3.30pm – 5.00pm

Concurrent Session 15

David Fishel, Positive Solutions, Sharyn May, The Maytrix Group
Placing museums and galleries at the heart of local identity

Drawing on initiatives and experiences from both the museum and galleries sector, and the performing arts sector, this session will explore the ways in which museums can integrate their programs and their longer-term planning with the needs and wants of their community, and increase the sense of connection and ownership by that community. Community may be defined as a local area, or as a constituency of interest.

The session will consider:
– What constitutes ‘relevance’ for a contemporary museum?
– How can a museum’s community be defined?
– How can a museum’s programs be integrated or linked with those of other agencies? Within a government or local government context, how can the museum’s work be linked with the work of other sections and policy priorities of government?
– How can a museum make itself more ‘public’, enhance the sense of the museum as public space?
– What are the ways in which customer services – including commercial services – and ‘management philosophy’ contribute to the sense of engagement and ownership by the public?

The session will include case material from a range of museums and performing arts centres – and include time for sharing experience and airing of issues and challenges.

Paul Bowers, Museum Victoria, Ellie Downing, Australian Museum
Failing forward

Many museums are embracing experimentation, and ‘failing forward’. But we nonetheless have a strong culture of only celebrating successes: admitting error can be seen as career-limiting! But our failures are powerful in our learning, as an individual, organisation. As a sector we will not achieve the innovation we need if our teams are too scared of failure to take true risks, and unable to use failure as a learning tool for future improvement.

This fun, upbeat session creates a safe space for sharing stories of our embarrassing mistakes, and allows the participants to vote for the best failure. The winner gets a prize.

The format was run with great success at the American Alliance of Museums conference in 2016. Participants shared such stories as dropping artefacts, releasing a poisonous snake into the executive suite, and mishandling a light fitting allowing a swinging globe to smash just millimetres from a van Gogh.

The atmosphere of amused reflection allows participants to feel empowered to embrace their mistakes, learn from them and ‘fail forward’.

Concurrent Session 16

Dr Claire Baddeley, Goulburn-Mulwaree Council
Two histories: exploring cultural heritage interpretation in Goulburn’s historic places

The New South Wales regional town of Goulburn was in a unique position during the mid-19th century as a centre on the great Southern Road to Sydney. Settlement followed the explorations of Throsby, Hamilton Hume, Meehan and Oxley, from 1818 onwards, whose discovery of the ‘Goulburn Plains’ led to an influx of adventurers and land seekers. The town, originally surveyed in 1828, was moved to its present site in 1833.

While the development of regional Australia is frequently told through formal historical narratives, how are regional histories and associated interpretations of cultural landscapes , such as those in Goulburn, expressed through the fabric of buildings and places? This paper seeks to explore the interweaving of regional history, museums and cultural landscape interpretation through an analysis of the significance of two significant buildings in Goulburn; St Clair Villa (built 1843) and Rocky Hill War Memorial (built in 1925), which today operate as museums.

The interaction between regional history, buildings and the interpretation of cultural landscapes in Goulburn from the 1840s is discussed, along with why and how these buildings have been retained and interpreted as museums – part social movement, part organisation and part malaise. Through an understanding of what has been preserved and how it has been interpreted by past and current generations, insights are provided into the nature of shifting regional histories in NSW, the interpretation of surrounding cultural landscapes and the role museums play in telling these stories of people and place.

Peter Connell, Louise Bauer, Sunshine Coast Council
Sustainable regional heritage: best practice on the Sunshine Coast

Since its introduction in 2009, an incredibly diverse array of heritage projects have been delivered as a result of Sunshine Coast Council’s Cultural Heritage Levy. So what is it? How has heritage benefitted?

The Cultural Heritage Levy is charged per household via the rates payment. It aims to:
– Protect cultural places such as buildings and other significant sites
– Raise people’s awareness of the value of local heritage
– Celebrate the cultural heritage of the Sunshine Coast.

In 2015, the important work of the levy was acknowledged through the adoption of a 5 year Heritage Plan. The plan identifies five outcome areas and delivers a strategic blueprint to understanding, sharing and celebrating the region’s heritage.

The levy has successfully raised the profile and sustainability of heritage in the region. Some of the key projects include:
– Conservation and preservation of Bankfoot House Heritage Precinct and its extensive collection
– Professional development for the heritage sector
– Operational funding for organisations
– Events and promotional support
– Digital stories and film projects
– Initiatives and projects lead by local indigenous groups

This year (2016/17) the levy has increased from $5 to $8 per annum: a pool of $1,061,000 for heritage programs.

The presentation will include a discussion of the Cultural Heritage Levy – one of few in the country – through case studies of key projects and initiatives. Is this a new model for regional sustainability?

Brett Dunlop, The Sovereign Hill Museums Association
Transforming practice through UNESCO’s Historic Urban Landscape approach

Application of UNESCO’s Historic Urban Landscape approach (HUL) in the regional city of Ballarat is predicting broad change for our understanding of cultural heritage and reframing cultural heritage practice itself. The HUL requires a mindset shift, going beyond insitu preservation of things to maintaining complex social values in dynamic environments.

This paper brings lessons from Ballarat as a centre of international excellence in applying a new cultural landscape framework to urban environments, highlighting the potential for museums to see themselves as part of this new framework.

Concurrent Session 17

Madeleine Borthwick, Kiss the Frog
Pervasive is persuasive: creating immersive exhibitions

Digital and physical boundaries are blurring. With the rise of pervasive computing, the distinction between what is digital and what is physical becomes less clear. Our technology lets us move seamlessly between one and the other, online we are anywhere – everywhere – despite being anchored in a physical reality. What attraction can a tangible place like a museum still hold?

When we do things right, a place has the power to immerse and impress – and get under people’s skin in a way that nothing else can. Places have spatial and tangible qualities, things that digital technology on its own just doesn’t give us. But digital technologies can be leveraged to enhance a place. Many museums are looking towards the creation of immersive exhibitions as a new way to bring their message across loud and clear, and draw people deeply into their stories. By redefining what it is to visit a museum.

Kiss the Frog has developed many immersive exhibitions; where visitors are drawn in to an experience from the moment they walk in the door, becoming part of something bigger until they leave again at the end. This presentation will give a peek behind the scenes of a selection of these projects, including how they were created, what they offer and the thinking process behind them. This includes:
– Rijksmuseum Family Quest, Amsterdam
– In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres
– The OO-Zone, Brabant Nature Museum
– Wonderkamers, The Hague Municipal Museum
– Papiria, Children’s Literature Museum, The Hague

Dr Jennifer Gall, National Film & Sound Archive
How NFSA collections animate archetypes in the Australian cultural landscape

The contemporary cultural landscape where the National Film and Sound archive operates is one defined by a history of transnational interactions, both economic and artistic. Museum and gallery audiences world-wide depend upon the flow of people, ideas, and goods across national boundaries and yet, to maintain visitor interest in this interchange, each country and its institutions strive for a unique cultural identity – especially in a world of increasingly elaborate online and multi-media exhibitions.

In this landscape, the moving image and the artefacts used by film-makers to create characters and tell stories are immensely powerful in communicating with diverse audiences. Film makers have long engaged in producing artistic work that addresses universal issues while presenting idiosyncratic Australian values, landscape, historical issues and characters. The NFSA’s holdings of still and moving images, scripts, production documents and costumes are a rich resource for online and physical exhibitions, revealing the processes used by film makers to capture the essence of plot, historical narrative and character.

This paper will discuss the curatorial decisions behind online and physical exhibitions curated for ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’; ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ and describe the selection of items for the 2017 touring exhibition collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery – ‘Starstruck: Portraits from the Movies’.

Maria Cleary, Queensland Performing Arts Centre Museum
Sweida’s theatrical supplies: 100 years behind the scenes in Brisbane

Sweida’s wig, makeup and ballet shop has been part of Brisbane’s theatrical, business and social landscape for over 100 years.

QPAC Museum recently received a fascinating donation from the estate of Mrs. Elva Sweida. Mrs. Sweida, formerly Miss Elva Gunn, was a dancer and ballet teacher, and among other things, worked with the Cremorne Ballet during the 1940’s in a role that is described in programs as ‘director of stage action’. Mrs. Sweida’s husband, Lou Sweida was Brisbane’s man of the moment for handmade theatrical wigs, hair and make-up for stage, and eventually television. The collection includes autographed programs from local and touring companies and artists (c.1950’s), many wonderful photographs as well as news clippings and business ephemera.

Sweida’s was established by Lou’s father in Fortitude Valley in 1912, moving to the Brisbane Arcade in 1923, where it operated continuously until the 1980’s. The business has moved premises several times but is still owned and operated, primarily as a fancy dress costume business, by the Sweida family.

This is a delightful and distinctly local collection. This paper will explore aspects of its cultural and social significance, as well as its power to enrich stories the QPAC Museum collection already tells.

Concurrent Session 18

Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, Jane Jennison, Inala Wangarra
Jarjums Life Museum – co-creating contemporary museum exhibitions with Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander children and communities

Jarjums Life Museum is a creative process designed for jarjums, their families, Elders and communities to work with professional artists to create contemporary, personal pop-up museums. The museums created by the jarjums document the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – their here and now, what life is like growing up today.

Delivered in partnership by Inala Wangarra and Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Jarjums Life Museum worked with over 85 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and delivered 3 pop-up museums in 3 different locations.

Jarjums Life Museum provided opportunities for the children to tell and interpret their own stories both within their community and to the wider world. Children told stories about what they value, what they think and what they want the viewer to know about themselves, their family and their community.

The JLM philosophy is simple:
– Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children should be visible in mainstream society. They are as important, interesting and relevant as their white contemporaries.
– Children are positioned as artists, experts and decision makers with the requisite skills and ideas to be co-collaborators in the creative process
– Collaboration with parents, Elders, teachers, school administrators and communities is essential to creating work that is exciting, vibrant and above all, relevant and genuine.

This presentation will address the process, museum outcomes and how to create engaging exhibits alongside children and their communities.

Concurrent Session 19

Chun-hsi Wang, National Taipei University
Museum of Daily Life in rural cultural landscape in Taiwan

A rural area may be considered as a cultural landscape with cultural heritage value. The landscape consists of various elements – tangible and intangible, monumental and ordinary. Sometimes a formal museum may be created in the cultural landscape, to show the most important and representative elements. However, the rural cultural landscape should not be preserved in the museum only. The daily life in the cultural landscape may be the principal element by which the scenario is created, while it is not necessary to be presented in a formal museum. Instead, the practice process is meaningful if it is presented at the real site. In this sense, the museum of daily life may be an alternative for conservation and presentation for the value of a cultural landscape. In the hill area of southern Taiwan, there is a landscape of Longan tree and its baking oven. To preserve the fruit of Longan, the baking oven made by earth or stone will bake with low temperature for 7 days, by which the more sweet and rich taste dried fruit is made. For hundred years, this practice has become part of daily life of people which present the character of combination of nature and people in a cultural landscape. In this paper, the practice of a museum of daily life will be discussed, and the importance for the conservation of a cultural landscape will be also analyzed.

Imelda Miller, Queensland Museum Network
A complex state: an exploration of Australian South Sea Islander identity

Queensland is unique in Australia in having two Indigenous communities: Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. The tip of Cape York is only four kilometres from the Papua New Guinea mainland. Torres Strait Islanders are one of the many enduring connections between Indigenous Australia and the Pacific. Within these complex relationships and ongoing engagement emerges another cultural community the Australian South Sea Islanders (ASSI).

A unique culture and indigenous to nowhere, Australian South Sea Islanders are the descendants of South Sea Islanders brought to Australia between 1863 and 1904 to work the cotton and sugar plantations. They were sourced as a cheap form of labour, mainly from Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, but also Fiji, Kiribati, and Papua New Guinea. Some were tricked, others were kidnapped or ‘blackbirded’, to work as indentured labourers who were paid little or no wages.

Museums are sites for complex interactions and ideas. A place where Aboriginal People, Torres Strait Islanders and Australian South Sea Islanders can explore and express their own identity through the collections, exhibitions and programming. Imelda will explore how identity is anchored and asserted in complex communities through engagement with objects and histories.

Dr Gretchen Stolte, Australian National University
At the Nez Perce National Historical Park Visitor’s Centre

The Nez Perce National Historical Park Visitor’s Centre is located on the Nez Perce Reservation in Spalding, Idaho, in the western United States. The Nez Perce are a federally recognised tribe with treaty rights dating back to 1855 but are spread out across three states and several reservations. The Park is a federal government entity that acts as a bridge between non-Native visitors and those living down the road at the Tribe’s administrative centre of Lapwai, Idaho. The Park is not only a visitor’s centre however as it is also a museum, arguably holding the greatest concentration of Nez Perce material culture in the entire world. A federal entity on tribal land, the Park is a visitor’s centre, a cultural hub, a keeping place, an archive and a museum.

The Nez Perce Historical Park Visitor’s Centre straddles multiple worlds and life ways, making it an interesting cross-cultural case study for Australian Musuem Studies. This paper is based on fieldwork conducted at the Park and first hand interviews exploring the role of the visitor’s centre, its connection and engagement with the Nez Perce people, and how the Nez Perce in turn interact with the museum. The initial purpose of the research was two fold: 1) develop a model of comparison with art centres and museums here in Australia; and 2) connect with my own heritage as a Nez Perce person. This presentation explores those two components and draws out some parallels and lessons for an Australian context.