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Miss Australia crown helps chart history

16 MAY 2005

The crown awarded to three decades of Miss Australia Quest winners will be presented to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra this Wednesday by the Miss Australia Company.

The crown will feature in a new National Museum travelling exhibition exploring the ways Australia's longest-running and most successful charity event reflected broader changes in Australian society and culture.

Miss Australia 1973, Michelle Downes, will join Miss Australia Company chairwoman Vici Funnell at the handover ceremony in the National Museum's Hall at 11am this Wednesday, 18 May, which is International Museum Day.

National Museum director Craddock Morton said the crown represented a much broader story about community values, disability services and the role of women in society.

"Miss Australia titleholders were celebrities at home and great ambassadors abroad," Mr Morton said. "The quest helped raise valuable funds and awareness of disabilities, all the time reflecting 50 years of post-war history."

Ms Funnell, who is also chief executive officer of Scope, formerly the Spastic Society of Victoria, said she was pleased the Miss Australia crown, along with a collection of other
Miss Australia Quest memorabilia, had found a home at the National Museum.

"I am delighted the hard work of the many thousands of people who were involved in raising awareness and funds through the Miss Australia Quest over the years is being captured in this exhibition," Ms Funnell said. "We look forward to working with the museum as it documents the experiences of Australians with disabilities over the last 50 years."

The Miss Australia Quest raised more than $90 million for people with cerebral palsy from 1954 to 2000. The crown was worn by titleholders from 1965 and 1991 and is made of hand-crafted silver, blue velvet and more than 800 pearls.

National Museum curator Sophie Jensen is working with former Miss Australia titleholders, community groups, spastic centres, cerebral palsy associations and Scope to document the history of the quest as part of a National Museum targeted collecting project.

The Miss Australia exhibition opens in Brisbane in August 2006 before going on show at the National Museum in Canberra from June 2007. The NMA Press is also releasing a book about the quest, A Crowning Achievement: A Study in Australian Beauty, Business and Charitable Enterprise, later this year.

For interviews or images please contact Leanda Coleman at the National Museum on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au or Siobhan O'Neill at Scope on 03 9843 2029, 0418 171 527 or soneill@scopevic.org.au