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Collections symposium 2010

Caring for collections - Friday, 14 May 2010

Reflections on recent developments in the assessment, storage and conservation of Australian museum collections.

Missed the symposium?

The audio and transcripts from the symposium are now available in our audio on demand section.

Collections Symposium 2010 audio on demand

The National Museum of Australia continued its tradition of holding an annual 'Collections Symposium', which brought together museum scholars, professionals and students from across Australia to discuss the nature and uses of museum collections.

This symposium focused on recent developments in the assessment, storage and conservation of museum collections and will show case recent work undertaken by the Museum and other institutions in the area of collections management.

Topics included the use of significance criteria in driving collections management decisions, collections access in the digital world and the development of new storage facilities in Australian museums.


Eric Archer

From 1981 until 1998, Eric worked as Paper Conservator at the National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne; Chief Conservator at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne; and in private practice in Melbourne.

In 1999 he was appointed Manager Conservation at the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra. He was elected National President of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) Inc. from 2002 – 2004, and is currently a member of the National Collections Preservation Committee.

Margy Burn

Margy Burn is Assistant Director-General, Australian Collections & Reader Services at the National Library of Australia. Before joining the NLA in 1999 she had worked as an Australiana specialist in academic and research libraries and held posts including that of foundation Mortlock Librarian at the State Library of SA, 1985-1988, and the Mitchell Librarian at the State Library of NSW, 1988-1993.

Margy has had an active involvement in the archives and museums sectors, especially through her work on the Heritage Collections Council. Her professional interests include copyright law reform issues, Indigenous employment and library services and the development of digital collections and services.

Michael Crayford

Michael has over 25 years experience in a range of cultural agencies including the crafts, visual arts, copyright, museums and galleries in Australia and overseas. His current position is Assistant Director, Collections & Exhibitions Division, Australian National Maritime Museum responsible for specialist areas such as design, registration, curatorial, research, conservation, library, temporary exhibitions, indigenous projects, USA Gallery.

Michael has a strong interest in developing professional institutional partnerships within the Asia Pacific region in areas of cultural exchange; professional development; cultural heritage and exhibition and research opportunities.

Greer Gehrt

Greer is a qualified Interior Architect with many years of practical work experience in the areas of Project Management and Marketing. Currently the Manager of the Centre for National Museum of Australia Collections project Greer is also responsible for planning future property related projects for the National Museum of Australia.

John Greenwood

John graduated in Conservation/Archaeology from the University of Wales, Cardiff in 1976. Since that time he has worked as a conservator in museums in London, Oxford, St Albans, Sheffield and Doncaster. In 1988 he started teaching conservation at Lincolnshire college of Art (which subsequently became the University of Lincoln).

John has also been involved in developing educational and collection management projects with small museums in Yorkshire. In 2007-8 John worked for the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage trust for the summer season and in 2009 he moved to Canberra to help resurrect the conservation program at Canberra University.

David Hallam

David Hallam is a Senior Conservator at the National Museum of Australia. In the past thirty years he has worked at the Australian War Memorial, the Queensland Museum, and the National Museum of Australia. He is a specialist in the conservation of metals and functional objects. His contributions were recognised by his appointment as Woodrow Wilson International Fellow at the Smithsonian institution's National Air and Space Museum in 1989 and as a visiting Fellow at the Research School of Chemistry at ANU.

Currently David is Coordinator of the International Committee of Museums – Conservation Committee – Working Group Metals. He has published widely in the field of metals conservation and functional objects.

Guy Hansen

Guy Hansen is a Senior Curator in the Collection Development Unit at the National Museum of Australia. Guy has been working as a history curator for over 18 years and has worked on a large number of collecting and exhibitions projects. These include the Museum's series of political cartooning exhibitions: Behind the Lines, the Nation: Symbols of Australia exhibition, Captivating and Curious and most recently the League of Legends 100 years of Rugby League exhibition.

Philip Jones

Dr Philip Jones has been a curator at the South Australian Museum since 1984. He has curated 30 exhibitions dealing with Aboriginal art, history and material culture, anthropological and expeditionary history, and more recently, the ethnography and history of the Australia's 'Afghan' cameleers.

He has undertaken field research in the Simpson Desert and Birdsville Track region and he has a series of publications dealing with the history and ethnography of the region. His fieldwork has included site-recording with descendants of the Wangkangurru and Yarluyandi people of the region. His particular interest in the provenance of artefacts and in the history, and context of their collection underpins much of his exhibition research and writing.

In 2007 he published Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers and won the 2008 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. The book traces the paths artefacts follow, from their makers to their collectors, and uses this as a means of re-examining frontier history.

Philip is currently engaged in several investigations including the respective roles of Francis Gillen and Baldwin Spencer in anthropological history, the social and economic contribution made by the 'Afghan' cameleers, and an analysis of the distribution and significance of red ochre.

Maryanne McCubbin

Maryanne has worked in archives and museums for over twenty years. She was the inaugural appointment in her current position, Head, Strategic Collection Management Museum Victoria which plays a key role in managing the Museum's collections. Before that, Maryanne held curatorial and management positions in the Museum's history section. Maryanne has tertiary qualifications in history and information management.

Her work has always centred on the management, use and interpretation of collections. As Head, Strategic Collection Management she enjoys addressing the big, tough issues around managing a major, complex state collection, and contributing to the overall well-being and development of Museum Victoria and the wider museum profession.

Roslyn Russell

Roslyn Russell is a historian, editor and museum curator. Her involvement with developing guidelines for assessing the significance of movable cultural heritage goes back to the mid-1990s, when she was one of the authors of the first General Guidelines to Safeguard Documentary Heritage for UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme for the preservation of documentary heritage of world significance.

She is co-author, with Kylie Winkworth, of Significance (2001) and Significance 2.0 (2009). She has been chair of the Assessment Sub-Committee of the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Committee since 2000; chaired the Register Sub-Committee of the UNESCO Memory of the World international programme from 2005–2009; and is currently chair of the International Advisory Committee of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.

Jennifer Sanders

Jennifer had a long and distinguished career at the Powerhouse Museum where she was Deputy Director, Collections, Content Development and Outreach. Appointed to the Powerhouse in 1978 as a curator then senior curator, decorative arts and design for a decade and was a key member of the team for the 1988 Powerhouse redevelopment.

Appointed Assistant Director Collections in 1988, Jennifer led the Museum's curatorial, registration, preservation and outreach programs and, for several years, exhibitions, education, publications and library services as well. A member of the National Cultural Heritage Committee 1999 – 2008 Jennifer is currently a member of the Council of Museums Australia and, the External Advisory Panel, Design Research Institute, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Christopher Snelling

Christopher joined the Powerhouse Museum in September 2006 as Project Manager of the Powerhouse Discovery Centre: Collection Stores at Castle Hill. From 2006 until the opening of the Centre in March 2007 Christopher worked on all aspects of transforming this museum working storage facility to a publicly accessible facility.

Prior to working at the Powerhouse Christopher worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), initially working on the set-up of the membership program and moving into the role of Marketing Manager in 1993, and then Head of Marketing and Communications in 2000 until 2006.

Mathew Trinca

Mathew Trinca is the Assistant Director, Collections, Content and Exhibitions at the National Museum of Australia. He was formerly a senior curator at the Museum, and has worked on heritage conservation and public history projects. 

Poppy Wenham

Poppy is Manager of Registration at the National Museum of Australia. She originally started work in the performing arts after graduating in Technical Production from NIDA in 1986. Her career in Stage Management and Lighting Design took her around most of Australia including work for the Australian Opera, Australian Ballet, and Melbourne and Sydney Theatre Companies.

In 1999 a complete change of direction brought her to the Australian War Memorial to manage the Events and Ceremonies team. Having discovered a passion for museums she completed a Certificate in Museum Studies, and a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management which allowed her to move firstly into Visitor Services and then in 2005 into the position of Registrar. She has is currently on a temporary secondment to the National Museum of Australia as Manager Registration.