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Research and scholarship underpin all the Museum’s exhibitions and programs, and are critical to the Museum achieving its PBS outcome. Under the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, the Museum is mandated to conduct and disseminate research about Australian history.

Centre for Historical Research

The Centre for Historical Research’s associates have taken an active part in scholarly research across a range of fields relevant to the Museum. The highlights of the year included:

  • a ‘Tribute to Bob Edwards’ at which museum professionals and other associates from Dr Edwards’s long and influential career gathered to pay tribute to his achievements
  • the production of books, articles and papers
  • hosting a broad-based research program involving centre members, staff curatorial research fellows, centre associates and visitors, with support from the Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • gaining research funding, including a grant from the Australian Academy of the Humanities to investigate the material culture of Oceania in Italy, an Australian Research Council grant to support the ‘Alive with the Dreaming: Songlines of the Western Desert’ project, and the ARC-funded project ‘Anzac Day at home and overseas’.

Strategic research partnerships

As well as maintaining and developing networks and relationships with researchers across Australia and internationally, the Museum maintains partnerships with key kindred bodies. These include links with the Australian National University (especially the Museums and Collections course, the National Centre for Indigenous History and the School of History, and a close partnership with the Centre for Environmental History). As part of the Victorian Bushfire Project, a key project with the Centre for Environmental History, the Museum supported the work of filmmaker Moira Fahy and her film on the Black Saturday bushfire at Steels Creek, Victoria. The centre maintains links with other research centres, notably the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London, and Curtin University’s Australia, Asia and the Pacific Institute.

Australian Research Council grants

The Museum actively collaborates in research ventures with other museums and with academic institutions. In 2010–11 the Museum completed a project funded by the Australian Research Council (‘Conciliation narratives and the historical imagination’, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery). It also embarked upon two new partnerships, investigating songlines of the Western Desert and the history of Anzac Day.

Supporting the research program

The Museum’s Library is part of the Centre for Historical Research and supports research across the institution. It holds more than 40,000 books, journals and other items, mainly dealing with museum studies, conservation and Indigenous and Australian history. The Library provides a reference collection for Museum staff and develops special collections, mainly comprising personal papers and book collections relevant to the Museum and its themes.

reCollections: A Journal of Museums and Collections

The Museum’s scholarly e-journal, reCollections, continues as a leading vehicle for museum and collection research in Australia, with a growing national and international reputation. The journal has become particularly noteworthy for publishing reviews (14 in 2010–11) of exhibitions in Australia and internationally.

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