ institutions; and they are generally housed in heritage buildings that previously served other uses and are not purpose-built museum spaces. Lecturers from the Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development at Mahidol University, a premier research-focused university in Thailand, identified for our study group three distinctive museum types in Thailand. These are: national museums with a focus on provincial objects from a range of local communities; community museums with locally sourced objects; and temple museums. Buddhism is at the centre of the Thai view of life and shapes the cultural foundation of most attitudes, in the city as well as in the village. As such it is understandable that the Buddhist Temple (Wat) provides a focal point within this society. Buddhism, and related items of significance, feature in all levels of Thailand’s museum system, reflecting the thorough cultural infusion of
spiritual belief and practice in Thai daily life. The Fine Arts Department (FAD) of Thailand’s Government is given the task of preserving Thailand’s Cultural Heritage. This includes ‘preserving, reviving and disseminating information about Thai art, history, literature, customs, architecture and Buddhism’ (Gatbonton, 1971). Our observations of the few temple and community museums visited suggest that many temple museums have a duality of purpose in serving their communities. The categories of temple and community museum have merged in many cases, and the collections embrace many non-religious and secular objects alike. Objects and donations from the local community have found their way into temple museum displays, presenting a broader account of everyday Thai life. Temple complexes have a history of retaining relics or related collectable items, so it is not unusual to find that many temples have developed ‘museum’ spaces for the exhibition, care and storage of such relics. The government’s Fine Arts Department also manages Thailand’s network of national museums, including those that exist as branch museums in provincial communities (Gatbonton, 1971). In many cases their collections of relics and antiquities incorporate objects that were once held in temple museums, because of the religious origins of these objects. As a result of a higher level of museum practice applied within national branch museums, due to the involvement of the FAD, these museums appear higher in the heritage hierarchy nationally. In overview, displays within temple museums are not necessarily as strong, comparatively, as those in other museums. However community pride and respect for customary practice are important to foster, and any outsiders brought in to help with displays need to tread carefully. This makes the positive achievements in cross-cultural exchange of the
Visiting studients and staff from Mahidol University (Thailand) at The Brechworth Bakery (Victoria), with staff and students from Macquarie University and Mr Tim Fisher (former Chair of AustraliaThailand Institute).
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 11
Lambing Flat Roll-up Banner on display at Lambing Flat Folk Museum, Young, New South Wales. Photo: Lambing Flat Folk Museum
2. See further an article especially devoted to a comparison of these two historic objects in an earlier issue of the MA Magazine: Andrew Simpson, ‘Contesting significance: What mattered then, what matters now’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol.18 (1), Museums Australia, Canberra, September 2009, pp.20-23; plus related articles in the same issue: Ron Radford, ‘Rescuing the Eureka Flag’, ibid., p.19; and Gordon Morrison, ‘Contextualising an icon’, p.24.
Lampang Temples Project especially laudable. Below is an overview of four community museums as examples from both field trips – highlighting comparisons between two folk museums in New South Wales and two temple museums in Thailand. It is the similarity in object types in the collections, venues, financial support, display approaches and storage that create the correlations between folk museums in Australia and temple museums in Thailand. In New South Wales the main façade of the Gulgong Pioneer Museum is formed by the Times Bakery and Produce Store (1872-73), with a number of outer buildings, large sheds, and repositioned or reconstructed buildings that are separate from the main building. Established buildings surround this facility, with no room for expansion. Once inside the Gulong Pioneer Museum, visitors find a series of display rooms featuring items from the collection, mostly exhibiting ‘like with like’. The displays are extensive, and a diagram of the floor plan with suggested visitor-route to cover everything of importance is handed out, correlated to arrows painted on the floor. Items on display constitute a permanent collection with a broad focus on social and industrial history: objects cover historic reconstructed buildings, carriage and automotive display, mining equipment, photographs, furniture, Aboriginal and geological artefacts, domestic objects, costumes, toys, haberdashery, film and cinema items, medical objects and instruments. The Lambing Flat Folk Museum, situated in an historic school dating from 1883, and located at
Campbell Street in Young, NSW, has existed as an institution since late 1967. However its current location was not occupied until 1978, after the local school sought alternative grounds and buildings. The Young museum has a smaller floor area and fewer objects on display in comparison with Gulgong. The main hall area consists of rows of display cabinets, with some larger objects presented in thematic groupings with related items – for example, a corner set-up of hairdressing related items, including pumpup chair, hot rollers, electric shears and mannequins. The museum houses Young’s Historical Society collection, incorporating hundreds of relics and objects relating to the history of the Young district. The Lambing Flat collection has a focus on the gold rush era (the 1860s) — an iconic item of this period being the Lambing Flat Roll-up Banner that merits comparison with the Eureka Flag held in the Gallery at Ballarat, Victoria. A particular strength of the Young Folk Museum is a large collection of photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection further includes costumes, jewellery, writing and communication implements and objects; and clocks, gramophones, carriages, furniture, and commercial objects. Labels in most instances are typed, some handwritten; nearly everything has at least basic identifying information, and sometimes additional background or contextual information. By comparison, the Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, located 60 km east of Bangkok in the province of Nakhon Pathom, has a very different primary function and
12 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
A further cross-cultural reflection on temple museums in Thailand
Wat Phra Thong. Photo: Carlo Bianco.
orientation, attracting Buddhist worshippers from around the world. The original temple was the first religious landmark in Thailand to highlight the influx of Buddhism in a major architectural form. Its orangecoloured glass tiles, heightening the surface of a glinting golden monument, can be seen for quite some distance, such that the temple dominates the landscape on approach to the town centre. Within the monastery compound, there are various interesting historical items including several ‘Wheels of the Law’ – ancient stone carvings that were religious emblems prior to 143 BCE, when images of the Buddha were first carved. These ‘wheels’ were found in the immediate area during excavations of the temple precinct, and they have verified the age of the city. Some of the wheels have been relocated to the national branch-museum situated outside the temple complex – to the Phra Pathom Chedi National Museum. The temple museum within the monastery complex houses artefacts and historical remains discovered in Nakhon Pathom during successive excavations over a number of years, as well as a curious collection of highly varied objects derived from social history. For example, there are coins and notes in various international currencies, presumably collected through donations and put on display. This presentation included what looked like a headdress made from folded currency notes, thought to have been used for a wedding ceremony. Exhibition labels were scarce in the museum. Other objects included offerings deposited with the dead over time, such as guns and swords, amulets (in gold, silver and clay), gongs, fans, shadow puppets,
small Buddhist shrines and maps of the world. Domestic objects such as glass and ceramic vessels found in excavations of the site – once used within the monastery complex and surrounding village – included shoes, kettles and other tea-making objects. Some items of wooden furniture were also included and formed display surfaces for smaller objects. There were also items of geological interest, such as rocks and shells. When visited, there was a newspaper photograph of US marines holding a ‘sea fish dragon’, a creature with a powerful presence in south-east Asian mythology. About sixteen men were holding this giant eel-like creature supposedly found in local waters. Signage was in both Thai and English, but very sparse overall. There were many display cabinets running in three rows along a small room attached to an outer side wall of the Temple. The cabinets were crowded with objects, sometimes making it difficult to see individual items, but there was an obvious attempt to group ‘like with like’. The second temple museum considered arose around an actual Buddha image. According to local legend, about two centuries ago a figure of the Buddha was found buried in a paddock to the north of Phuket. Attempts to excavate the figure for enshrinement were made, but only the upper part could be uncovered. Later the villagers built a temple over the figure, Wat Phra Thong, and enhanced the Buddha image with gilded stucco. Since this Buddha is widely believed to embody an ancient spell, and have associated special spiritual powers, it is visited by many Thais and tourists alike. Within the temple complex is a museum, adjacent to education rooms for monks. The complex houses
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 13
The parallel situation in Thailand and Australia is evidence that globalisation has profound implications for the ability of communities at a range of scales to successfully manifest identity through museum work. a collection of historical objects, with display cases themed according to their contents. For example, one case is devoted to Chinese-designed bowls, plates and tea sets; another displays shoes worn to confine the growth of women’s feet; a further case houses glassware and bottles. Also on display, marking the impact of international modernity, are typewriters and telephones. Further items presented are objects drawn from the natural world including whale bones, elephant feet and tusks, a shark’s jaw and puffer fish. One item of local-area significance with a social history emphasis is a raincoat worn by miners at the time when tin mining was flourishing on Phuket. Signage at Wat Phra Thong was in Thai, with a mixture of handwritten and typed labels. Breakable items were locked inside large glass cabinets. When visited, the museum itself was essentially one large room that was neatly laid out, with groupings of like
right: Gulgong Pioneer Museum, New South Wales, regarded as one of the finest folk museums in NSW with a focus on social and industrial history of the latter half of the 1880’s.
objects and a wide recourse to display cabinets. A common criticism of many folk museums focuses on the ‘crowded display syndrome’, where there is often no alternative space apart from the principal display area for storage of items in the collection. A similar dilemma occurs in the case of Thailand’s temple museums, where provision of facilities for museological practice is problematic, since they are not supported by government and must rely on donations of both money and objects from the community; meanwhile available space is invariably scarce within a temple complex serving many functions. Similarly in Australia, historical societies that are often managing folk museums are also stretched for resources, frequently reliant on self-help and monetary donation from visitors. However in some instances these institutions also draw subsidy funding from their local council.
14 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
A further cross-cultural reflection on temple museums in Thailand
In Thailand, the upkeep of a temple and the housing and educational needs of its monastery come before the needs of a museum. Storage is often non-existent in temple museums, necessitating that the museum space acts as both display and storage area. In Australia, access to support allowing staff and volunteers in community museums to improve their museological practice is also patchy at best; however some assistance in training is usually available through various state agencies and professional associations. Correspondingly in Thailand, the expansion of national museum branches into the many provinces has allowed some cross-over of expertise and skills development for temple museums. Both Gulgong and Lambing Flats museums in New South Wales are notably housed in heritage buildings. However, considering the age of most Thai temples and their surrounding complexes, and the fact that many temples have endured several stages of rebuilding, nearly all temple museums in Thailand can be considered as being housed similarly in heritage buildings – as is the case with Wat Phra Pathom Chedi and Wat Phra Thong temples discussed here. Some years ago, Linda Young (1999) questioned
whether heritage buildings and museums really do go hand in hand, so often being considered as a good ‘natural fit’ for joint use. In all four examples discussed above, however, the museums are restricted by what they can and cannot alter within the heritage buildings they occupy, to accommodate or improve their displays. Young (1999) stated that ‘politics, funding and opportunity mean [that] heritage buildings are likely to continue to be offered’ as accommodation for smaller or regionally-located community museums (p10). In the case of the Lambing Flat museum, before it was acquired by the Young Historical Society it was vandalised through being long-standing unused and therefore considered likely for demolition. However when the expanding local historical collection was urgently in need of a new home outside the regional library, where it had been housed since the 1960s, a building previously considered fit for demolition was suddenly repositioned as highly suitable for a museum. In Thailand by contrast, at a site embodying intangible heritage involving a range of spiritual practices in addition to local community functions, a Buddhist temple complex often encompasses a residence for monks, facilities for worship, community meetings,
above: Wat Phra Thong, the name of the temple translates directly as ‘golden Buddha’. Famous for its half buried Buddha, was discovered by a local boy leading his buffalo through a field and coming upon a muddy hard object rising from the ground- the tip of the Buddha’s head. Photo: knowphuket.com
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 15
educational provision, along with enshrining relics and hosting ashes of the deceased. Accordingly, there is a suite of heritage functions and structures to preserve, along with any museum that has arisen incrementally within a temple complex itself. At the 2010 Museums Australia annual conference (in Melbourne), questions were raised about the sustainability of the regional museums spectrum within the Australian museums sector. Kylie Winkworth (2010) has strongly made the case (over a number of years in fact) for a re-examination of regional museums’ current situation and future. She has highlighted that the concept of sustainability should extend beyond ‘green’ practices for individual collecting agencies, and has challenged colleagues with the question, ‘[D]o we need to go on a museum diet?’ In view of the Australian government’s recent consultation around a Discussion Paper for the development of a National Cultural Policy (to be released in 2012), it is instructive to revisit this question of regional museums’ sustainability, and consider just how viable many of our community museums may be long-term, despite their integral role in fostering community identity. A parallel situation impacting on regional museums in both Thailand and Australia is the evidence that, with the pressures of globalisation, including escalating economic change and shifting patterns of demography, there are profound implications for the ability of communities, at a range of scales, to successfully manifest their identity through the agency of local museums. There is one profound difference between the casestudy museums of the two nations outlined here, and it is interesting to consider whether it will be a factor in future questions of sustainability. This is, of course, the impact of Buddhism – a centuries-old spiritual and cultural force in Asia, and a very new but rising influence in Australia. The Macquarie and Mahidol universities’ bi-institutional engagement left our staff and students pondering this very question. [ ] Kiralynne Hill is a Masters graduate of the Museum Studies Program at Macquarie University, in Sydney. Andrew Simpson is Director of the progam, while also serving as a member of the National Council of Museums Australia. Citation for this article: Kiralynne Hill & Andrew Simpson, ‘Temple museums in Thailand and community museums in Australia – some comparisons’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Canberra, November 2011, pp.9-15.
In view of the Australian government’s recent consultation around the National Cultural Policy, it is instructive to consider just how viable many of our community museums may be long-term, despite their integral role in fostering community identity.
References Gatbonton, M.T. (ed). 1971. Preservation of Cultural Heritage – Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam. Cultural and Social Centre for the Asian and Pacific Region, Seoul. Pigott, P.H. 1975. Museums in Australia 1975: Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections including the report of the Planning Committee on the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. Schulz, R. 2003. Community museums: An under-valued resource. Proceedings of the Uncover Conference: Graduate Research in the Museums Sector Conference 2002. University of Sydney & AMARC: 59-64. Sweet, J. & Willis, J. 2011. The Lampang Temples Project, Thailand. Museums Australia Magazine, 19(4), Canberra, May 2011: 22-25. Winkworth, K. 2010. Contending concepts: Museums, collections and sustainability. In: Interesting Times: New Roles for Collections, Museums Australia National Conference 2010. The University of Melbourne, 28.09.10–02.10.10. Conference Handbook: 35. Young, L. 1989. Heritage buildings and heritage collections: Horse and carriage or hasty marriage? Museum National, 8(2), Museums Australia, Canberra: 10-11.
16 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Increased outreach and access for aged sufferers of mental decline
The NGA’s Art and Alzheimer’s Programs Adriane Boag
winner public program Large Museum
National Gallery of Australia Art and Alzheimer’s Program
Dr Darryl McIntyre President, Museums Australia
Since commissioning this article, the judges of the new national MAGNA Awards decided that the NGA’s Art and Alzheimer’s Program is the Winner for the category of innovative Public Programs in large museums/galleries in 2011. It was selected as a public program ‘of outstanding excellence’, addressing ‘the fastest growing health-issue of our time …impacting lives throughout Australia’. The Award was presented at the MA National Conference Dinner in Perth on 17 November 2011 [Ed.]
pportunities for intellectual stimulation and social engagement are often neglected in the care of people living with a disease, such as dementia, where there is a progressive decline in an individual’s cognitive ability. As the incidence of dementia increases nationally, tours of works of art in galleries engage with new communities, demonstrating the ability of the visual arts to provide meaningful activities for people living with dementia. The genesis of the National Gallery of Australia’s (NGA) Art and Alzheimer’s Program and the more recent Art and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program demonstrate the power and benefits of the visual arts to connect with people living with dementia. In 2007 the NGA conducted an Art and Alzheimer’s pilot program. This six-week program included two community-based groups of people still living at home, and two groups living in residential aged care facilities. From the outset, partnerships between both arts and health organisations were an important component of the program’s sustainability. In preparation for the pilot, a group of NGA educators participated in specialised training to develop dementia-appropriate communication skills and to raise awareness of the needs of this specialised audience. The visitors’ obvious enjoyment, and the endorsement of the pilot program in an evaluation by clinical psychologist Dr Mike Bird, ensured the Gallery’s commitment to include Art and Alzheimer’s tours within the institution’s ongoing special access programs. Bird summed up the merits of the pilot program thus: ‘[P]articipants were engaged from the outset and remained engaged. They became animated, gained confidence and were able to discuss and interact with the artworks and the social process.’
1. Sarah MacPherson, Michael Bird, Katrina Anderson, Terri Davis and Annaliese Blair, Aged Care Evaluation Unit, NSW Greater Southern Area Health Service, Australia; Department of Psychology, Australian National University, Aging & Mental Health, vol. 13, no. 5, September 2009, 744–752.
Dementia describes a large group of illnesses of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common. It is a broad term describing loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and normal emotional reactions; and manifests itself differently in each individual. On its website Alzheimer’s Australia defines ‘dementia’ as ‘the symptoms of a large group
of treatable, but incurable diseases of the brain that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning’. Although it is most common in those over 65 years, it is not a normal or inevitable part of ageing. Despite some known risk factors it is not possible to say if dementia is preventable. Diagnosis of each type of dementia is complex and cannot be confirmed until examination after death. The visual arts allow for multiple interpretations, emotional responses and connections. Art communicates beyond verbal language, and is particularly useful for people for whom the connection between memory and language, which most take for granted, has become interrupted. In keeping with these ideas, the aims of the NGA’s Art and Alzheimer’s Program are to increase wellbeing and quality of life for participants by providing intellectual stimulation in a socially inclusive environment. Through discussion and interpretation of works of art, participants are able to reconnect with their sense of identity and to communicate to their optimum cognitive capacity. The program raises awareness of dementia as an increasing health issue and endeavours to reduce the social stigma associated with this disease. The presence of carers, partners and health care workers in the sessions assists to improve the care of people living with dementia. The Gallery’s philosophy for all access programs is reflected in the Art and Alzheimer’s tours, which focus on the participants’ abilities — abilities that often elicit surprise or joy in their carers. For example, the partner of one participant was amazed to hear her husband recount a personal past experience with the artist John Olsen, whose work was being discussed and a recollection which she had not heard before. Following the successful pilot program, three models for Art and Alzheimer’s tours at the NGA were developed. The first model caters for communitybased groups, one which visits fortnightly and one which visits weekly. A second tour model has been developed for people with more advanced dementias, living in residential care. In the past three years 9 residential care facilities have visited the Gallery for a series of 6 weekly tours. In 2010, a third model of shared monthly tours was initiated for people living
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 17
top: middle: bottom: left: right:
with dementia and their carers. These tours are less formal, with the frequency of participation decided by the visitors. Although carers are active participants in the tour, the discussion is nevertheless aimed to maximise the engagement of those with dementia. This model is inclusive of people at various stages in their life with dementia and has allowed the Gallery to increase access to the program. One of the last parts of the brain to be affected by dementia is the area that processes emotion. By closely observing participants and through attentive listening, the educator is able to respond to each individual. A range of communication techniques maximise participation, including non-verbal communication such as leaning forward, using hand gestures and smiling. Silence allows time for participants to process information and to formulate responses. These strategies provide non-testing support, encouragement and ensure that everyone feels included. In all models the tour lasts for an hour and includes 3-4 works of art. Each participant is given reproductions of works of art discussed during the session to take home. Thereby allowing the experience at the Gallery to be extended and shared with family members and carers. Trained educators with the support of Gallery volunteers deliver the tours at the National Gallery.
‘I am leading the best life I ever have’ Chris, Art and Alzheimer’s program participant
Works of art as diverse as Russell Drysdale’s The Drover’s Wife (c.1945), Hossein Valamanesh’s Falling (1990) or an Anton Breuhl photograph have all elicited rich commentary. In response to The Drover’s Wife residents from an aged care facility contributed comments such as, ‘Ooh, she’s not happy’, ‘She’s got everything in that case’, to ‘She’s wanting to get out of there!’ — said with a dramatic gesture of dismissal and departure. One woman in this group who was rarely able to speak completed the discussion with: ‘She’s leaving him’ — said clearly and emphatically. This exchange, recorded at the end of the tour by the educator, demonstrates the ability of art to provide opportunities to connect, interpret and express experiences through a work of art. The human condition is shared, and the burden of living with dementia can be lightened and laughed about.
Individual as well as group discussion occurs during the tours. Photo: National Gallery of Australia. above:
A group discuss a Groote Eylandt canoe (1965) by an unknown maker of the Anindilyakwa people, on a monthly tour for people living with dementia and their carers. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.
18 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Increased outreach and access for aged sufferers of mental decline
right: Women from a residential care facility discuss 8th century Tang Dynasty sculptures with staff during a series of six weekly Gallery visits. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.
In 2009 the NGA received funding through a community grant from the Department of Health and Ageing to develop an Art and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program. The experience and expertise already developed at the Gallery was refined and synthesized into a two-day training workshop for arts and health professionals in regional centres. In 2010 the Art and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program was delivered in three regional galleries: The Glasshouse Gallery, Port Macquarie; Newcastle Region Gallery; and the Art Gallery of Ballarat. These locations were selected because of each region’s relatively high incidence of dementia. The aims of the Art and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program are to utilise the NGA’s now significant resources and experience in the area of special access and to assist existing art centres and galleries in remote, regional and metropolitan
order] to implement and sustain such a program’; and from a community health care worker, ‘[T]he arts are an area I have little working knowledge of. Following the training I feel motivated to be actively involved in a pilot program at our Gallery.’ In 2011, additional support from a private foundation has expanded the Outreach Program and enabled the NGA to deliver the training workshop in New England Regional Art Museum, Maitland Regional Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, Macquarie University Art Gallery; and a masterclass for educators at the National Portrait Gallery and for delegates at the Museum and Gallery Services Queensland State Conference. More than 150 arts and health professionals have participated in the training workshops representing regional arts organisations, gallery directors, educators, curators and volunteers, artists and art
communities to develop a sustainable model of tours for people with dementia. In keeping with the aims of the tours, communities are encouraged and supported to implement meaningful and intellectually engaging non-pharmacological activities for people living with dementia, in partnership with health care providers. The NGA has also undertaken to evaluate the benefits of the Outreach Program for the participants and stakeholders. The success of any sustainable program established in a region is dependent on local support and partnerships with local councils, health care workers, dementia care providers, carers and volunteers. Therefore arts and health professionals participate in the training workshop. The following comments articulate the importance of this shared training model, in the first instance from a gallery educator: ‘I now understand the need for partnerships with community organisations [in
therapists, community-based and residential health care organisations, and TAFE health educators. The Art and Alzheimer’s Programs at the National Gallery of Australia have been of huge benefit to those included. It is anticipated that the Outreach Program will continue to spread the reach of these benefits further, and that many people living with dementia will enjoy a deep and meaningful engagement with the visual arts — often for the first time — at a point when the circumstances of their own and their families’ lives are being profoundly challenged.  Adriane Boag is Program Coordinator, Youth and Access at the National Gallery of Australia Citation for this article: Adriane Boag, ‘The NGA’s Art and Alzheimer’s Programs’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.16-18.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 19
IMTAL 2011 Conference: Museum Theatre - Access All Areas
Museum theatre ‘accessing all areas’
S. Xavier Carnegie, from the Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute, pictured at the State Library of Victoria
he IMTAL conference held over four and a half days in Melbourne and Ballarat for more than 80 delegates proved to be a great success. Delegates came from all over Australia, the UK, New Zealand, USA and China. Strong themes of risk taking, evoking visitor response, cultural awareness and online presence emerged as major discussion points. S. Xavier Carnegie, from the Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, reflected on our attitudes to how America was seen to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden. Within this context he explored the myriad attitudes that surrounded the work of John Brown, the revolutionary abolitionist who advocated armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery. The Time Trial of John Brown is a piece of evocative museum theatre designed to challenge visitors in their own thinking and to contextualise it. Nigel Sutton implored delegates not be afraid to take risks, to challenge all boundaries and keep museum theatre on the edge. Nigel has a vast experience of developing and delivering museum theatre in the UK and in major museums across Australia. He stated that the 15-page OHS risk assessment must be done over a conversation rather than bureaucratically and that there are many forms of risk but it is important to push boundaries to create new visitor responses and interaction.
Delegates were able to explore many magnificent cultural institutions including Federation Square, Melbourne Museum, Sovereign Hill, National Gallery of Victoria, National Sports Museum and the MCG, Scienceworks, the Immigration Museum, Pollywoodside and the State Library of Victoria. The conference ended with a lively debate on the place of online museum theatre, the use of avatars and the role of Web 2 technologies. IMTAL Asia Pacific is growing in membership and is excited by its potential to contribute to the 2012 MA Conference in Adelaide as well as running some professional development training days.  Patrick Watt is Manager of Education & Public Programs at the National Sports Museum, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Victoria. He chairs the Museums Australia National Network IMTALAP (International Museum Theatre Alliance - Asia Pacific). Citation for this article: Patrick Watt, ‘IMTAL 2011 Conference: Museum theatre ‘accessing all areas’’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.19.
20 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Debrief on the MA National Conference 2011 (Perth)
2011 MA Conference debrief
Prof John Holden Demos, City University London presenting the opening keynote address.
Trevor Walley, elder of the local Noongar community, delivering Welcome to Country.
Commissioner of Children & Young People’s Thinker in Residence, Paul Collard, presents at the Community Conversations program held at the wetlands in the Perth Cultural Centre.
Conference gala dinner and awards held in Hackett Hall, WA Museum.
he banners have been put away, the trade show booths dismantled, the delegates have returned home, and the State Theatre Centre in Perth is now hosting the performing arts again. Yes, ‘At the Frontier; exploring the possibilities‘, the Museums Australia/ Interpretation Australia National Conference is over – or is it? In keeping with the ‘frontier’ theme of the conference, blogs, and tweets have been flying through the ether discussing and debating the plethora of topics covered by the conference, ensuring that contacts made at the sessions and social events are maintained, and following up on areas of interest stimulated by particular conference presentations. These reactions are exactly what a successful conference must generate. And what a conference it was: more than 570 delegates (exact figures are yet to be finalised) drawn from both Museums Australia and Interpretation Australia networks, and a range of institutions, local government and state government agencies, as well as from the private sector. All came together to exchange, listen, learn and discuss a range of ‘frontier topics’, including ongoing update on the remarkable (even sometimes daunting) opportunities that have been opened up to the sector by the accelerating advances in technology and socially mobile forms of instant access and exchange. Delegates were treated to a number of stimulating presentations detailing successful projects undertaken using new technologies; and for some, there were fresh pointers to the huge range of devices, programs and software that can be harnessed in a myriad ways to make our institutions more engaging and our collections more accessible. Another theme that excited delegates was that of memory. This conference ‘thread’ was launched by the insightful presentation of Viv Golding (University of Leicester) and snaked its way throughout the week, with further interesting and challenging presentations on such diverse sites as the Melbourne Museum and
the Anzac Memorial in Sydney, compared with similar sites internationally. The interpretations and observations made in the presentations stimulated some lively debates – and none more so than the closing keynote address presented by Professor Peter Read, a challenging and confronting paper entitled, ‘Do Not Forget Me: Museums and Reconciliation’. All of these papers, and the questions they posed, are very timely, given the impending focus on the centenary of Gallipoli in 2015. The traditional ‘R and R’ day (presenting the Regional + Remote program prior to the Conference opening) was this year replaced by the CRS (Community, Regional and Specialist) Day, conducted on the Wednesday of the conference week. A great program prepared by the organising committee was well attended. It was much appreciated by far-travelled delegates who were treated to a range of interesting presentations, complemented by practical workshops in various aspects of museology, also highlighting some case studies of innovative projects being undertaken in the regions across the nation. The partnership with Interpretation Australia this year broadened the field of tours and field trips offered to conference delegates. From Perth, we waved delegates off to a range of iconic destinations, such as Rottnest, the Fremantle Prison, the Tree Top Walk in Walpole and New Norcia, while also providing choice opportunities to see collections not usually open to the public in town – notably the remarkable quality of works held in the Kerry Stokes Collection. Our Western Australian institutions also provided wonderful exhibitions such as the Princely Treasures exhibition (European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum) hosted by the Art Gallery of WA; Extraordinary Stories from the British Museum, an exhibition at the WA Museum presented especially to coincide with CHOGM in Perth; and Alternating Currents at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA). The latter was complemented by the intriguing conference after-hours venue, the ‘Yellow Cake Street Cafe’, where many a debate and
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 21
At the Frontier: Exploring the possibilities
discussion sparked by conference presentations continued informally. Completing the conference package in Perth, a number of specially tailored ‘conference public programs’ were presented. These included the Community Conversations initiative, which involved Paul Collard, the Thinker in Residence for the Commissioner of Children and Young People, and Alec Coles, Chief Executive Officer of the WA Museum – both exploring the important roles that the arts, culture and creativity play in the development and wellbeing of children and young people. An appreciative and interactive audience lined the Wetlands Stage to discuss this topic, with some highvalue insights offered by both audience members and the speakers. This was complemented by the Digital Stories venture shown daily during the conference on the large LED screen recently erected in the Perth Cultural Centre precinct, a close offshoot of the conference hub sessions in the high-end facilities of the State Theatre Centre. So whilst the hardware trappings of the conference are being put away, and acquittals are being completed for the funding so generously provided by state agencies such as the Department of Culture and the Arts, the Department of the Environment and Conservation and Lotterywest, federal agencies such as the Office of the Arts and all of our valuable corporate sponsors, the real human energies exchanged in the 2011 National Conference still linger on in local discussions, debate and orbital email-exchanges. These after-waves are already stimulating exploration of possibilities for the National Conference gathering next year in Adelaide, in September 2012. [ ] Anne Chapple is Publications and Promotions Co-ordinator, Museums Australia (Western Australia). Citation for this article: Anne Chapple, ‘2011 National Conference debrief’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, November 2011, pp.20-21.
22 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
The anticipated National Cultural Policy in 2012
Cultural policy, heritage and story-telling1
Andrew Sayers AM
& next page: Visitors to Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route at the National Museum of Australia. photos: National Museum of Australia right
1. A version of this article was originally published in The Australian, 25 August 2011. 2. Michael Pickering, ‘Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route - An innovative collaboration empowering Indigenous history and voices’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (1), September 2010, pp.20-25.
he arts community in Australia has never been shy about taking the stage and talking about its value to our society. So there is no surprise that hundreds of urgent and articulate voices were raised in response to the government’s National Cultural Policy (NCP) Discussion Paper (released in August 2011). Whatever the individual and institutional viewpoints, there has clearly been a strong embrace of this rare opportunity to help shape the way we as a society invest in culture. The submissions finally made by a variety of bodies intensified in the week before the closing date (21 October). Since that time, many submissions in response to the Discussion Paper have been posted on-line by the Commonwealth’s Office for the Arts and are available for public information. Some responses to the NCP Discussion Paper have taken a broad view of what is meant by culture; others have focused more on arguing for the primacy of particular art forms. The wording of the Discussion Paper lent weight to the broad view. The document didn’t simply concentrate on the arts in a narrow sense but embodied a broader social aim. It promised that the National Cultural Policy (to be released in 2012) will be ‘based on an understanding that a creative nation produces a more inclusive society and a more expressive and confident citizenry’. Whilst it is difficult to show exactly how this nexus operates, a belief that it does, indeed, operate is the narrative on which any cultural investment by government is based. I think it is important that culture be defined as broadly as is practicable, taking creativity as an essential quality across all areas of our society. The link between cultural policy and education is fundamental to our future as a nation. While some were tempted to scour the Discussion Paper in search of references to particular areas of cultural activity or art forms, it is much more useful to try to see the thrust of the anticipated policy as a whole, as well as the opportunities it offers. For example, as many commentators in our field have pointed out, the paper stated little directly about museums. Yet it is equally clear that in many areas of aspiration it is impossible to see a cultural policy being successful without the crucial role played by museums. I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with the idea that museums in general are considered to be ‘arts’ organisations. Not that there is anything wrong with arts organisations; it is just that museums are better characterised as educational resources. Museums are an integral part of education across many areas of the curriculum. They are immense resources for the understanding of history, society and science.
In fact the Canadian museum writer, Robert Janes, has pointed to the capacity of museums to bridge the divides of science and the humanities as one area of their greatest societal contribution. An expressed aspiration of the National Cultural Policy is a determination to celebrate Indigenous culture and heritage. Museums have a crucial role to play in this area. In its 2011 Barometer research, Reconciliation Australia found that 89% of Indigenous Australians knew a lot about Indigenous culture compared with only 39% in the wider community – far too low a level. Significantly, their research discovered that around 4 out of 5 Australians believe it is important to know about Indigenous history and culture – and are therefore open to learning more. These figures indicate that museums could play a much greater role in promoting broad community understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. They have the collections and the expertise. More importantly, there is a strong dimension of contemporary engagement in all major museums in this country. Furthermore, all these museums have well developed and multi-layered relationships with Indigenous communities. Museums are ideally placed to play a large role in the culture of reconciliation, which is surely a key part of a successful cultural policy for Australia. The National Museum’s recent exhibition Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route – reviewed as a project in an earlier issue of Museums Australia Magazine2 – was a good example of a project that had reconciliation as its core. It told a whitefella pioneering story from an Aboriginal perspective, showed the vitality of contemporary Aboriginal cultural expression and, perhaps most importantly, created a lasting legacy of expertise and documentation for the communities themselves. The NCP Discussion Paper concluded that ‘without
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 23
3. On an important digital access initiative on behalf of Australia’s collections, see particularly Meredith Foley, ‘Museums Metadata Exchange: Opening doors to humanities research - the ‘MME Project’ , Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol. 19 (2), November 2010, pp.22-23.
a renewed national cultural policy to guide and inspire us we are missing important opportunities when it comes to telling our stories, educating and skilling our workforce, and enabling our culture to connect with the rest of the world’. The phrase ‘telling our stories’ occurred at a number of points through the NCP document. Again this is an area where museums are already playing a vital role – a visit to any of the several museums that devote space to the many migrant experiences will attest to the ways in which they are telling our stories – frequently inspiring artists to retell these stories in other art forms. Just one of many examples: Thomas Bock’s modest but compelling portrait drawing in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery provided the inspiration for Bangarra Dance Theatre’s major production, Mathinna. Collections are also at the heart of many products of the creative industries in Australia. There is hardly a work of non-fiction or a documentary produced in this country that does not make extensive use of the resources in our collecting institutions. The government’s Discussion Paper included a snapshot of the cultural sectors in Australia and made a telling point about museums, describing them as institutions that have ‘traditionally centred their activities on collections management which includes documentation conservation and exhibition’. Yet it also acknowledged that ‘changing community expectations of access and service have created additional areas of common interest, including education, interpretation, regional delivery and digitisation of collections’. The redefinition of museums as educational resources, rather than as buildings where collections are held, has been ongoing in Australia over the past decade. In fact it is probably true to say that collections in themselves are seen more as a problem by governments than as the assets they are – the source of demands for ever-increasing storage facilities. Arguments for collections have to be framed in terms of the social good inherent in using those collections. There are many ways in which the collections of Australia’s museums could be deployed effectively for great social return. Museum collections have already been effectively paid for by the taxpayer, so unlocking the cultural value of these public assets – especially though digitisation – is a smart use of public funds. One way in which collections can be deployed is through exhibitions. The scarcest resource in any museum is space and time in the exhibitions schedule, and we must use these resources wisely. Increasingly, museum exhibition offerings are tourism-driven rather than collection-driven. This has led to increased visitation and new audiences visiting museums – which can only be applauded. But we must keep our
eye on the important goal of telling our own stories. As the cost of mounting exhibitions with extensive loans becomes prohibitive, galleries and museums are compelled to mine their own collections and to present them in new and original ways. An exhibition such as the National Gallery of Victoria’s recent Vienna: Art & Design exhibition (reviewed elsewhere in this issue) is a model of an art museum using its own collections as the core around which a bigger international story is told. Such exhibitions enhance the international prestige of our collections, develop the professionalism and international networks of staff, and put Australian collections into a larger context. Museum collections are offered many new opportunities through broadband access, which will allow them to deliver linked content across Australia as well as internationally (on common electronic platforms).3 This opportunity for an upsurge in electronic access is easy to see in terms of school and tertiary student audiences, but it also has enormous potential for older Australians. I am convinced that the cross-generational benefit of museums is a major part of their future. If the true currency of cultural institutions is their capacity to generate original ideas and to act as repositories of our unique stories, then the opportunities offered by widespread connectivity are there to be imagined, invested in and celebrated. We look forward with keen interest to final release of the government’s National Cultural Policy in 2012.  Andrew Sayers AM is Director of the National Museum of Australia, Canberra. He was previously Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. Citation for this article: Andrew Sayers, ‘Cultural policy, heritage and story-telling – The anticipated National Cultural Policy in 2012’, Museums Australia Magazine, Canberra, Vol.20 (2), November 2011, pp.22-23.
24 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Redevelopment of Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery at Royal Park, Launceston
The largest museum and art gallery outside an Australian capital city
Richard Mulvaney & Glenda King
or 120 years the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) has acted as a ‘flagship’ institution for Launceston in particular and Tasmania in general, adding significantly to the region’s cultural identity. It is today a ‘twocampus’ institution, encompassing its long-known site and historic building in the city of Launceston, and the more recently developed complex of buildings and activities at Inveresk. QVMAG enjoys an enviable reputation and national profile for its collections of Australian colonial art, historical and contemporary decorative arts and design, Tasmanian history and natural sciences. Special features include the Guan-di Temple, the Planetarium, and the interpretation of one of Tasmania’s most intact nineteenth-century industrial environments, the Launceston Railway Workshops, at the Inveresk site. The Museum is owned and operated by the Launceston City Council, with continuing financial support from the Tasmanian State Government.
2011 opening of refurbished QVMAG gallery building at Royal Park On 16 September 2011 the Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, and the Mayor of Launceston City Council, Alderman Albert van Zetten, jointly opened the refurbished QVMAG art gallery at Royal Park, Launceston. It was the conclusion of a three-year $7m renovation of the former museum and art gallery building. Launceston now has a dedicated art gallery with greatly enhanced spaces to display its significant collection and to run public programs, adding to the already exciting new arts destinations in Tasmania — such as MONA, that opened earlier in the year in Hobart.
An historical snapshot of institutional development The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s foundations rest on the vision of the citizens of Launceston who first envisaged a museum in the 1880s. The
Tasmanian state government approved funding in 1884, and planning began for location of a building on a ridge above Royal Park. On such a site the new building would be clearly visible to visitors to Launceston arriving by steamer up the Tamar River. The foundation stone for the new museum was laid during the celebrations for the jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria. After laying the stone on 20 June 1887, the Launceston Mayor, Robert Carter, summed up the aspirations of the day: Looking at it from an educational point of view it is invaluable; it is a necessity, and the advantages that will be derivable from such an institution by both the young and old members of the community will be inconceivable. I look upon it as being a receptacle for a collection of works of art, of loveliness that will be a lasting memorial to the town. (The Examiner, 23 June 1887) The Council then called for submission of designs, and plans for the new museum drawn up by architect John Duncan were approved in 1888. Duncan was also the designer of Launceston’s prestigious Albert Hall. The museum building was completed by 1890, but Council delayed opening of the new institution due to the lack of ‘provision’ by the State Government for its maintenance. The stand-off was eventually resolved with the agreement for an annual State Government grant to be allocated, and the new Museum was finally opened on Wednesday 29 April 1891 by the Governor, Sir Robert G C Hamilton KCB, who stated: The opening of the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery will mark the inauguration of what may be regarded as a local renaissance, and the auspicious commencement of an awakening in art and culture, combined with the study of the practical and the useful. (The Examiner, 30 April 1891) In his first report to the Parliament of Tasmania, the honorary curator of the Museum, Alexander Morton, who travelled up from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery to arrange the displays, stated:
Richard Mulvaney, Director
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery building at Royal Park, Launceston, prior to the works commencing;
Renovations underway within the 120-year-old building.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 25
The Art Gallery has proved a most unqualified success. ...Several students have taken advantage of the permission granted by the several owners to copy their pictures. Thirteen lady students are frequently at work, proving that educationally the gallery will be most beneficial. (Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Report for 1891, Parliament of Tasmania) In 1895, an Act to vest and endow the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery annually out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund was passed. This included vesting the ‘piece of land in the City of Launceston whereon the building known as the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is built’ to the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Launceston.
First curator The following year the Museum was lit by electric light. The Museum’s first Curator (initially appointed as caretaker in 1897, then as Curator in 1899) was Herbert Hedley Scott, who remained in the position for forty years until 1938. It was not until 1926 that ‘Queen’ prefaced the museum’s name, in response to regular confusion with the Museum of Victoria.
Extension, Zoological Gallery and Launceston Technical School connection The Museum remained in its original state until 1907, when plans were approved for an extension which commenced in 1908. The new Zoological Gallery was completed early in 1909, and opened to the public by Mayor W C Wilson on June 15 of that year. The next significant development of the Royal Park site was the building of the Launceston Technical School in 1910, on land next to the Museum and directly abutting its building. In 1927 the Technical College buildings were annexed to become part of Museum.
1930s wing added The 1930s saw the next major extension of the Museum’s premises with the construction of a new two-storey wing on the northern side of the building. Funded through the Elizabeth Fall Bequest, building was commenced in 1935. The Elizabeth Fall and Catherine Hartnoll Memorial Gallery was opened by the Mayor, F Warland Browne, on 25 November 1937.
Chinese mining history and temple gift When the last Chinese temple at Weldborough was closed in 1934, its custodian, Yu Wen Zhan, donated the contents to the Museum. The Guandi Temple, now housed in the Museum, holds the contents of a number of temples from north-eastern Tasmanian mining towns and was opened in 1937. It remains a consecrated temple in the new gallery at Royal Park today.
Geology Gallery, Planetarium and new audience facilities (1950s & 1960s) Changes to the building continued over the years with the building of the Geology Gallery in 1952, and the renovation of the art galleries on the first floor. Lower ceilings and lighting systems were installed, the original roof structure was recovered and new openings between galleries were completed in 1966– 1967. Further extensions continued in 1969–1970 to accommodate a Planetarium and Theatrette, and a new lift. In 1978 the Museum’s historic building was heritage listed.
21st century re-launch of a two-campus institution (2001-2011) Launceston City Council’s decision to maintain the QVMAG over two sites — Inveresk and Royal Park — clarified future directions for each site.
2001 opening of the Inveresk site With the 2001 opening of the new (second) site for QVMAG in the former railway workshops at Inveresk — designed by Peddle Thorp Architects of Melbourne — this institution now became the public focus for the visual arts, natural and physical sciences, together with the museum’s coverage of social history.
Opened to the public in 1909 was the Zoological Gallery with a 1970’s makeover.
26 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Redevelopment of Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery at Royal Park, Launceston
gallery that would provide a vibrant and inspiring visitor experience. The new gallery would value its architectural heritage and historical collections, and celebrate its unique site, but would also function well as a contemporary art gallery. The Royal Park facility needed to provide an environment for diverse objects, while conveying a strong visual identity that integrated fine art, decorative arts and design in fresh and unexpected ways. It must also accommodate new, improved and accessible collection storage and accessible staff working areas.
New galleries, displays and amenities in a heritage building
The QVMAG’s new Colonial Gallery, featuring works by Robert Dowling and John Glover.
2007 refurbishment of the historic Royal Park site begins By 2007, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) was the largest museum and art gallery located outside a capital city in Australia. However there was still more work to do in rehabilitating the historic founding site and building in the city of Launceston. Royal Park needed to be redeveloped to create a dedicated art gallery featuring the Museum’s fine arts, decorative arts and design collections in a refurbished environment architecturally. Following successful lobbying by the Launceston community to retain the Royal Park building, the most dramatic recent changes to the Museum’s Royal Park site began in March 2007. Launceston City Council funded the redevelopment, assisted by the State Government. Architects Peddle Thorp of Melbourne were again appointed as the project architects, with VOS Construction and Joinery Pty Ltd as the project construction team. The Royal Park site closed its doors in May 2008, and staff began the evacuation and relocation of all the galleries, collection stores and offices to make way for the extensive construction work.
Historical art enlivened by expanded contemporary art facilities Having expanded facilities and repositioned its mission for the natural and physical sciences and social history, the QVMAG now aimed to accomplish a facility for its art and design collections that would also become a leading public art gallery for the city and region. The vision for the new art gallery at QVMAG Royal Park was to achieve a welcoming and accessible
There were many physical and practical challenges facing the three-year project. Working with and respecting the building’s heritage, the renovation aimed to cohesively interconnect different building additions and alterations added over 100 years, incorporating many differing floor levels throughout the main building. The redevelopment also had to remain within the existing footprint of the heritage site, while providing a contemporary welcome, orientation and updated facilities for visitors, and promoting ease of movement around the building for both visitors and staff daily. Not only did this mean re-aligning floor levels; it also required building new lifts to provide common access to all floors, and achieving clear sight paths in a building that had become difficult to navigate. New, fully accessible staff work areas and collection stores were also needed. Other objectives of the redevelopment entailed some essential changes: bringing natural light back into the building; uncovering the extant heritage fabric and incorporating it into the contemporary interiors; and reinstating the clerestories of the earliest heritage galleries. After three years the building works were finally completed, and an architectural preview weekend was held in April 2011, when the Museum was delighted to offer its community an opportunity to come and see the refurbishment of the Royal Park site. The weekend focused solely on the building renewal, without any artwork installed. The preview attracted more than 2,000 people to experience the refurbished building with its new pathways, sightlines and refined interiors. On Sunday the doors closed again, and the next day saw intense activity as the staff began the installation of the artworks. At that stage there were less than six months remaining to fit out the entire building for the formal opening by the Premier and Mayor on 16 September 2011.
A renewed building and a revitalised mission Today simplified, accessible pathways through the refurbished QVMAG art gallery link the various gallery rooms, activity areas, visitor amenities and staff facilities cohesively. A suite of ten galleries display the museum’s fine
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 27
Featured until 19 February 2012 is the Robinson’s Cup contemporary art exhibition in Gallery 2. & right: Then and now: the old decorative arts store (left) and newly refurbished gallery featuring Tasmanian Historical Decorative Arts.
art, decorative arts and design collections, and also allow for the presentation of temporary exhibitions. A Class A temporary exhibitions gallery now allows the Museum to bring international-standard exhibitions to Launceston, the first of which was the National Gallery of Australia’s touring exhibition, Australian Portraits 1880–1960. Meanwhile a new Creativity Centre and children’s interactive gallery — ArtSparks! — was launched on 22 October 2011, This addition has completed the facilities that will enable the Museum to create tailored youth programs, cultivating pathways for life-long learning experiences — and thereby consolidating a greater variety of programs and facilities for multiple age groups and more culturally diverse audiences. The fine galleries and associated facilities now available are the result of an intensive team effort from staff across QVMAG as an institution. A redevelopment project of this scale engages all areas of a museum’s operations. The result is an acknowledgement of the breadth and depth of skills resident amongst the QVMAG team. That the newly enhanced
building itself has regained a strong future in the public domain is also a great credit to the many people who worked long and determinedly to retain Royal Park, the QVMAG’s original home, as the city’s dedicated public gallery. The extent, depth and diversity of QVMAG’s fine art, decorative arts and design collections — exceptional for a regional museum in Australia — are now revealed handsomely to all visitors. These collections reflect the generosity and vision of the people of Launceston for more than 150 years. Some of the collections precede the institution’s own founding. For example, the Launceston Mechanics Institute, established in 1842, transferred its collection to the Museum when it opened in 1891. The art and design collections now reveal a steadily accumulated historic heritage, while also providing a visually stimulating and enriching cultural resource for the whole community that today supports their ongoing development. QVMAG Royal Park is now a fine venue for this significant art collection. It is a building that is fondly
28 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Redevelopment of Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery at Royal Park, Launceston
The new Federation Gallery featuring Australian art from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
Engaging children through interactive interpretation of artworks is the ArtSparks! Family Art Space. Previous children’s learning space.
The Contemporary Gallery features some of Tasmania’s most significant contemporary artists including Philip Wolfhagen and Raymond Arnold.
remembered by the Launceston community for its historic evolution, while having re-established its place as an icon within the city’s heritage buildings. While honouring the inheritance of a distinguished nineteenth-century building, the Museum now enjoys redeemed historical architectural features in dialogue with a contemporary art gallery setting internally, strengthening the institution’s role in contributing to and enhancing Launceston’s cultural and community identity. With the re-opening of the art gallery at QVMAG’s resonant site and original home at Royal Park, Launceston has gained a new arts destination to increase enjoyment of its own heritage and continuing creativity, while providing an up-to-date focus for improved cultural interaction with state audiences, interstate visitors and the wider world. [ ] Richard Mulvaney is Director of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, encompassing the museum’s two sites in Launceston. Glenda King is Manager, Visual Arts & Design, within QVMAG, and has been Project Manager of the Royal Park Redevelopment. Citation for this article: Richard Mulvaney & Glenda King, ‘The largest museum and art gallery outside an Australian capital city: Redevelopment of Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery at Royal Park, Launceston’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.24-29.
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top: middle: bottom: left: right:
The art and design collections now reveal a steadily accumulated heritage while also providing an enriching cultural resource for the whole community
30 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Exhibition review – Contemporary artists and designers pushing boundaries
We are all made of lace
The winning design: Detroit’s Shadow, Anne Mondro. Dimensions: 750x500x500mm. Materials: Sculpture: thin steel and copper wire crochet. Photo: Powerhouse Museum.
Love Lace, now exhibiting at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Logo shown here with Ingrid Morley, Lacie Lorrie. Dimensions: 2000x2200x5720cm, Materials: Abandoned truck, hand cut with a plasma cutter using a personally adapted tool with a fine cutting head. Photo: Powerhouse Museum. next page top:
One Echidna, Christine McMillan. Dimensions: 700mm (diam), 3.05min (duration). Materials: Sculpture: echidna spines, linen thread and glue and an animation which records the image made by light passing through the work. Photo: Powerhouse Museum.
next page bottom:
n 31 July around 500 of Sydney’s best and brightest crammed into the foyer of the Powerhouse Museum for the exhibition opening of Love Lace and the launch of Sydney Design Week. The crowd included museums people, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, academics, social media gurus and other assorted ‘creatives’. As is well known, the Powerhouse owns a remarkable collection of lace, with some early pieces of work dating from the sixteenth century. It also houses the Lace Study Centre, which regularly attracts the enthusiastic attention of lace afficionados. The exhibition, Love Lace, is the result of the third Powerhouse Museum International Lace Award, an acquisitive project to explore the boundaries of lace creativity worldwide. The latest edition, however, is rather different from the earlier two. Many might think that lace has something to do with fabric. Images of doilies under vases with repetitive floral motifs come to mind. Such was the general textile focus that stitched up the earlier two competitions. But for Love Lace, the definition of lace has been broadened from open-work fabrics to open-work structures, with the patterns of spaces as important as the solid areas. Such an approach pushes the boundaries of lace creativity rather than simply exploring within them. This ‘stuff verses no-stuff’ duality also returns us to the conceptual origins of lace in the architectural lattice screens that adorned Islamic homes and places of worship in the late fifteenth century.
The Australian writer, Lennie Lower, once described bread as ‘a large number of small holes entirely surrounded by bread’. Whilst no bakers entered this contest, conceptually they could have done so. The exhibition features the work of 134 finalists from twenty nations, and the diversity of materials used in the selected works is remarkable. Paper, bone, driftwood, stone, wire, bottle tops, whipper snipper cord, horsehair, human hair and even echidna spines are featured. Meanwhile a range of fabrics is also employed, augmented by three-dimensional lace as well as ‘digital lace’. Freely teasing out the concept of lace as an absence and presence of ‘stuff’, the whole universe might be construed as an ultimate artefact of lace-work construction. Even atoms consist of subatomic ‘stuff’ and space. Such conjecture emerges through the sheer diversity of inspirations that have fired the imagination of participants exhibited in this project. One of the wonderful surprise benefits of attending the opening night was finding many of the artists alongside their works, immersed in a web of reactions, ideas and excitement, and eager to make new connections with audience members discussing the results of their ‘take’ on the competition. I think all art exhibitions benefit from any exhibiting artists being present for this purpose of engagement with their audience, providing a vivid antithesis to the anonymous, institutional interpretation effect of so many shows. For me, two aspects of the competition results were significant and memorable. First, numerous artists have clearly drawn inspiration from the natural world. Lenka Suchanek for example, in a work entitled ‘Are
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 31
we made of lace?’, has formed beautiful lace constructs derived from electron microscope images of cells and plankton. The answer to the question posed in her title is a resounding ‘Yes!’ Meanwhile Jenny Pollak’s work, A brief history of time, has trees sprouting from multiple copies of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species – representing the four-dimensional lacework of species evolving through time. Second, a diversity of cross-cultural issues emerges in many of the works exploring global themes of place and identity. For example, Natalie McLeod’s piece, Biohazard, is a three-dimensional pattern of thistles – the national emblem of Scotland, but considered a serious threat to her adopted country of New Zealand. The exhibition furniture itself is also a work of lace. While solid concrete structures seem to back and support the display of the open-work objects, as a counterpoint to the exhibited works and maximising the clever use of lighting, these structures are actually themselves porous, allowing tantalising glimpses of other spaces to be discovered, including intriguing hints of fugitive objects, changing shadows and flashes of light. Despite the enthusiastic opening night crowd, this project has clearly been presented as more than an exhibition for the design aesthetes. It is an exhibition for anyone who’s been intrigued by the myriad patterns found in nature, beguiled by the duality of meaning lurking in objects, or ready to be awe-struck by the creativity of human hands and minds working together. There is such an abundance of ingenious and tantalising work on display that the exhibition asks for many repeat visits, guaranteeing the reward of new discoveries each time – and the show has many months still to run. There was lots of talking to be done on opening night. I found my partner in the bookshop, wedged in conversation with a social media type, while the animated crowd simply dilated in further waves of animation as the evening wore on. I wondered how you could represent all the lace patterns suggested by the different connections between people at an event such as this. A few were seen leaving early, looking particularly pleased with the new connections they’d made. One overheard snippet of conversation lingered – from someone responding to their take on the expanded concept of lace that the show asserted throughout: ‘It’s a bit hard to swallow, but I like it! ’ The exhibition Love Lace is on view at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney (exhibition dates: 30 July 2011—30 April 2012).  Andrew Simpson is Director, Museum Studies Program, at Macquarie University, New South Wales. He is President of MA (NSW) and a member of Museums Australia’s National Council. Citation for this article: Andrew Simpson, ‘We are all made of lace – Contemporary artists and designers pushing boundaries (Exhibition Review), Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.30-31.
32 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Review article — an exhibition and two books
Vienna: Art & Design — and two more views of Vienna
Vienna: Art & Design, exhibition and catalogue; Tim Bonyhady, Good Living Street: The Fortunes of my Viennese Family, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2011; Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Vintage Books, London, 2011, first published 2010
landscape by Gustav Klimt, Litzlberg on the Attersee, stolen in 1938 from its Austrian Jewish owner by Nazi occupiers and returned to her grandson last year, was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York on 2 November. It sold for US$40.4 million, a fraction of the US$135 million achieved by the sale in 2006 of the most celebrated restituted painting by Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), now in the Neue Galerie in New York. The painting’s purchase price at a time of severe economic downturn, and the attention given to its sale, nevertheless confirm Klimt’s reputation as one of the pioneers of modernism. Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby’s New York, Simon Shaw, described Klimt’s landscapes as ‘one of the great icons of modern art … their appeal is truly a global one’. Klimt spent his summers on Lake Attersee in western Austria with his close friend Emilie Flöge and her family. It was on one of these holidays in 1915 that he painted the landscape that was auctioned in New York, and several others that were on display in the recent National Gallery of Victoria Winter Masterpieces 2011 exhibition, Vienna: Art & Design — Klimt, Schiele, Hoffman, Loos. Not all of Klimt’s works in Austria were seized by the Nazis — Portrait of Hermine Gallia (1904), one of two large paintings that flanked the entrance to Vienna: Art & Design, was allowed to be taken out of Austria when others such as the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer were commandeered from their Jewish owners in 1938. Instead, along with the contents of the Gallia family’s former apartment in Vienna’s Wohllebengasse (‘Good Living Street’ in English), the portrait was brought to safety in Australia by Hermine and Moriz Gallia’s daughters, Käthe and Gretl, and Gretl’s daughter Anne. After it had spent decades hanging in their flat in the Sydney harbourside suburb of Cremorne, Käthe and Gretl sold the portrait in London in 1971. It was then acquired by the National Gallery in 1976, where it remains the only Klimt painting in a British public collection.
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Gustav KLIMT (Austria 1862–1918), Italian garden landscape, 1913, oil on canvas, 110x110cm. Kunsthaus Zug, Stiftung Sammlung Kamm. Image: National Gallery of Victoria.
right: Koloman MOSER (designer) (Austria 1868–1918), PORTOIS & FIX, Vienna (manufacturer) (Austria est. 1881), The enchanted princesses, corner cabinet 1900, padouk wood, nickel plated white metal, copper, glass, 171.0 x 53.0 x 33.0 cm. Private collection, Portola Valley, California. Image: National Gallery of Victoria. far left:
Gustav KLIMT (Austria 1862–1918), Emilie Flöge, 1902, oil on canvas, 178.0 x 80.0 cm. Wien Museum, Vienna (taken over from the Niederösterreicheshes Landesmuseum, 1921). Image: National Gallery of Victoria.
1. ‘Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern art brings nearly $200M, Klimt landscape sells for $40.4M’, artdaily.org, 3 November 2011, viewed 3 November 2011 at http://www.artdaily.org/index. asp?int_sec=2&int_new=51508 2. Paula Rogo, ‘Gustav Klimt painting once stolen by the Nazis, expected to sell for $25 million at Sotheby’s’, artdaily.org, 22 October 2011, viewed 22 October 2011, at http://www.artdaily.org/index. asp?int_sec=2&int_new=51246 3. Tim Bonyhady, ‘Art, design and Diaspora’, ANU Reporter, Spring 2011, p. 21. 4. Sasha Grishin, ‘Oh, Vienna!’, Panorama, Canberra Times, 2 July 2011, p. 22. 5. Ibid. 6. Frances Lindsay, ‘Gustav Klimt, Emilie Flöge, 1902’, in Christian Witt-Dörring and Paul Asenbaum, curators, Vienna: Art & Design: Klimt, Schiele, Hoffman, Loos, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2011, p. 134. 7. Christian Witt-Dörring, ‘Vienna: Art and Design’, in ibid., p. 1. 8. Grishin, ‘Oh,Vienna!’ 9. Elizabeth Cross, ‘Egon Schiele Erotica’, in Witt-Dörring and Asenbaum, Vienna: Art & Design: Klimt, Schiele, Hoffmann, Loos, p. 152. 10. Witt-Dörring, ‘Vienna: Art and Design’, in ibid., p. 6.
The other work at the exhibition’s entrance was the celebrated 1902 portrait of fashion stylist and designer Emilie Flöge, Klimt’s lifelong friend. She and Klimt were key players in the artistic movement in fin-de-siècle Vienna that is known as the Secession, magnificently celebrated in Vienna: Art & Design, described by the ANU’s Professor Sasha Grishin as ‘a beautiful, but tough exhibition which breaks new ground in the Australian art scene’. One of the goals of the Vienna Secession movement, and the associated craft production cooperative known as the Wiener Werkstätte, was the creation of a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art, in which ‘all of the art forms were united in the creation of a complete aesthetic, intellectual and spiritual experience’. Klimt’s portrait of Emilie Flöge, as Frances Lindsay has commented, is of ‘a woman depicted as Gesamtkunstwerk – who encapsulates all aspects of art and design espoused by the Secessionist artists’. The art and architecture of Vienna in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ‘experienced an international rediscovery’ from the 1970s onwards ‘and continue to be sources of inspiration today’, according to the exhibition’s co-curator, Christian Witt-Dörring. The Vienna: Art & Design exhibition, and the comprehensively illustrated and scholarly catalogue that accompanied it, have contributed another layer of interpretation of this vibrant period of great significance in the story of the development of modernism, with an intense examination of the aesthetic and intellectual context from which the Vienna Secession movement and the Wiener Werkstätte emerged. The exhibition confronted some controversial issues and displayed images that, as Sasha Grishin has noted, ‘would cause a major scandal if they had been made by contemporary Australian artists’. Indeed, as the catalogue essays that discuss the erotica produced by Klimt and Egon Schiele make clear, these nude studies ‘can be discomforting’, and were seen so at the time, as ‘The depiction of the naked body in Gustav Klimt’s and Egon Schiele’s nude drawings presented erotic content to the public without the neutralising, mediating effect of allegory’. Readers who visited Vienna: Art & Design will find that Tim Bonyhady’s book, Good Living Street: The Fortunes of My Viennese Family (Allen & Unwin, 2011) tells a fascinating and powerful story that will link to their experience of the exhibition. Some of the items of furniture and decorative items on display came from the Wiener Werkstätte collection originally designed by Josef Hoffman for the Gallia family apartment on Vienna’s Wohllebengasse just before the First World War, and brought to Australia in 1938 by Käthe, Gretl and Anne Gallia. This became ‘the only substantial Hoffman commission to enter a museum largely intact’ when it was acquired by the NGV in 1976. Good Living Street has a strong focus on the Vienna Secession, to be sure; but it is also a story of three generations of women of the Gallia family negotiating the complexities of being Jewish in a society where
34 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Exhibition and Catalogue Review
attitudes to Jewish people could range from mild hostility to the horrors of Nazi persecution, and ultimately, produce the Holocaust. The book also reminds us yet again of Australia’s rich multicultural heritage, and of how much we have gained as a society by providing a haven for those fleeing oppression elsewhere in the world. Gretl, who had never worked in her life before, made a career teaching other migrants English. Bonyhady’s depiction of his mother Anne’s determination to embrace her new life in Australia, rather than dwell on her former life in Vienna, is a sensitive and honest account of a mindset that characterised many refugee migrants of her generation. While the narrative of the Gallia family and their collection of Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte artworks, their sumptuous five-room apartment on the Wohllebengasse decorated by Josef Hoffmann as a Gesamtkunstwerk, and the family’s relationships with leading figures in the cultural life of fin-desiècle Vienna such as Gustav Klimt, Carl Moll and Gustav Mahler makes compelling reading, there is one vignette that lingers in this reader’s mind. This is the story of the gold sovereigns that Gretl covered with fabric, and sewed on her coat as buttons to evade their seizure by the Nazis as she and her daughter and sister left Austria in 1938 with the contents of the Wohllebengasse apartment, jewellery, papers and books and household effects. Bonyhady says of these coins made into buttons that they were ‘talismans of her escape, symbols of her success in defying the Nazis’. Their talismanic quality is enhanced by the fact that Gretl never unwrapped the coins from their fabric coverings, and Bonyhady only unwrapped one as he was writing the book. The rest remain as silent witnesses. The Gallia family used its riches to patronise the painters of the Vienna Secession and the artist craftsmen of the Wiener Werkstätte. The Ephrussi family at the centre of Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes was also Jewish and also wealthy, some of its members extremely so. Their family homes in Paris and Vienna were in locations favoured by the super-rich of that time – the rue de Monceau in Paris and Vienna’s Ringstrasse – and were veritable palaces. When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, however, the fate of Viktor von Ephrussi and his wife Emmy and their artistic and bibliographic treasures was a tragic one. Their Ringstrasse house was invaded by a rampaging mob of Nazi sympathisers, and valuable furniture was smashed before the eyes of the terrified Ephrussis, before they were bundled out of their home and had to flee with only the clothes they were wearing. They went into exile, but died shortly afterwards. Many other family members and friends died in Nazi concentration camps. Only one collection survived, through the loyalty
and incredible courage of the family’s remaining servant, Anna, a Gentile. While the Nazis were taking an inventory of all the family’s treasures, she smuggled out in her apron, day by day, a collection of 264 Japanese netsuke that had been overlooked in a vitrine in Emmy von Ephrussi’s dressing room, and hid them in a mattress. They remained there until after the Second World War, until they were restored by Anna to the author’s grandmother, Elisabeth, when she came back to Vienna in 1945. The netsuke then passed to her brother Ignace (Iggie), and returned to Japan with him when he went to work and live there in 1947. There these objects from the Meiji era became ‘part of a lost world’, and ‘a memory of conversations with grandparents about calligraphy, or poetry, or the shamisen’ in twentieth-century Japan. On Iggie’s death in 1994 they became a legacy to Edmund de Waal himself, and have returned with him to London. This collection took de Waal on a journey of discovery that has become a fascinating story in its own
Otto WAGNER (designer) (Austria 1841–1918), Alexander ALBERT (manufacturer) (Austria active c.1904), Chair for Dr Karl Lueger, 1904, rosewood (Dalbergia sp.), mother-of-pearl, leather, 98.5 x 63 x 59.5 cm. Wien Museum, Vienna. Estate of Karl Lueger, 1910. Image: National Gallery of Victoria.
11 Tim Bonyhady, Good Living Street: The Fortunes of My Viennese Family, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2011, p. 20. 12 Ibid., p. 13. 13 Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, Vintage Books, London, 2011, first published 2010, p. 307.
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right. The journey begins with the netsukes’ origin in Japan, their purchase by Charles Ephrussi, a litterateur and connoisseur in Paris in the 1870s, amidst a craze for Japanese art and design that swept Europe at that period, and his wedding gift of the collection to his cousin Viktor von Ephrussi in Vienna. The story follows their use as favourite playthings of the children of the Ephrussi family (including Elisabeth and Iggie), the dramatic tale of the netsukes’ rescue by the heroic Anna (posthumously honoured as one of the dedicatees of de Waal’s book); their long stay in the land of their creation, Japan, where the author first saw them; and finally their current location with Edmund de Waal. Anyone with an interest in the stories of objects and collections, and in their multiple meanings as artworks and also as carriers of memories, will find reading The Hare with Amber Eyes a compelling experience. The Ephrussi family netsuke collection, the Gallia family’s Wiener Werkstätte collection and the portrait of Hermine Gallia, and Gretl’s fabric-covered buttons are all objects that carry a weight of memories at least as powerful as the aesthetic values that the works of art and craft embody. We are indebted to the curators and lenders of works for the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition for a sumptuous and rigorous interpretation of a key period in the development of a modernist consciousness; and to the authors of both books for their exploration of the complex relationships that exist, and have existed, between objects and the lives of the people with whom they are entwined.  Citation for this article: Roslyn Russell [Review article], ‘Vienna: Art &Design - and two more views of Vienna’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.33-35.
Ferdinand ANDRI (designer) (Austria 1871–1956), Albert BERGER (lithographer and printer) (Austria 1863–1931) Poster for the 26th Secession Exhibition, 1906, colour lithograph, 95.0 x 63.0 cm. Wien Museum, Vienna. Purchased, Albert Berger Collection, 1928. Image: National Gallery of Victoria.
36 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
IMAGinE Awards (NSW&ACT) and Victorian Museum Awards (VIC)
2011 State & Territory museum awards roundup
State awards programs celebrate the achievements and extraordinary diversity of the museums and galleries sector and those who work within it, both paid and volunteer. 2011 has seen the celebration of excellence of NSW|ACT and Victorian museums, people and programs – with recognition for outstanding achievement bestowed through the IMAGinE Awards and Victorian Museum Awards respectively. The Queensland GAMAA Awards will finally be announced in December 2011 and featured in the subsequent (February 2012) issue of Museums Australia Magazine. [Ed.]
IMAGinE Awards 2011
top: Opening of exhibition On their own – Britain’s child migrants at the Australian National Maritime Museum 10 November 2010. Exhibition curator Kim Tao (left); ANMM director Mary-Louise Williams (right). They are with guest of honour, former child migrant Stewart Lee whose photo, as a five-year-old on SS Strathnaver, was used as the exhibition identity image. opposite:
Yarra Ranges Regional Museum employees accepting their Victorian Museum award.
he fourth IMAGinE Awards night was held at the Australian Museum, Sydney, on Friday 30 September 2011, with special guest MC Libbi Gorr. Museums & Galleries NSW CEO, Michael Rolfe, later reviewed the impact:
The 2011 IMAGinE Awards have further established this event as a landmark occasion for celebrating the strength, diversity, innovation and dedication of the organisations and staff that make up the NSW and ACT museum and gallery sector… [The Awards] once again provided a wonderful opportunity to look back over the year that has passed and acknowledge the staff and organisations that continue to make the sector a strong and vibrant asset for the people of NSW and the ACT. The IMAGinE Awards 2011 category awards and respective winners are listed below. Additional information and highly commended entries can be found at < http://mgnsw.org.au/sector_development/imagine_awards_2011> Collection Management • Grafton Regional Gallery (1-4 paid staff ): for their Collection Online project aimed to place the majority of the gallery’s collection items online, with the institution already having produced digital collection records of more than 1,600 items.
• Bundanon Trust (5-20 paid staff ): for the digitisation of their collection. • Powerhouse Museum (21+ paid staff ): for the Australian Dress Register, representing the distributed collection of clothing held in community or private collections, brought together through regional partnerships in an innovative online collection management platform. Exhibitions & Public Engagement Willoughby District Historical Society (all volunteer staff ): for the Tales of the Flat Rock Creek exhibition, exploring the impact of urban development on a pristine natural environment through the eyes of the Willoughby community. Glasshouse Regional Gallery (1-4 paid staff ): for People of the First Sunrise, a project where Aboriginal TAFE students developed a curatorium selection process from existing collections in the MCA, exploring current issues about identity and place. Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (5-20 paid staff ): for Body Pacifica, a celebration of contemporary and traditional Pacific Island cultures. Australian National Maritime Museum (21+ paid staff ): for On their own – Britain’s child migrants, a travelling and online exhibition that traces the history of child migration schemes from Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries. Education & Audience Development Goulburn Regional Art Gallery (1-4 paid staff ): for an education kit produced as part of the GW Bot: The long paddock exhibition. The kit was designed to enhance student engagement (from pre-school to high school) with the exhibition, and provide ideas for teachers in developing theoretical understanding and practical artmaking experiences. Campbelltown Arts Centre (5-20 paid staff ): for MINTO: LIVE, a large-scale event as part of the 2011 Sydney Festival in Minto, which brought together national and international artists to work in collaboration with the Minto community to reflect and celebrate their stories. Art Gallery of New South Wales (21+ paid staff ): for the innovative public program Open weekend: art+soul, focussing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The range of nominations received in these categories for individuals demonstrated the great work being done across the sector by volunteers and paid staff from organisations large and small, regional and metropolitan, across NSW and the ACT. Individual Achievement (Volunteer) Glen Johns [1936-2011] (Chapter Coordinator, Lachlan Chapter – Museums Australia), who contributed tirelessly to the museums sector across NSW until his untimely death in January 2011. Probably best known as the man behind the Working Spaces annual conferences for museum volunteers at Galong, near Yass, Glen was a man who believed anything was possible.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 37
Individual Achievement (Paid Staff ) Gavin Fry (Director, Newcastle Museum) is coming to the end of a 30-plus years career in Australian museums. Since becoming Director of the Newcastle Museum in 1999, he has conceived, developed, supervised and brought to completion the redevelopment of the former Newcastle Regional Museum. Special Achievement Edmund Capon AM, OBE (Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales) has been Director of the Art Gallery of NSW since 1978 and will retire at the end of 2011. Recruited from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the AGNSW has prospered under his creative leadership and enthusiastic stewardship.
Victorian Museum Awards 2011 Proudly presented by Museums Australia (Victoria), the Victorian Museum Awards were announced on Thursday 4 August 2011 at the National Gallery of Victoria, with special guest host, Rod Quantock. The Victorian Museum Awards 2011 categories and winners are listed below. Further information on the winners and highly commended awardees can be found at <http://www.mavic.asn.au/awards> The Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Excellence (Volunteer) was awarded to Dr Sharron Dickman. Sharron has shared her industry knowledge through numerous seminars, training programs, conferences, and workshops on areas relating to museum practice, business planning, arts marketing and promotion, volunteer management and succession planning. The Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Excellence (Paid Staff ) was awarded to Linda Peacock, Collection Manager at the Burke Museum. Linda has managed many changes over her ten years working in the Burke Museum, and her integrity and dedication have ensured maintenance of the significance of the Burke Museum and its collection. This has allowed the museum to become a well respected organisation within the Victorian museums sector. The TASHCO Systems Award for Volunteer-Run Museums went to Benalla Costume and Pioneer Museum. The Judges congratulated the museum, commenting: ‘This organisation has been heavily engaged in MA (Vic) activities over the years and proactively applied advice from MA (Vic) and Arts Victoria to develop a strong statement of purpose and allocate monies towards conservation activities.’ The Archival Survival Award for Small Museums (2-7 paid staff ) was awarded to Museo Italiano. The Museo Italiano team is committed to realising a wellbalanced public program of exhibitions and events, which is both culturally outstanding and vibrant in its community appeal. The Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Medium Museums (8-50 paid staff ) was awarded to Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. The development
of this museum and its programs has significantly strengthened alliances with the local Council, community groups and the surrounding area, and has contributed to building a positive cultural identity within the community. The new museum provides better access to exhibitions, events, programs and cultural heritage, and serves as an effective interface between the urban and rural environments in the shire. The Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Large Museums (51+ paid staff ) went to Sovereign Hill Museums Association. Visitors to Sovereign Hill, Ballarat, are immersed in the experience through the support of outstanding volunteers, which is vital in providing an insight into the heritage trades practised around the museum. The judges congratulated the museum, commenting: This much loved educational and entertainment facility has plenty to acknowledge with this Award: as a living history museum working closely with the community to tell its stories. The judges commend the thought put into effectively managing a large number of volunteers and paid staff, and extensive training provided in areas ranging from gardening to apothecary studies to horse management. Finally, the Herald Sun’s People’s Choice Award for Best Museum Experience was awarded to Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, and the Deakin University Roslyn Lawry Award for Excellence in Museum Studies was awarded to Luke James BA, LLB(Hons) (Melb), MCultHeritage (Deakin). Museums Australia offers congratulations to all winners of the 2011 awards in Victoria, and salutes the sector for its continued repositioning of museums, galleries and cultural creativity through the strong impact of such successful awards programs. At the national level in 2011, Museums Australia’s inaugural Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNAs) were announced at the Conference Dinner of the 2011 National Conference in Perth (17 November 2011). The MAGNA Awards are announced on the MA website and will be featured in the subsequent edition of the MA Magazine.  Citation for this article: [Various eds.], ‘2011 State & Territory museum awards roundup: IMAGinE Awards (NSW&ACT) and Victorian Museum Awards (VIC)’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.36–37.
38 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
A Collections Council of Australia legacy project continuing in Western Australia
Making a difference – CollectionsCare Goldfields WA
Elaine Labuschagne Since commissioning this article, the judges of the new national MAGNA Awards decided that the Great Beyond Explorers’ Hall of Fame (as part of the Visitors Centre at Laverton, north-east of Kalgoorlie, and one of the local institutions participating in the WA CollectionsCare Regional Hub in WA’s BoulderKalgoorlie area) deserved a Highly Commended Award in the Public Programs category for small museums in 2011. It was admired as an ‘excellently conceived 7-day program for this remote mining community, to deepen knowledge of the community’s history as part of Museums Week in May’. The program was judged as being ‘cleverly designed to be of immediate community interest, while adding value to the museum’s collection and capability to tell a richer community story into the future’. The MAGNA Award to the small Laverton museum was presented at the MA National Conference Dinner in Perth on 17 November 2011 [Ed.]
ollectionsCare Goldfields WA was officially launched in March 2010, to provide in-region advice and support to the staff and volunteers that care for the collections of the Western Australian Goldfields Region. The aim of the project is to help the Goldfields organisations develop, record, preserve and provide access to their collections. The idea for a demonstration CollectionsCare ‘regional hub’ was initiated by the Collections Council of Australia (2005—2010), and the WA Goldfields region was selected for its diverse collections, the willingness of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (CKB) to collaborate with a national initiative, and the commitment of WA’s Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA). The first year of the project was funded by a grant from the Sidney Myer Foundation. Financial investment subsequently from DCA, and in-kind support from CKB as the host organisation, has allowed this project to be extended for a second year. The present author, with a background in service delivery to community museums, was appointed as
the Coordinator CollectionsCare Goldfields on 2 March 2010, and is hosted within the History and Heritage Unit of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. CollectionsCare Goldfields was set up to provide mentoring partnerships with a number of organisations. The overriding objective is to ensure a continual partnership of mutual benefit between the mentor (the CollectionsCare Coordinator) and the mentee (the collecting organisation). Such a mentoring arrangement offers opportunities to exchange knowledge and strengthen the skills of staff and volunteers working at various collecting organisations. The organisations selected as representative of collections across the region for the mentoring program are: • Eastern Goldfields Historical Society (EGHS), Kalgoorlie-Boulder • Goldfields Exhibition Centre, Pharmacy Museum and Railway Museum, Shire of Coolgardie • Gwalia Historical Site, Shire of Leonora • Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame and Old Police Complex, Shire of Laverton. Working in collaboration with the Goldfields Heritage Advisor from the Heritage Council of Western Australia, CollectionsCare has assisted with planning for the conservation and interpretation of the miners’ cottages at the historic Gwalia townsite. Conservation work on the cottages will be undertaken for the first time since 1996, guided by recommendations from a heritage architect and conservators from the Western Australian Museum. Earlier this year, the Shire of Leonora was successful in receiving a grant from the federal government for Tourism Quality Projects, to commence work on Patroni’s Guesthouse. This project will increase the cultural tourism potential of Gwalia and provide an economic benefit to the community. Work is in progress to bring the Gwalia Leonora Historical Site in line with optimal conservation, collections management and exhibition standards. Participating in the CollectionsCare mentoring program has extended the focus of the Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame in the Shire of Laverton ranging from the visitors centre, shop and café to include the collections owned by the Shire. The Great Beyond’s coordinator has embraced the concept of care of the collections, and is currently planning for an extension of the Great Beyond to include a dedicated storage area and archive. Laverton celebrated International Museum Day in May this year for the first time, hosting a successful week-long program. The activities included the screening of digital stories which were produced during a workshop organised by CollectionsCare and held in Laverton. The stories will be incorporated into a new exhibition on families who have made a valuable contribution to Laverton. Future projects include the redevelopment of the Old Police Complex, and training volunteers to accession and document the collection. Staff at the Goldfields Exhibition Centre in
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 39
(from left) Jacqui Sherriff, Elaine Labuschagne (author), Ulli Broeze-Hoerneman and Richard Garcia at Gwalia Historical Site.
Laurinda Hill (Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame, Laverton, WA) and Elaine Labuschagne (author) accepting their Highly Commended MAGNA Award.
EGHS volunteers Robin Bowden and Jan Lamont at a preventative conservation workshop.
Coolgardie have worked hand-in-hand with CollectionsCare to clean, record and pack the Waghorn Bottle Collection, a collection of more than 3,000 bottles. Staff commented that this was an excellent educational experience that generated a greater understanding of the collection. A selection of the collection was able to be redisplayed in revamped cabinets, resulting in a much cleaner, less cluttered and more comprehensible exhibition. CollectionsCare is also providing guidance and advice on the redevelopment of the Coolgardie Railway Museum, as well as an upgrade of heritage markers around the town. A committed team of volunteers at the EGHS ensures that the heritage and history of the Goldfields is preserved. Since the earthquake of 20 April 2010, this team has worked under difficult circumstances. Restricted access after the earthquake damage impacted severely on their ability to start with anticipated projects. However, services to the public continued, a Significance Assessment was completed through a consultancy, and their building has recently been repaired. CollectionsCare helped prepare procedures for accessioning and documentation, handling of objects, a collections policy and a strategic plan. Accessioning and cataloguing of the collection, reorganisation of the storage area and a preventative conservation project on the Society’s extensive collection of glass plate negatives will start shortly. Other organisations in the region also benefit from the expertise and guidance available through CollectionsCare Goldfields. For example, the Coordinator has provided assistance with packing and relocation of the Goldfields War Museum after the early 2010 earthquake. Together with the WA Museum Kalgoorlie, the Coordinator has helped the Norseman Historical Society to develop an exhibition plan for their collection. CollectionsCare addresses the knowledge and
skills-gaps of paid and unpaid workers by hosting in-region workshops. Participants from Laverton, Leonora, Norseman, Esperance, Ravensthorpe, Menzies and Kalgoorlie have been enabled to attend locally hosted workshops, eliminating the need to travel to Perth for such training. One of the most exciting outcomes has been the networking opportunities created through these workshops. Goldfields organisations now regularly communicate, share ideas and work together more interactively. Workshops have included a session on disaster preparedness, which concentrated on a practical response scenario and how to develop a disaster preparedness plan. A strategic planning workshop offered opportunities for the organisations to learn skills to develop strategic plans appropriate to their individual needs. CollectionsCare then provided support for the organisations to complete their disaster readiness and strategic plans after the workshops. A number of preventative conservation workshops have been held in Kalgoorlie and Leonora, with people travelling in from the surrounding region to participate. These workshops have focused on methods to minimise deterioration and damage to collections, and therefore to limit needs for future conservation treatment. Practical sessions on cleaning silver, copper alloy objects, textiles, and the care and storage for photographs and documents, have increased the expertise of participants. At the start of the CollectionsCare project, a survey was conducted to map the needs of the region’s collecting organisations, including professional development, skills, services and resources. This survey highlighted significant collections, collections management issues, and helped the organisations to understand the value, purpose and use of collections. Repeating the survey before the closure of CollectionsCare will determine progress made during the two-year period of the project to date. Collecting organisations in the region have indicated that they have benefited from having in-region assistance and would strongly like to see the continuance of CollectionsCare beyond its closure date projected for 29 February 2012. [ ] Elaine Labuschagne was appointed as the Coordinator, CollectionsCare Goldfields, Western Australia, in March 2010. She has 14 years experience of working in a museum environment in South Africa, New Zealand, and for the past eighteen months in Western Australia. Citation for this article: Elaine Labuschagne, ‘Making a difference – CollectionsCare Goldfields WA’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Canberra, November 2011, pp.38-39.
40 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Museum colleague receives Business and Employment Tasmania award
Tribute to Sue Atkinson: Supporting volunteers caring for collections
usiness and Employment Tasmania makes three awards to businesswomen each year for outstanding achievement. In 2011, longstanding museums colleague, Sue Atkinson, has been honoured for her success in working to advance recognition and effectiveness of Tasmania’s cultural and scientific collections and their custodians across the state. One of the many strands of Sue Atkinson’s resolutely committed work for the sector has focused on support for museum volunteers — a cause that is so important at regional levels as well as in larger cities, since a huge proportion of the service and support work ensuring our historical, museum and gallery collections enhance their communities and reach wider audiences depends directly on the contribution of volunteers. When a colleague wins an award, it is a timely occasion to reflect on achievements that have led to such recognition. Museums Australia Magazine invited Sue Atkinson to share some reflections with colleagues. An outline of her work on a particular project that led to her Business and Employment award, engaging volunteers in small historical collections and linking their resources, is sketched below. There are many lessons for other states and regions here: about supporting and upskilling volunteers and building resources and information for wider public impact (and community income) across disparate institutions within linked geographical areas. [Ed.]
n 1993 I started my career as a library technician with the Education Department in Tasmania, whilst at the same time beginning my own volunteering in a local history group. Through TAFE Tasmania I completed the Library & Information Services Diploma in 2002, and was keen to do the Museum Practice Diploma once it became available in 2005. Part of my project was to establish a community museum in Woodsdale near the midlands of Tasmania (see <www.thewoodsdalemuseum.com/>) where the local population is only 200 strong. It was during my own volunteering that I saw the need not only to network and link all the history groups and small museums in Tasmania, but to enrich the visitor experience and expand visitor numbers through highlighting these groups’ role and contribution to engaging audiences for our cultural collections and institutions across the state. One of my ideas was that a website (a linked digital platform and portal) could be created for visitors to the state. It is a known fact that most visitors to Tasmania head to Port Arthur, so if a website portal could profile and interconnect all the small history rooms/museums in relation to the map of Tasmania, interstate and international visitors could then travel off the beaten track and have enriching experiences on the way down to Port Arthur and back again, from a frequent entry-point in the north. These diverse historical collections are usually derived from records and artefacts recording colonial settlers’ arrival in different areas, and they highlight remarkable stories of human endeavour that accompany the objects, interpretive displays and archival information preserved. There has long been an unfulfilled potential to have these diverse stories and collections highlighted through a coordinated venture, since most of the small museums or historical societies do not have the resources to maintain an individual website or even to advertise their existence through media outlets or tourist channels. However a coordinated initiative would distinctly benefit the many small towns across Tasmania, encouraging an influx of visitors and their spending power in such towns, contributing to local small businesses such as coffee shops, dining and others facilities. Over a period of nearly two years of testing this idea and seeking resources, I wrote to ministers, talked to grant bodies, attended women’s network meetings and established a database of more than 120 groups (http://tasmanianhistorygroups.edublogs.org/). As a result I was clearly able to identify the need and gain support for the potential of responding to it. By way of example: in early 2009 I learnt about the Atlas Project — to create an historical atlas of the city
left: Sue Atkinson (left) being presented with the 2011 Tasmanian Woman Entrepreneur Award by Rebecca White right:
Volunteer at Ulverstone museum learning to photograph. Photo: Sue Atkinson.
Volunteers at Ringarooma sorting collection. Photo: Sue Atkinson.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011 41
of Hobart — and was informed of the website being developed by the University of Tasmania’s School of Classic History. Whilst at a Women’s Network meeting, I managed to talk with one of the Atlas Project managers and learned of the plans for the tailoring of the Hobart Atlas for digital access on handheld devices such as iPhones. This concept and framework was the perfect vehicle to align with the plan for promotion of the state’s history groups and museums. I pitched my idea to Professor Pam Sharpe in 2009; and with Professor Sharpe’s backing, I later presented the project to the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF). In November 2009 the TCF invested in the initiative as a three-year project, enabling me to work with all the designated groups in Tasmania. Each group receives 4-to-6 days of my time, at no cost to the participants, and they are provided with whatever help they need — ranging from cataloguing resources, museum standards, documentation, grant writing, education programs, interpretation, 3-year strategic plans and podcasting of history programs, to ideas for engaging the wider community in a diversity of ways. While my time is spent on site with each group, I also place at least 30 significant records of their collections or resources onto my own centralised database, which is then handed over to the University of Tasmania. In review: my time is spent with volunteers in a sector that relies on these volunteers so directly for operations and public access, weekly and year-round. Being passionate about my work is the key to the business side of all success achieved to date.
Furthermore, being flexible with my time, to work in with the volunteers’ own time schedules of availability is crucial. Creating strong professional relationships with the volunteers — making them feel comfortable about learning new skills and keeping in contact with them afterwards — are paramount attention-lines to ensuring that the outcomes are both satisfying for the volunteers and beneficial for the collection or display in question, as well as contributing meaningfully to the larger project of benefit to all. Since January 2010, I have worked and trained more than 56 groups across Tasmania, making sure that the training sessions are suited to the age group, readiness and level of knowledge of each institution or community body contacted. Each group also receives a teapot gift from me, to encourage them to make sure they take time out and have fun, since they are volunteers who work tirelessly in their history rooms for a wider public good. The project not only helps empower volunteers to move forward in their various situations, but I myself have learnt an enormous amount from each group with which I have been engaged. [ ] Sue Atkinson’s museum consultancy business was formed in August 2008. She now helps small museums and history groups to bring their collections into the future. Citation for this article: [Ed.] ‘Museum colleague receives Business and Employment Tasmania award: Tribute to Sue Atkinson: Supporting volunteers caring for collections’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, pp.40-41.
42 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 20 (2) – November 2011
Museums’ responsibilities to volunteer staff
Book Review: a guide to managing volunteers
Managing volunteers in museums & cultural collections: ten things you should know, by Helen Arnoldi. University of Melbourne Library, 2010, PDF, 69pp (1.4 Mb). <http://www.unimelb.edu.au /culturalcollections/ rearcharnoldimanaging volunteers2011.pdf>
This handy publication is in simple straightforward language, and is organised accessibly to highlight ten ’things’ to be observed strategically about the important role of volunteers in museums. Volunteering in museums and cultural collections provides extensive human resources for institutional good performance, and as the author relates early in this manual, she began her own commitment to volunteering while still a student, by volunteering in a collecting institution as a means of gaining knowledge about how the industry worked – an important first step for her own development in her chosen career. People volunteer in museums for a diversity of reasons. When the volunteer experience is positive, it can lead to a lifelong passion and loyalty to either a particular institution or the cultural sector generally. In 2006, it was estimated that 34 per cent, or 5.2 million adult Australians, volunteered in the ‘third sector’ supply of services for public good, while some 713 million volunteer hours were worked annually. While only 2.9 per cent of those volunteering were giving their time to arts/heritage organisations, this figure still represents about 151,000 people contributing directly to the cultural heritage sector overall. The cultural sector therefore relies directly on volunteering for its delivery of social service, so it is in everyone’s interests that this invaluable contribution is well managed. The chapter themes in this book are as follows: 1. The concept of professionalism should inform all work provided by volunteers. 2. It is important to understand the motivation (and therefore source of satisfaction) for volunteers. 3. The contractual arrangement needs to be mutually beneficial for the organisation and for the volunteer. 4. Institutions need clearly defined, quality volunteer projects incorporating a degree of flexibility. 5. Volunteers are not ‘free’. 6. Volunteers deserve a Volunteer Program Manager. 7. Volunteers need ownership of their work and a defined space in the organisation. 8. Ensuring involvement of volunteers with other museum staff – achieving the right balance – is critical for best results. 9. The role of evaluations, feedback and open communication is also crucial. 10. Student placements require their own special ‘things’ inbuilt for success.
This manual well incorporates a preface, foreword, introduction and bibliography. The simple format makes for easy reading, and many museum managers will find the publication both handy and instructive. The book includes some useful templates that can be easily adapted for your museum-specific use – from an Expression of Interest form and job description to an Exit Review form. However a standard Volunteer
Agreement would have been a useful addition. Each chapter begins with a quote from a volunteer – for example, my tasks in the project were clear and I had brilliant guidance on how to complete it. Overall I found these all represented positive experiences and were overwhelmingly optimistic in tone. For balance and ‘real learning’ engagement, coverage of an occasional situation that was not so perfect for the volunteer would have been helpful. Even including a quote from the Volunteer Manager could be instructive, which would have brought a different perspective for the reader. The author proposes that volunteers should be well integrated into the whole organisation, but should not be viewed as replacing staffing establishment positions. The key to an enduring and successful organisation/volunteer relationship is a mutually advantage exchange. My experience of working in a major national institution and overseeing a program of almost two hundred volunteers is that there are many challenges and occasionally significant issues that need to be dealt with in managing a Volunteers Unit – but some of these have not been covered in this guide. I therefore consider the absence of a chapter written from the perspective of the Manager as a missed opportunity. It could well include such matters as areas of risk (and risk assessment), insurance, volunteer agreements, legal obligations, confidentiality of personnel records, recognition and awards. Some of these areas receive passing mention, but in reality they take considerable time and effort in implementation. Accordingly they require expertise to ensure that every organisation realises the best of any volunteer arrangement, as well as the volunteer in turn achieving a wonderful experience. For example, what happens when a relationship sours – what steps need to be taken when things are going off course? How does the Manager meanwhile ensure recruitment of the right people for the organisation? The last chapter deals with student placements and interns. This area entails a very different demographic and set of expectations from those affecting most volunteers, and these two groups are often dealt with quite differently within an organisation. Overall I found this publication a very handy guide on its subject. The author is obviously well read on this specialist area of sectoral employment, is passionate about volunteering in museums and cultural collections, and she brings a vivid sense of authenticity to the book. Carol Cartwright is Head of Education & Visitor Services, Australian War Memorial where she has overseen a team of sixty staff and a pool of almost two hundred volunteers. Citation for this article: Carol Cartwright, ‘Book Review: A guide to managing volunteers), Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 20 (2), Museums Australia, Canberra, p.42.
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