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Director's message

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Message from the Director of the National Museum of Australia

The way in which the world communicates is changing rapidly.

At the National Museum, we are trying to keep pace with the new ways in which conversations are taking place.

This will be the last paper-based edition of Goree. In future, we will be keeping you informed of the life and work of the Museum in an online edition.

Goree will continue to talk about the ways in which the National Museum is engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. One advantage of the online edition will be an improved capacity to introduce future projects, as well as reporting on past events.

This transformation of Goree is a part of many changes that are taking place at the National Museum. Visitors to the Museum will notice another change of emphasis - a renewed determination to show more of the Museum's vast collection. In October this year, we launch a permanent display of some of our large objects in the Museum's building in Canberra. This display includes the Tasmanian Aboriginal bark canoe that was recently commissioned by the Museum and made by Rex Greeno to an ancient blueprint; and the huge and important canvas Martumili Ngurra. Another dimension of our determination to use and display the collection will culminate in the Old Masters exhibition that we will be mounting as part of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations in 2013. Old Masters will be a showcase of the Museum's unparalleled, but little known, collection of bark paintings.

One significant way in which we are providing access to the collection is in the development of material in digital formats that can be used as a resource within education curricula. For many years, the Museum has played a leading role in the development of education materials. The close working relationship between the Museum and Indigenous communities in the production of curriculum-related resources has been essential to this. The Museum has been enabled to play a vital role in helping communities to share their culture and knowledge in an appropriate way with a wider Australian audience, which is eager to learn and understand more about the past and contemporary Indigenous people.

As I visit museums around the country and talk to my colleagues both here and overseas I am struck by the way in which museum thinking is evolving. Close relationships between museums and Indigenous communities have developed new obligations and responsibilities for museums and we embrace these. There are new ways of working, too, emerging - ways of working that could best be characterised as conversations; and true collaborations that replace the older paradigm of simple consultation.

These new ways of working create exciting opportunities and promise to result in original and engaged ways of telling stories. And, through Goree, we will continue to keep you informed of our latest collaborations and new projects as they unfold.

Andrew Sayers AM