May 17, 2011

Museums Australia: Museums, Memory & Ethics Symposium

The forthcoming symposium on Museums, Memory and Ethics (19-20 May 2011, in Canberra) offers a rare opportunity to experience international experts and colleagues on 3 related themes that have not been brought together in any public event presented by Museums Australia in the last decade.

It is also timely that the ICOM International Museum Day theme for 2011 (Museum and Memory) has proved so convenient a partner to some other topics colleagues have been asking MA for a long time to provide a lead in covering.

In addition to speakers exploring such rich topics as oral history, Indigenous 20th century histories rewoven in collective memory, the Stolen Generations’ torn memories, international repatriation successes from abroad and return of Old Peoples at last to their rightful filial company in Indigenous communities, there is more.  There will be coverage of immigrant histories as diverse as the Chinese and the Irish in Australia since settlement (by experts in these fields).

Two of the world’s most outstanding experts on international cultural heritage law, and relationships with ethics and museum practices, happen to be Australians who’ve retired to Queensland but are still sharing their expertise generously (Prof. Lyndel Prott AO and Dr Patrick O’Keefe AM).  Both are warm and accessible as well as knowledgeable speakers; they’ve donated their time and expertise to travel and talk with museum colleagues in Canberra next week.  They believe passionately in the importance of ethics codes in museums and will encourage us all to realise how our behaviour assists international cultural heritage conventions, but even keeps standards moving in advance of the law – and eventually can change it.

There will be a concentration on ethics standards specifically, and the vivid world of cases, seizures and public trials that has kept international media attention continuously interested in museum collections and past practices (and ethics) – to a degree we could not have imagined a decade ago.  Three expert lecturers from three different museum studies courses (Univ.Sydney, Macquarie, and Deakin) will facilitate separate workshops, for some brains-on evaluation of recent controversial cases in Australia that have brought museum behaviour and standards into the glare of public attention.  (Media coverage & case material will be provided.)

To round off the two-day event, registrants with be treated to a rich visual survey of some international museum projects, from the Barmiyan Buddhas area in Afghanistan to reconstruction of communities and economic sustainability in Vietnam, to ensure a short but intensive international reflection on the connections between museum-work, memory-work and ethics-work today.

There is still a few days to join this rich gathering.

Registration details at:

Lee Scott
Manager, National Office
Museums Australia
Old Parliament House, Canberra
PO Box 266, Civic Square, ACT 2608
02 6273 2437 PH
02 6273 2451 FX

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