John Petersen

I’ve enjoyed 15 years of my working life wearing dusty boots in rural and regional areas and supporting the work of diverse communities, volunteer museums, heritage societies and local government museums and galleries. I have an interest in significance assessment, regional histories, community engagement and digitisation. I work as an accredited historian experienced in conserving and interpreting both heritage places and collections.

As manager of the NSW Migration Heritage Centre at the Powerhouse Museum, my team worked on over 40 regional partnerships. These included collection documentation, thematic study and oral history projects that culminated in a similar number of heritage trails, place reinterpretations, publications and exhibitions – both virtual and at venues in the rural and regional areas. These projects won over 25 awards reflecting the excellence of work and the distinctive collections, places, memories and voices of people living in rural and regional New South Wales.

More recently I have worked in various and sometimes overlapping consultancy roles as a resident heritage manager on the world heritage listed Australian Convict Site on Norfolk Island, and director of the Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden in Melbourne, on the GLAM Peak national project on digital access for small organisations and as curator at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum in Victoria near my mountain home in Sassafras.

Personal Statement

Hello to everyone I’ve worked with in regional New South Wales! I’ve learned so much from you about your collections and memories. Our regions are fascinating places with dynamic people working in museums with significant collections who keep the flame alive. With respect and interest from city colleagues, support from advisors, strategic and visionary local government and equitable resourcing, our regional communities have potential to lead Australia’s museums sector, and in many NSW regions, have already done so.

Advisors Projects

I am the current Museum Advisor for the Wollongong City Council and a museums network with significant collections of extraordinary depth and interest. The network includes Balgownie School Museum, Black Diamond District Heritage Centre, Breakwater Battery Military Museum, Illawarra Historical Society, Australian Motorlife Museum, Mount Kembla Mining Heritage Committee, Helensburgh Museum and the Illawarra Migration Heritage Project Inc.

Our projects have evolved from the strategies developed by Council over recent years with former museums advisors who are inspiring colleagues and friends – Eva Castle, Rebecca Jones, Sally Watterson, Kylie Winkworth. There has been considerable and tangible progress. Our major projects are documenting significant collections for the new Wollongong Heritage and Stories virtual museum website – a showcase for the incredible and sometimes unexpected collections that are largely managed by volunteers – and also a major collections digitisation and training project on eHive with Gay Hendrikson and her team, as well as reviews of collection policies in our region.