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Temporary and travelling exhibitions

Mr Martin Lutz standing at a podium and speaking into a microphone.
Mr Martin Lutz, Ambassador to Australia for the Federal Republic of Germany, speaks at the opening of Cook's Pacific Encounters.

Developing and presenting exhibitions is one of the key functions of the Museum, as specified in the National Museum of Australia Act 1980. This year, the temporary and travelling exhibitions program continued to expand and included content that supports the Museum's core themes of land, nation and people. The Museum developed four temporary exhibitions and hosted three buy-in exhibitions at the Acton site, toured nine travelling exhibitions throughout Australia, collaborated on a major exhibition for an international venue and commenced planning to host two major international exhibitions during the next three years.

 

Cook's Pacific Encounters: The Cook–Forster Collection of the Georg-August University of Göttingen (June – September 2006)

This major international exhibition showcased, for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere, the world's largest identifiable collection of artefacts from Captain James Cook's Pacific voyages. The exhibition comprised 350 ritual and everyday items, collected between 1768 and 1779 from islands including Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand and Hawai'i. They are now held by the Georg-August University of Göttingen in Germany.

Image at top: Group shot of dancers on stage in traditional dress. Image at bottom: Female dancer in traditional dress.
Dancers from the Tongan Association of Canberra and Queanbeyan and Te kere Ote Tarakakao, Canberra and Queanbeyan Maori Culture Group, entertain guests at the
opening of Cook's Pacific Encounters.

German Ambassador Martin Lutz and Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin, Director, Institute of Ethnology, University of Göttingen, launched the exhibition on 30 June 2006. The exhibition (supported by the Australian Government's Art Indemnity Australia Program) was brought to Australia in conjunction with Art Exhibitions Australia and included a component, developed by Museum curators and staff, exploring Cook's Australian experiences.

 

Life in the Pacific
(July – October 2006)

This photographic exhibition complemented Cook's Pacific Encounters. It was developed by the Honolulu Academy of Arts and showcased the present-day lives and culture of Pacific communities visited by Cook in the 1700s.

 

Beaded Links: The Beaded Links of the Commonwealth of Nations (August 2006 – February 2007)

This buy-in exhibition, initially developed for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, explored the common heritage of beading throughout Commonwealth nations and included historic and contemporary jewellery, costume, and religious and ritual artefacts. Key objects were a beaded dress from the personal collection of Queen Elizabeth II, sixteenth-century glass beads from Nigeria, rosary beads which belonged to Cardinal Pell's grandmother and maireener shell necklaces from Tasmania.

A variety of fishhooks within a display case that is illuminated with a blue light.
A superb display of fishhooks was among objects shown for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere in Cook's Pacific Encounters.

 

Between the Flags: 100 Years of Surf Lifesaving (December 2006 – February 2007 and touring)

This major temporary exhibition celebrates the centenary of surf lifesaving in 2007. Developed in collaboration with Surf Life Saving Australia, it examines the history of surf lifesaving, the lifesaver as an Australian icon, beach culture and stories of the people who patrol our beaches.

 

Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons (December 2006 – February 2007 and touring)

This was the latest in the Museum's long-running series of exhibitions presenting the previous year's best political cartoons. An inaugural award was introduced this year for 'Contribution to Political Cartooning'. The People's Choice Award was again awarded for the cartoon most popular with visitors. At the National Museum and the Big Laugh Comedy Festival in Parramatta it was won by John Farmer's Bananas and at the Museum of the Riverina in Wagga Wagga it was won by Phil Somerville's A Bit of a Chat.

 

Miss Australia: A Nation's Quest (March – June 2007 and touring)

Repository officer Mark Worrall (in forklift) and conservators David Hallam and Ainslie Greiner inspect the base of a 1940s wooden surfboat.
Repository officer Mark Worrall (in forklift) and conservators David Hallam and Ainslie Greiner inspect the base of a 1940s surfboat.
Two women, one in a wheelchair, inspect the display of surf lifesaving caps on display in the Between the Flags exhibition.
Visitors are fascinated by the display of surf lifesaving caps in Between the Flags: 100 Years of Surf Lifesaving.

This exhibition explores the splendour, romance and glamour of one of the nation's most successful charity endeavours, the Miss Australia Quest, and traces the quest's history from humble beginnings in 1908 through to its final year in 2000. Gowns, trophies and sceptres, along with the personal stories of titleholders, volunteers, fundraisers and sponsors, are features of the exhibition.

Miss Australia opened at the Museum of Brisbane in October 2006, was shown at the National Museum in the first half of 2007 and will finish its tour with an extended season at the Melbourne Museum until April 2008.

 

70% Urban (March 2007 – January 2008)

This exhibition draws on the Museum's collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material to explore the growth of dynamic urban Indigenous cultures across Australia. It features a diverse range of objects and artworks that show how Indigenous people have drawn on new materials and ideas to assert their identity through the telling of stories about cultural survival.

Image on left: 70% Urban exhibition banner and jeep painted with Indigenous motifs. Image on right: Artwork by Helen Tiernan featuring two Indigenous women.
70% Urban explores the growth of urban Indigenous cultures across
Australia. The exhibition features artworks by the Campfire Group (left)
and Helen S Tiernan (right).
Tim Fischer, sitting holding his hat and and a book, in front of the Great Railway Journeys of Australia exhibition banner.
Tourism Australia chairman and rail buff Tim Fischer AC speaks at the opening of All Aboard! 150 Years of Railways in Australia.

Great Railway Journeys of Australia (April – August 2007)

This exhibition, from the Workshops Rail Museum, Ipswich, Queensland, explored the development of Australia's rail network. It featured some of the most famous railway journeys in Australia including the Indian Pacific, the old and new Ghan and the Queenslander.

Key objects included a 1920s dining car and a model of the Southern Aurora club car.

'67 Referendum: Spin, Myths and Meanings (March 2007 – January 2008)

This display commemorates the 40th anniversary of the referendum which saw 90 per cent of Australians vote to remove references in the Australian constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal people. It explores the facts and myths about the referendum and recalls some of the activities involved in achieving these changes.

Travelling exhibitions

Engaging national audiences, as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2004–07, has been a priority for the Museum. Travelling exhibitions provide an important vehicle for achieving this goal. The Museum aims to reach all states and territories within a two-year period with as many of its touring exhibitions as possible. In 2006–07, nine exhibitions travelled to a total of 28 venues across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Of these venues, seven were in metropolitan venues, 14 in regional areas and seven in remote areas of the country. The Museum continues to work with the Northern Territory to identify suitable venues for museum exhibitions.

Financial year

Number of exhibitions

2001-02 1 at 4 venues
2002-03 5 at 6 venues
2003-04 6 at 9 venues
2004-05 5 at 9 venues
2005-06 8 at 28 venues
2006-07 9 at 28 venues

Over the past seven years, the number of touring exhibitions has increased from one to nine, and from four venues to 28 venues. In addition to Miss Australia and Behind the Lines (see above), the following exhibitions toured in 2006–07:

Hickory Dickory Dock: The Changing Face of Play School

The Museum's long-running and popular exhibition on the ABC-TV children's program Play School finished its three-year tour in December 2006. The exhibition looked behind the scenes and celebrated Play School's presenters, toys and educational features. Throughout its tour, the exhibition travelled to 12 venues across New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, and was seen by 92,000 people.

The exhibition reached a diverse range of communities, including regional and remote areas. Many venues were keen to host the exhibition and after the 12-venue tour was finalised, the Museum was approached by another six venues interested in hosting the display. Visitors expressed a high level of enjoyment, and this was particularly evident among family groups. At one country venue half the population of the town turned up in a three-week period to see the exhibition.

ABC Play School's rocket clock.

On the road

Hickory Dickory Dock travels around Australia

After a successful stint as a Museum Focus Gallery exhibition from July 2002 until April 2003, Hickory Dickory Dock was reworked, received Visions Australia funding, and hit the road.

The Museum's travelling exhibitions are designed to fit a range of venues. Objects, sets, props and furniture are carefully packed in crates and transported. The 64 objects and associated materials for Hickory Dickory Dock travelled in semitrailers north to Chinchilla, west to Perth, south to Launceston and to nine other places in-between — a total of 23,300 kilometres. At each venue, white-gloved staff from the Museum's Exhibitions, Registration and Conservation sections unpacked Big Ted and friends, documented their condition, and installed the exhibition. They returned at the end of the show to deinstall, condition-report, repack and reload the show for transport.

In Ipswich the install team stopped traffic in a main street as they guided the truck into the Global Arts Link gallery with an inch to spare in what was described as 'an intimate encounter with architectural features'. In Wagga Wagga, the doors to the Museum of the Riverina were so narrow the crates had to be unpacked in the forecourt, and in Kalgoorlie, staff learnt how to load crates onto a gantry lift, so the show could be moved onto the second floor of the Goldfields Arts Centre.

Some valuable lessons were learned during the tour. For example, no show since has been allowed to be as heavy.

In January 2007 staff attended the final showing of Hickory Dickory Dock at the ABC's headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney. After three years on the road, all objects were still in fine condition. Only Big Ted had been replaced along the way (by Little Ted) as he had commitments celebrating 50 years of television, including an engagement at the Logies.

ABC Play School's rocket clock featured in Hickory Dickory Dock, an exhibition that successfully toured for over four years.

Ned Kelly: Fact and Fiction

This exhibition tells Ned Kelly's story through the places and people that shaped the man and the legend. It includes Kelly's death mask, a helmet worn by Mick Jagger in the 1970 Kelly film, and pages from the Hanlon transcript of the Jerilderie letter.

The exhibition opened in February 2006 and has toured to six venues to date, four of which were during 2006–07. Designed to travel to non-traditional venues, Ned Kelly has been hosted in libraries and wineries, as well as the more traditional galleries and museums. It is fully booked until January 2009.

Regional venues use the exhibition to develop school and public programs and the exhibition is visited by many local schools. The exhibition is also free to venues, and is therefore a cost-effective option for regional communities with limited funding.

Pooaraar: The Great Forgetting

This exhibition featured 22 framed works in black and white ink wash by Noongar artist Pooaraar (Bevan Hayward). The works were commissioned to illustrate the poetry of Geoff Page for the book The Great Forgetting, which looks at 200 years of interaction between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia.

During 2006–07 the exhibition toured to four venues across Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The exhibition finished its tour in April and visited six venues in total during its tour, including Tasmania.

Our Community: A Great Place to Be

This exhibition explored the distinctive cultural and social diversity of communities in the north-west of New South Wales: predominantly Walgett, Brewarrina, Lightning Ridge and Angledool. Through photographic and associated material, the exhibition looked at the concept of 'community' as self-defining. The exhibition travelled to four venues during its tour and closed in September 2006.

In Search of the Birdsville Track

The drawings made by English artist Noelle Sandwith during her trip along the Birdsville Track in 1952–53 feature in this exhibition. The works capture the environment, characters and lifestyles of the people she met on her trip. The exhibition toured in early 2007 to the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery in Western Australia, and will tour to Bathurst, New South Wales, in May 2008.

All Aboard! 150 Years of Railways in Australia

Developed in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum and the University of New England, this graphic exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of the start of rail in Australia. It includes photographs, text and a soundscape to tell the remarkable story of Australia's railways, and the people who built, worked and rode on them.

The exhibition is free to venues and is very popular, especially in country towns with volunteer-run museums. It has travelled widely to regional and remote areas in New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.

The exhibition has toured to 18 venues to date.

Between the Flags: 100 Years of Surf Lifesaving

Celebrating the centenary of surf lifesaving in 2007, this temporary exhibition toured this year to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. Over the next two years the exhibition, which received Australian Government Visions Australia funding, will tour to the South Australian Maritime Museum, the Western Australia Museum, the Melbourne Maritime Museum as well as regional museums on the Gold Coast and New South Wales south coast.