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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. Speakers share the sometimes idiosyncratic, but always interesting, history of collectors and collecting long before the Museum opened.

A sum of many parts: the history of the National Historical Collection

Curator Guy Hansen traces the history of the National Museum’s National Historical Collection. He argues that the collection is eclectic – that there is no single story but many stories, with various collectors bringing different perspectives.

Weird and wonderful: the first objects of the National Historical Collection

Libby Robin tells the story of the zoological specimens, collected by Sir Colin MacKenzie, that were among the first objects in the Museum’s National Historical Collection.

Professionals and amateurs: different histories of collecting in the National Ethnographic collection

Curator David Kaus provides an overview of the Aboriginal material in the Museum’s National Historical Collection.

Australia’s Official Papuan collection: Sir Hubert Murray and the how and why of a colonial collection

Sylvia Schaffarczyk reconstructs the history of the Museum's Official Papuan collection and examines Australian collecting in Papua during a key period in the development of anthropology and Australia’s colonial interests.
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Presenters: Sylvia Schaffarczyk

Life and art? Relocating Aboriginal art and culture in the museum

Historian Angela Philp explores Aboriginal art and culture, and the tensions between aesthetics, history and politics that have been critical in the institutional histories of the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia.

Singular or plural? Social history and national collections

Historian Ian McShane analyses social history as museum theme and practice from 1981 to 2000.

Collecting for the future: a collections development plan for the National Historical Collection

Collections and Content General Manager Mathew Trinca outlines the National Museum of Australia’s Collections Development Plan, designed to support collecting efforts for five years.

Springfield transformed: family collection into national treasure

The history of the Springfield collection, more than 2000 objects from a major rural property near Sydney, is outlined by registrar Carol Cooper. She explores the remarkable family who cared for it and the Museum’s work to make this collection available.

Reflections on the history of the National Historical Collection

Six expert speakers – each involved with shaping the National Historical Collection over time – reflect on their personal experiences in a discussion with curator Kirsten Wehner.
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Presenters: Richard Baker, Don McMichael, John Mulvaney, Peter Pigott, Andrew Reeves and Dr Luke Taylor, with Kirsten Wehner
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