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Research and scholarship

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 conducts and disseminates research about Australian history.

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

  • publication of two books: Darrell Lewis’s A Wild Country: Life and Death on the Victoria River Frontier and Nicholas Brown’s (and Susan Boden’s) A Way Through: The Life of Rick Farley
  • becoming part of the Museum’s Collection, Content and Exhibitions Division, which has meant contributing to Museum programs, particularly exhibitions
  • gaining research funding, particularly a major grant from the Australian Research Council for ‘The culture of weeds’
  • the award of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History to Peter Stanley (joint winner) for his book Bad Characters.

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 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 contributed to the work of filmmaker Moira Fahy and her film about the Black Saturday bushfire at Steels Creek, Victoria. The centre maintains links with other research centres, notably the Strehlow Research Centre, Alice Springs; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne; Monash University, Melbourne; the University of New South Wales (Australian Defence Force Academy), Canberra; Curtin University’s Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute, Perth; and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

Supporting the research program

The 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. The Library underwent extensive refurbishment during the year, entailing closure from February to June.

reCollections: A Journal of Museums and Collections

The Museum’s scholarly e-journal, reCollections, has entered its seventh year as a leading vehicle for museum and collection research in Australia, with a growing national and international reputation.