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Conferences and seminars

Past conferences

These are conferences, seminars, symposia and other events organised by the National Museum of Australia.

Aboriginal Artists of the Nineteenth Century: a celebration - 30 September 2014

A symposium celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Aboriginal Artists of the Nineteenth Century by Andrew Sayers AM.

Many good books are published about Australian art, but few change the way we see and understand it. When Andrew Sayers’ Aboriginal Artists of the Nineteenth Century appeared in September 1994, it did just that. This symposium explored the impact of Andrew’s book, and deepened and extended our understanding of its field. 

Audio and transcripts from the event

'The Compleat Archaeologist': Mike Smith, desert archaeology and museums - 8 February 2013

Dr Mike Smith is a pioneering desert archaeologist, author and senior research fellow at the Research Centre at the Museum. Listen to Mike and other distinguished archaeologists, historians, artists and Museum staff as we celebrate 30 years of his work.

Audio, video and transcripts from the event

Lecture by Mike Smith 'The Lost Art of Stratigraphy' - 2013

Videos and transcript of 'The Lost Art of Stratigraphy'

Collections symposia 2006–2010

These symposia have been organised by the Research Centre focusing each year on a different aspect of collections.

Collections symposium 2010 – Caring for collections

14 May 2010

More information on the speakers and program

audio Listen to the audio

Collections symposium 2009 – From collections to exhibitions

27 March 2009

The 'From collections to exhibitions' symposium brought together speakers from across Australia to discuss the nature and uses of collection material and objects for display in various forms.

More information on the speakers and program

audio Listen to the audio

Collections symposium 2008 – Material histories: objects as sources?

30 May 2008

The 'Material histories: objects as sources?' symposium featured speakers from across Australia considering the different ways curators, archaeologists, historians and anthropologists have approached physical evidence.

Museums are full of objects with stories to tell. Often the object illustrates a story gleaned from other sources such as books, documents, memories and photographs. But can the objects themselves be regarded as evidence of the past and, if so, how might we use them to create new interpretations of Australia's past? How can 'material history' inform our understanding of the past? What challenges might it pose? What benefits might it bring?

Symposium program

audio Listen to the audio

Collections symposium 2006 – History of the National Historical Collection and its collectors

21 March 2006

The 'Collecting for a Nation' symposium marked the 25th anniversary of the Act which brought about the National Museum of Australia and its National Historical Collection. 

More information on the speakers and program

audio Listen to the audio


Event held in 2011

Dr Robert Edwards AO
Dr Robert Edwards AO

A tribute to Bob Edwards

22 March 2011

Dr Robert Edwards AO has played a crucial role in museums, Aboriginal art and culture, and the visual arts in Australia. At this tribute, friends, colleagues, protégés and admirers will celebrate Bob's contributions to diverse fields over seven decades of public life.

audio Listen to the audio and read the transcripts


Events held in 2009

Barks, Birds and Billabongs: Exploring the legacy of the 1948 Arnhem Land Expedition

16-20 November 2009

A five-day symposium revisiting this landmark international venture and exploring the vast collections with an emphasis on Indigenous perspectives.

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.

Online information about the symposium

audio Listen to the audio and read the transcripts

Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies

9-10 November 2009

A conference held at the National Museum of Australia, in association with the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, Australian National University looking at perspectives from anthropology, history and material culture studies. A major theme was how local ‘hybrid economies’ develop through Indigenous and settler interaction, and how new complexes of transactions and relations emerge.

Online information about the conference

audio Listen to the audio and read the transcripts of some speakers

Violent Ends: The Arts of Environmental Anxiety

11 June 2009

Fears around global warming were explored through different mediums by a group of artists, poets, dancers, singers, scientists, film makers, historians, creative writers and cultural theorists.

Online web feature

audio Listen to the audio and read the transcripts