Simone Rosenbauer | Small Museum

Step into the world of Small Museum. Explore 41 community museums across Australia. Discover the stories behind buildings, people and diverse collections. This delightful exhibition invites you to appreciate the lesser-known cultural treasures nestled within these community museums, emphasising their significant role in preserving local heritage, history, and identity through contemporary arts practice.

Small Museum was originally presented at Maitland Regional Art Gallery from 2 March – 30 June 2024, supported by the Museums & Galleries of NSW Dobell Exhibition Grant.

This exhibition is available to galleries, museums and arts centres from late 2025.


Simone Rosenbauer’s Small Museum project included interviews at each of the 41 locations, to underpin and support the photographic collection. Rosenbauer posed identical questions at each museum, exploring identity and connection to place.

  • What is the history of the building?
  • Could you please tell us about your connection to this community?
  • Where did your parents and ancestors come from?
  • How did this collection start?
  • How do objects find their way to the museum?
  • What motivates visitors to come and see the collection?
  • Can you tell any interesting story from the collection?
  • Is this collection important to your community?
  • How do you think your collection fits into the history of Australia?

About the Artist

German/Australian artist Simone Rosenbauer lives and works on the lands of Awabakal and Worimi in Awabakal country (Newcastle/Australia). She studied Photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Dortmund (Germany), where she received her BA and MA in 2006. In 2008 she received the European Endeavour Award from the Australian Government to study for her MFA in Photography at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, which she completed in 2010.

Rosenbauer’s photography has won and been selected for numerous national and international awards. Her work has been showcased in the USA, Europe, Australia, Russia, Asia and Africa, including exhibitions at the Aperture Gallery (NYC), Expo Chicago, Paris Photo, Laurence Miller Gallery (NYC), AIPAD (NYC), Musée d’Elysée (Switzerland), Les Rencontre d’Arles (France), Flash Forward Festival (Canada), Art Miami (USA) and PhotoSpring Festival Beijing (China).

Using still photography to trace the resonance of memory, place and identity, Rosenbauer’s images mine the complexity of what it means to be human. Rosenbauer’s core interest lies in our physical and emotional connection to place, and our relationship with the environment. Her images solidify the inexorable passage of time to reveal the joy and poignancy held within moments of change — sometimes chosen other times inflicted.

"The fascinating thing was that these places are run by a few individuals. They have no training - they use their passion and their love to set up a small museum. They use their own creativity, they come up with their own ideas about how the small museum should look, how things should be displayed. These places are full of stories and history and that really fascinated me."

Simone Rosenbauer quoted in The North West Star, 'Story of Country Museums', Dakota Tait, 6 June 2024.

About the Project

A project of immense and complex scale, Small Museum is an encounter with 41 community museums across the Australian continent. The project provides six perspectives for each location: building, people, collection, still life, portrait and object. This multifaceted approach is further supported by interview excerpts, underpinning the images with the agency of oral history.

Small Museum is a deep exploration of these intimate social spaces that are at once personal and universal in their significance. How do objects carry memory across space and time? How do they mediate loss and forgetting, exile and diaspora? What stories do they convey through both their objects and the personal journeys of their caretakers?

The extent of the project itself forms a small museum — one that charts the human imperative to collect, archive, sustain and display objects and information for public consumption. And one where the artist’s role has many dimensions: producer, artist, editor, curator, director, tourist, archivist and collector.

Read more about Simone Rosenbauer’s Small Museum project here

"Every community across Australia has a story to tell. Often, the most curious and interesting stories come to life in tiny museums and collections usually developed and treasured by committed volunteers, Simone Rosenbauer has travelled extensively across the country to capture and honour the small museums that collect everything from archives to golf clubs to toys, shells and garments."

Gerry Bobsien, Maitland Regional Art Gallery Director, quoted in The Maitland Mercury, 'A Tribute to Museums', Newsroom, 15 March 2024.

Display Requirements

Small Museum comprises a series of 60 small and 10 large framed prints photographed by Simone Rosenbauer during a three year research project visiting 41 small museums across Australia. Prints are also available as custom large format wall vinyls in consultation with the artist and hosting venue. The exhibition size is approximately 65 running metres.

The touring iteration includes:

  • large scale interactive magnet wall
  • a freestanding wooden display stand which can house up to ten of the framed prints
  • labels and didactic text incorporated into each framed print
  • signage
  • interview excerpts

The exhibition is accompanied by:

  • Exhibition Tour Manual
  • Media Kit
  • Education Kit
  • Public Programming Opportunities

M&G NSW and partners are happy to work with each venue on a suitable and effective design for each particular space.

Further Information

Museums & Galleries of NSW are now seeking expressions of interest from galleries, museums and art centres interested in hosting this exhibition.

Please contact M&G NSW for further information:

Susan Wacher
Exhibitions, Funding & Programs Manager
t: 0411 530 006


About Museums & Galleries of NSW

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps small-medium museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres create exciting experiences for visitors and, through this, thriving local NSW communities.We don’t run museums, galleries and cultural centres but we care about those who do. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions. M&G NSW offices are located on Gadigal Land, The Rocks, Sydney.


About Maitland Regional Art Gallery

Operating since 2003 and located on Wonnarua Country at the gateway to the Hunter Valley in Maitland New South Wales, MRAG presents award-winning exhibitions and events alongside public programs, educational offerings, and an in-depth Arts Health program. It is our mission to foster creativity, enable inclusion, and promote knowledge among the Maitland community, its visitors, and our digital audiences. We do this by encouraging a deeper connection to art and ideas through the work of artists, the stewardship of our collection and cultural programs. A link to MRAGs website can be found here.

A Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Museums & Galleries of NSW touring exhibition supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant Program, funded by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation.