Friday, 18 October 2019

Bursary Winner: AMaGA National Conference 2019 report

Amy Cavanough, Registrar at QVMAG  was the deserved recipient of the AMaGAT Bursary 2019. This is her report from the AMaGA National Conference 2019.  

As an emerging professional in the field, the 2019 National Conference was the first AMaGA conference I have attended. I anticipated the conference would enable me to engage in networking opportunities and deepen my own knowledge and understanding in the sector. While this was a major benefit of the conference, I was much more confronted and inspired from the tensions that were articulated and greatly felt throughout the conference and extending into the sector.

Todd River, Mpantwe Alice Springs

These tensions ebbed and flowed throughout the sessions, but I came away with the conviction that these tensions are part of our remit. It is a common idea in current museology that museums are not neutral spaces, however I think sometimes we are uncomfortable in sitting in the uncomfortable. In the second Regional and Remote (R&R) Day, Mandy Paul, Director of the Migration Museum, commented that museums should be creating exhibitions that are complex and unresolved. She highlighted a multitude of elements that overlap and have to exist in the same space, plus more she did not discuss.

Russell Briggs, Nathan Sentence, Laura McBride, Sharni Jones and Courtney Marsh, all from the Australian Museum, spoke on the idea of Disruption is a Strategy; that diversity means disruption. They highlighted the tension in the division between First Nations frameworks and endemic, traditional, institutional frameworks. They stressed that it is hard to challenge and critique these frameworks because they are so embedded and invisible. While this may be uncomfortable, it is necessary to disrupt in order to gain true diversity and openness to genuine interpretation, content, and engagement outside traditional bounds.

Jacinta Koolmatrie and Jade Turner presented on the theme of Learning to Listen: Lessons in Cultural Renewal at the South Australian Museum. They stressed the idea that museums have never been a neutral space: Indigenous people have been the subject of our institutions, not the creator or even the audience. Museums made of bricks and mortar, with a linear presentation, are reflective of Western culture and progress narratives. With genuine engagement in diversity and allowing First Nations Peoples to have agency over their own narrative and frameworks, there is opportunity to develop exhibitions and narratives in a framework more aligned with First Nations frameworks. I was greatly struck by the notion that at their core, Museums operate as a colonial construct, within a colonial narrative. Exhibitions are largely constructed in a linear approach. And, museums in Australia largely promote, perhaps subconsciously, the idea of a Progress Narrative. However by highlighting the Progress Narrative, we often miss the local stories. Evelyn Parkin and Elisabeth Gondwe from the North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah argued that smaller museums are better placed to engage with local and complex narratives. They shared that while their audiences are sometimes unsettled by alternative stories, this is not something to shy away from.

Many of the sessions, both keynote and streams, focussed on the idea of community engagement, and community-led response/content. In one lightning session, Yael Fillipovic highlighted that museums and art galleries carry unwritten rules of how to behave in a museum, often reinforced by audiences rather than staff, which makes our spaces alienating. 

A number of presenters both at the R&R Days and the main conference discussed programs where the community or audience becomes the co-curator, co-builder, or collaborator: Erin Wilson (Devonport Regional Gallery), Allison Dellit (National Library of Australia), Keir Winesmith (Old Ways, New), Shaun Angeles (Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory), and Mariko Smith (Australian Museum) among others.

The 2019 AMaGA National Conference was a thought provoking, confronting, and challenging experience. I look forward to continuing these conversations with my colleagues at QVMAG, and in the wider cultural sector in Tasmania.

I would like to acknowledge the generous bursary support I received from the Emerging Professionals Network and AMaGA Tasmania to attend 'At the Centre: Our People, Our Places, Our Practices in Mpantwe, Alice Springs'. I would also like to acknowledge the support of my employer, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, in enabling me to attend the conference as a professional development opportunity.


Diary Date

Reminder that registration is soon to open for the 2020 AmaGA National Conference being held in Canberra from the 18-21 May. 

How to build an educational or public program from scratch

Join your colleagues from the Bass Strait Maritime Centre for the AMMC Regional Workshop and AGM in Devonport Tasmania, from the 31 October  to the 1 November 2019 (travel may be required on the 30 October 2019).

The theme of the Workshop is 'How to build an Educational and Public Program from scratch'. The Workshop will feature plenty of delegate interaction and learning with a range of experienced and interesting speakers. At the end of the workshop you will be in a position to build or refresh your own programs offer.

Some of the presenters

Chloe Simons – Secondary Coordinator (Teacher) Woodbridge School Marine Discovery Centre.
Geoff Dobson - Convention and Arts Centre Director: Churchill Fellowship.
Peter Tattersall – Head of Learning Australian National Maritime Museum.
Ben Arthur - Engagement Programs Coordinator CSIRO.
Jackson Pellow - Manager Brand and Marketing, Australian National Maritime Museum.

The Workshop is a series of participatory workshops

Workshop #1 How to build a Public Program from Scratch

Speaker: Geoff Dobson
Research and Implementation in developing a public program.

Speaker: Peter Tattersall
The process of experience and public program development at the ANMM using a whole of museum approach to idea sourcing and development, as well as the set of guidelines ANMM have developed to guide their decisions. Peter will some stories of success and failure that will offer value for program development across all AMMC institutions.

General Discussion led by: Peter Tattersall, Geoff Dobson and Ben Arthur

Expect to learn: Process of constructing an overall public programming goal and creation of events and leaning opportunities to meet that goal. How to build a series of programs to connect together with goals/mission/exhibitions. What sources of funding options are there? Any strategies for getting funding for a public program?

Workshop #2 How to build an Educational Program from Scratch

Speaker: Chloe Simons
Museum education pedagogy – ideas for teaching in a day-visit setting.
• How to provide engaging learning experiences utilising museum artefacts and displays.
• Linking the museum visit with pre and post visit activities for teachers.
• Using technology in a museum setting.

Speaker: Peter Tattersall.
ANMM’s approaches to both onsite and online educational experiences. ANMM process of curriculum mapping, development, marketing and delivery. The importance on organisational direction and strategy in shaping education programs and how we report on our success to ensure support for the program.
Activity: Build Your Own Educational Program lead by Ben Arthur
Expect to learn: How to build an educational program so teachers are excited by it and bring their classes in? What sources of funding options are there? Any strategies for getting funding for an educational program?

Workshop #3 Working with the Australian National Curriculum AND
How do we connect with older (high school) students?

Speaker: Ben Arthur
The role of the Marine National Facility as a platform for marine education and training, in addition to supporting and enabling excellence in marine research. In line with the recommendations of the National Marine Science Plan, we have developed and implemented a number of educational programs over the last couple of years, targeted at both students and teachers. Ben will discuss these programs which include the Educator on Board, Floating Classroom, Collaborative Australian Postgraduate Sea-Training Alliance Network (CAPSTAN) and the Indigenous Time at Sea Scholarship. 

Speaker: Chloe Simons
• Navigating the Australian Curriculum.
• Examples of lesson plans to support a museum visit.
• Working with teenagers - Designing and presenting   experiential learning activities for students in years 7-12

Activity: Build Your Own Educational Program with the Curriculum, using same themes/programming as previous session – work with the Curriculum for a particular age group.

Activity: Explore how to tailor the programming.

Panel Discussion with Ben Arthur, Chloe Simons, Steve Reid on questions from the floor

Expect to Learn: What kind of hands-on activities do older students connect with? How do we mine the ANC for inspiration and how do we make Curriculum connections explicit and attractive for teachers? Are there strategies for how you present yourself to a high school group as opposed to (or similarly to) presenting to a primary school or general public group? Funding options?

Workshop #4: Ways of learning marketing segmentation AND
Targeting specific ways of learning in public and educational programming
Speaker: Jackson Pellow
Market Research and Outcomes for Public Programs

Speaker: Peter Tattersall 
‘Curriculum 101’ curriculum websites and forms, how to understand the structure and navigate it all.

Expect to learn: What market research has been done and the outcomes from that research. How to conduct local research and use both data sets to drive public and educational programming to meet market demand. 

Download the full program here.

Booking enquiries email

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Private collections and memories

This post* features two projects from the north of the state which feature private collections and landmarks.

Private collections

This exhibition explores the private collections of local people.  Marvel at the intricate model boats on display, the wonderful wombat figurines, have a hoot over the owls, become more familiar with English satire from a range of 'Punch' magazines, learn about early commerce in Australia and Tasmania with a selection of promissory notes or just enjoy the whole exhibition and wonder about the art of collecting - if you have more than 3 of a set, you have a collection!

On now until December 2019

St. Helens History Room                              
61 Cecilia Street, St. Helens, Tas. 7216
Phone: (03) 6376 1479

Landmarks: A photographic journey of local icons

The Burnie Regional Museum is running public programs to celebrate its current temporary exhibition, Landmarks: A photographic journey of local icons, throughout Burnie Shines festival. Here is one coming up soon...

Landmarks of the North-West: A Tasmanian Aboriginal Perspective
Guest Speaker from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
Wednesday 23rd October @ Burnie Regional Museum

If you’re interested in attending this event, please book via RSVP to 03 6430 5746 or

The community is invited to share their special landmarks with the museum, from family picnics, farm visits, bush walks to beach days…Share favourite landmarks, stories and photos of places in the North-West. Tag the Burnie Regional Museum’s Facebook page and they will share your photos throughout Burnie Shines!

*Promote your event through AMaGAT

We would love to share your upcoming member events, exhibitions, programs, staffing changes or celebrations through this blog and via our Facebook page.

Email your info to

Provide as much detail as possible in a Word document (not a PDF) and if you have images (always a winner) attach them in separate files in JPG format.  For example images sent from a smartphone  come in this format. These requirements are very simple but specific--otherwise your information can be difficult to publish. This attached form may help you gather these details-but feel free to send whatever you have--did  I mention it must be in Word and as a JPG?  😊

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Making Friends

Australian Federation of Friends of Museums

2019 Annual General Meeting


Friday 25 October

A free event

The Friends of TMAG is hosting the Australian Federation of Friends of Museums 2019 Annual General Meeting in Hobart on Friday 25 October. The AFFM invites Tasmanian museums and galleries to join them and as guests of AFFM there will be no charge for your attendance.

PROGRAM Friday 25 October 2019

10.00 am Meet at TMAG (Dunn Place Hobart). Tea & Coffee provided.

10:15 am Welcome by Janet Carding - Director of Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery AGM Meeting to be held

12.00 pm Light luncheon

1.30 pm A guided tour of the Julie Gough “Tense Past” exhibition with the curator Dr Mary Knights Free afternoon

5:30 - 7pm Drinks reception at The Maritime Museum of Tasmania (16 Argyle St Hobart) - including access to the museum

If you or others of your organisation wish to attend

They would love to see you there.

What is a Friend?

The role of a Museum Friends Group  is to support its chosen museum fulfill its mission.  Friends may advocate for the Museum or fund raise via events and programs that may be exclusive to Members or offered to the public. Friends are sometimes given discounted museum entry or their own place to  relax during a museum visit.  Friends are a close member  of a museum community.  Friends often become friends.

About The  Australian Federation of Friends of Museums 

The Australian Federation of Friends of Museums (AFFM), is a national, not for profit organisation connecting museum, gallery and library supporters throughout Australia. AFFM provides support and communication channels between members groups, friends and volunteers within arts and cultural  organisations.  It is unique in that the focus is on supporting the groups that are the backbone of our favourite museums, galleries and libraries.