Becoming Agents of Change: Museums and Galleries Australia Conference 2018

The national 2018 Museum and Galleries Australia (MGA) Conference recently wrapped up in Melbourne. The theme for the year was Agents of Change, which was designed to explore museums and galleries as spaces that can be used to promote social, political, and cultural change. The nature of the theme allowed speakers to discuss and question a range of often difficult and sensitive topics. The papers included one delivered by Nathan Sentance on decolonising the GLAM sector and the importance of Indigenous voices and representation within the museum sector. Kaywin Feldman of the Minneapolis Institute of Art presented Feminism: No longer the “F” word’ which highlighted the need for new approaches to feminism in museums and galleries. Other talks highlighted the importance of queer voicesand the issues faced by emerging professionals in the sector.

This year’s conference also provided an excellent opportunity to hear about the great projects in development in museums around Australia. Highlights included the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory’s collaboration with the Western Aranda people on the exhibition A Frontier Journey, which saw text panels in Western Aranda and English; Hurstville Museum and Gallery’s Dr Birgit Heilmann’s  exhibition All Things Great and Small, which encouraged different interpretations through facts, stories and memories; and Penelope Lee’s talk on the development of the Her Place Museum and its role in representing and inspiring women.

Overall the 2018 MGA Conference provided an inspiring four days that highlighted the responsibilities of museums to act as change makers alongside their role of preserving the past. It provided the opportunity to develop new ideas, new networks and experience the amazing cultural experiences on offer in Melbourne. Thank you to all the organisers of the conference for the hard work they put into developing such an engaging and challenging conference. 

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