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The James O Fairfax Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment program explores how Australians’ lives are intertwined with our continent’s, with forces of wind, water, fire and geology, as well as unique plant, animal, fungi and micro-organic communities.

Through collections, exhibitions, events and publications, the program invites Australians to hear Country tell us its story, which is also our own story, from the deep past to the present. In this time of climate change and threatened species, the program asks how we can make new stories about coming together to better care for our living places.

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Dr Kirsten Wehner

Inaugural Fellow Kirsten Wehner

Dr Kirsten Wehner is the inaugural James O Fairfax Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment for 2022–25. An established curator, artist, producer and writer, Kirsten’s passion is collaborating to create inspiring experiences that celebrate and transform people’s relationships with their places.

During her fellowship, Kirsten will focus on the theme of ‘regeneration’. Through partnerships with cultural, academic and government organisations, as well as artists, scientists, conservationists and diverse communities, she aims to build understanding of how Australians are fostering flourishing land and waterscapes into the future.

Projects will extend the Museum’s substantial collections relating to culture and environment and amplify the themes of the Museum's new Great Southern Land gallery.

Kirsten has worked as an independent curator and artist in Australia and overseas. From 2018–22 she was Director of PhotoAccess, the ACT and region’s centre for contemporary photography, film, video and media arts. She was previously Head Curator, People and the Environment, and Content Director, Museum Enhancement Program, at the National Museum of Australia.

Waterways Country symposium

Accumulation and Accretion 5:30

ACT-based creative platform Catchment Studio and Kirsten Wehner presented the Waterways Country symposium at the National Museum of Australia in 2022. In this video, artists Amanda Stuart and Ellis Hutch discuss Accumulation and Accretion, the artwork and workshop they installed and ran as part of the symposium.

Coming up

Living on the Edge

A multi-year project sharing the stories of eight ecological communities from across Australia, each a vibrant but also deeply threatened network of land, water, plants, animals and people.

About James O Fairfax and the Fellowship

James Oswald Fairfax (1933–2017) was an eminent Australian media proprietor, company director, art collector and a generous philanthropist. He was appointed a Companion of the Order in 2010 in recognition of his service to the community through support for the visual arts, conservation organisations and building programs for medical research and educational facilities.

The James Fairfax Foundation has partnered with the National Museum to create the Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment program, with the aim of building public engagement with the cultural aspects of environmental change.


The National Museum of Australia gratefully acknowledges the generous donation by the James Fairfax Foundation that makes possible the Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment program.

Read the media release

MORE museum fellows

White Family Senior Fellow in Australian Garden History

Explore the history, influences and future trends in Australian gardening.

Swayn Senior Fellow of Australian Design

Explore contemporary design and icons of Australian design and architecture.

Banner image: Wetland Windows quilt (detail), Stephanie Knudsen, WA Inspired Art Quilters. National Museum of Australia

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