What can the National Museum of Australia offer
Extension History teachers and students?
Aims of this session
• Background to NMA and relevance
to Extension History
• Example of how one school used the
NMA to in...
Is the NMA relevant to Extension History?
• What do you think?
• What kind of Museum is NMA?
What is its role and purpose?
Background to NMA
• Three content strands
• Vision
• Intellectual framework
• Mission
• Staffing
So what kind of Museum is NMA?
• A social history museum: What does this mean?
• A postmodern museum: What does this mean?...
Key questions
• What is a museum? Definition, purpose etc
• How does NMA interpret/construct Australian history?
• How are...
Relevance to Extension History so far?
• What ideas/thoughts have you had so
far about the relevance/usefulness of
the NMA...
Reactions to NMA since opening
• 2001 guiding principles
• 2001-2004 history wars
• 2003 review of NMA
• Is NMA of 2009 di...
Bell Falls Gorge display
Two contrasting opinions
• “Who are we (Australians) exactly, and how did we get to be this way? In
telling the stories of...
Relevance to Extension History
• Consider again the relevance of this material to Extension History.
Any more ideas/though...
Example 1: Trinity College Auburn using NMA to
introduce aspects of the Extension History syllabus
Program outline
10.45am...
Example 2: one student’s 2009 investigation
• Key question: How and to what extent are museums relevant to
contemporary Au...
Example 2: one student’s 2009 investigation
• Specific questions:
– What do you see as the greatest strengths of your muse...
Museums and Extension History
• Some relevant outcomes from the syllabus:
– Changing approaches to the construction of his...
A final quotation to consider…
• ‘Exhibitions are not books: they are distinctive forms of history-making
defined by the p...
How can NMA better support Extension
History teachers and students?
• Further ideas/thoughts about
the relevance of NMA (o...
How about…
• A teacher professional development day at NMA to further explore
ideas and immerse you in some of the issues ...
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'What can the National Museum of Australia offer Extension History teachers and students?

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This presentation was made by David Arnold at the History Teachers Association of NSW conference on 1 May 2009.

Published in: Education
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'What can the National Museum of Australia offer Extension History teachers and students?

  1. 1. What can the National Museum of Australia offer Extension History teachers and students?
  2. 2. Aims of this session • Background to NMA and relevance to Extension History • Example of how one school used the NMA to introduce Extension History • Example of a current Extension History student project involving the NMA • How can the NMA better support Extension History teachers and students?
  3. 3. Is the NMA relevant to Extension History? • What do you think? • What kind of Museum is NMA? What is its role and purpose?
  4. 4. Background to NMA • Three content strands • Vision • Intellectual framework • Mission • Staffing
  5. 5. So what kind of Museum is NMA? • A social history museum: What does this mean? • A postmodern museum: What does this mean? Is it true?
  6. 6. Key questions • What is a museum? Definition, purpose etc • How does NMA interpret/construct Australian history? • How are exhibitions created? • What research does NMA undertake and why? • What principles govern the acquisition of objects?
  7. 7. Relevance to Extension History so far? • What ideas/thoughts have you had so far about the relevance/usefulness of the NMA (or other museums) in relation to Extension History?
  8. 8. Reactions to NMA since opening • 2001 guiding principles • 2001-2004 history wars • 2003 review of NMA • Is NMA of 2009 different from its predecessor of 2001?
  9. 9. Bell Falls Gorge display
  10. 10. Two contrasting opinions • “Who are we (Australians) exactly, and how did we get to be this way? In telling the stories of Australia we have sought ways to ask significant questions about history and identity… We want to show audiences the Australian identity they are familiar with and then stretch the edges a little bit…” (Dawn Casey, Director, NMA, 2001) • “We decided early on in the Creating a Country exhibition development process that we wanted to avoid contested discussions about what constitutes an Australian identity or a national character… Rather than Creating a Country describing a national reach through defining or representing a national type or identity, we see the gallery as bringing together a series of ‘located’ histories. Each located history will explore the conjunction of ideas, peoples and landscapes in particular times and places…” (Kirsten Wehner, Senior Curator, NMA, 2009)
  11. 11. Relevance to Extension History • Consider again the relevance of this material to Extension History. Any more ideas/thoughts?
  12. 12. Example 1: Trinity College Auburn using NMA to introduce aspects of the Extension History syllabus Program outline 10.45am – 11am: Introduction: welcome and outline of the program 11am – 11.45am: First impressions of the role and purpose of the NMA from an initial exploration of the permanent galleries 11.45am – 12noon: Overview of the role and purpose of the museum 12noon – 12.45pm: Expanding our view of museums and the NMA in particular: Museums and research 1.15pm – 2.15pm: A second look at the museum’s galleries – collecting ‘evidence’ with digital cameras 2.15pm – 3pm: Concluding session: What were the recommendations of the 2003 Review committee and do you agree with them?
  13. 13. Example 2: one student’s 2009 investigation • Key question: How and to what extent are museums relevant to contemporary Australian society? – Relevance and role museums have in contemporary society, with a particular consideration of how they inform our perception of the past – How external influences impact upon the practice of historiography within the museum context
  14. 14. Example 2: one student’s 2009 investigation • Specific questions: – What do you see as the greatest strengths of your museum? – How do you and your colleagues seek to maintain relevance to contemporary Australia, in a constantly changing world, in terms of content, strategies, roles etc? – To what extent do historical, physical and financial constraints limit what you display? – What areas need to be further addressed, resources applied to? – To what extent do nationalistic, mythic and/or political factors affect the museum?
  15. 15. Museums and Extension History • Some relevant outcomes from the syllabus: – Changing approaches to the construction of history – Identity of historians/curators – Changing methods of historians/curators – Changing interpretations and perspectives – Designing an Investigation: museums as history, studying an institution
  16. 16. A final quotation to consider… • ‘Exhibitions are not books: they are distinctive forms of history-making defined by the powerful arrangement and display of objects in three- dimensional environments. Meaning – history – is made in exhibitions as visitors move through the display space, encountering evidence of the past, connecting objects, images, sounds and text, and asking what these artefacts can tell us about the experiences of other people.’ (Kirsten Wehner, Senior Curator, NMA, 2009)
  17. 17. How can NMA better support Extension History teachers and students? • Further ideas/thoughts about the relevance of NMA (or other museums) to Extension history • How can we develop these ideas/build relationships?
  18. 18. How about… • A teacher professional development day at NMA to further explore ideas and immerse you in some of the issues raised in this session (with guest speakers from the museum/workshop sessions etc) • A student day • What else?
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