Museums Australia Conference Day 1

Tuesday at the Museums Australia Conference – a summary

The Museums Australia conference is being held this year at the University of Adelaide. The University sits alongside the South Australian Museum, Gallery and Library, so we are well-placed in the cultural hub of Adelaide.

The day began with a very warm Welcome to Country by Aunty Josie and an official opening by the Minister for Arts, John Hill. There was also a welcome from Andrew Sayers of the National Museum, who is also the President of Museums Australia.

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Museums Australia Victoria Conference – 29 March

Museums Australia Victoria Conference at the University of Ballarat

Last week Ballarat hosted the inaugural state conference for the Victorian branch of Museums Australia.  It was great to have the event in our regional town and a good initiative to support those from smaller regional organisations to attend this kind of professional development opportunity.

I attended the first day of the two-day conference, which included six keynote presentations, a parallel session and a workshop.  I was also one of a small, but dedicated, group of tweeters.  Big twitterers included: @Maggiwithoutane @LMBourke and @MeganSheehy who helped to keep the conversation robust.

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Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 4

The last day at the MA and IA conference began with another contrasting mix of keynote speakers.  First was Professor Ross Gibson who talked about the power of art to transform a person and the importance of considering emotions and aesthetics when planning exhibition to encourage this transformation.  I understood the ideas he expressed and I have seen the power an aesthetically thoughtful space can provide, but I thought the ideas were possibly over-analytical for a good portion of the audience and that some practical suggestions could have made the information more useful.

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Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 3

Back at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth for Day 3, the program began with some very different keynotes. Firstly Andrea Witcomb discussed, from quite a philosophical platform, how immersive or interactive approaches provide reflective opportunities to build empathy of challenging topics.  Andrea used the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin as an example of a good reflective space.  She argued that these spaces are important because: visitors need the provision of some vantage point to question their own relationship to the topic.  Andrea compared these reflective spaces to role-play experiences putting the visitor in the victims place, which she thought easily became a farce and did not allow for an emotional transition.  I felt however, that it was comparing a very good immersive space example to an average role-play example.  I don’t believe it means we should dismiss role play out of hand – especially in the case of children visitors.

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Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 2

Day 2 at the Museums Australia Interpretation Australia Conference was Community, Regional and Specialist Museums Day.  It was a great day showcasing a wide range of impressive projects and stories from across the country.

The first Keynote was given by Alec Cole who is currently the CEO of the Museum of WA, but previously worked with the Tyne and Weir Network of Museums in the UK.    He talked at some length about the Regional model employed in Tyne and Weir to develop and grow the museums and galleries in that region.  I was quite interested in this having spent time at Beamish, who was involved in the project, earlier this year.  There were some great programs within the project, including the MAGIC (Museums and Galleries Inspiring Children) travelling program and the ‘I Like…’ marketing initiative where visitors are encouraged to find sites and events that meet their needs.  Alec suggested that the model of regional hubs, which can offer support for cross-marketing, region-wide programs and training, could be used successfully in Australia.

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Museums Australia Conference – Reflections from Day 1

This week I’m fortunate enough to be attending the Museums Australia and Interpretation Australia Conference – At The Frontier – in Perth.  I am enjoying taking the time-out to think broadly, be inspired, meet new people and collect new ideas and understandings.

The day started with a very moving Welcome to Country by two local indigenous men Richard and Trevor.  It was presented bilingually and made the delegates feel truly welcome.  I found it very uplifting and a great way to start the conference.

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