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Research and scholarship

The Museum has legislative responsibility to undertake and support research. Under the terms of the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, the Museum is bound to ‘conduct, arrange for or assist in research into matters pertaining to Australian history’. The Research Centre, now integrated into the Curatorial and Research section, plays a key role in fulfilling this responsibility. During the year, new research framework and research strategy policy documents were implemented. These important documents define the future directions for research and scholarship at the Museum for the next five years.

The Research Centre takes an active part in scholarly research across a range of fields and activities relevant to the Museum. The highlights of the year include:

  • publication of three books: The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts by Dr Mike Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Black Saturday at Steels Creek by Dr Peter Stanley (Scribe, 2013) and Where is Dr Leichhardt? Australian History’s Greatest Mystery by Dr Darrell Lewis (Monash University Press, 2013)
  • consultations with Indigenous communities in preparation for the Encounters exhibition
  • Kungkarangkalpa: Seven Sisters Songline performances
  • hosting three staff fellowships – all contributing to a wider knowledge and understanding of our collection, and making this knowledge available to the public
  • the Award of an Order of Australia to Dr Mike Smith and the hosting of a major conference ‘A tribute to Dr Mike Smith AM’.

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) and the Australian Academy of Science. 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; and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

Supporting the research program

Our newly refurbished Library is part of the Research Centre and supports research across the institution. It holds more than 45,000 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 the public, and a ‘special collections’ reading room is available for use. To complement Glorious Days: Australia 1913 our librarians ran a ‘Mixing Bowl’ blog on the website, cooking and sharing food and recipes from 1913.

reCollections: A Journal of Museums and Collections

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