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Museums in Australia from Pigott to Carroll

This is a series of three essays dealing with the history of museums in Australia, at a national level, from 1975 through 2004. It is a personal essay and does not attempt to be comprehensive in all respects.

Museums In Australia For Us: The Pigott Report 1975 To 1996

A National Museum opened in Canberra on March 11 2001, the centenary of Australia’s Federation: proposed in 1902, its establishment was again recommended in 1975 in one of the best reports on museums of the twentieth century. How did successive governments deal with that report and their responsibilities to ensure our movable cultural heritage was cared for? With less than the genuine commitment of resources by governments at all levels, with little understanding of the full range of museum activities and without regard for leadership, governance, intellectual inquiry or discovery. Continue reading Museums in Australia for us – Part 1

Museums In Australia, Part 2: After Pigott Or Towards National Museums And National Policies

Museums of history, science and art joined together in the 1990s and in collaboration with the Commonwealth Government and the States, through the Cultural Ministers Council, pursued programs advancing access to collections and collection conservation oversighted by the Heritage Collections Council. Museums contributed financially to these programs. The Council oversaw the publication of “The National Conservation and Preservation Strategy for Australia’s Heritage Collections” (published in 1998) which was recognised as spearheading an initiative to enable museums nationwide to identify their holdings of significance and to chart their preservation status and the AMOL website, considered to have revolutionised the way in which information is accessed about Australia’s cultural heritage. In 2000 a review, a “Key Needs Study”, was undertaken to identify the extent to which the Heritage Collections Council had advanced the role of museums. Continue reading Museums in Australia, Part 2

Museums In Australia, Part 3: Museums In Australia For A New Millennium

The Cultural Ministers Council established in May 2002 a consultative Forum to consider priorities, benchmarks, standards, strategies and programs to address the needs of collections, identify their community value and support their potential and the means of enhancing co-ordination. The Forum was also to advise upon the feasibility or otherwise of establishing a national industry body to represent the library, archives, museum and gallery sectors. Following the Forum’s recommendations, the Cultural Ministers have approved the establishment of an Australian Collections Council to represent the interests of, and formulate long-term strategies for, the sector. Whilst this is an important decision, some major issues have not been addressed. Continue reading Museums in Australia for Us – Part 3.