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Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 5
In this issue Museums Australia National Council 2013—2015 Message from outgoing President. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Message from new President of MA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Colleagues honoured in Order of Australia. . . . . . . . 8
Frank Howarth PSM (Director, Australian Museum, Sydney) vice-president
Richard Mulvaney (Director, Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston)
MA 2013 Conference in Canberra. . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Reviewing the peak-bodies ‘Museum Summit’ . . . 12
Suzanne Bravery (Independent museum consultant)
The National Cultural Heritage Committee: Australia’s PMCH Act Protecting Movable Cultural Heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 The new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre . . . . . . . 23 Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Art and nature: Exhibitions inspired by the natural world. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Hatching grand plans for the arts in Banyule . . . . 40 Making M.A.D.E - Bringing contested histories together at Eureka. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Dr Mat Trinca (Acting Director, National Museum of Australia, Canberra) members
Dr Andrew Simpson (Director, Museum Studies Program, Macquarie University, Sydney) Carol Cartwright (Former Head, Education & Visitor Services, Australian War Memorial, Canberra)
Padraic Fisher (Director, National Wool Museum, Geelong) Peter Abbott (Manager, Tourism Services, Warrnambool City Council, Victoria) Pierre Arpin (Director, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northen Territory, Darwin) Rebekah Butler (Executive Director, Museum & Gallery Services Queensland, Brisbane) ex officio member
Risks, Relationships and Rewards: Museum Theatre at the National Museum of Australia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Dr Robin Hirst (Chair, ICOM Australia), Museum Victoria public officer
Dr Don McMichael CBE, Red Hill, Canberra
MAPDA 2013: Australia’s unique publications design awards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Back to the future: Traditional meets technological at the AAM Annual Meeting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
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state/territory branch presidents/ representatives (subject to change throughout year)
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COVER IMAGE: A wedge-tailed eagle soars underneath the raised roof of the new Central Gallery at TMAG. Photo: Lucia Rossi
NSW Vicki Northey
© Museums Australia and individual authors.
NT Janie Mason (Charles Darwin University Nursing Museum, Darwin)
No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. Museums Australia Magazine is published quarterly and on-line on the MA Website, and is a major link with members and the museums sector. Museums Australia Magazine is a forum for news, opinion and debate on museum issues. Contributions from those involved or interested in museums and galleries are welcome. Museums Australia Magazine reserves the right to edit, abridge, alter or reject any material. Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor. Publication of an advertisement does not imply endorsement by Museums Australia, its affiliates or employees.
(Executive Project Manager, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney)
QLD Edith Cuffe OAM (Director, Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture) SA Regan Forrest (PhD Candidate, Adelaide) TAS Richard Mulvaney (Director, Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston)
Museums Australia is proud to acknowledge the following supporters of the national organisation:
VIC Daniel Wilksch (Coordinator, Digital Projects, Public Record Office Victoria, Melbourne)
Australian Government Office for the Arts and Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; National Museum of Australia; Museum Victoria (Melbourne Museum); Western Australian Museum; and Link Digital (Canberra).
WA Soula Veyradier (Manager, Western Australian Museum, Perth)
Print Post Publication No: 332582/00001 ISSN 1038-1694
6 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Message from outgoing President
s outgoing National President of Museums Australia, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the organisation whose leadership I now pass on to my extremely capable and forward-looking colleague, Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum. Perhaps the strongest theme to come out of the 2013 Museums Australia National Conference, held in Canberra in May, was the idea that the museum sector should speak with one voice. There is an urgent sense that we have at this moment, and in this nation, a singular opportunity to tell our stories with a unified voice. We can and should speak with a strong unity of purpose. Yet the question is also: to whom do we speak? The answer is: to the many funding bodies, governments, local councils, patrons, donors, educators – anyone for whom the work and efficacy of museums may be inadequately grasped and benefit from our championing. And what are we speaking about? Quite simply, the myriad ways in which museums are fundamental to civil society in general, and to communities and constituencies in particular. Museums Australia is well placed through its broad membership footprint nationally to take a leadership role in this unified, targeted and evidence-based advocacy. As well as exploring how we might speak with one voice, I think the 2013 Conference was also an opportunity to see how we might work as one strong sector. We can do so by sharing ideas and platforms and, importantly, scaling up ideas that have worked locally and put them on a national basis. This is work that Museums Australia is well placed to undertake, and of course doing so with key partner bodies supporting the sector. Certainly all the partners in this potential sharing of good ideas are willing and enthusiastic to contribute. Over the course of the past year Museums Australia has worked solidly to improve the organisation, raise its positioning as a reliable advocacy voice to government, and to set the association on a more sustainable position for the future. The clearly pursued work objectives are making Museums Australia stronger. In handing over to Frank, I would like to thank the members of the National Council both current and past for their wisdom, enthusiasm and commitment. I would also like to pay tribute to the hard work of the experienced team led by Bernice and Lee in the MA National Office. Your organisation is in good hands! Andrew Sayers AM Outgoing National President of Museums Australia
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 7
Message from new President of MA (2013—2015)
t’s recently been ‘interesting times’ for culture and heritage – for worryingly disparate reasons. The news of wholesale destruction of Syria’s built heritage, as well as deaths of its people, is horrifying. Will Egypt be next? Destruction of heritage is looming in our own Pacific region for a very different reason – sea level rise. I recently heard that referred to as being of ‘natural’ causes, presumably to distinguish it from the very directly human-caused destruction in Syria. But it seems far more likely that we humans are the cause. A final worry is the trend of falling government funding for culture and science. This trend seems to be true for most parts of the world, including Australia. So with this sobering introduction, I welcome you to my first contribution as National President to the Museums Australia Magazine. However I particularly wish to thank my predecessor and colleague, Andrew Sayers, whose final service as outgoing President of MA was chairing the AGM of the association in May, during our very productive National Conference this year. Among all the meetings that took place around the Conference, Andrew deserves special thanks for one event that occurred somewhat behind the scenes before the Conference opened: a ‘Museum Summit’ with key people from the Office for the Arts, the Australia Council, DFAT and other bodies, including a broad line-up of directors of museums and senior colleagues from across the country. Thanks also are due to Andrew for the organisation and hosting of this large gathering, discussion and lunch – generously provided by the National Museum of Australia. We wish Andrew well in his next endeavours, following his relocation to Melbourne. Notwithstanding the many big issues around, in Australia we have a vigorous, well organised and dynamic museum and gallery sector, present at every level of our communities and in almost every part of the country. Our challenge is to build on these great foundations. My own aspirations for Museums Australia can be highlighted in three ways, or oriented in three directions. First and perhaps foremost, is a need to work enterprisingly ‘downwards and outwards’ through the broad reach of the sector into dispersed communities, to develop capacity and skills. Second, to work ‘across’ the sector to increase communication and strengthen collaboration. Third, to work ‘upwards’: to influence those who impact on us, most particularly governments at all three tiers; and continuing our collaborative work with ICOM Australia to increase
our international influence. I hasten to add that I don’t come with preconceived or set ideas about exactly what we need to do in these three directions. However I do see some key issues clearly, and as imperative for our effectiveness as a sector: we need to be more united and effective in working with governments; we need to better recognise and harness the capacity of the digital age; and we need to break down some of the artificial barriers we ourselves create in the supposed (by some) distinctions between museum and gallery. Perhaps most importantly, we need to embrace being a national sector and single organisation, while recognising and harnessing the different approaches to service delivery and capacity building that exist in various States and Territories. In the brief time I have been in the President’s role since May, I have been gathering a list of issues and opportunities for Museums Australia that I will be working through with members, branches and the National Council. How we work best with the different approaches to services provision in operation in various States, and how we develop more of a consensus on the pros and cons of accreditation, are two such significant issues. How we engage with the growing resources arising through private philanthropy highlights one significant opportunity the sector should address. I will do my best to get to events and gatherings of members, so please do give me your views. And please also take the opportunity to send your views directly to me through Museums Australia’s email platform (there is a <email@example.com> email address provided, which will redirect to me automatically). Working together, we can build a more influential, skilled and resourceful sector! Frank Howarth, PSM National President, Museums Australia (Director, Australian Museum, Sydney)
8 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Outstanding museums sector colleagues recognised
Colleagues honoured in Order of Australia
Frances Lindsay AM Former Deputy Director, National Gallery of Victoria Frances Lindsay was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Australia Day Honours List, announced on 10 June 2013. The honour’s citation emphasised her ‘significant services to the arts, particularly as a curator and administrator in galleries and museums.’ Among her many achievements she has been responsible for bringing two large internationally acclaimed museum redevelopments to fruition, first with The Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, and then the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square. In the latter, Frances pioneered innovative interpretations of the collections using ‘interventions’ of contemporary art into the historical displays to provide new paradigms for understanding history and the role of art within it. As Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria from 2000-2012, she had creative direction and management responsibility for the delivery of key departments and programs central to the role and mission of the Gallery in the community. Frances Lindsay’s art museum career started at the NGV where she was Guide Lecturer, then Associate Curator of Australian Art (working with Brian Finemore), before joining the Art Gallery of New South Wales as Assistant Curator of Australian Art (working with Daniel Thomas). In 1974 she undertook an internship at MoMA, New York, and on return to AGNSW co-initiated (with Robert Lindsay) the Project Series of exhibitions. In 1976 Frances became the Inaugural Director of the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne and in 1984 Director of the University Gallery. In this role Frances was the driving force behind significant strategic developments, including the establishment of an adjunct gallery — the Ian Potter Gallery (architect Greg Burgess), and (with Robyn Sloggett) the Art Conservation Centre (now the Centre for the Study of Cultural Materials). These important steps in evolving a dynamic University art museum culminated in the realisation of The Ian Potter Museum of Art – an architecturally award-winning building designed by Nonda Katsalidis, which set a benchmark for the development of other university galleries and museums in Australia.
Service on external committees has included the following: Chair, Visual Arts/Craft Advisory Committee, Asialink 2004—6; Venice Biennale Selection Committee, Australia Council 2000; Advisory Committeee, Museum Leadership Program 2000—7; Board Member ICOM’98 Limited; 1992—3 Art Museums of Association of Australia Council; 1991—2 Exhibitions Advisory Committee, Asialink; Chair International Promotion Committee, VACB; 1989—91 Member, Visual Arts/Craft Board, Australia Council; 1989—91 Chair, Exhibitions and Access Committee, VACB. Throughout her career Frances Lindsay has continually demonstrated her capacity for vision and leadership, alongside unstinting commitment to curatorial practice. She has been responsible for a great number of exhibitions, both solo-curated and with collaborative teams, working both locally and internationally; and her writing and contribution to scholarship has been constant throughout her professional development.
Katrina Rumley AM Director, Moree Plains Gallery, NSW Katrina Rumley was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Australia Day Honours List, announced on 10 June 2013. The honour’s citation emphasised her ‘significant services to the visual arts, particularly in the museums and galleries sector.’ Katrina Rumley’s career as a curator and gallery director has been guided by two clear and enduring goals: supporting Australian artists and widening appreciation of their work among Australian audiences. Katrina is an enthusiastic supporter of Australia’s regional galleries. She began her museum career in 1972 as Director of Geelong Art Gallery, and for the past eight years has been Director of Moree Plains Gallery, which holds one of Australia’s most important regional collections of Indigenous art. During the decade that Katrina spent at the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, from 1973 to 1983, among many programs to support Australian art and artists she developed the regional galleries program. Over several years this led to the establishment of new galleries in various parts of Australia, such as the New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale, New South Wales. A great highlight of Katrina’s career came when in 1984 she became Curator of the Art Program for the
Katrina Runley AM
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 9
Prof. Jeanne Liedtka OAM, having received her Order of Australia Medal from Australian Ambassador to the US, The Hon Kim Beazley AC (2nd from left), presented at the Australian Embassy in Washington, June 2013. inset:
Neil MacGregor AO.
nation’s new Parliament House in Canberra, a position she held until the building’s completion and opening in 1988. The $15 million art program entailed the management of 100 major art and craft commissions for the new building, and the acquisition of 3000 paintings, sculptures and craft works. The scope and quality of the art program made the Parliament House collection one of the nation’s most important. Katrina has written extensively on Australian art, cataloguing among others the Parliament House collection and the collections of Newcastle Region Art Gallery, the University of New South Wales, and Moree Plains Gallery. She has advised on corporate collections, has been a leader of professional museum organisations, and has served as a committee member of the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme. Katrina was appointed Australian Commissioner for the Venice Biennale in 1982. Throughout her career she has been a mentor to young curators entering the profession, particularly young women, all of whom have established successful careers as art administrators.
Jeanne Liedtka OAM Update: Professor Jeanne Liedtka, of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, was announced in the previous issue of the MA Magazine (Vol.20 (3), Autumn 2013) as the proud recipient on Australia Day, 26 January 2013, of an honorary Medal of the
Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division: for ‘her service to the development of leaders in the museum profession through the Museum Leadership Program’ in Australia. MAM can follow up the previous announcement with a report that Jeanne Liedtka received her medal formally at a ceremony in June, presented by The Hon Kim Beazley AC, Ambassador to United States of America, at the Australian Embassy in Washington. Erratum and update: Mr Neil MacGregor AO, Director of the British Museum, was also announced as a distinguished international colleague admitted to the Order of Australia on Australia Day in January 2013. Mr MacGregor has been admitted at the level of an Honorary Officer (AO – not AM, indicating a Medal recipient). His Award has since been formally presented by the Governor General of Australia, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, at a ceremony at Government House, Canberra, on 25 March 2013.  Museums Australia Magazine, ‘Colleagues honoured in Order of Australia’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 8– 9.
10 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
2013 National Conference debrief
MA 2013 Conference in Canberra a great success Carol Cartwright
ow museums work: people, industry and nation proved to be a stimulating theme for this year’s National Conference, held this year in Canberra. Conducted over the weekend of International Museum Day (18 May), and featuring a major line-up of keynote speakers on the concentrated plenary opening day, ‘Super Saturday’, the Conference saw almost five hundred delegates enthralled and engaged with the important role museums continue to play in the cultural life of Australia and other nations. The keynote speakers on Saturday 18 May formed a powerful opening bracket of diverse voices and ideas, setting the scene for the two parallel-session days that followed. • Robyn Archer AO (as Creative Director, Centenary of Canberra) not only spruiked the national capital in Canberra’s Centenary year, but eloquently insisted on the importance of harvesting new work and ongoing creativity while interpreting rich histories and past achievements; her address underscored the advantages gained through collaboration and highlighted the strength of the national collections: “Celebrating the past – but never at the expense of the present and the future”; • Dr Tom Calma AO (Indigenous Elder, Social Justice Campaigner and Australian of the Year 2013) overviewed the ongoing challenges for social justice and inclusion of Indigenous people, and the continuing importance of museums in ensuring Indigenous partnership and inclusion in the work of the museums sector: “Viewing the museums kaleidoscope through the eyes of Indigenous Australia”; • Michael Lynch CBE AM (as Chief Executive, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong) invited young museum and gallery professionals to consider Hong Kong as a place to develop their careers or skills and experience a richly unfolding international engagement with the arts in this fast-developing cultural hub in China: “Energy and innovation in Asian culture: the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong”; • Dr Michael Brand (as Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney) took the audience on his personal journey through curatorial work in Australia, concentrating on Asian arts, to his directorial career in the USA, through Richmond, Virginia and the John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, to his current post and development plans for the Art Gallery of NSW; “A global museum career”; • Dr Stefan Hajkowicz (Principal Scientist, CSIRO Futures, Brisbane) took the audience into the future by outlining CSIRO’s six megatrends; • A rich panel of cross-generational responses ensued, sketching ‘Implications for Australian museums’, as viewed through three prisms of experience:
• Suse Cairns (PhD student, University of Newcastle) – as an Emerging professional (Technology); • David Arnold (Head of Learning Services and Community Outreach, National Museum of Australia) – as a Mid-career professional (Education); and • Dr Patrick Greene OBE (CEO, Museum Victoria; Chair of both CAMD & National Cultural Heritage Committee) – as an Experienced professional/ museum director. • Andrew Sayers AM (President of Museums Australia and Director of the National Museum/ NMA) introduced the final theme of telling stories through Australia’s museums; he then introduced final speaker and newest colleague as a fellowdirector of one of our National Museums: • Dr Brendan Nelson (Director, Australian War Memorial, Canberra) concluded the day by passionately addressing the audience about the social role of museums in presenting national narratives: “The museum industry: a newcomer’s perspective” The convergence of many associated meetings, including museum director members of CAMD, MA’s National Council, and the pre-Conference Museum Summit (in which museums-sector leaders met with government officers to canvass shared concerns) gave the conference organisers an unusual opportunity to engage many of these senior people in chairing sessions afterwards, and participating in important panels that added a special depth of knowledge to presenters throughout this annual peak gathering for the sector. Following Super Saturday, there were two sessionpacked days of concurrent sessions and workshops, National Network meetings, and wider discussions
top (clockwise from top left):
Keynote speaker Michael Lynch (Chief Executive, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong) on ‘Super Saturday’ (Photo: Michael Smale); Andrew Sayers welcomes conference delegates at the National Museum of Australia on Friday 17 May (Photo courtesy National Museum of Australia); MA2013 National Conference embraces new technologies (Photo: Michael Smale); Keynote speaker Dr Stefan Hajkowicz (Principal Scientist, CSIRO Futures, Brisbane) outlines future megatends on ‘Super Saturday’ (Photo: Michael Smale).
Carol Cartwright, President, Museums Australia ACT Branch, and Chair of the 2013 MA Conference Organising Group introduces proceedings on the opening morning of the MA National Conference in Canberra. Photo: Michael Smale
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 11
The keynote speakers on ‘Super Saturday’ formed a powerful opening bracket of diverse voices and ideas
MA2013 trade exhibition and catering at National Convention Centre, Canberra. Photo: Michael Smale.
– especially during the social events conducted across the weekend and encompassing four evenings. The National Convention Centre in Canberra proved to be a central and vital venue – particularly considering the quality of diverse spaces provided, the unusually praised standard of food on offer during all breaks, and excellent IT support throughout. The large NCC hall, readily accessible on entering and the hub for lunches and tea-breaks, was filled around the perimeter with more than twenty trade show booths (constituting the largest line-up of suppliers at any MA Conference of recent years). Meanwhile there was a real buzz around the informal and sessional spaces, including between four and five hundred museum and gallery delegates variously in attendance for most of the sessions across three days. Some of the social highlights were popular. Only Canberra colleagues can make the necessary arrangements for an invitation to Yarralumla, the official residence of the Governor-General. Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, whose staff had specified her eagerness to receive a fully cross-sectional group of colleagues and regional museum delegates, not simply directors, proved to be a delightful host to a representative gathering including Indigenous colleagues. The Program also provided social gatherings at Canberra Museum & Art Gallery, and the National Museum of Australia (where the wonderful performing group, the Stiff Gins, entertained all at the Opening Event, and MA National President Andrew Sayers welcomed all to the NMA and to Canberra). Friday evening was followed by the Conference Dinner on Saturday at the NGA (with an entertaining address by NGA Director Ron Radford). Finally there was a thoughtfully prepared evening at the NFSA hosted by Director Michael Loebenstein and Nigel Sutton.
While this ‘performed culture’ program of film and sound presented at the NFSA deserves special tribute, Canberra in fact houses most of the major collecting institutions, which all supported the Conference generously and imaginatively, as well as throwing open their doors and collections to the many interested visitors in the national capital for the week. Overall, the 2013 National Conference gave delegates the opportunity to meet old colleagues, swap museum stories and compare current programs, engage with social media, and most important of all, to envisage the future of museums as socially responsive institutions addressing a rapidly changing world. The 2013 Conference Organising Group sought to deliver a wide-ranging and meaningful conference – this year spiked by providing specially ‘curated sessions’ that thematically linked speakers around particular themes, and engaging senior staff in leading panel discussions. The MA National Office, ACT Branch organising group, and the PCO Conference Logistics all worked together to deliver a successful ‘national conference experience’ in 2013. In handing on the baton to Launceston for 2014, when the next MA National Conference will again be held in May, achievements are manifold, many expectations have been affirmed, and ongoing anticipations are high for a richly diverse and different peak event gathering for the sector next year in Tasmania.  Carol Cartwright is President, MA-ACT Branch, and acted as Chair of the 2013 MA Conference Organising Group. Carol Cartwright, ‘MA 2013 National Conference in Canberra a great success’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 10– 11.
12 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Advancing common ground on advocacy for the museums sector
Reviewing the peak-bodies ‘Museum Summit’ (National Museum of Australia, 16 May 2013) Preface
create SKETCH SCORE SHAPE
SHOW SHARE PERFORM REALISE
SEUMS • C O
experience INTERAC T EXCHANGE COMMUNICATE
culture society environment
EDUCATE CONSOLIDATE RE-CREATE
Museums Australia has since reviewed topics and issues covered at the 2013 Museum Summit. The record provided for MA members and colleagues captures the expertise of participants into an ordered summary. This working document of the MA National Council (below) provides a reference tool and framework for ongoing collaborative work linking museums sector resources nationally for greater public benefit, as envisaged at this first national Summit for the sector. Note: The record below has been presented in the point-form style of the Summit record, being closer to speakers’ opinions in this format – rather than recast in a more generalising prose style. Most comments
IMAGINE INVENT CONCEIVE PLAN
rare Museum Summit event was held at the National Museum of Australia in May 2013, as an adjunct to the Museums Australia National Conference in Canberra’s centenary year. The Summit proposal arose through discussions between former MA President and Director of the National Museum of Australia (Andrew Sayers AM) and First Assistant Secretary, Office for the Arts (Sally Basser). The concept for the Summit was to take advantage of adjoining meetings around the 2013 MA Conference in Canberra of a number of bodies – especially CAMD (Council of Australasian Museum Directors); the Australian government’s National Cultural Heritage Committee; and Museums Australia National Council. Opportunity presented to facilitate an interface conversation between senior representatives of government in the Arts area and a broadly representative round-up of museums-sector and cultural heritage expertise. Some members of CAAMD (Council of Australian Art Museum Directors) were also present when the Summit occurred, which also included representation from the National Library of Australia. The final gathering further included representatives of the Australia Council (Executive Director Arts Development; and National Programs Manager) and of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Acting Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy and Information Branch). The scope of the Summit gathering therefore proved unique in its representation of many interests, and the breadth of expertise drawn together. The Museum Summit Agenda focused on capturing closer collaborative opportunities in a two-way framework: • improved recognition by government of museums and the collecting sector’s direct contribution to national policy and program-delivery enhancing access and community benefit in Australian cultural heritage resources and programs for engagement of all audiences; • improved coordination of the sector’s advice to government around policy initiatives and programdelivery across all jurisdictions of government embracing the contributions of museums, galleries and cultural facilities across the country.
CONNEC TIONS CONTEXT UNDERSTANDING
interpret MEMORY HISTORY LEGACY FUTURE
have been anonymised, as a courtesy to speakers offering opinions in an invitation workshop setting, except in several cases where the identity of the speaker is important to the meaning conveyed. [Ed.]
Introduction to the Summit Overview: ‘Setting the context on behalf of the museums sector’ (Andrew Sayers AM, Director, National Museum of Australia, and National President, Museums Australia) Andrew Sayers – introducing Summit discussion as Co-facilitator: • emphasised the aspirational emphasis of the Summit • stressed utilisation of the museums networks and resources that exist – no separate body was envisaged • noted that gathering data from the sector for policy advice through separate bodies is costly in resources – and this argues for more efficient ways to engage jointly and advocate on shared policy concerns • reported that a government-focused session was scheduled in the program of the MA National Conference (Sunday 19 May) in Canberra; (OFTA and Australia Council representatives would be speaking).
Cycle of Culture and Heritage – A modelling of cultural process (Developed by Museums Australia)
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 13
Government policy context Overview: ‘Current policy context for the museums sector’ (Lyn Allan, Assistant Secretary, Collections and Cultural Heritage, Office for the Arts) Lyn Allan provided background on the national policy context, highlighting two principal initiatives of the Commonwealth recently: • Creative Australia: National Cultural Policy (released 13 March 2013) • National Arts and Cultural Accord: ‘Partnering for a Creative Australia’ (released 13 May 2013) (Note Office for the Arts media release 13/5/13: “The signed National Arts and Culture Accord has been released. This agreement, between the Australian Government, state, territory and local governments is a commitment between all levels of government to work together to support arts and culture./ The development of the National Arts and Culture Accord is a commitment of Creative Australia, the national cultural policy.”) • The National Cultural Policy The National Cultural Policy, Creative Australia, had resulted from sustained effort and detailed consultation with the sector. • The National Accord The ‘National Arts and Culture Accord’ (released 3 days prior to the Summit) was stressed as mainly a principles document in its current framework, prefacing further work with all tiers of government. • The Commonwealth was working with State/ Territory and local governments to agree on Accord priorities. • Question raised: When will the Accord be implemented? Response: - An Action Plan supporting the Accord was not yet finalised by government. - The Accord outline document is meanwhile available online: http://arts.gov.au/sites/default/files/topics/ National%20Arts%20and%20Culture%20 Accord_2013.PDF
‘Towards a national network’ Broad Summit Agenda topics in this section were listed as: • Transforming state and territory network models into a national program • Opportunities for museum and gallery engagement • The role of Museums Australia Andrew Sayers opened up general discussion for the Summit posing a single question: Q: “What one thing would you most wish for?” • ‘a national voice’ – came through most strongly from all participants.
• a national ‘TO DO list’ was added – to clarify specific goals of the sector. • “Simplicity is the essence of success” in exercising a united voice around key issues of common cause. (a state museum director) • “The time is ripe now for some new initiatives for the sector” – noting the gap left nationally since the demise of CCA some years ago. (a state museum director) (CCA refers to the Collections Council of Australia, established in 2004 by the Cultural Ministers Council ‘to represent Australia’s diverse archives, galleries, libraries and museums’. CCA ceased operations in April 2010.) • clear positioning of the collections sector/ museums in government cultural policy • a CAMD member director welcomed the unequivocally more central role granted to collections and collecting institutions/museums in Creative Australia, the new National Cultural Policy. • recurrent resourcing • a state museum director stressed ‘recurrent resourcing for museums’ as one of the largest single issues for the sector. “Beyond one-off redevelopment opportunities, without recurrent resources, everyone will collapse back to survival mode.” • a ‘sectoral voice’ is needed on collections and digital access (see below) • advocacy (returned as a broad topic later in the Summit) • “The advocacy question is central.” No matter how significant your collections or institution, “when you live at a sub-state level, there’s not much advocacy power at all without a strong collective position”. (a regional museum director) • This issue stretches a long way into regional Australia. “There’s a chronic need for a national approach to our culture and collections regionally.” (a regional museum director, as above) • data-gathering to support advocacy • Query was posed to Lyn Allan from Andrew Sayers on data: Q: Did the government department (OFTA) feel it had sufficient data from the sector to work with in developing the National Cultural Policy? Response: No. “We definitely lack clear, consistent data for the sector.” • A further question was added by a museum director for OFTA comment: Q: “Did you feel there was a quality of advocacy from the sector in developing the Cultural Policy? We often feel there is a critical lack in the way we compose arguments to government.” Response: “Input from the museums sector on the Cultural Policy consultation was characterised by a multitude of voices, not one voice.’
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Advancing common ground on advocacy for the museums sector
The really strong need is for training for volunteer-run museums
• research potential involving botanic gardens and collections “The importance of knowledge held across botanic gardens nationally is increasingly recognised at the level of their councils/boards, and needs stronger connection with research and museums sector advocacy on research and partnerships.” (a state director of a botanic garden)
‘What does the sector need?’
• Whole-of-government policy advocacy “A key aim of advocacy must be to connect to other govt. policy agendas, not just culture. Crucial tasks in advocacy are gathering data; using it; making wider connections across all government policy areas.” (former assistant director of a national museum) Research Andrew Sayers posed two questions for all: • Where does research in museums sit today? • How does museum research connect with the whole research framework in Australia? • museum research partnerships “State museum research partnerships involve 2 key elements”: (i) Drawing on unique strengths (state/national museums and research bodies) (ii) Having an agreed platform to work with/ or towards – e.g. input to the new national curriculum. “However a better co-ordinating framework is needed. Things are very ad hoc at present.” (a state museum director) • a broader range of stakeholders and greater collaborative potential “We need to shift perceptions around museums and research.” There is a need to look to a large range of other stakeholders – things are very ad hoc at present. “But there’s funding there for quality research!” Question arises: What can we do then (as a museums sector)? Universities themselves are very competitive. Answer: Collaborate. “Every project of a museum potentially involves a university and its research interests.” (detailed comment provided by a state museum director) • research potential involving AIATSIS and Indigenous knowledge “AIATSIS struggles for resources, and from a longstanding neglect of research infrastructure. AIATSIS collections are integral to national research and infrastructure development.” (a representative of AIATSIS)
Training • Regional Australian needs (many participants emphasised this aspect – both state directors and regional directors; both CAMD and MA voices were strong on training) • There is a great proportion of locally-run museums at the regional level, many of them staffed largely or entirely by volunteers; there are more than 700 such organisations in Victoria. (a regional director, VIC) • “There is a thirsting for skills development” at the regional level in Australia. Some empirical evidence has been gathered behind this situation in Victoria (“But there’s a greater need for datagathering nationally”): evidence suggests strongly that regional museums depending on volunteersourced staffing are falling further behind the big institutions in capital cities in skills and training. (regional director, VIC, as above) • MA-WA branch pointed to a recent WA Training Report that has national relevance (Mentioned: that an MA-WA state branch Training Report was produced covering WA needs in 2011. This report provides a broad analysis of state training needs that could also be extrapolated as an outline of national needs.) • TAFE training courses important for the smaller museums sector Also noted by a speaker about WA: in WA, governmental withdrawal from the tertiary sector is impacting heavily. There is a strong need for TAFE support for museum training to be provided for smaller and volunteer-run organisations. (MA-WA representative) • NT/ & university museums/collections: A colleague from Charles Darwin University & representing the Nursing Museum in CDU stressed the value of national networks and benchmarking standards for university museums/ collections • National rationalisation of training program/s • “There is a need for a coherent, consistent and scalable program” for training and skills development regionally, at both state and national levels. Not just focused on collections care. “The really strong need is for training for volunteer-run museums.” (a state museum director) • Regional Development Officers have been very valuable in QLD; there are 6 RDOs, under the state museum in QLD, but located across the state (Director, Queensland Museum)
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• Community Museums Network (MA) and local, in-situ training For smaller, community-based museums, there is need for training in your own museum, not only off-site and at seminars/ conferences elsewhere, no matter how valuable these are in their own right (MA Community Museums National Network, former Chair). • Expertise resident in small museums can be utilised nationally “Sometimes smaller museums are more expert in some areas than the larger museums.” (a state museum director) • National training to include Leadership “There needs to be more attention to Museum Leadership training.” (a state museum director) • Training not just about collections but connected to local tourism and cultural attractions “There are some 15 different business models available in local tourism services.” (a regional museum director). See also under Tourism below. • Indigenous skills training for the sector nationally “Indigenous skills development is still a great area of need. There is a continuing need to bring in more Indigenous people and build capacity for Indigenous cultural interpretation across the sector.” (director of a national museum) Accreditation and standards • Accreditation & Training need to be linked as topics (assistant director of a state art museum) “Museum networks nationally can be very helpful locally in professional museum practice” – (e.g. changing education practices evident in the Nursing Museum in Darwin at CDU were supported by national standards that could be used as benchmarks within the university in Darwin/NT) • CAUMAC (University Museums Council & Network of MA) & National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries have proved very valuable in advocacy of training needs within Charles Darwin University, to secure the Nursing Museum/collection. (MA-NT colleague in Darwin) • Training + national standards linked to advocacy: achieving political impact (Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, both a former federal Leader of the Opposition and a former federal minister, was invited by Andrew Sayers to provide personal reflections on sectoral needs from his previous experience within government) Dr Nelson referred back to his own experience with the medical sector (as a then-practising GP and member of the AMA). He stressed that the medical profession advanced its advocacy potential around a proactive position of compulsory/continuing professional development and training at a national level.
The medical sector “got itself together” around training and “focused on national standards, developing an Australian Quality Framework” to provide benchmarks for delivery of medical services across the country – and this, in his opinion, proved the most effective way to gain stronger political attention and governmental response to collective needs. Collections, access + evolving digital technologies Dr Patrick Greene (Chair of CAMD and CEO Museum Victoria) led some discussion in this section of the Summit – as emerges below. • national conversations facilitated by collections access “We’re all looking at ways to activate local contributions to national conversations. Collections online are crucial to facilitate national conversations.” (a colleague in the Public Record Office of Victoria) • MA-Victoria – re. cataloguing software ‘Victorian Collections’ This is a free, easy to use, online cataloguing system available to collecting organisations in Victoria, developed through a partnership between Museum Victoria and the MA-Victoria state branch. • ‘Victorian Collections’, suitable for cataloguing all types of collection material, was emphasised as a very valuable tool within that state. Museum Victoria came aboard during 2009, “to build this as a world-class network” for smaller, especially regional museums. • MA-VIC is running collections training around the ‘Collections’ program for assistance to smaller museums. “The challenge now is to find resources for transfer of these facilities and associated training, for shared benefit nationally.” (CEO of MA-Victoria State Branch). • Patrick Greene stressed that support from the Victorian government in recent years had proved transformative in assisting with cataloguing and organisation of records of collections in smaller and regionally-based museums – Museum Victoria has collaborated, and through its own staff expertise ensured the Victorian Collections software program is as user-friendly as possible. • Inspiring Australia – engaging people and communities with the sciences At the other end of the spectrum, Dr Greene stressed the value of the federal government’s initiative under the Innovation department, Inspiring Australia: A national strategy for engaging with the sciences – which draws state and federal museums together in an Australia-wide framework for engaging people and communities. “We received $375,000 to provide improved collections digitisation nationally and we’d be happy to collaborate further” (linking CAMD, MA, ICOM & CAAMD). Dr Greene highlighted a current goal of building on a Wildlife app, which had proved a huge public success, with 60,000 downloads quite
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early after release. • Professor Graham Durant, Director of Questacon/ the national Science and Technology Centre, also emphasised the importance of the Inspiring Australia initiative. With several hundred organisations involved, this provides an important example of COLLABORATION + FACILITATION, and depends on an OPEN NETWORK model of delivery. • Colleagues affirmed that the collaborations happening across scientific institutions and museums are pushing forward new models of learning, knowledge-sharing and access for the sector. Collaboration is now advancing strong public access and engagement goals, harnessing: - open-sourced science - crowd-sourced science - citizen science • Proposal for a core platform was raised to facilitate collections access broadly “Is there the possibility to come up with a core platform (using apps etc.) – i.e. not focusing only on the hardware? A core platform could then be more easily modified and adapted.” (a national museum director) • The federal copyright regime and legal restrictions on access of collections • “The whole copyright framework cannot stand anymore as before.” (a state museum director). • “There is now a move to have a standard agreement governing all purchases or donations of artworks within institutions” – to deal better with copyright issues that inhibit institutional access of works in public collections, owned in the public domain. (a state museum director). • Open-sourced IP or commercially protected IP? • “A key issue is not just free data but free IP – i.e. to be able to make information available not just as open-sourced data but as open-sourced IP.” (a state museum director). • “The fact that universities are increasingly seeking to make a profit from their IP is actually proving to be one of the biggest brakes on innovation in other networks – and also involves difficulties for university stakeholders themselves (such as individual researchers). This conversation has sat with the universities for a while now, but has never arisen strongly as a topic within the museums sector.” It needs to be aired. (a state museum director, as above) • Library sector’s collaborative digitisation platforms – especially Trove (NLA) “The libraries have vital interest in these matters, where the user’s perspective is crucial from our vantage-point.” (a representative of the National Library of Australia) • Lyn Allan (offered comments from OFTA/Arts department) • The Office for the Arts keeps in touch regularly
with the Attorney General’s department on legal matters affecting the arts and the museums sector. • Noted that the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is still in process with its review of the Australian Copyright Act. Consultation has been extensive. An interim report from ALRC on copyright review and reform issues is expected in November 2013. • In review: a ‘sectoral voice’ is needed on collections and digital access Digitised collections and data challenges are perceived as two-fold: (i) obtaining data, but also (ii) using and sharing it readily, once obtained
Other areas of possible collaboration Indigenous issues and museums • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and Indigenous issues Creative Australia has been “important in stressing the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to national heritage” (a state museum director) • Concerning government provision for repatriation of ancestral remains: Lyn Allan (Office for the Arts) commented that, from the federal government’s vantage-point, the coordination of responses to requested repatriation of ancestral remains is now handled through the Indigenous Culture Branch within OFTA. • Continuing issues that complicate national repatriation of ancestral remains were also noted as involving cultural protocols (and associated funding) concerning ‘the right’ home communities to receive any returns. • museums’ ongoing responsibilities in repatriation processes need recognition • “We need to understand all the issues of international returns in process currently, as these continue to affect our museums.” (a state museum director) • “Not every state has a whole of government approach to returns, and this can leave museums in a difficult place. For example 119 ancestral remains are now held by my museum [within a positive framework for return]. However ongoing responsibilities concerning appropriate care and return issues will continue for a long time, and need direct consultation with museums.” (a state museum director, as above) • other museum issues involving Indigenous people and museum collections • “Conversation is needed rapidly about the borderlines of what constitutes human remains” in the case of new areas in collections not previously subject to requests for DNA analysis. • “A massive impost could be about to descend on communities in respect of new projects involving
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DNA analysis, where items – such as hair samples – that were freely given by Indigenous people in earlier periods are now targeted as vital new research resources.” • “Such material can now constitute crucial primary data-set information for future scientific/DNA research – quite dissociated from the history of removal of human remains illegally.” This poses new and challenging issues for museums to resolve.” (a state museum director – all three points above) Tourism Tourism was raised strongly by some participants, perceived as two-fold in impact: • Tourism opportunities Tourism continues to be well recognised as an important area of audience engagement for museums in presentation of collections and programming (especially of exhibitions). • Tourism threats Tourism has surprisingly posed new pressures in recent years – working against the collaborative gains by museums over many decades through shared exhibitions touring. • state governments favouring exclusive event presentation over touring State governments are starting to emphasise the Cultural Destination potential of their major cities over other considerations of shared interest. “This results in a new emphasis on ‘bed nights’ in hotels rather than visits to single museums or exhibitions. The effects are creating new pressures on state museums and galleries to be exclusive, and present exhibitions that do not tour.” However museums and galleries have been collaborating for decades to share resources on large exhibitions, reducing burdens such as development costs, loans, catalogue production and other publications, insurance and freight offset through touring. New challenges are now posed – in costs and audience benefits. • tourism pressures can create ‘a two-speed economy’ in museum programming Event tourism agendas threaten to distort balanced planning, programming and resources allocation. Results are that new pressures from tourist agencies, especially at the state level, often result in a two-speed economy for museums in long-range development of programs and services. • a broader approach to tourism’s potential yearround is needed • statistical evidence about tourism’s broader potential for the sector is vital; The data is available and needs to be used more actively: - i.e. between 56%–62% of international tourists into Australia are statistically shown to visit museums and galleries – not just favouring
‘the reef’ etc. - “Therefore the international market is telling us that museums are what international tourists like to visit” – with considerable earned export dollars attached. • “Tourists are demonstrably focused on seeking cultural experiences while they’re visiting Australia from abroad. We’re actually not meeting this need fully, or articulating its potential in the right forums.” (a Summit participant, also quoted directly above) • a suggestion about more actively using audience experience data “We actually know a lot about our audiences at the Powerhouse. Learning-benefits data could be very helpful in consolidating these arguments.” (a Powerhouse Museum representative)
‘Where to from here?’ • Key outcomes and actions • Consultation and communication • Future meetings and wrap-up During wrap-up remarks the supportive role of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade representatives in diplomatic posts abroad was highlighted: in representing Australia’s cultural heritage internationally and facilitating contacts for colleagues abroad. Concluding discussion affirmed that the Museum Summit had provided a rare opportunity for such a cross-section of expertise to be gathered on key topics and shared concerns of museums, galleries and the cultural heritage sector. It was agreed that key museum bodies present would review and frame further collaborative action early in the future.  Summary pepared by National Director, Museums Australia, Bernice Murphy. A working document of Museums Australia National Council (10 September 2013) Frank Howarth PSM National President of Museums Australia (Director of the Australian Museum, Sydney)
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National law and related international obligations for the protection of cultural heritage
The National Cultural Heritage Committee: Australia’s PMCH Act Protecting Movable Cultural Heritage Patrick Greene
he National Cultural Heritage Committee is appointed by the Minister for the Arts under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (the PMCH Act). It comprises 10 members, representing collecting institutions and universities, as well as Indigenous and cultural heritage communities. The Committee’s role is to advise the Minister for the Arts on the operation of the PMCH Act. Domestically, the Act protects Australia’s movable cultural heritage and, internationally, it assists other countries to regain their cultural property if it has been exported illegally. In an international context, the PMCH Act gives effect to Australia’s commitments under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property – known generally as ‘the 1970 UNESCO Convention’ for convenience. This article provides a brief overview of what the Act does for the museums sector, and illustrates what colleagues can do to assist our stewardship of the Act, and the international obligations it entails. My overview covers three key themes: (i) On the domestic side, the export or retention of Australian protected objects. (ii) On the international side, the return of illegally exported cultural heritage items to their countries of origin. (iii) Finally, I will map the intersections between the museums sector and the PMCH Scheme, including how all colleagues, as museum professionals, can assist.
What is the PMCH Act and how is it administered in Australia? The Act came into operation in Australia in 1986, with the key aims of protecting national and international movable cultural heritage. It is administered by the Office for the Arts.
1. Domestically, the PMCH Act relates to the export or retention of Australian protected objects (APOs) When it comes to Australian protected objects, or APOs, the PMCH Act deals with three different types of requests for import or export: Permanent/Temporary export permits – Class B APOs require an export permit, which may be granted on a temporary or permanent basis. An example is the block of 24 two-pound-value stamps given a permanent export permit recently (illn 6). Certificates of Exemption – These allow APOs that are currently overseas to be imported into Australia for the purpose of exhibition or sale, with the security that they can subsequently be re-exported. An example is Phar Lap’s skeleton (illn 5), lent in recent years to Museum Victoria by Te Papa
Old Tutuma Tjapangati, One Man’s Dreaming, 1971 (Pintubi artist and member of early Papunya movement; acrylic paints on board). Permit refused under Part 5 of the National Cultural Heritage Control List.
Tongarewa | Museum of New Zealand – which of course wanted it returned after exhibition in Australia. General permits – These allow collecting institutions (art galleries, museums, libraries, archives) to export Class B objects that have been accessioned into their collections, for research and exhibition purposes, without requiring individual export permits. Sometimes, items exported illegally (i.e. without a permit) are brought back to Australia – for example, the ‘King of the West’ gold nugget (illn 7), illegally taken out of the country in 1997 and later scheduled for sale by Sotheby’s in New York, was successfully regained for Australia after negotiations and eventual purchase by a mining company. Examples of items refused an export permit have included a 1921 Fowler steam traction engine, and a 1971 early Papunya Movement painting by Pintupi Western Desert artist, Old Tutuma Tjapangati – both illustrated (illns 8 & 2). Class A APOs include the following Indigenous categories: • Sacred and secret ritual objects; • Bark coffins used as traditional burial objects; • Human remains; • Rock art; • Dendroglyphs. Objects categorised above will never be given a permit for export. Nor will: • Victoria Crosses awarded to Australian recipients, or • Ned Kelly’s armour.
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An application for a temporary or permanent export permit involves three steps: (i) The application is referred to an Expert Examiner for assessment; (ii) The assessment is reviewed by the National Cultural Heritage Committee, which then makes a recommendation to the Minister; (iii) The Minister makes the final decision as to whether an export permit will be granted. Museum professionals play a pivotal role in this process. Those registered as expert examiners provide the initial reports on the significance, provenance and authenticity of all types of Australian and international heritage objects, including archaeological artefacts, weapons, fossils, art, steam engines, stamps, medals and cars. The expert examiners’ reports are then considered by the NCH Committee which, in turn, makes recommendations to the Minister for the Arts in relation to the import and export of cultural heritage objects. The scheme could not function without the research and advice provided by expert examiners.
2. The National Cultural Heritage Account In my time on the National Cultural Heritage Committee, I have had the privilege of recommending to the Minister various sums of funding for collecting institutions to purchase APOs that have been refused an export permit, or which would be refused a permit should they come onto the market. Such funding is provided through the National Cultural Heritage Account, which provides a maximum of $500,000 each year for its stated purposes. The Account is open to a range of cultural organisations, including: • museums • art galleries • libraries, archives • historic buildings, national trusts and local history museums and galleries • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander keeping places. Applications are open year-round and, in practice, assistance is provided on a matched-funding basis to larger organisations, and on a case-by-case basis to smaller organisations. The NCH Account has assisted with the purchase of many nationally significant objects in recent years, enabling these to be conserved and displayed for all Australians in perpetuity. Following are some recent examples – as illustrated: • a Holden ‘No. 1 Prototype’ motorcar, acquired by the National Museum of Australia, 2004 (illn 14); • Phar Lap’s Tonic Book, acquired by Museum Victoria, 2013 (illn 16); • an 1840s Wokali, a rare Kaurna bark shield, acquired by the South Australian Museum (illn 20 & 21); • the Rainbow Virgin Opal, acquired by the South Australian Museum, 2013 (illn 18); • a rare and highly significant Malcolm Moore
• • • •
diesel-hydraulic locomotive, built in Melbourne in 1956, specifically for operation on the sugar cane railways of Queensland; acquired with NCH Account assistance by the Alexandra Timber Tramway and Museum, in Victoria, 2011; two rare opalised crinoids from Coober Pedy opal fields, acquired by the South Australian Museum, 2012 (illn 24); a Rönisch Concert Grand Piano, made in Dresden (c.1880), acquired by ANU’s School of Music, 2006; a 1911 Clayton and Shuttleworth Steam Traction Engine, acquired by the NSW Millthorpe and District Historical Society, 2005 (illn 8); the Pascoe Ichthyosaur fossil, acquired by the South Australian Museum, 2006 (illn 19).
3. Internationally, the PMCH Act relates to the return of illegally exported objects to their country of origin For example, concerning illicit trafficking and looting of cultural and natural heritage: • Trafficking in cultural heritage is the fourth most common form of illicit trafficking; • It is widespread and globally worth $2-6 billion per year; • It is often not discovered until the stolen objects appear on the market; • The Internet is the fastest growing market for illicit trafficking; Natural history specimens – for example, fossils – are at risk; • Where there is armed conflict, looting is reaching epidemic proportions – such as in Syria. Satellite images showing an archaeological site in Apamea, Syria, captured by Google Earth in July 2011, compared with a later image of April 2012, demonstrate the devastating scale of looting that occurred, within just an eight-month period. Through the PMCH Act, the Office for the Arts has taken charge of a number of successful seizures and repatriations of objects illegally exported from their country of origin – most recently from New Zealand, Argentina, China, Egypt and Peru. One of the most outstanding international heritage returns achieved in recent years was to China in September 2005, when more than 10,000 illegally imported fossils, successfully seized by Australian Customs, were formally restituted by Arts Minister Peter Garrett in a handover ceremony at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra. Among a selection of the most remarkable objects returned was a Keichosaurus (a small marine reptile) some 230-million years old. The process for assisting foreign countries to retrieve cultural and natural heritage items is as follows: (i) The Office for the Arts receives a formal request from a foreign government; (ii) Objects are seized and the Office for the Arts has 60 days to authenticate the objects and to prove that they were illegally exported from their country of origin; (continued on page 22)
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Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 (the PMCH Act) The Act’s key aims: of protecting national and international movable cultural heritage. The Scheme involves: • Export of Australian heritage objects • National Cultural Heritage Account • International Compliance & Enforcement • Minister’s appointment of the NCH Committee • Expert Examiners appointed by the NCH Committee
1. Illegal import and returns Asmat Skull seized in Australia and returned to country of origin (Papua province of Indonesia). 2. Export Permit Refused Old Tutuma Tjapangati, One Man’s Dreaming, 1971 (Pintubi artist and member of early Papunya movement; acrylic paints on board). Permit refused under Part 5 of the National Cultural Heritage Control List. 3. Excavated heritage illegally imported Cambodian Bangles with human remains, seized under PMCH Act and returned to country of origin (Cambodia) 4. Australian Customs seizures Fossil skull Hyena Adrocutta seized by Australian Customs officer, later returned to China. 5. Certificate of Exemption Granted Phar Lap’s skeleton (owned by Te Papa, New Zealand). •Museum Victoria authorised to import (from Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand) and subsequently re-export the described
object. Purpose: Temporary exhibition from September 2010 to February 2011, Melbourne Museum/Museum Victoria. 6. Permanent Export Permit Granted • Block of 24 Two Pound Black and Rose Kangaroo and Map stamps from the Stuart Hardy Collection; • Australian protected object under Part 8 of the National Cultural Heritage Control List; • Permanent export would not significantly diminish the cultural heritage of Australia. 7. Illegal export of Australian Heritage Objects ‘King of the West’, 25kg, exported in 1997 (valued A$500 – $1million). • This remarkable gold nugget, scheduled for sale through Sotheby’s New York, was discovered to have been illegally exported from Australia; • It was returned to Australia after negotiations; • Return aided through purchase by a mining company.
8. Export Permit Refused 1921 Fowler traction engine – refused permit under the Act. 9. & 10. Illegal export prevented 1908 Marshall steam road locomotive (AUD$50-100,000), 1911 Brown and Field Marshall Machinery. • Export and attempted export of 2 heritage machines prevented. • Offender pleaded guilty, was prosecuted and convicted. • Offender received a $1,000 fine. • The 2 engines were gifted, by the Minister, to a regional community organisation preserving Australian machine history and heritage. 11. Illegal export prevented Brown and Field Marshall Machinery in containers: identified by Australian Customs X-ray equipment.
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The National Cultural Heritage Account The NCH Account is open to Australian cultural organisations, including: - museums, - art galleries, - libraries, archives, - historic buildings, national trusts and local history museums and galleries, - Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander keeping place for sacred/secret material. Funds available: • $500,000 per year • Applications open all year
24. 12. & 13. Acquired by National Library of Australia Fairfax Media Photographic Collection – 12,000 glass plate negatives acquired by National Library of Australia 2012-13; Left: Houdini, 1911; Right: Javanese opium smokers.
18. Acquired by South Australian Museum Rainbow Virgin Opal, acquired by the South Australian Museum for permanent display in 2013, through NCH Account.
14. Acquired by National Museum of Australia Holden ‘No. 1 Prototype’, acquired by National Museum of Australia, 2004, with NCH Account assistance.
19. Acquired by South Australian Museum with NCH Account federal assistance (2006) The Pascoe Ichthyosaur fossil, purchased by the South Australian Museum with assistance from the National Cultural Heritage Account, 2006; image of displayed fossil courtesy of SAM, Adelaide.
15. & 16. Acquired by Museum Victoria Phar Lap’s Tonic Book, purchased by Museum Victoria with assistance from the NCH Account, 2008. 17. Acquired by Port Macquarie Historical Society A sundial by Raphael Clint, c.1837, purchased by Port Macquarie Historical Society, NSW, with assistance from the NCH Account in 2011.
20. & 21. Acquired by South Australian Museum A rare Wokali: An 1840s bark shield from the Adelaide Plains is now displayed in the South Australian Museum, with assistance provided under NCH Account.
22. Acquired by State Library of Western Australia Mary Anne Friend Journal (c.1829), watercolour depicting the Western Australian coast; photograph provided by the State Library of Western Australia. 23. Acquired by State Library of Western Australia Mary Anne Friend Journal (c.1829), watercolour depicting WA Swan River colony scene; photograph provided by the State Library of Western Australia. 24. Acquired by South Australian Museum One of two rare opalised crinoids from the opal fields at Coober Pedy, acquired by South Australian Museum, 2012
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(iii) If found to be illegally exported, the Minister signs the Instrument of Direction; (iv) The object is then prepared for return to its country of origin.
4. Compliance and enforcement Compliance and enforcement can be difficult, because of the complex problems associated with accurately identifying and assessing significance of the heritage objects the Scheme regulates. The Office for the Arts meanwhile works closely with Australian Customs to ensure that Customs Officers at Australia’s borders have sufficient information to identify and flag items that may be of concern, and report these for further investigation under the PMCH Act. Some examples of illicit trade in cultural and natural property are the following – as illustrated: • seized Brown and Field Marshall Machinery, as captured in a shipping container by Australian Customs X-ray equipment (illn 11); • a Marshall steam road locomotive, prevented from illegal export (illns 9 & 10); • a Hyena Adrocutta fossil skull, seized and returned to China (illn 4); • an Asmat human skull, returned to Papua province of Indonesia (illn 1); • excavated Cambodian bangles with human skeletal remains, illegally imported and returned to Cambodia (illn 3); and • fossilised dinosaur eggs, returned to China.
5. Intersections between the museums sector and the PMCH Act: The Role of Expert Examiners As indicated earlier, museum professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring that both the domestic and international aspects of the PMCH Act are implemented effectively. While the intersections with the museums sector are located across all parts of the PMCH scheme, the core role for museum professionals registered as expert examiners is to provide reports on the significance, provenance, and authenticity of a broad range of Australian and international heritage objects. These reports underpin recommendations made by the National Cultural Heritage Committee and the final decisions of the Minister for the Arts in relation to the export of cultural heritage objects. However, expert examiners are also playing an increasingly important role in alerting the Government to potential exports for which an export application has not been submitted. For example, the Office for the Arts was recently alerted by an expert examiner that a Queensland auction of vintage steam and farm machinery had been advertised globally, and some items were likely to be purchased by overseas buyers. Following this notification, the Office provided information to the auction house to ensure that potential overseas buyers were aware of Australian
legislation, including the requirement for export permits in some cases. If colleagues are aware of something similar happening in their area of expertise: please let the team at the Office for the Arts know, so that they can take appropriate protective action. Expert examiners have also assisted in measures undertaken to combat the international trade in illicit cultural material. In these instances, they have acted as expert witnesses, examining cultural materials and confirming an object’s authenticity and provenance. There is a need for expert examiners providing advice in all nine parts of the National Cultural Heritage Control List, and I encourage all colleagues with relevant experience to register with the federal Office for the Arts so that expert contributions can be expanded and protection enhanced. There is currently a particular need for examiners with expertise in Part 5: Objects of Fine or Decorative Art; and Part 4: Objects of Applied Science or Technology. Finally, it is a pleasure to highlight some more recent acquisitions financially supported by the National Cultural Heritage Account. For example: • the Fairfax Media Photographic Collection of 12,000 glass plate negatives acquired by the National Library of Australia in 2012–13 (illns 12 & 13); • a sundial (c.1837) by Raphael Clint, purchased by Port Macquarie Historical Society, NSW, in 2011 (illn 17); and • the Mary Anne Friend Journal (c.1829), acquired by the State Library of Western Australia with NCH Account assistance in 2012 (illn 22 & 23). The importance of the NCH Account’s assistance in securing acquisitions of (sometimes endangered) cultural heritage items under the PMCH Act, and operations of the National Cultural Heritage Committee, is particularly demonstrated in the last example provided. For the estimated date of the Mary Anne Friend journal aligns with the date of the Swan River Colony’s founding – in 1829. This highlights the outstanding importance of the visual and documentary records the journal provides for interpreting the history of Western Australia, and it is fitting that this historic journal now belongs to the collection of the State Library in WA, for enduring public access in future. Such acquisitions continue to secure important items for the public domain, enhancing the collections of institutions at both capital city and regional community levels in the safeguard and communication of cultural heritage on behalf of all Australians.  Dr J Patrick Greene OBE is CEO, Museum Victoria, and Chair of the National Cultural Heritage Committee, while also Chair of CAMD (Council of Australasian Museum Directors). Citation for this text: Patrick Greene, ‘The National Cultural Heritage Committee: Australia’s PMCH Act Protecting Movable Cultural Heritage’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 18–22.
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A regional centre for culture at Katoomba, west of Sydney
The new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre top: middle: bottom: left: right:
World Heritage Interpretive Centre, Blue Mountains, NSW.
s a region, the Blue Mountains west of Sydney feature prominently in established Australian iconography. Since the first white explorers crossed the Mountains in the early 1800s the Blue Mountains, with its wide vistas, sandstone cliffs and dense eucalypt forests, have inspired painters, poets and writers to celebrate the unique characteristics of the Australian landscape and wilderness. On the doorstep of Sydney, the region also has a long history as a destination to recover, escape and holiday, with many Australians forming their first memories of hiking, camping and adventuring in the Blue Mountains bush. In 1995, the Blue Mountains region was identified as the inaugural NSW City of the Arts, due to its creative strength and recognition as a hub of arts practice, its inspirational landscape and established tourism industry. In 2000, the Greater Blue Mountains Area was listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO, for its diversity of eucalypt habitats. Despite these outstanding resources, the region lacked a significant dedicated cultural facility to take full advantage of its celebrated natural beauty, fascinating social history, and the creative verve unique to the Mountains area. Responding to this need, the proposal for a regional cultural centre in Katoomba was formalised in 1998, as part of a community consultation on the ‘Katoomba Town Centre Revitalisation Strategy’. A vacant TAFE site on the eastern side of the Katoomba CBD was identified as the ideal
location for such a centre, and the first tangible steps were taken towards realising a major new publicly owned arts and cultural complex in the Blue Mountains.
New Cultural Centre After extensive negotiations between the State Government and Blue Mountains City Council, the State Government agreed to delay its intended sale of the identified site so that a cultural centre could be included as part of a prospective mixed-use development. It was proposed that this development would embrace an innovative partnership between private business, state government and local government, enabling the cost burden to the Blue Mountains City Council of such a major building project to be significantly reduced. With community support growing and various political decision-makers vocally endorsing the project, in 1999 the NSW State Government threw its weight behind the building project with an initial funding commitment of $4.8m. With a new partnership between Council and the State Government then driving the project, a private developer was sought. After considering various options over a number of years, including some community contention aroused by all, Coles Group Property Developments was ultimately selected as the third partner. Such developments involving multiple parties and interests take time to mobilise. In December 2005, seven years after the original intent to build a cultural
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The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
centre was projected, a deed was signed between the three parties to the final proposal (the NSW State government, the Katoomba Council, and Coles Group Property Developments), which heralded the start of a unique building partnership between public and private interests. The reclassification and rezoning of the site was gazetted in May 2006, signalling the project’s readiness for implementation. Development approval was granted on 15 July 2008, with building work finally commencing in April 2010. The final design of the four-storey building now housing the new Cultural Centre at Katoomba is predicated on two separate strata within the complex. The two lower levels of carparking, and the third level of retail space, constitute the first stratum. This stratum, designed by Scott-Carver Architects, operates independently of the Cultural Centre podium level and is owned and operated by Coles Group Property Developments. The fourth (podium) level of the building encompasses the second stratum. This level, designed by Hassell Architects, is owned by the Blue Mountains City Council and provides the location of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. The NSW government committed $5.9m towards the construction of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. In addition, the NSW Department of State and Regional Development contributed a further $600,000 towards the fit-out of the World Heritage Interpretive display located within the Centre. The Commonwealth Government contributed $1.8m to the overall design and construction of the project, as well as $747,000 in Green Precincts funding for environmentally sustainable design features. The remaining construction costs were met by the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and Coles Group Property Developments. Opened by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Barry O’Farrell, in November 2012, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is now a landmark building featuring public art, environmentally sustainable design principles and state of the art technology. The Centre provides a community and cultural meeting place, and injects fresh life into the Katoomba CBD. Further planned development will see laneway linkages upgraded, and new connections created between the site and Katoomba’s main street – resulting in a larger, more pedestrian-friendly town centre. The new Centre accommodates two distinct cultural facilities: the World Heritage Interpretive Centre, and the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery. The World Heritage Interpretive Centre
comprises three static and two touch-pad didactic plinth displays, five floor-to-ceiling data-projections, eight audio interviews featuring local luminaries, and a satellite-derived floor-map describing Sydney stretching west to the Greater Blue Mountains region. The focus of the display is on the unique social and environmental aspects of the region, including Aboriginal and settler histories, endemic flora and fauna, the diverse ecosystems across the Blue Mountains, and the beauty and fragility of the area. The state-of-theart, 600 square-metre Blue Mountains City Regional Art Gallery is built to international conservation standards. Taking advantage of the Blue Mountains’ proximity to Sydney, the easy access on main road routes to Canberra, and its designation as a major visitor destination within a World Heritage environment, the City Art Gallery is now ideally situated as a venue for interstate exhibitions being travelled nationally along the eastern seaboard. With an impressive list of national and international exhibitions already booked into the forward program, the City Art Gallery is now recognised as a major public regional gallery space within the Australian public gallery industry. Other facilities within the new building include a theatrette, multi-purpose workshop space, public art courtyards, outdoor performance spaces, a gallery shop and a café/restaurant. The Cultural Centre is also co-located with the new Katoomba Branch Library, both enhancing the identity of the Cultural Centre as a cultural hub and increasing the audience base for the site. As part of the Blue Mountains Sustainable Precinct Project, there was a strong focus in this development on green technologies being incorporated into the building’s design. Such features include highly efficient LED lighting within the gallery and public spaces; 54 roof-mounted solar panels to reduce power consumption; water purification and reuse systems achieved through a rooftop garden; a combined 50,000-litre tank storage capacity for toilet flushing and irrigation; and a fully insulated roof, double-brick air-cavity walls, and double-glazed windows. The building is also orientated to maximise heating from the northern sun and uses ‘smart metering’ to optimise energy efficiency. Collectively, these sustainability initiatives are estimated to reduce water consumption by 5.5 million litres each year, and reduce energy usage by 1.8 million kWh per year (equivalent to the energy used to power approximately 246 homes). As far as possible, materials were selected that reduce reliance on applied
The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is a major addition to regional arts and cultural infrastructure in New South Wales
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finishes – such as the extensive use of face brick in the project. External bricks and internal concrete block walls were sourced from western Sydney, to reduce transportation distances and consequent environmental impacts.
A platform for excellence and accessibility for multiple audiences The new Centre at Katoomba provides a platform for both excellence and accessibility for people living and/or working in western Sydney and regional New South Wales, as well as for broader audiences from interstate, nationally and internationally. Public programs are designed to strike a balance between the various needs of the multiple audiences using the space. Professional development opportunities for local artists and arts organisations within the region have also been greatly increased with the opening of the Centre, providing inspirational learning opportunities for all ages and offering professional exhibition space for local artists to exhibit their work. The Centre significantly augments the range of high-quality tourist attractions in the region, markets local product and produce through its shop and café, and encourages visitors to extend their visit to the region – and by doing so, supports local economic development. The Blue Mountains also attracts a high level of local, national and international visitors due to its iconic natural landmarks. Echo Point, the location of the famous ‘Three Sisters’ dissected sandstone formations, is already known as a major tourist destination and the most-visited lookout in Australia; meanwhile The Blue Mountains National Park records more than one million visitors each year. Together with the natural attributes of the region, the townships of Katoomba, Leura and Mt. Victoria are also famous for their Art-Deco period architecture and their social history as a playground for Sydney’s rich and famous in the early-twentieth century. Other tourist drawcards include ScenicWorld, Govett’s Leap, and the Jenolan Caves. As a new attraction, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is expected to further increase visitor numbers to the region. Initial visitor figures have endorsed these expectations, with more than 63,000 visitors recorded within the first sixmonth period of the Centre’s operations. The Blue Mountains is also a popular destination for hosting national and international conferences. With additional accommodation and conference venues due to open in the Blue Mountains over the next few years, the Cultural Centre at Katoomba provides an attractive option for event organisers looking for a modern, culturally-focussed venue for break-out sessions or partner programs. Interpretive education material and local tours will be targeted to these groups, in addition to the inbound tourist market. In review, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre’s first six-months of operations have exceeded all expectations,
with high visitation numbers and strong community engagement shown through more than 1,100 Cultural Centre memberships having being sold. The recent ratification by the Blue Mountains City Council of a Cultural Centre-specific Collection Policy now heralds the next stage of arts resourcing that will see the creation of a public art collection showcasing the extensive history of visual arts practice in the region. The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre has already provided a major addition to regional arts and cultural infrastructure in New South Wales, and signifies a new phase of development for the town of Katoomba and the Greater Blue Mountains area.  Paul Brinkman is Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Director, at Katoomba, New South Wales. Previously he was Director of Cairns Regional Gallery in Queensland. Citation for this text: Paul Brinkman, ‘The new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre’, Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 21 (4) & 21 (1), Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring 2013, pp. 23–25.
New Reception area. Design: Hassell Architects.
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MAGNA National Award Winning Project for 2013
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project
Bill Seager and Garrett Donnelly
he Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) cares for the Tasmanian State Collection, which includes the sciences, art and design, cultural heritage and the State Herbarium. The recent $30 million redevelopment project, opened on 15 March 2013, has allowed for a complete re-think of how we interpret our stories and engage with visitors. It is the first large-scale collective re-interpretation of the State Collection since the museum opened in 1863. Our site consists of a series of ten buildings built between 1808 and 1986. It is arguably the most important collection of historic buildings on any one site in Australia. The two main areas redeveloped for exhibitions are the 1826 Bond Store and the nineteenth-century Henry Hunter suite of galleries. Guiding the redevelopment from the Masterplan stage to construction was Sydney-based architecture firm Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT). For the first time, almost all of TMAG’s spaces are open to the public on an ongoing basis, with many of the most important heritage buildings redeveloped for exhibition and visitor program use. One of the most innovative aspects of the project is how a series of 12 new core exhibitions have been realised as a coherent whole within a specifically challenging site.
Recuperation of the Bond Store The historic waterfront Bond Store from the colonial period sits at the new entrance to the TMAG site, but is not connected internally to the museum’s other public spaces. With this in mind, we applied a distinctive approach to developing exhibitions for this additional space, while also ensuring the Bond Store enhances the sense of an enriched historic precinct of buildings now publicly accessible within the museum’s footprint. Thematically, and through design, the Bond Store conversion has achieved a vertical journey of exhibitions that speak to each other across three floors, and act as a microcosm to the more expanded themes presented within the main part of the museum. The incentive was to allow the building ‘to speak for itself’, as an almost entirely intact example of Georgian architecture, while establishing new core exhibitions rich in content and design. Thematically the Bond Store exhibitions revolve around three major themes in Tasmanian nineteenthcentury history: the ‘conquest’ of the Tasmanian natural world; the development of the Tasmanian social world and identity; and cultural conflict and the Black Wars. None of these stories has ever been
told in any depth at TMAG before, and all are integral to the Tasmanian story and Tasmania’s place in the nation. The exhibition on the Black Wars is particularly innovative. We have aimed to tell this very important story from multiple perspectives, with the aim of putting the visitor into the shoes of those experiencing the events. With little original cultural material surviving from the early colonial period, we decided to tell the story largely through film. Local filmmakers were commissioned to produce a series of parallel films that are projected on opposite walls within the Bond Store space. One side tells the story from the Tasmanian Aboriginal perspective; the other from the European. The exhibition is already proving to be extremely popular, eye-opening, and controversial.
Twelve new core exhibitions for TMAG Other exhibitions are innovative in diverse ways, as they focus on drawing strength in highlighting Tasmania’s points of difference. In an attempt to remove some of the barriers that exist between collections, we have aimed to open up the ‘flow’ between spaces as much as possible, and create points of connection between collection-led exhibitions. This means the breadth and diversity of TMAG can be appreciated as never before. In the central museum complex, one floor of exhibitions is devoted to Tasmania: Life and Environment and the other to Tasmania: Art and Design. All 12 of the new exhibitions produced for TMAG’s redevelopment are core exhibitions based on, and featuring, collection material. It was a primary objective of this project to re-introduce, reinterpret, and highlight as much of TMAG’s collection as possible. The interpretation strategy and supporting design philosophy were therefore produced to fulfil this desire.
Interpretation strategy The interpretation strategy, in particular, outlines a new creative approach, but also establishes a working document for future exhibition development and growth. An important part of this process has been encouraging an interpretive approach focused on visitor engagement and multiple levels of information delivery. In simple terms, this means creating numerous avenues by which the collection can be brought to life, focusing on the connections between objects and the people and events surrounding them, rather than on traditional hierarchies of information. This approach has allowed us to work the different areas
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TMAG’s spectacular new Central Gallery, created by raising the roof of the former zoology gallery. Photo: TMAG. Design: Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT).
of the collection together in new ways, while telling a uniquely Tasmanian story. A balance between new approaches and valued museum strengths also needed to be woven into the exhibition plan. Visitor research had established a ‘top ten’ list of what people wanted to see at TMAG, ranging from the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) to convict and Antarctic stories. Our challenge was to incorporate these elements while avoiding purely discipline-based galleries. We favoured interconnections between new interpretive ideas and older display resources by establishing strong links between the larger core installations, and by developing exhibitions that are readily changeable in specific content features. The latter we see as vital to future exhibition growth. Our current exhibitions have been developed so that singular stories can be ‘refreshed’ and objects changed without disrupting thematic flow. This allows for progressive ‘turnover’ of objects within displays, and progressively increased exposure of the collection’s resources for public enjoyment.
Profiling significant objects Another specific program that has been developed to convey object significance is Shaping Tasmania: A journey in 100 objects. Curators selected and highlighted 99 objects from across all exhibitions as being particularly significant to TMAG and the Tasmanian story. These objects have been specially interpreted and photographed, and form part of an online visitor program. Wi-fi facilities allow the visitor to follow the Shaping Tasmania journey with their hand-held devices. Meanwhile the 100th object has been selected from the community, after the public was invited to offer objects that they consider important and submit these to the program’s website. A panel of curators then selected one of these objects, to be housed in a special showcase at the entrance to the museum. This program has been developed in partnership with the ABC, and more information can be found at http://shapingtasmania.tmag.tas.gov.au.
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Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project
Our site is arguably the most important collection of historic buildings on any one site in Australia
Design An innovative design philosophy has also been vital to TMAG’s approach to redevelopment. We intentionally established an in-house design capacity, to ensure the holistic delivery of a creative identity that enhances not only the visitor experience but the objects themselves and their accompanying interpretive intent. A significant achievement of the redevelopment has been opening up gallery spaces that were previously either closed to the public or segmented due to earlier building works. For example in the Central Gallery, the 1901 single-span trussed work with glass lantern ceiling – hidden from the public for more than 60 years – was raised in height to a second storey, to achieve a central atrium that now directly connects two floors of exhibition space within the one building complex. An elevated mezzanine walkway around the perimeter – providing dramatic views down through this new ‘void’ – has also been added to enhance the experience. Meanwhile the atrium provides a new orientation-point and ‘civic space’ for public gathering when entering this principal building of the museum. Our design team applied a strongly holistic approach to the diverse spaces and their interpretive outcomes. Each has a character of its own; yet each space has the same display furniture and showcasing, common labelling and general design strategies. All doors between galleries have also been opened or enlarged, and new doorways created, often through adaptation of original window openings to facilitate better visitor flow. The result is a processional suite of exhibitions that connect with each other, allowing visitors to link their interpretive and visual journeys from one space to the next.
Special design considerations of the Bond Store A different design approach has been applied to the Bond Store. The methodology employed in this recuperated building, with a different history and heritage values attached to its earliest use, has been to treat exhibitions as clearly perceived new construction, ‘hosted’ within the surviving colonial structure. New exhibitions are therefore designed in such a manner
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left, opposite page:
The innovative new Our Land: Parrawa, parrawa! Go away! gallery, level two of the historic Bond Store. Photo: TMAG.
Colonial artworks on show in the Dispossessions and Possessions gallery. Photo: TMAG.
Visitors explore the new Our Living Land exhibit on the Ground Floor of the Bond Store. Photo: Lucia Rossi.
that the form and integrity of the original building would be unharmed if the exhibitions were removed. This approach has been vital in reinforcing the architectural resonance of the Bond Store, considered to be one of Australia’s most intact surviving examples of its type. The result is a vertical interconnection of design within the structure, which retains the visual and architectural attributes of the historic building while maximising the interpretive intent and impact of the new exhibitions, including a strong incorporation of film and digital imaging technologies. Already visitors are overwhelmingly aware of, and positive about, the way the Bond Store exhibitions work together, and this is largely due to the imaginative design approach adopted. It is a rare and difficult challenge to connect three floors of exhibition space in such a way; yet we feel we have accomplished our objectives innovatively, with striking success in audience engagement achieved.
Signage, wayfinding, and a visitor-centred focus Another vital design element in our redevelopment project, especially considering the greatly increased number of new exhibitions and spaces involved, has been the linkage of diverse displays and spaces, reinforcing the intelligibility of the visitor pathways through the museum – usually summarised under the concept of wayfinding. Wayfinding and visual identity in design development were realised in collaboration with Melbourne’s Studio Round. This was strongly incorporated as part of the various TMAG content projects, to ensure that it was aligned wherever possible with the guiding interpretive philosophy and exhibition design approaches applied. The result in wayfinding and circulation is a project that delivers major new external signage and internal directional signage, which integrates more than 30 site-level changes between buildings while enhancing the visitor experience and identity of TMAG as a creative force. The redevelopment project also delivered a new style guide for TMAG, so that all communications collateral and labelling are now treated as part of a holistic creative message shaping all parts of the organisation.
Sustainable practice All of TMAG’s new exhibitions exist in heritage spaces, many of which were never designed or built for exhibition purposes. A large team of consultants was contracted progressively to the project, to ensure that all impacts on the spaces were sustainably managed. Heritage architects, service engineers, and archaeology consultants worked with the internal project teams over a number of years, to ensure that the introduction of services and upgraded facilities (without which we could not host exhibitions or collection material) are sympathetic and standards-compliant. For example, the original Bond Store is now fitted with fire detection and alarm systems, sprinkler systems, power and communication services, temperature control and other facilities, to ensure that the new ‘galleries’ it houses can sustain exhibitions and collection material displayed in its multi-level space. All exhibition furniture was also designed and manufactured to high standards of sustainability practice, using conservation-grade materials. Object conservation is naturally of primary concern, and in their thematic and design structure all exhibitions are designed to accommodate regular changeovers. Some further practical treatments introduced to spaces, and designed to ensure appropriate object care, include the conservation film protection of all external glass surfaces; and light-reduction blinds provided in heritage galleries, where the identity of the external windows has been retained internally, to enhance the architectural integrity of the building as a whole.
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connectivity between collections and spaces. Our visitor book is full of praise for an institution that is beloved by many, with the community very proud to see it refreshed. TMAG has always been central to the Tasmanian community’s sense of place. Meanwhile with improved and modernised buildings, new exhibitions, public programs and online services, we hope to become vibrantly connected to a much larger community of national and international visitors.
Young visitors making some new discoveries in the Earth and Life natural history gallery. Photo: Lucia Rossi.
Visitors watch a specially-commissioned film about the Black Wars in the Our Land: Parrawa, parrawa! Go away! gallery. Photo: TMAG.
Public response Thus far the response has been overwhelming. We welcomed more than 60,000 visitors in our first 20 days after opening – a previously unimaginable figure for TMAG. Almost all local media and many national media have visited the total complex and new facilities, resulting in significant airtime exposure and enthusiastic peer reactions. Visitors have also been extremely positive and generous in their engagement with the entire redevelopment. They have been responding and interacting with both expected and unexpected content, and with the new spaces and interpretive methods of display. For example, the rather confronting impact of the Black Wars gallery, the melancholy of the thylacine gallery, and our strong celebration of colonial art, are being cited as highlight experiences. Visitors are also responding strongly to the idea of narrative ‘journeys’ through the museum, as well as to our philosophies of
The new exhibitions were developed with full awareness of the evolving Australian Curriculum. Each gallery’s broad thematics were mapped against the curriculum, particularly the new History and Science curricula. Whilst the Arts curriculum is still in draft form, this was also taken into consideration. Educational users are a key audience group for the museum (which means providing for online as well as site-visitors). The potential growth in educational participation and continuing learning impact for TMAG is a powerful driver for the museum’s expanded services-delivery in the immediate future. The increased scope of educational impact now possible is strong. Roughly a third of all primary school aged students in Tasmania visited TMAG before the redevelopment, with secondary student visitor numbers somewhat lower. With the new exhibitions and overall redevelopment accomplished, we are now expecting this participation to increase dramatically, and early feedback from teachers indicates this will be the case. Since opening, the museum has conducted discipline-specific and cross-curriculum professional development to brief teachers on links between museum content and the curriculum. These initiatives have focused initially on the areas of Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, Tasmanian colonial history, natural sciences, colonial art and contemporary art. Additional resources have been created for educators to maximise the usage of the museum exhibitions and collections as a learning resource in diverse ways. These include teacher backpacks for teachers to use on self-guided classroom visits, which contain ‘handleable’ objects and artefacts, as well as object notes and sample discussion questions. On-line resources for art, Tasmanian history, Tasmanian Aboriginal culture, and natural sciences have also been provided. Further material has been developed to have a broad audience appeal while also targeting students and educators. This includes the Shaping Tasmania: a journey in 100 objects website and virtual tour of the collection, incorporating audio, imagery, location data and research notes, plus a gallery location-guiding aid to experience the object in real life. Early-years education has also been elevated in the museum’s offerings, with new Discovery Backpacks available for free loan to family groups, incorporating an intergenerational agenda in their pedagogy.
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None of these stories has ever been told in any depth at TMAG before, and all are integral to the Tasmanian story and Tasmania’s place in the nation
Programming for students across all thematic areas in response to the new exhibitions’ content has been developed and delivered by educators, in programs ranging from 20 minutes to two hours in duration. All of these new provisions are linked back to curriculum outcomes, to maximise the relevance for school groups and build pathways for life-long learning.
Tourism Visitors from the rest of Australia, and indeed the world, are increasingly coming to associate Tasmania with a rich and vibrant arts and cultural heritage scene. TMAG is now set to take full advantage of the attention the state is currently receiving, reopening in a year when Tasmania has received international accolades from the likes of Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor. Tens of thousands of visitors from interstate and overseas are expected to join locals to enjoy our site on Hobart’s iconic waterfront, repositioning TMAG as a dynamically developing institution at the very heart of Tasmania’s cultural renaissance. Our State Collection, and the buildings in which it is displayed, constitute Tasmania’s most significant cultural asset. Meanwhile our objects, and the stories they tell, make our museum just as important to visitors from interstate and overseas as it is to Tasmanians. Our Tasmanian stories are meanwhile of international importance, and the world increasingly recognises that our stories are internationally relevant. TMAG has always been a must-see cultural tourism destination, with a potential to lift its impact and re-establish its historic position and creative potential close to the heart of the heritage consciousness and identity of the nation. The dramatic impact of the enlarged spaces, exhibitions and comprehensive redevelopment now achieved, gives fresh life to parts of the museum that have never before been opened up to the public, and our State Collection is now more accessible than ever before.
Through our new exhibitions, through digital projects such as Shaping Tasmania, and through improved access to all areas of the museum site, we have plenty to offer visitors of all ages, and look forward to welcoming up to 450,000 people through our doors within TMAG’s first year of reopening.  Bill Seager is the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s Redevelopment Content Manager, and Garrett Donnelly is TMAG’s Redevelopment Design Manager. Citation for this text: Bill Seager and Garrett Donnelly, ‘Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Redevelopment Project’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 26–31.
Visitors on the mezzanine level of the new Central Gallery. Photo: Lucia Rossi.
A new gallery in the Henry Hunter building dedicated to the thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger. Photo: TMAG.
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Four exhibition in Victoria that interconnect art and nature
Art and nature: Exhibitions inspired by the natural world
John James AUDUBON, (1785-1851) Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) from The birds of America (detail), 1829 Hand coloured aquatint, engraving on paper. Source: Museum Victoria. opposite page:
Rosa Fiveash (artist) Harcourt Barrett (collaborating artist) John Ednie Brown (author) E. Spiller (Government printer) Eucalyptus pyriformis, 1888 plate 36 from The Forest Flora of South Australia, part 8 chromolithograph 55 x 42.6 cm Art Gallery of Ballarat, Purchased with funds from the Hilton White Bequest, 2001.
number of exciting exhibitions recently have featured art in the service of science, especially in detailed illustrations published in books. Showcasing the beauty of nature through the work of natural history and botanical artists, significant exhibitions have included: The Art of Science: Remarkable Natural History Illustrations from Museum Victoria, launched at the Melbourne Museum before going on tour; Capturing Flora: 300 Years of Australian Botanical Art, mounted by the Art Gallery of Ballarat; and Mirror of the World, a continuing exhibition at the State Library of Victoria. These exhibitions all shared interests in common with my own curated exhibition drawn from the University of Melbourne collections: Seeing the Natural World: Birds, Animals and Plants of Australia, shown at the University’s Ian Potter Museum of Art. Seeing the Natural World, differed however, because I chose to include bark paintings and an Aboriginal parrying shield alongside natural history and botanical works in order to provide a cross-cultural space for the viewer to consider nature from both Aboriginal and European cultural perspectives. The parrying shield was inscribed with drawings of birds, animals and plants. While artistic creativity can be informed by science and science can, in turn, be ingeniously creative, an appreciation of Aboriginal ways of seeing can provide vitally important insights into ancient living human cultures. We share an ever-changing natural world that challenges us with its strengths and fragilities. Nature’s illuminating interpretation from differing
cultural perspectives can meanwhile provide fascinating research pathways.
The Art of Science (Melbourne Museum 2012; touring 2013–2014) The Art of Science: Remarkable Natural History Illustrations from Museum Victoria is a comprehensive exhibition conceived by former Museum Victoria curator John Kean. An exhibition with a long extended life through touring (13 December 2012–23 March 2014), the 2012 launch of the project at the Melbourne Museum has revealed the exceptionally close bonds between art and science in this museum’s rich collecting history. The Museum Victoria exhibition demonstrates how the interpretation of art and science as separate worlds dissolves when you look, for example, at the work of the German-born Ludwig Becker (1808–1861), along with other natural history illustrators who brought energy and vitality to the study of the natural world in nineteenth-century Australia. Becker was the artist and naturalist who died on the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, himself perishing at a campsite next to the Bulloo River, western Queensland, in 1861. Stories such as Becker’s excite the imagination if you happen also to be fascinated by the illustrators, illustrations and histories of the colonial era. While artists like Becker followed scientific systems of description to document animals, each did so with their individual knowledge and characteristic styles of visual rendition. When viewing natural history illustration of the
1. (Robert O’Hara) Burke and (William John) Wills: Burke and Wills web online digital archive, ‘Becker, Purcell & Stone’s Grave’, http://www.burkeandwills.net. au/Memorials/grave_becker. htm (accessed 18 March 2013).
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colonial era, it is important to attend to the stories associated with key works, and understand something about the training and background needed to produce works of this quality. Such understanding enhances the magnificence of the closely observed visual images produced, and highlights the commitment of the artists who dedicated their lives to such creation.
Capturing Flora: 300 Years of Australian Botanical Art (Art Gallery of Ballarat, 2012) While Victoria’s principal natural history museum in Melbourne was preparing to present The Art of Science, a related ground-breaking exhibition was already launched in the state’s (and Australia’s) oldest regional art gallery, at Ballarat. Curated by Gordon Morrison, Director of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Capturing Flora: 300 Years of Australian Botanical Art (25 September–2 December 2012), revealed the diverse scientific methods applied by a wide range of artists in their visual rendering of Australian flora. A first monographic survey of such breadth, providing viewers with a rare overview of the development of Australian botanical art historically, the Ballarat exhibition was a pleasure to visit. Accompanied by a beautifully illustrated catalogue, its comprehensive scope, abundant information, and the generous survey of works on display, heightened by a flow of fascinated visitors, was a truly impressive experience.
Mirror of the World (State Library of Victoria, 2013) The talent and often transparent genius evident in the work of book illustrators – who have forged their own distinct pathways and connections between art and science – are also evident in unique ways in Mirror of the World, an exhibition co-curated by Eve Sainsbury and Des Cowley, which is a continuing display at the State Library of Victoria. Mirror of the World provides an overview of the history of book production, illustration, and design. Remarkable examples drawn from the State Library of Victoria’s extensive collections take the viewer into the vast realm of the historical development of books, the growth of the printing press, and the multiple genres of illustration. What all of these exhibitions also highlight is the significant role books exercised in the evolution of human history. They collectively demonstrate the shared interest and commitment so many people have to the natural world, and in relating to nature through art. While books on art and nature can reveal how the worlds of art and science are closely connected, they also illuminate the special role of the artist in advancing the art of the book.
2. See Caught and Coloured: Zoological Illustrations from Colonial Victoria, http://museumvictoria.com.au/ caughtandcoloured/ (accessed 19 February 2013); Through the eyes of the scientist, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December 2012. http:// www.smh.com.au/entertainment/ art-and-design/through-the-eyesof-the-scientist-20121130-2alc7. html (accessed 19 February 2013). 3. See the exhibition catalogue: Gordon Morrison (et al.), Capturing Flora: 300 Years of Australian Botanical Art, Ballarat, Vic.: Art Gallery of Ballarat, 2012.
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Art and nature: Exhibitions inspired by the natural world
Installation view of Seeing the Natural World, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, 2013.
Seeing the Natural World (The Ian Potter Museum of Art, 2013) Books also played a highly significant role in documenting the European discovery of Aboriginal Australia, and recording of its plants and animals. Books continue to provide an enduring and valuable resource through which to understand aspects of Australia’s European exploration and its varying colonial histories. Seeing the Natural World, which was presented at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, at the University of Melbourne, 20 March–2 June 2013, augmented the suite of three exhibitions mentioned, while also incorporating other ways of seeing nature through art. Contrasting natural history and botanical illustrations with bark paintings, the Potter Museum’s exhibition presented both traditions in proximity, exploring Aboriginal and European ways of seeing nature. Perhaps surprisingly to some viewers, these two distinct interpretations of the natural world, while markedly different culturally, are strikingly compatible visually. With art from books displayed alongside bark paintings, which were among the earliest Aboriginal art collected by Europeans after they arrived in Australia, Seeing the Natural World provided a creative space to consider both Aboriginal and European cultural perspectives alongside one another – not only through the comparison of equally strong art forms in their own right, but also through their joint presentation in a ‘symbolic space’, to enable contemplation of the
meaning and significance of Reconciliation in Australia today. When I first began to select works for the Potter Museum exhibition, however, it was not the theme of Reconciliation that was consciously steering my decisions. I sought to position both art forms sideby-side because the act of doing so seemed in itself to communicate something important about our shared Australian histories, and about the spaces we inhabit together. It coincidentally sparked reflection that the consideration of shared histories is also a core aspect of Reconciliation in Australia today. Advancing awareness of an Australia steeped in shared histories plays a vital and central role in Reconciliation, because if Australians collectively develop understanding about Australia’s past, and the important Aboriginal and cross-cultural stories that contribute to Australia’s histories interactively, a better understanding of Australia’s foundations, in turn, supports Reconciliation. John Gould (1804–1881) In the early planning stages of Seeing the Natural World, I was drawn strongly to the works of the English naturalist, publisher and entrepreneur, John Gould, who visited Australia in 1838 and 1839. The Ian Potter Museum of Art has a number of Gould lithographs, which belonged originally to the impressive seven-volume series of books titled The Birds of Australia (1840–1848). The series is an important, pioneering study that laid the foundations for ornithological research in Australia.
4. John Gould, The Birds of Australia, vols. 1–7, London: vols. 1–4 printed by Charles Joseph Hullmandel; vols. 5–7 printed by Hullmandel and Walton, 1840–1848. 5. A.H. Chisholm, ‘Gould, John (1804–1881)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1966. http://adb.anu. edu.au/biography/gould-john-2113/ text2667 (accessed 3 February 2013). This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966; Australian Museum Website: ‘Gould the artist’, http:// australianmuseum.net.au/Gould-theartist (accessed 28 January 2013); S.C. Dawes, John Gould: an Australian perspective, Stepney, South Australia: Australia Publishing, 2011; A.H. Chisholm, The story of Elizabeth Gould, Melbourne: Hawthorne Press, 1944.
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Like others who hold a common misconception about Gould’s work, at first I assumed that Gould himself had created the illustrations for the seven volumes of his comprehensive publication on Australian birds. I soon learned that Gould was actually supported by a team of talented practitioners who worked with him to produce the magnificent array of books he published during his lifetime. Gould’s work as a publisher, artist, researcher and writer was strongly supported by his wife, Elizabeth Gould (née Coxen, born in 1804), who was her husband’s principal artist before her tragic and premature death from an infection that developed after giving birth in 1841. However while John Gould was not himself an accomplished artist like his wife Elizabeth, his outstanding strengths lay in the exploration and recording of the natural world, and in managing his publishing business. Some of the best natural history illustrations produced in the nineteenth century were created by Gould’s team, which included Edward Lear (1812– 1888), who is best known for his ‘nonsense’ rhymes and the much-loved and delightful poem, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. Henry Constantine Richter (c.1821–1902) Another member of Gould’s team, the nineteenthcentury lithographer, Henry Constantine Richter, made a lasting and significant contribution to natural
history illustration in the nineteenth century through his work for the entrepreneurial Gould. Following in the footsteps of other illustrators who preceded him such as Thomas Bewick (c.1753–1828), and the splendid illustrator of The Birds of America, 1827–1838, John James Audubon (1785–1851), Richter worked with Gould in developing lithographic plates that were not only scientifically accurate in their recording but also visually suggestive of the life and character of an animal. Seeing the Natural World also included a complete three-volume set of Gould’s Mammals of Australia (1863), on loan from the Baillieu Library Special Collections, within the University of Melbourne. The lithographic plates for The Mammals of Australia, which were created entirely by Richter, are a testament to his remarkable talent and dedication to natural history, as well as service to his employer, John Gould. The thylacine (drawn from life in London by Richter) In Australia, Richter is best known for his lithographs of the Tasmanian thylacine, including his beautiful illustration in volume I, Thylacinus cynocephalus. The Thylacinis (Tasmanian tiger) image, of circa 1863, was on display in Seeing the Natural World. Although now extinct, when Richter produced his lithograph in 1863, the animal had managed to survive approximately fifty years of pursuit
Henry Constantine Richter lithographer Thylacinus cynocephalus. Thylacinis (Tasmanian tiger) c. 1863 John Gould, The Mammals of Australia 1863 (vol I, in three volumes); published by the author, 26 Charlotte Street, Bedford Square. Special Collections, Baillieu Library, the University of Melbourne.
6. ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, Poetry Foundation website: http://www. poetryfoundation.org/poem/171941 (accessed 9 June 2013). 7. V. Noakes, Edward Lear 1812–1888, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1985; Christine E. Jackson, ‘H.C. Richter – John Gould’s unknown bird artist’, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, vol. 9, issue 1, November 1978, pp.10–14; The Bewick Society Website: http://www. bewicksociety.org/life_and_work/ tb_bio.html (accessed 28 January 2013); John James Audubon, The Birds of America, London: Published by the author, 1827–1838; Lucy Audubon, (ed.), The Life of John James Audubon, the Naturalist, New York: GP Putnam’s Sons, 1890. 8. John Gould, The Mammals of Australia, vols. I-III, published by the author, Bedford Square, 1863.
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Installation view of Osphranter rufus [Great red kangaroo], by artist and lithographer, Henry Constantine Richter, in John Gould, The Mammals of Australia 1863 (vol II, in three volumes); published by the author, 26 Charlotte Street, Bedford Square. Special Collections, Baillieu Library, the University of Melbourne.
9. The Thylacine Museum website: http://www.naturalworlds.org/ thylacine/ (accessed 6 March 2013); See film footage, ‘Last Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacine, 1933’: http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=6vqCCI1ZF7o 10. Gould, The Mammals of Australia, op.cit.
by colonists bent on its eradication. By the late 1880s, with captors undoubtedly attracted by the bounty placed on its head by the colonial government of the day, the animal was being hunted to extinction. Richter in fact drew his thylacine image from life in the Gardens of the Zoological Society in Regents Park, London, where a living animal had been shipped across the world for show. Thylacines taken into zoos in this manner survived in captivity for around eight years at best. The last known thylacine died at Hobart’s Beaumaris zoo in 1936. It can be seen moving restlessly in its cage in haunting silent film footage that is freely available on the internet. The Great Red Kangaroo Seeing the Natural World also included Volume II of Gould’s The Mammals of Australia, which was displayed open to feature the illustration, Osphranter rufus (Great Red Kangaroo), of circa 1863. This depiction of the head of a male kangaroo was also derived from a life drawing by Richter in the Gardens of the Zoological Society, in London. Writing of his observation of the Great Red Kangaroo, captured in the Australian ‘native wilds’, Gould reported that it had become ‘an object of great attraction’ to visitors and naturalists who had a special interest in the mammals of Australia. He expressed concern that the kangaroo was under threat caused by ‘civilized man’ in Australia, and even speculated that it
might be saved if it were domesticated in Europe. Although Gould regarded the Great Red Kangaroo as ‘the finest of the Indigenous Mammals of Australia yet discovered’, and lamented what he referred to as its ‘persecution’, ironically he also wrote of his own pursuit of a male and female kangaroo and her joey, near the Namoi river in New South Wales. His descriptions included his ‘lasting recollection’ of consuming the ‘flesh’ of the male, which had sustained him and his party. In total, Richter produced approximately 1,600 lithographs during the course of his career, and supplied more than half the total corpus of lithographs published by John Gould, including all of the plates furnishing the illustrations for The Mammals of Australia. John William Lewin (1770–1819) Seeing the Natural World also presented the earlier illustrations of John Lewin, published in his book, A Natural History of the Birds of New South Wales, collected, engraved, and faithfully painted after nature. When it appeared in 1813, this volume was the first natural history book published in Australia. Seeing the Natural World included an example from the third edition of Lewin’s work, on loan from the Baillieu Library’s Special Collections. Published in 1822, it includes twenty-six copperplate engravings that were among the earliest engravings produced in Australia. Books like Lewin’s were in the nineteenth century
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what the internet is today: a vitally important source of learning, record-keeping, exploration and discovery. An illustrated page in a stored book can be like a ‘hidden jewel’ in a collection, waiting to be rediscovered and displayed as a single work in its own right. Similarly, a bark painting can be a treasure waiting to be unearthed in a museum collection. Through the recognition and interpretation of barks, as well as natural history illustration and botanical art, Seeing the Natural World provided a unique opportunity to encounter works that by their very nature encourage the imagining of shared histories and cross-cultural relationships in Australia. Aboriginal cultural traditions Seeing the Natural World contrasted Gould’s published lithographs of birds and animals with a selection of bark paintings by the Mildjingi bark painter from central Arnhem Land, Mick Makani Wilingarr, along with works by the Groote Eylandt bark painters, Minimini Numalkiyiya Mamarika, Quartpot Nangenkibiyanga Warramarrba and Peter Nangwurrama Wurrawilya. Although the three Makani barks included in the exhibition were created during the period from the 1930s to the 1960s, and the Groote Eylandt bark paintings were made in the 1940s, collectively they represent a direct expression of a continuing Aboriginal tradition. When Europeans first saw bark drawings on Aboriginal shelters in the far north of Australia, they encountered a medium of visual communication that recorded things significant and meaningful to Aboriginal life and ancestral connections; however they had no way of effectively interpreting what they were seeing. Today, with an ongoing development of relationships between non-Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal artists who continue to work in the bark painting tradition, the meaning and value of bark paintings to Aboriginal people and communities is much better understood. Mick Makani Wilingarr recorded by David Attenborough (1963) In 1963, the English naturalist David Attenborough, following his desire to understand traditional
Seeing the Natural World provided a creative space to consider both Aboriginal and European cultural perspectives inset:
expressions of Aboriginal art during a visit to the Northern Territory, published his encounter with Mick Makani Wilingarr in the book Quest under Capricorn. Makani had taken Attenborough with him into the bush to look for suitable bark for painting, and Attenborough described the selection process as follows:
Quartpot Nangenkibiyanga Warramarrba Anindilyakwa language group Wurraliliyanga clan Yimurarra [milkfish] Kunkwurna [big turrum] and Yarruwarra [skinny fish] c. 1941–45 ochres and orchid extract on eucalyptus bark The Leonhard Adam Collection of International Indigenous Culture, the University of Melbourne Art Collection [1960.2212].
With the axe, [Makani] ringed the trunk about three feet from the ground. He propped a fallen branch against the tree, climbed up it and, gripping the branch with his toes in order to keep his balance, dexterously cut another ring, five feet above the lower one. Then he cut out a vertical strip joining the two rings and slowly peeled away an immense sheet, leaving the trunk of the tree naked white and running with sap. After the two men had returned to camp, Makani ‘carefully trimmed off the outer fibrous layers of the bark’: With these shavings he lit a fire on which he threw the curling sheet, inner side downwards. The heat was not sufficient to burn the bark, but enough to turn some of its sap into steam and make the whole piece pliable. After a few minutes he put it down on the ground and weighted it with boulders so that it would harden absolutely flat. This was to be his canvas. Attenborough went on to describe the painting process. Sitting cross-legged before the dried sheet of bark, Makani ‘placed a cockle shell and several cigarette tins, all full of water’ by his side. He then proceeded to prepare ochre by grinding ‘a red pebble on a small piece of sandstone’. Pouring the powdered
11. David Attenborough, Quest under Capricorn, London: Lutterworth press, 1963, pp.74-81. 12. ibid.
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Art and nature: Exhibitions inspired by the natural world
ochre into a cockle shell, Makani ‘daubed the resulting paint over the bark with his fingers, to make a solid red ground for his design’. He ‘roughly outlined’ each figure with an ‘orchid stem, having chewed its end to make it juicy’. He then used ‘three different brushes— a twig with a chewed splayed end which produced broad lines, another with a burred end which he used for stippling, and a third with a trailing fibre attached to the tip with which, by drawing it skilfully and steadily across the bark, he made thin delicate lines’. When Attenborough asked Makani why he painted, the bark painter replied that his people had always done so. Bark paintings were not merely a product of cross-cultural interaction for trading purposes only, but a continuing tradition in Arnhem Land. While the Groote Eylandt barks on display in Seeing the Natural World are believed to have been painted in exchange for tobacco, their acquisition by Dr Leonhard Adam, a German-trained lecturer and ethnologist appointed in the 1940s to teach at the University of Melbourne, transferred these works into a teaching context. Margaret Stones (b.1920) The meaning and value of botanical illustration in Australia provides an art history of a different kind, which wove its own cultural magic in Seeing the Natural World. Margaret Stones, born in Colac, Victoria, in 1920, has created a rich body of work throughout her long and illustrious career as a botanical artist. Her work merited presentation in some depth in this exhibition, while also affirming the living continuity of visual traditions with a now long-established history. The scientific identification of a plant requires accurate rendering that only the hand of an accomplished botanical artist can achieve. Margaret Stones, who is self-taught as an artist, learned early to draw a flower accurately, showing its internal structure, how it is positioned on its stem, and with its leaves and roots incorporated in the full descriptive resources of the botanical tradition. The botanical artist can portray different stages of a plant’s growing cycle simultaneously in a single drawing and on a single sheet, and Stones learned to achieve this with great skill. All of the elements mentioned contribute to the botanical classification of a plant, as elaborated in this European tradition of seeing and recording nature. Using the simple equipment and materials of the botanical artist—a microscope, pencils, watercolours, inks and paper—Margaret Stones establishes her composition by first turning a plant to decide on its ideal placement on a sheet of paper. She then begins to draw with a sharpened 2H or 4H pencil. An HB pencil is used to rapidly capture the design before focusing on its finer details. The use of a microscope, to enable more detailed viewing of a plant through magnification, allows Stones to understand detailed aspects of structure. She generally leaves traces of pencil to provide contours and to describe fine details. It has always
been important to her to render a plant as ‘a living thing’, and the artist’s ability to work swiftly assists her to capture a plant’s liveliness before it wilts or is subject to natural colour-change. Such considerations include the need to incorporate the unpredictability of natural movements and changes in leaves or buds, and even the growth of a plant overnight. It is usual for botanical artists to work collaboratively with botanists, in their quest to ensure botanical accuracy. Through her meeting with botanists such as John Turner, who was a professor of botany and plant physiology at the University of Melbourne in the mid-1940s, Margaret Stones was introduced to the professional study of botany. The immense variations possible in complicated scientific illustration meant that the artist concentrated on becoming highly proficient technically during the development of her career. Over time, she developed a deepening knowledge of botany, because the connection between ‘knowing’ about a plant and really ‘seeing’ it is central to botanical art. Stones also developed a serious interest in the history of botanical illustration, and by 1951 travelled to England in order to further the development of her work. She soon went on to become the principal contributing artist for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, while also working independently for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (London) and the Royal Horticultural Society (London), and later working on many prestigious international commissions. Margaret Stones’ natural gifts as a botanical artist are evident in some of her earliest work created in the 1940s, and the University of Melbourne is fortunate to have a number of works from this early period in its collections. Later works such as Rhododendron lochiae (c.1973) in the University of Melbourne Art Collection, demonstrate not only the quality and mature development of her art but also its outstanding and internationally acclaimed legacy. In review: a suite of recent exhibitions in Victoria that explored scientific study and visual recording of the natural world have provided unusually diverse opportunities to see nature through the eyes of visual artists, whose remarkable dedication to their respective cultural traditions deserves full exploration. Their exceptional contributions, beautifully recorded in art and books, demonstrate the significance and centrality of the natural world to the ongoing rendition of life across diverse cultural traditions. 
Margaret Stones Ericaceae. Rhododendron lochiae F.Muell. (Native rhododendron) c. 1973 watercolour sheet 44.0 x 35.3 cm The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Purchased with funds from the Charles Duplan Lloyd Trust 1974 [1974.0003].
Dr Donna Leslie is the Vizard Foundation Assistant Curator at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne. She is an Aboriginal woman belonging to the Gamilaroi people of New South Wales, and a specialist in Australian art. Citation for this text: Donna Leslie, ‘Art and nature: Exhibitions inspired by the natural world’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 32–39.
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Arts-driven community cultural development in outer Melbourne
Hatching grand plans for the arts in Banyule
Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, Banyule, Victoria.
Hatch Contemporary Arts Space
he arts are an integral component in fostering community connectedness, enhancing social wellbeing and creating a vibrant community. Local councils that ignore this potential do so to the detriment of the creativity, amenities and life quality of their communities. One council that has risen to these challenges recently is Banyule City Council in northern Melbourne, which perhaps fittingly encompasses the symbolic origins and heritage of the Heidelberg School of artists of the late-nineteenth century. In 2009, recognising the need for a stronger investment in the arts, Banyule Council, in partnership with the Heidelberg School Art Foundation, commissioned a gallery feasibility study by Lateral Projects. Two recommendations arose clearly from the study: the first, for a proposed community arts space to exhibit works from the Banyule Art Collection and engage the local community in arts projects across the municipality; the second, for a proposed multimillion dollar initiative – currently known as The Impressionist Lab – to realise an iconic and sustainably designed art gallery and education centre. The Lab was conceived as providing a stimulating environment to present and discuss the Heidelberg School of Artists in the recognised birthplace of their ‘movement’, whilst also supporting contemporary Australian artists who extend this history through a focus on the Australian landscape today and related environmental issues.
The first recommendation is now a reality four years later, with the opening of Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, in April 2013, in Ivanhoe. The involvement of community members since Hatch’s inception has built a strong sense of community ownership. An initial community-based committee steered the Arts Space’s first stage of development, and a new committee is now providing advice on developing, programming and marketing the space. Meanwhile as Hatch relies heavily on volunteers, the relationships that have blossomed along the way remain pivotal to its success. On a programming level, exhibitions and events will be developed around an overarching quarterly theme shaped in consultation with the Hatch Contemporary Arts Space Advisory Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the venue’s sustainability in collaboration with the local Council. Hatch operates in a significant historical building that was previously called Banyule Arts Space, a mini Art Deco theatre that was looking tired with age – which was hired out for functions and used by Council for occasional exhibitions and events. With its rebirth as Hatch, the theatre foyer and main hall area underwent major renovation. Covers blocking windows were removed, and walls erected that were suitable for displaying art. The second stage of development, to be realised in late 2013– early 2014, will see LED lighting technology installed, the renovation of a workshop area, and the inclusion of a studio and artist-in-residence space.
1. Papers such as the Australia Council for the Arts ‘More than Bums on Seats: Australian Participation in the Arts’ (2010) [ http://www. australiacouncil.gov.au/resources/ reports_and_publications/subjects/ audiences_and_cultural_participation/ arts_participation_research_ more_than_bums_on_seats/], Vic Health’s ‘Building Health through Arts and New Media’ (2010) [http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/ Publications/Social-connection/ Building-health-through-arts-andnew-media.aspx], or Arts Victoria’s ‘The Role of Arts and Culture in Liveability and Competitiveness’ (2008) [http://www.arts.vic.gov. au/Research_and_Resources/ Research_Projects/The_Role_of_ Arts_and_Culture_in_Liveability ] make this position very clear.
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Home – Reframing Craft and Domesticity The curated exhibition, Home – Reframing Craft and Domesticity, featuring works from the Banyule Art Collection and beyond, was Hatch’s inaugural exhibition. Home featured 83 works by 56 artists and artisans, bringing together works from the Banyule Art Collection and crafted pieces from designers, gifted hobbyists and practising artists from across Australia – all presented within a gallery space transformed into ‘rooms’ of a home. The rich nuances achieved by pairing works from within and beyond the collection allowed us to appreciate the Banyule Art Collection with new eyes. Individual pieces, representing wide-ranging aesthetics, were exhibited within relevant rooms: from blown glass fruit in the kitchen to a ‘painting’ made from plasticine in the nursery; from a quilted ironing board in the laundry to a mosaic toilet in the bathroom. Some exhibits were allegorical reflections rather than functional pieces of usable art. Many of the works reflected on the associations of
a given object through imaginative interpretations of its form, use or colour. Functional crafted objects included bowls, jewellery, tea towels, rugs, tables, chairs and cutlery. The total exhibition’s presentation was enhanced by custom-made wallpaper from Wilding Wallpaper and Textiles, with designs by Simon Mee and Penny Maskell. Home encouraged people to reflect on the enduring impact of domestic environments on their lives. Works of art, craft and design were selected based on their relationship to dedicated rooms: kitchen, bedroom, nursery, laundry/bathroom, family room, dining room; and one of the most prized areas of an Australian home, the yard. The exhibition was designed to be an experiential whole rather than a multitude of de-personalised objects gathered in a sterile gallery environment. Visitors were invited to meander and reflect on various rooms, and consider their roles and impact on them throughout life. Children were welcome to participate by making their own images on a framed whiteboard in the nursery. This style of exhibition design and
Installation View: ‘Dining Room’ in Home – Reframing Craft and Domesticity, curated by Claire Watson, presented at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, 4 April–11 May 2013. Photo: Claire Watson.
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Hatching grand plans for the arts in Banyule
above: Installation View: ‘Laundry’ in Home – Reframing Craft and Domesticity, curated by Claire Watson, presented at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, 4 April–11 May 2013. Photo: Rachel Main.
interaction sought to engage viewers directly and Through a ’Room for Poetry’ project developed with invited them to consider the lived experience of their YPRL around our launch-exhibition, the quite widely own homes. dispersed local community submitted poems relating The curatorial agenda deliberately broke open the to their experience of rooms within their own home boundaries of craft, home-making and fine art. It raised – with the poems eventually displayed in libraries a series of questions, such as: At what point do we throughout their municipalities as well as a selection invest ‘art’ in a hand-made object? How do we, as a soci- appearing within the Hatch exhibition itself. ety, value craft-based labour in the home? What are the This was one of many satellite projects or ‘spokes’ parameters by which we measure the status and credfor the project, which will help define Hatch as a ibility of an art object? The answers to such questions gallery where programming lends itself to a range of are multi-faceted, and yet remain largely subjective. satellite projects at ‘spoke’ venues, in order to engage The art world often determines when an object is new audiences and bring them in to the ‘hub’ that is labelled as ‘art’ by whether or not it, or its maker, is Hatch. While the Impressionist Lab will eventually be a destination in its own right, it will also function deemed worthy of a review. However, for those who as one of the spokes to Hatch. do not connect with critical discourse in the visual arts Other satellite events and activities included a sector, the lines of distinction may be quite different forum on contemporary craft, an artist-in- residence and dependent on personal taste and social/cultural project, tours of Napier Waller House coinciding with conditioning. Craft and applied design have risen from National Heritage Week, knitting workshops, and a a second-class status in recent years toward an equal studio visit to the workshop of a local woodworker. footing with fine art. In a post-medium age, artists slip Home – as will all exhibits developed through constantly between different media, helping to break Hatch – welcomed local schools via an art appreciadown these distinctions further. tion program delivered by the exhibition curator. It Home also involved a rich partnership with Yarra is hoped that a permanent role of Education Officer Plenty Regional Library. Encompassing eight branch will be incorporated in future to ensure this program libraries across three municipalities, Yarra Plenty and ongoing educational connections flourish. Regional Library is a strong agency to have as a partner.
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top: middle: bottom: left: right:
above: Installation View: ‘Nursery’ in Home – Reframing Craft and Domesticity, curated by Claire Watson, presented at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, 4 April–11 May 2013. Photo: Rachel Main.
The Impressionist Lab The other planned gallery, the Impressionist Lab – to be realised at Yarra Flats Park in Heidelberg – will meet the highest of museum standards, featuring expandable permanent arts spaces, education resource rooms and outdoor education pods throughout the parkland. It will also be a site for experimentation and research in cultural interpretation of the Australian Impressionists and their continuing legacy. Collaborative programming between the nearby Heide Museum of Modern Art, in Bulleen, and the Impressionist Lab will be beneficial to both institutions, effectively creating a cultural precinct surrounding the Yarra River, which will provide an incomparable day-trip opportunity for visitors. The Lab will rely on loans from both major institutions and private collections to ensure that works from the Impressionist era are always on display. As with the development of Hatch, a Community Reference Group has been working with Council to help guide the Impressionist Lab through its developmental phase. Significant partners in the project include the Heidelberg School Art Foundation, Parks Victoria,
and Melbourne Water. Melbourne Water is interested in rejuvenating the area’s natural wetlands to increase biodiversity, and Parks Victoria is also interested in increasing the area’s vegetation and visitation. Parks Victoria intends to expand its offerings to the community with an ‘adventure treetops’ course. Construction of the Impressionist Lab is anticipated in 2015. Running concurrently with these new developments is Banyule City Council’s community consultation for its 2013–2017 Arts Plan. Whilst still in the provisional phases, it is clear that online networking, marketing and promotions will play a significant role in the already-achieved success of Hatch Contemporary Arts Space, as well as being crucial in the final realisation and related activities of the Impressionist Lab.  Claire Watson is Art Curator, within the Banyule City Council, north-east of central Melbourne. Citation for this text: Claire Watson, ‘Hatching grand plans for the arts in Banyule: Arts-driven community cultural development in outer Melbourne’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 40–43.
44 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
A new Ballarat museum dedicated to the Eureka uprising and Australian democracy
Making M.A.D.E — Bringing contested histories together at Eureka top: middle: bottom: left: right:
n May 2013, a new museum opened on the site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade in Ballarat, Victoria. M.A.D.E (the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) represents an $11.1 million investment by the City of Ballarat, Regional Development Victoria and the federal government. Much of the early attention the project garnered was as a result of the inclusion of the iconic Eureka Flag – full title, Flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag) – loaned from the Art Gallery of Ballarat to M.A.D.E. However that is just one piece of the puzzle formed in creating this new museum, which aspires to be much more than the sum of its parts. The task presented to me, appointed project curator in July 2010, was as follows: to develop a curatorial concept for a new museum that would pay due respect to Eureka and the site, but also engage audiences with a much wider story of democracy. In my interview, I was frank. One of those tasks would be significant; the two together presented distinct challenges. The biggest risk was that the two elements might clash: audiences looking for the Eureka story could feel short-changed; while those hoping for a contemporary take on democracy could find the Eureka content distracting. I suspect that my outsider status went some way towards resolving the conundrum about ideal focus
when I was appointed as project curator in the ground-floor development phase of the new museum. As a non-Australian immersing myself in ‘the Eureka episode’ and other stories of democratic protest and change in Australia, my instinct was to look for the familiar comparison. <This event reminds me of that event; issue x has parallels with issue y> This search led to my own personal ‘Eureka moment’. The story of Eureka, when ‘drilled down’ and deconstructed, lends itself as a multi-sided example of a popular democratic movement, with parallels between the Australian uprising and countless other groups and movements that have protested their rights against the political status quo – across time and throughout the world. Interestingly, this approach also resonates with a book featured at M.A.D.E. From Dictatorship to Democracy, by Gene Sharp, an influential American academic, analyses the common traits of successful – non-violent – protests, and uses this analysis to form the basis of a kind of ‘how-to’ guide to toppling dictators. Testament, perhaps, to the success of the work is that the book has been denounced by governmental regimes in Venezuela and Myanmar– to name but two. Working with the museum project’s advisory historians, the before- during- and aftermath of the Eureka Stockade were analysed, and a series of questions posed: Why did this uprising occur when it did and where it did? What were the incendiary incidents?
M.A.D.E. interior view.
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 45
Bugle representing Commencement of Eureka Battle. Image: M.A.D.E.
left, bottom: Flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag). Collection, Art Gallery of Ballarat.
1. The idea of contested history, fundamental to the questioning spirit of the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, was aired in a previous issue of Museums Australia Magazine, which searchingly examined the Eureka Flag and its complex history: both as a physical object (a ravaged but still emblematic weaving and beautiful textile design) and as a symbol of multi-sided interpretation of a key event in Australian social and political history. See the suite of articles: Gordon Morrison, ‘Contextualising an icon’; Ron Radford, ‘Rescuing the Eureka Flag’; and Andrew Simpson, ‘Contesting significance: What mattered then, what matters now’ – all published in Museums Australia Magazine, Vol. 18(1), Museums Australia, Canberra, September 2009; respectively pp.24 (GM), 19 (RR), and 20-23 (AS). [Ed.]
What made these events irrevocable? Why did the uprising capture the public’s imagination, then and now? What tools were employed to effect change? This was far from the first time these questions have been asked. However our project sought to revisit the Eureka story with a view to establishing both its singularity and universality: that is, what makes Eureka distinctive to Ballarat, and what makes it relevant to a global history of democracy? At a simple level, we established that successful movements for democratic change have typically included the following features: an easily-identified (and personally engaging) leader; the use of rousing rhetoric; strong media interest; an engaging graphic symbol and/or slogan; and the convergence of such factors to achieve a kind of critical mass of support. This analysis provided us with themes we wanted to explore further. Taking inspiration from our opening proposition, the key themes were then titled: The Power of Numbers; The Power of Influence; The Power of Words; The Power of Symbols; and an oppositional theme: Without Power? (The original concept also included The Power of Choice and The Power of Stories; however space restrictions caused us to surrender the last two. I hope meanwhile that a future iteration will see the additional themes recaptured and interrogated in their turn.) As M.A.D.E is a narrative-led museum, the stories had to take precedence in planning content. However once the curatorial framework and guiding concepts were fixed, the project team then faced the challenge of developing the physical experience. As a starting point for displays, M.A.D.E had inherited a small but significant collection owned by the City of Ballarat, primarily relating to life on the goldfields. It should be noted that relatively little material evidence survives from the Eureka Stockade. There is of course the Eureka Flag, supported by some documentary evidence and a range of interesting artworks, but very few three-dimensional artefacts. There are also some weapons that have traditionally been associated with the Stockade events, but their provenance is uncertain. From an early date, the project team hoped to secure the loan of the emblematic Eureka Flag, and always envisaged this object as providing an emotional climax of the visitor experience. When finally placed on display at M.A.D.E, the Flag was, without question, the most significant piece of material cultural heritage presented at the new museum. However, when it came to the broader case histories of democracy featured as the project developed, we had to ‘build the collection’ from the ground up. So began a long process of contacting community organisations, universities, private collectors and NGOs. Recourse to e-Bay proved an interesting source of recent ephemera. My colleagues and I sourced some material at Occupy Melbourne. And, while on holidays in Greece during the civilian uprisings against governmental restraints arising through EU financial controls, I accosted a protester in the street and
asked if he’d consider donating his placard to the new museum where I worked in Australia. (In fact, he declined, explaining that funds were limited and that the protest placards were counted on going out and coming back in.) Many discussions were held about our project’s definition of ‘democracy’ for collecting and interpretation purposes. This led to our clarifying that we would work with the following boundary: we would include a group if its initial stated purpose was to advance or achieve democracy or democratic aims. We leave the final outcome judgment to our visitors, as to whether or not the represented groups achieved their aims. We also highlight how matters of historical judgment are never closed, and point to the cautionary tale of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe: once hailed as a freedom fighter; now generally reviled as a dictator. Where we could source or borrow artefacts, these became the focus of interpretation; where artefacts were thin on the ground, we took the opportunity to commission new artworks and multimedia presentations, and explored the museum’s stories in many different ways. For example, we had hoped to borrow the famous Bakery Hill poster from Public Record Office Victoria, but the object wasn’t available for loan at the time (although PROV have generously lent both the Ballarat Reform League Charter and the Coranderrk Petition to the museum). As a solution, we commissioned Renaissance Bookbinding in Melbourne to set and print a version of the original Bakery Hill poster on an antique press: not a facsimile but a reinterpretation.
46 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
A new Ballarat museum dedicated to the Eureka uprising and Australian democracy
The museum footprint of M.A.D.E is not huge, and therefore all elements of the exhibition have to ‘earn their keep’. Every display, every activity, every installation is designed to surprise, amuse, delight, and provoke – all with a view to encouraging audiences to think about democracy anew. Fast-forward to the completed project in 2013, and the opening ambitions are embodied by the Democracy Machine, the first exhibition element encountered by visitors when they come to M.A.D.E. The installation is a play on Le Corbusier’s maxim that ‘A house is a machine for living in’. We conjectured that democracy might be a machine for society to live in. The Democracy Machine has taken shape as a kinetic light sculpture that explores some of the component parts of democracy (all open to questioning), and leads to the opening proposition of the exhibition. Given the ambivalence associated with the concept of democracy, we took this proposition from the roots of the word – the Greek ‘demos’ (people) and ‘kratos’ (power). This led us to the following equation as a motif for our project: <democracy = people + power>. One mathematically-minded colleague pointed out to me the corollary proposition, suggesting that <democracy –[minus] people = power>, which is sure to generate some controversy. Yet we’ve always known that a museum of democracy, at Eureka, had to be prepared for controversy. We hope that people will challenge our definition of democracy and consider, not just alternative definitions but also alternative political systems. Not surprisingly, Winston Churchill has been quoted on numerous occasions throughout this project: Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. From the Democracy Machine, visitors move
through into the main gallery at M.A.D.E, which is laid out as a series of concentric circles. At its heart is the Bird’s Eye installation: a site-based work that combines illustration, lighting and archaeological fragments, and offers visitors an opportunity to locate the main events of Eureka with reference to the museum. Around the Bird’s Eye is the ‘ring’ dedicated to the Eureka story: a ten-screen, multi-user touchtable, which places the Stockade in its immediate context and reveals where it sits within the wider story of Australian democracy. Eureka is very much presented as a contested history, and much of the narrative is told through first-person documentary evidence. Visitors are actively invited to comment on (and tweet, via @whatdoeseurekamean) what Eureka means to them. Interspersed with the screens are object displays relating to their content – from an 1854 gold licence, to an invitation to the Federation celebrations in Melbourne in 1901. The sophistication of the digital interface allows us to present visitors with a virtual collection of significant archival material, drawn from repositories across Australia and worldwide, including the State Libraries of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia; the National Library and National Gallery of Australia; the National Museum of Ireland; and the House of Lords Library in the UK. The collation of material for this installation took two years to assemble. It offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to interrogate documentary evidence from Eureka alongside examples from other places and other times – for example, to compare the Ballarat Reform League Charter of 1854 with the UK People’s Charter of 1838; or to contrast the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Petition of 1898 with the 1886 Coranderrk Petition presented to the Victorian Government by Wurundjeri elder, William Barak, of the distressed Coranderrk community north-east of Melbourne. Concepts like Australia as ‘the social laboratory of the world’ are explored in tandem with the White Australia policy, emphasising the point that within processes of democratic change, there’s often at least one step back for every two steps forward. The outermost ring of the M.A.D.E gallery is where other themes (The Power of Numbers, The Power of Influence, The Power of Words, The Power of Symbols, and Without Power? ) are explored, linking Eureka to a broader Australian and global context. This link is highlighted by the illuminated timeline wrapping around the gallery at a high level: it features some (emphasis on some) key moments in the expression of democratic demands, traced from 500 BCE to the present day. Each thematic area features a mix of objects, AV and installation. The interpretive design is very much focused on encouraging people to look – and look again. So, for example, The Power of Numbers includes a large vitrine showcase dotted with seemingly
Barack Obama t-shirt, Power of Influence. This t-shirt became very popular around the time of Obama’s first presidential campaign. We include him in our ‘Power of Influence’ story because he’s a very charismatic person and it speaks to the role that charisma and a talent for oratory can play in bringing someone to the public’s attention. Image: M.A.D.E.
2. See Andrew Simpson’s article on ‘contested significance’ and the Eureka flag’s enduring importance, Museums Australia Magazine 18(1), 2009, op.cit.
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random 3D numbers: 1, 2, 8, 10000, 30000, 70000, 95000000. This relates back to the tagline for the theme and raises the question: How many people does it take to start a revolution? The numbers correspond to artefacts that tell the stories of different groups working for democratic change. The figure ‘2’, for example, references the story of Australian women who nursed in the Spanish Civil War. The object display is bookended by two very different multimedia installations. The first is called Tools of Change, and offers a range of ‘how-to’ videos: Bob Brown of the Greens explains how to set up a political party; Sam McLean of GetUp gives tips on successful campaigning; and an MP’s staffer provides guidance for those who want to ensure their letters get the political attention they deserve. The other installation is a music-based piece that uses the metaphor of music (in particular choral music) to invite visitors to reflect on the collaborative energy and power of people working together. Some of the stories collected within the museum are inspiring; others are confronting. The range of narratives in type and scale creates some very interesting adjacencies. Within the Power of Words theme is a display called ‘the Incendiary Library’. This was first conceived as a counterpoint to the Bebelplatz Night of Shame memorial in Berlin, designed by artist Micha Ullman. That memorial recalls the 1933 Nazi bookburnings by presenting an abstracted library – viewed from above through ground-inserted glass windows – its shelves bare of books. By contrast, M.A.D.E’s library shelves are full – but filled by books that, over the years, have been banned, burnt, or censored; or which, because of their content, have sparked revolutions and changed the world. Not all of these books make easy bed-fellows (and we do underline the point that a book is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ simply because it has been banned). Some selected for display may be challenged by visitors, but their inclusion (and our inclusivity) does serve to bring us back to the contested history dynamics of our presenting the Eureka Stockade. What we have aimed to do at M.A.D.E is to create a kind of ‘safe space’ where competing stories, difficult stories, heart-warming and heart-breaking stories, can live together. It seems a very fitting culmination to the exhibition, then, to have the imposing Eureka Flag (on loan from and co-curated with the Art Gallery of Ballarat) as the conclusion to the museum visit, since this resonant object speaks very powerfully to the idea of contested history and diverse stories. Housed in its own purpose-built, temperature- and light-controlled space, the Flag of the Southern Cross (Eureka Flag) invites visitors to consider the price paid for change. The flag, of which approximately 40% has been ‘souveniered’ in snipped fragments over the years, shows its age, but is an eloquent witness to the events and conditions it has endured – perhaps not the wars, but certainly a battle. As a symbol, the Flag has been adopted by Left and
As M.A.D.E is a narrative-led museum, the stories had to take precedence in planning content
Right, by trade unions and bikers, by sports fans and artists. It is supposed to be the most popular tattoo design in Australia. This singular artefact holds so much meaning for so many, that the physical flag itself seems charged with the energy of cumulative attention, offering both a symbol and object lesson in contested histories. There is no one ‘meaning’ to the flag, however, and many of its interpretations sit uncomfortably alongside one another. Yet they all have a place in the story of the Eureka Flag. The word ‘Eureka’ is now in popular speech, and of course means ‘I have found it’. But what we are endeavouring to do at M.A.D.E is to ask what people are looking for – when they fight, protest, march, petition or tweet for democracy. It’s a discussion we hope our visitors will join. Ultimately, the test of how successful M.A.D.E is as a museum of democracy, and how well it honours the contested story of Eureka, will be in demonstrating how far it can go towards creating that ‘safe space’ for civil debate – a democratic space where all stories can have their say.  Eithne Owens, Curator, led the project development for the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka in its start-up phase. The Museum opened on 4 May 2013. Citation for this text: Eithne Owens, ‘Making M.A.D.E: Bringing contested histories together in Eureka - A new Ballarat museum dedicated to the Eureka uprising and Australian democracy’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 44–47.
48 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Museum theatre continues to develop as an interpretive genre in museums
Risks, Relationships and Rewards: Museum Theatre at the National Museum of Australia
The Dora Fay Davenport Show, National Museum of Australia, 2006. Photo George Serras.
erformance in museums has been developing and expanding in a remarkable variety of ways over the past forty years, yet this strongly evolving medium of engagement is still relatively unrecognised. Live performance can aid interpretation, and animate the inanimate; it can help visitors make their own meanings about exhibitions or individual objects. Whether this genre is referred to as ‘museum theatre’, ‘live interpretation’ or ‘living history’ it is about communicating with visitors, arousing curiosity, stimulating debates and engaging people in constructing narratives. As Tessa Bridal says in her book, Exploring Museum Theatre: [Museum] theatre thrives on conflict and inquiry and is invaluable in inspiring people, challenging them and making them less fearful of encountering ideas, especially those foreign or new to them. Theatrical characters can embody what we most love and most fear; couched in a theatrical performance, issues can be discussed and examined in a nonthreatening way, and we can be invited to laugh and to cry about ourselves and others.
1. Tessa Bridal, Exploring Museum Theatre (USA: Rowman Altamira, 2004).
When the National Museum of Australia (NMA) opened in 2001, there were those who considered that
theatre should be a signature activity of the new institution. Early in the Museum’s construction period a ‘performance reference group’ had been formed, to advise management on ways of incorporating performance as a core function of the Museum. However in the flurry of opening the Museum, and negotiation of the competing demands for space, budget and resources, museum theatre was pushed further and further into the background, eventually becoming an afterthought – and thereby subsiding to the pleasant add-on status it occupies in so many other museums. However there were still those in the Education and Public Programs sections of NMA who believed museum theatre was a valuable way to bring the stories of the Museum to life for audiences. In the early years, both these sections brought performers into the Museum, usually to complement major temporary exhibitions. Over time, many connections were made and relationships established, which allowed the NMA to explore in greater depth the possibilities offered by museum theatre in imaginative programming and public engagement. This article does not seek to provide a chronological history of museum theatre at the National Museum of Australia. Instead I will consider three theatrical ventures that demonstrate belief in the value of museum theatre, and highlight the enterprising preparedness to take risks in support of this belief by sections of the Museum staff.
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The Dora Fay Davenport Show (2006) Actor Nigel Sutton worked at the National Museum in a variety of roles during 2003–2005. During this time he became familiar with the permanent exhibitions of the Museum, and was particularly attracted to a replica 1950s kitchen in the ‘Nation’ Gallery. As Nigel relates: The inspiration came purely by accident. I was researching a project for the National Museum of Australia and spending a few hours next to a permanent gallery, which housed a re-creation of a 1950s Australian kitchen. The number of visitors who would exclaim with delight over the kitchen and spark up conversations with anyone nearby intrigued me. Visitors would tell stories and reminisce about their kitchens, the products they used, the gadgets they bought and indeed their favourite recipes – and not just seniors, but all age groups, comparing the past with the present. So I started spending time in the gallery and soon became the conduit for many conversations and fantastic stories. It wasn’t long before the power of living memory connections had inspired me to develop a new performance for the Museum. Through his work at the NMA, Nigel Sutton had developed a close working relationship with Public Programs Officer Daina Harvey, a relationship based on mutual respect. Nigel approached Daina with his idea, and so The Dora Fay Davenport Show: How to achieve domestic bliss, was conceived. From the initial idea through to the first performance of the Show in 2006, it took more than twelve months of research and creative development to work up the framing concepts. There were focus groups with seniors and meetings with curators, as well as help provided from the National Archives; there were set and costume designs, creative workshops, casting sessions, rehearsals, music and songs to be selected, along with all the consultation and organisation that goes with producing a show in a museum. A wellresearched business plan was developed, and section head Louise Douglas argued a persuasive case to realise the project. For the first time, a theatrical presentation was to be treated in much the same way as an exhibition. A realistic budget and timeframe were agreed to, curators cooperated, and Nigel undertook serious historical research. Nigel recalls:
2. This and all remaining quotations are derived from the author’s interaction with the speakers quoted.
I wrote the show to reflect and reveal the social attitudes of 1950s Australia, while comparing them to the highly idealised (often American) views represented in media advertising of the time. The show enabled the audience/visitors to reflect back to 1956 and the first years of television in Australia. The ‘live television’ format encouraged audience participation and allowed the sharing of memories during the performance.
When the Dora Fay Davenport Show finally opened in 2006, it generated enormous response. The interaction with the audience was far more responsive than I could have anticipated. They devoured the opportunity to chat and interact with the characters. At the end of the show there is an opportunity to meet on set with the actors; this is where many more stories were revealed and a deeper, more personal reminiscence began. Seniors from the audience repeatedly came back a day later with memorabilia that they wanted to give to the actors: a pair of 1955 sunglasses, a TV cup and saucer, recipe books, etc. This almost became a problem, as we did not intend to collect objects as part of the show; however it demonstrates the level of connection the show enabled: seniors felt the museum was bringing to life their stories, their time period, and felt a sense of pride and respect. They also spent more time in the permanent gallery as a result of seeing the show. The show exceeded any of our expectations, and almost a decade later still continues to be performed as an independent production – with well over 10,000 seniors having seen and contributed. Curatorial staff were also pleased that the final show reflected sound historical research, and in no way ‘dumbed down’ the Museum’s exhibition.
The Come Alive festival of museum theatre (2010) When the Theatre Reference Group was formed, one of the key participants was Peter Wilkins, a respected drama teacher from Narrabundah College. For a few years Peter and I discussed possible collaborations. Then in 2004 we produced our first collaborative performance, ‘Stranded’, with students from Narrabundah. We later reprised the performance for the 2005 IMTAL International conference. Several other collaborative productions followed, and in 2009 we trialled the idea of a student museum theatre festival. However we knew from our experience with the Narrabundah students that teachers would need to be thoroughly briefed, and understand not only the opportunities but also the restrictions of Museum Theatre. As Peter Wilkins has stressed: By its very nature, original, group-devised Museum Theatre requires a great deal of research and preparation. Not only must it be true to the historical aspect of the chosen topic, but it must also achieve a good standard of performance. It is therefore advisable for schools to commence early on the devising process, allowing enough time for research, script development, rehearsal and performance. At the beginning of school term one, in 2009, we ran a very successful professional development day involving approximately twenty teachers from six schools.
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Museum theatre continues to develop as an interpretive genre in museums
While all teachers found the day worthwhile, only four schools considered they could fit this unit into their current year’s program – two favouring semester one, and two favouring semester two. On review, we decided to defer the ‘festival’ concept as such, and simply have the students perform when it could be fitted into their timetable. As things turned out, one of the semester-one schools pulled out, while the other performed in their own school theatre, due to the fact that we couldn’t provide required space on the dates they eventually settled on. However both the semester-two schools eventually performed highly successful pieces at the National Museum. When Peter Wilkins and I debriefed on the options, we knew we had to begin earlier, to make schools commit to dates right from the beginning, and to select someone who could then liaise directly with the schools on a regular basis. Undaunted, we then began promotion in late 2009 for the festival planned for 2010. Peter had now retired, and was able personally to contact schools and engage with Drama teachers. Our 2010 festival season saw eight schools finally participate, and provided us the crucial experience in how to organise future festivals. The first Come Alive festival was held at the Museum in 2010 (3–6 November). 2013 will now see the fourth full museum theatre festival at the National Museum of Australia. Peter outlined the format to be followed as follows:
For the first time, a theatrical presentation was to be treated in much the same way as an exhibition
Students from ACT primary schools, secondary schools and secondary colleges will select stories, objects or events depicted in the Museum and devise original performances, inspired by their choice and presented through performance, music, dance or film. Students can choose to create a 20-to-40 minute play, an interpretative dance performance, compositions and song, a short film or a multi-media presentation. The majority of schools participating in the festival will choose to devise and perform a short theatrical work, which may incorporate any of the performing and creative arts. Performances offer a range of content based on the Museum’s exhibitions and collection. Performance techniques vary, but commitment to the festival’s aims and a desire to discover new knowledge and understanding, and to communicate this in an interesting theatrical way to a wide audience, is common to all NMA productions. All schools understand that the expectations of the Come Alive festival mean that research is at the heart of creating thoroughly engaging, informative and theatrically effective performances. Schools find the total experience challenging and rewarding, a response shared by audiences.
‘Big Objects on Show’ on Australia Day For the NMA’s Australia Day 2013 festival contribution, the Museum commissioned the company Barking Spider Visual Theatre to create a puppetry and percussion work based on some of the objects on view in the new long-term installation from the collection: the Big Objects on Show exhibition in the Main Hall. The performance work was designed to a brief, which required Barking Spider to create puppetry and percussion pieces for between 3-to-5 objects, for a family audience, and with a maximum duration of around 20-25 minutes for the entire work. The production began with an in-depth site inspection, to discuss what could or could not be done in terms of the space; to gain background on the underlying theme of the exhibition; and to consider how the idea of the ‘conquest of distance’ could be tied into the planned performance. This was supplemented by briefing notes from the curatorial division. After much discussion, three objects were decided upon as focal-points for the performance: the Saw Doctor’s Wagon; the Ranken Family Coach; and a painting – the monumental Martumili Ngurra canvas painting of ‘country’ stories by six Martu women from central Western Australia. Penelope Bartlau from Barking Spider explains what the team developed: The work the Barking Spider team created moved sequentially from one large object to the next, and it was designed so that the audience could follow the whole performance from site to site, or observe just a segment. Each segment lasted between 5-10 minutes, with linked transitions lasting for up to one minute as performers led the audience from one place to another, Pied Piper style. Great care was also taken to fit our work with the acoustics, aesthetics, and audience of the site, and for that particular event day. The Saw Doctor’s Wagon (created by Harold Wright in 1935, and used to service rural communities in Victoria) is a large, colourful, strikingly visual object. The artists decided to build a miniature version that would be both visually and aurally stimulating. For the construction, they gathered objects from op-shops, the tip and their studios, and constructed their wagon on museum trolleys. They used the aesthetic of the Museum’s historical Wagon to define what objects they would select, combined with what sounds they could produce with each object. They then devised a narrative structure for the sound performance. As Penelope explains: For the performance [the actors] played the mini wagon, wheeling it into the space like it was a dead car, but discovering – through play – that in fact this wagon had a heartbeat and a mind of its own. Bringing it back to life, hearing its pulses and rhythms, the audience took delight in the manic musician/doctor/ mechanics working on the mini wagon – until it finally expired with a great round of groaning at the end.
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Barking Spider Visual Theatre present at an Australia Day event at the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in conjunction with the Museum’s Big Objects On Show exhibition. Photo: Barking Spider Visual Theatre.
The Ranken Family Coach is a beautiful, black coach that was brought from Scotland to Australia in 1821. A fantastical storyline based on the coach’s history was developed into a shadow-puppet-like animation. The animation was projected onto two giant screens in the vicinity of the Ranken Family Coach, so that the audience could observe the museum object in relation to the animation. A live percussion piece was performed simultaneously. Martumili Ngurra was painted by Kumpaya Girgaba, Jakayu Biljabu, Ngamaru Bidu, Thelma Judson, Ngalangka (Nola) Taylor and Jane Girgaba in 2009, to tell the stories of their country. This painting was the one object that visually represented the land and the stories of the people who belonged to it. Penelope again explains: [The artists] designed and made a giant, ethereal spirit puppet. The puppet was ‘drummed’ out of the painting [into the] centre of the large atrium area in the museum, and with great energy, [they]’called’ the spirit out. [Theythen] flew the 3.5 metre puppet out from behind the painting where it was concealed, and around the space. This was the highlight of the performance for many of the spectators, and enlivened the experience of the painting, and the whole exhibition – for what would an exhibition of giant objects be without a giant puppet appearing out of nowhere?
There were many risks involved in this production, not the least of which was investing in a company purely on the basis of its reputation. As the Big Objects exhibition had only recently been installed in the Main Hall, working with Barking Spider was also a new experience for National Museum staff, as was staging a large-scale performance on a day when visitor numbers could possibly exceed all expectations. However a performance can also exceed all expectations. As Luke Cummins from the National Museum reflected on the results afterwards: The biggest reward of live performance is creating an audience experience that surprises, defies expectations, and sparks an interest in an object or story that may have previously gone unnoticed. It is incredibly satisfying to connect people with objects, through the stories they have to tell, and to leave a lasting impression. 
Lyn Beasley is President of the MA National Network, IMTALAP, and has a long history in museum education, including in her previous position within the National Museum of Australia. In preparing this article, she gratefully acknowledges contributions from various colleagues/collaborators: Nigel Sutton, Peter Wilkins, Penelope Bartlau, and Luke Cummins. Citation for this text: Lyn Beasley, ‘Risks, Relationships and Rewards: Museum theatre at the National Museum of Australia’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 48–51.
52 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards
MAPDA 2013: Australia’s unique publications design awards
Best in Show for Print Publications – Heide Museum of Modern Art, for Louise Bourgeois in Australia (Exhibition Catalogue, Level B, designed by Liz Cox).
he Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards (MAPDAs) celebrate the extraordinary range of activities and design excellence within the museums and galleries sector across Australia and New Zealand. Judging of the 232 entries, from 76 organisations, took place at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, on 22 March, with veteran MAPDA judges: Jude Savage (Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth); Nat Williams (National Library of Australia, Canberra); Ian Wingrove (Wingrove Design, Sydney); and Rick Cochrane (Bytes ‘n Colours, Canberra). The number of entries was a modest improvement on the past couple of years. Multimedia and web entries were judged by teleconference with Ian Wingrove (Wingrove Design, Sydney) and Brendan O’Donnell (Corvus Creative, Sydney).
MAPDA entries are judged according to the following criteria: • Originality in creative idea/innovative concept • Level of design skill in expressing the idea – typography, photography, etc. • Ability to communicate effectively • Production values All winning, highly commended and shortlisted entries for MAPDA 2013, including comprehensive judges’ comments, can be found on the Museums Australia website <www.museumsaustralia.org.au>. Competition for the Best in Show and Judges Special Awards in 2013 was strong and from a variety of category types. Best in Show for the print publications went to Heide Museum of Modern Art for Louise Bourgeois in Australia (Exhibition Catalogue, Level B, designed by Liz Cox). The judges commended this catalogue for its ‘brilliant use of white space’ and ‘sensitive use of colour’ which ‘honoured the artist through the design’. The Judges Special Award for print publications when to Museum Victoria’s invitation for Art of Science (Invitation, Level C, designed by Jo Pritchard). The judges praised the production values, declaring it ‘a surprising and delightful invitation’, and one to keep. The Best in Show for multimedia entries was awarded to the Museum of Contemporary Art for its new website (Website (A), Level C, <www.mca.com. au>, designed by Katja Hartung). The multimedia judges particularly admired the neutral colour palette and framing of content, as well as the multi-levels of communication incorporated. The calibre of the entries received, particularly from the larger institutions, was evident in the split Judges Special Award outcome for multimedia entries. The judges decided to give the special commendation jointly to two very different websites: Historic Houses Trust of NSW (now Sydney Living Museums) for The Cook and the Curator Blog (Website (B), Level C, <blogs.hht.net.au/cook>, designed by Sarah Christensen); and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s Persian for Kids interactive art website (Multimedia (A), Level C, <interactive.qagoma.qld.gov. au/parastou>). Both websites were admired for their use of colour and textures, and resourceful audience engagement.
MAPDAs award event at MA National Conference The MAPDAs were presented at an Awards and Trade Exhibition night on 19 May 2013, at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, as part of the highly successful MA National Conference, How museums work: people, industry, nation (17-20 May). The MAPDA awards ceremony was combined with a function for the trade exhibitors (as trialled successfully for the first time in 2012 during the National Conference in Adelaide). Joining the MAPDAs and other MA Awards with a social event in the Trade Show – bringing
Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013 53
together the MAPDAs, Museums & Galleries National Awards (MAGNAs), conference delegates, designers and trade exhibitors, produced a great networking and social evening event. The winning entries were also exhibited in the exhibition hall of the National Convention Centre throughout the conference.
Richard Mulvaney an entertaining MC Museum Australia Vice-President (elect), Richard Mulvaney (Director, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston) welcomed guests, sponsors and supporters. Sponsor Paul Murphy (Australian Book Connection, Melbourne), and judge and supporter Rick Cochrane (Bytes ‘n Colours, Canberra) were on hand to present the certificates to all winners – supported by a MANO-prepared digital detailing of all category-appearances, detailing the quality of entries in 2013. The MAPDAs are a great showcase of what is happening in the design world right now, and exhibit the wonderfully talented designers employed within the sector. Over the past few years the MAPDAs have seen a dramatic shift from coated to uncoated and recycled paper stocks (supporting environmental sustainability); the increased use of more technical and elaborate production techniques, including metallics, diecuts and alternative bindings as these processes become easier and cheaper with new printing technologies; and the fast-evolving move to digital publishing and mobile device applications.
was introduced, and proved extremely popular. The Awards Taskforce (covering all MA Awards) will meet in the second half of 2013 to review the MAPDAs, which will open for entries on 1 February 2014, for all publications (print and multimedia) produced in 2013. MAPDA 2014 will be presented at the MA National Conference, Connecting the Edge: within and beyond the Museum, to be held in Launceston from 16–19 May 2014. Museums Australia gratefully acknowledged the time and careful attention to entries provided by all MAPDA judges who served in 2013. Some judges over the years have sacrificed unpaid time from their private practice or business, in their generous assistance to Museums Australia, and support for advancing the quality and positioning of design across the museums and galleries sector. 
Judges’ Special Award for print publications — Museum Victoria’s invitation for The Art of Science (Invitation, Level C, designed by Jo Pritchard).
Stephanie Hamilton is Assistant Manager (Communications) in the National Office of Museums Australia, and has managed the MAPDA Awards, including gathering of all entries and coordination of the two judging processes, since 2011. Citation for this text: Stephanie Hamilton, ‘MAPDA 2013: Australia’s unique publications design awards’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, pp. 52– 53.
Awards Development An Awards Taskforce has been formed by Museums Australia National Council to oversee the development, diversification and modernisation of the MAPDAs. MAPDA is one of the only awards programs of its type in the world – certainly the only one recognising both publication and multimedia design of communication materials within museum and galleries. With the rapidity and scope of technological advances globally, and their welcome adoption by the museums and galleries sector as a method of communication, it has become clear that the old categories – established from the awards’ conception in 1992, based on the similar American Alliance of Museums awards – no longer encompass the variety of publications (traditional, new media and mixed media) being produced by the sector. Over the past couple of years, the MAPDAs have undergone small changes in terms of category modernisation, in order to better cater for the multimedia entries, and to include the exhibition branding category (introduced in 2010). The first split of the multimedia category occurred in 2006, when the multimedia judges were so impressed by the quality and range of entries, particularly from the larger institutions, that they asked to divide the award into interactive and non-interactive. In 2011 a sub-category specific to mobile technology (e.g. apps and e-zines)
54 Museums Australia Magazine – Vol. 21(4) & 22(1) – Winter & Spring 2013
Debrief on the 2013 AAM meeting in Baltimore
Back to the future: Traditional meets technological at the AAM Annual Meeting Laura Miles
Statue of Brooks Robertson, award-winning baseball player, shown with his golden baseball glove. Photo: Laura Miles.
alongside the name-change from the Association to the American Alliance of Museums:
ecently, Baltimore hosted two major events in the US: 30,000 fans watching local baseball The new brand signifies our resolve to unite heroes the Orioles battle against the New the entire US museum field so we can speak York Yankees, and 5,000 delegates gathering with a strong, clear voice in making the case at the newly-rebranded American Alliance of that museums are essential to our communities Museums’ (AAM) annual meeting. and to collaborate with other invested The self-described Charm City was abuzz with stakeholders to advance shared interests for cheerful orange-shirted sports fans and name-badged the benefit and betterment of communities. museum people, from every US state and 50 other countries, some with extra red and blue ‘PRESENTER’ This year the AAM boldly launched a special and/or ‘FIRST-TIME DELEGATE’ labels. conference app that enabled delegates with devices to The Power of Story was the main theme, or as one plan their conference in advance, and ditch the hard presenter opined: ‘Museums shouldn’t be like a bad copy handbook if desired. The app provided detailed date, constantly talking about themselves.’ functionality to search and bookmark sessions by Unlike my experiences of British and Australian speaker, theme or timeslot, rate them afterwards, and museum conferences, this event was focused scan the latest Twitter feeds on the @AAMers handle primarily on large museums supported by and conference hashtag #aam2013. corresponding budgets, with limited airtime reserved Over a lunchtime tweet-up (meeting of people for volunteer issues, despite high attendances that you may or may not know arranged via Twitter), suggested a significant demand for sessions on American colleagues stated that this was the first volunteer management and resourcing. year that social media technologies had been adopted Key presenters included Nick Poole of the by a critical mass at an annual meeting. Opinions Collections Trust, and Mark O’Neill of Glasgow Life, were divided about whether the conference app was both from the UK. My presentation for Museums preferred over the hard copy programme, but usage of Australia (Victoria) was an international case study Twitter seemed popular and respectful. about our migrant stories project within the Victorian The #aam2013 hashtag was lively, and Collections online collections tool. supplemented by more granular conversations for Traditional met online technologies in the session-specific hashtags such as #mistakesweremade official AAM welcome on the Monday, with an – a natural effect of a large conference. This particular 1812 reenactment quartet leading conference session was hugely popular, with more than 150 delegates into the keynote theatre with martial people turned away from the full room. A panel of music, concluding with the national anthem. Vice museum luminaries frankly described the worst Chair, Meme Omogbai talked up the digital museum mistakes in their museum careers, followed by an world and encouraged the audience to use their audience vote. smartphones to go online and sign up to their Pledge Next year’s AAM Forum will be in Seattle, again of Excellence. This immediately decimated the centred on 18 May as International Museum Day. bandwidth of the convention centre’s wi-fi, but the Handouts and audio recordings for selected sessions technological challenge elicited few grumbles and from this year can meanwhile be ordered via the AAM served to further promote awareness of the Pledge. website. AAM colleagues later stated that they were The 2014 Museums Australia Conference will take pleased with the Pledge take-up and hoped that place from 16 to 19 May in Launceston, Tasmania.  more museums would join their Museums Connect Laura Miles is executive director of Museums Australia initiative, which provides grants for projects of (Victoria) mutual interest between US museums and museums in other countries. Dean Phelus, Senior Director, Follow Museums Australia (Victoria) on Twitter: International Programs and Events, stressed new @_mavic or visit www.mavic.asn.au for museum linkage opportunities for Australian museums said: resources and Victorian sector events The Museums Connect program is an ideal This article was originally commissioned for the UK’s opportunity for Australian museums to partner with Museums Association and is reproduced with MA’s US museums to strengthen connections and crosspermission: http://www.museumsassociation.org/ cultural understanding on a range of issues in areas comment/04062013-laura-miles-traditional-meetsof common concern. These include environmental technological-at-the-aam-annual-meeting sustainability, demographic change, and social empowerment that engage respective communities Citation for this text: Laura Miles, ‘Back to the future: Traditional meets technological in project goals and learning outcomes.
AAM president Ford Bell meanwhile explained the rebranding of membership categories and services
at the AAM Annual Meeting’, Museums Australia Magazine, 21(4) & 22(1), double issue, Museums Australia, Canberra, Winter & Spring, 2013, p.54.
Connecting the Edge: within and beyond the Museum
Launceston, Tasmania 16-19 May The world is changing and the paradigms for museums today are shifting dramatically and constantly. This is a call to museum professionals, past, present and future to gather and explore new models, creative links, different collaborations that will connect us with our communities, environment and dreams for a vibrant cultural life. Come and listen to leaders of the sector provide their insights from experience, debate difficult issues with colleagues, exchange ideas to shake up the way we think and view our work and to create new paradigms that inspire our audiences and communities. The four-day conference, including a day dedicated to regional, remote and community museums and galleries will be complemented by uniquely Tassie experiences to enjoy.
> Call for Abstracts open September 2013 > Registration opens November 2013 > For more information visit www.ma2014.org.au
Published on Oct 4, 2013