‘The Museum is temporarily closed.’ These words have again taken over our website, and for our Visitor Experience Host team, who are the face of the Museum, these words could be devastating.
As I write this, Canberrans and Museum staff are into their second month of working from home. I’m sitting in my activewear, my horses are running free in the paddock and my dog is at my feet, but I’m still overseeing a large Museum team that includes the Shop, Education and Hosts.
Our team would normally be engaging face to face with our visitors, but instead they are now focusing on expanding their skills and capabilities, and improving their knowledge. Knowledge that will help them to better source and sell products from our beautiful Museum Shop, or to tell the stories of our collection, and of Australia and Australians, through our exhibitions and galleries.
Working from home, our host team are researching and writing short-form essays that inform gallery talks and guided tours. With the impending launch of our new permanent gallery, Great Southern Land, the team are learning about the stories it will hold. It will be the most significant gallery since our opening in 2001, and with more than 1,200 objects there is plenty to learn.
Our Education team is delivering digital excursions for school students from their homes, using collection items and green screens. Australia’s Defining Moments Digital Classroom is also supporting teachers and their students through curriculum-aligned learning modules and resources, bringing the Museum to life in their homes.
The Museum Shop is continuing to fill online orders, while deliveries of new products are waiting to be released from their boxes. A new range of homewares and merchandise inspired by the upcoming major exhibition from the British Museum, Ancient Greeks: Athletes and Warriors, will adorn the shelves in the exhibition Shop once we reopen. And the Shop continues its work with First Nations art centres, proudly supporting these communities at a time when it is needed more than ever.
Thanks to technology, the Museum’s teams remain connected and engaged. Being able to continue our work in a safe, comfortable environment while in lockdown might be a challenge, but it has also created an unexpected camaraderie as we navigate our way through together.
And when the Museum reopens, our Shop, Education and Host teams will be ready to greet you.
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