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The Studio: Collections Up Close is an innovative program at the National Museum

4 April 2019

Creative workshops in a studio setting are part of a bold new approach taken by the National Museum of Australia which will focus on eight carefully chosen objects from its collection.

Experts in printmaking, visual arts, creative writing, and poetry, will offer paid workshops inside and adjacent to the Museum’s studio gallery. They will invite participants to explore their creativity and be inspired by the objects on show.

Programmer Penelope Vaile said, 'This is a new model for visitors to engage with museums, driven by creative interaction and not just the objects. We’re making what has been a passive experience much more active by inviting the audience to be a part of the narrative.'

The Studio: Collections Up Close exhibit includes a newly acquired medicine chest prepared for Douglas Mawson’s 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, donated by GlaxoSmithKline, and a rare thylacine pelt.

The other objects which will inspire budding artists are: the 1990s Australian wi-fi prototype; a 1956 Japanese war bride dress; Francis Birtles’ 1920s record-setting Bean car; a 1899 sketchbook belonging to Oscar, a young Aboriginal man; an original section of the 1871–72 underwater telegraph cable between Java and Port Darwin; and an exquisite green maireener shell necklace created by Tasmanian master artist Lola Greeno.

'The Museum worked with a variety of local artists and creatives to develop a diverse offering of workshops that invite the audience to engage deeply with the both the art form and the objects in the exhibition,' Ms Vaile said.

Partner organisations include Megalo Print Studio + Gallery and the ACT Writers Centre, with local authors Jack Heath and Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern.

Curator Cheryl Crilly said visitors could take a closer look at eight of the Museum’s most interesting and significant objects and experience them in an intimate way.

‘See the metallic thread running through a war bride’s dress, the Arabic script for ‘oil’ on a legendary car, the nail in the paw of the long-gone thylacine. These small details have big stories,’ Ms Crilly said.

Pop up talks will include 'speed dating' with the objects during which visitors get a five-minute chat with a curator.

The visual art, printmaking, prose and poetry workshops, plus a toddler program, will be held at various times until Friday 10 May 2019.

Media contact: Diana Streak, 02 6208 5091 | 0422 536 064 or

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