Friday, October 8, 2010

Museums Australia Conference 2010

Interesting Times: new roles for collections was the theme of the Museums Australia Conference held in Melbourne from 28 September to 2 October 2010. Generally it was an interesting and sometimes thought provoking experience though by the end of four days I was definitely suffering from information overload. As well as plenary sessions each day along with parallel sessions and workshops more informal discussion sessions were available along with the opportunity to visit a number of collections.

The official opening was held on the Tuesday evening at Melbourne Museum where, after the speeches, we were able to view the Science and Life exhibitions in the ground floor galleries. Interactive features often support the displays and as some of the techniques used in the exhibitions were later discussed  at some conference sessions it was useful to have seen and tried them. This was, of course, the first of many networking opportunities at the conference.

The MAPDA Awards reception was held on the Wednesday evening at the State Library of Victoria. The awards are presented for excellence in design of museum materials including reports, invitations, posters, catalogues, web design etc. There was also opportunity to view the current exhibition, 'til you drop, in the Keith Murdoch Gallery - an exhibition on shopping in Melbourne - as well as a very quick look at the exhibitions in the galleries which I must revisit when there is more time.

The closing reception on the Friday evening was at the soon to be reopened Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne providing an opportunity to view this collection.

The Conference Dinner, which I didn't attend, was held at the National Gallery of Victoria.

I attended two workshops in the Leigh Scott Room in the Baillieu Library outside of which was a display from another University of Melbourne collection on dentistry as practised in earlier times in Australia.

As well as at the conference sessions a number of other opportunities were provided to listen to speakers. Melbourne Conversations held at BMW Edge at Federation Square on the Thursday evening included speakers from the conference including Stephen Heppell, Michelle Hippolite and David McFadden as well as Adrian Franklin discussing the topic, Museums and collections: Are they telling the stories of a diverse society?

There were also two question and answer sessions - xCHANGE - held in the Student Bar, perhaps not the best location for hearing what was going on. These informal sessions, providing further contact with some of the conference speakers, were each chaired by Amanda Smith or Derek Guille from 774.

The opportunities presented by the use of technology in museums to enhance exhibitions as well as for communication were discussed in a number of the sessions that I attended and as time permits I will add posts about some of the papers and issues discussed.