Major Heritage and Museum studies research projects

Major Heritage and Museum studies research projects

The value of Aboriginal cultural heritage – cultural production and regional economies in Eastern Arnhem Land and the Western Desert

Howard Morphy and David Throsby (Macquarie University) (Primary investigators), Marianne Riphagen (research fellow), Katya Petetskaya (Macquarie University) (Senior research assistant)

ARC Discovery Grant DP120101387 2012-2015

This research project examines the potential for Aboriginal cultural heritage to contribute to the development of regional economies in remote parts of Australia. Bringing together the disciplines of anthropology and economics, it represents a detailed study of the interconnections between the arts and crafts industry, cultural tourism, and regional economic development. The point of departure for this project is that forms of Aboriginal tangible and intangible heritage - including arts and crafts products, cultural knowledge, and cultural practices and ideas - constitute assets that can be used by local communities to advance their wellbeing and position within the wider economy. Researchers work in two locations: Eastern Arnhem Land and the Western Desert.

Alive with the Dreaming! Songlines of the Western Desert ARC Linkage Project

Howard Morphy (Primary investigator), Diana James (Senior Research Associate & Project Coordinator)

Project ID: LP110200742

see web sites: and http://ippha.songlines-western-desert 

Engaging Objects: Indigenous communities, museum collections and the representation of Indigenous histories

Professor Howard Morphy, Dr Lissant Bolton (British Museum), Dr John Carty, Dr Maria Nugent, Dr Ian Coates and Dr Michael Pickering (National Museum of Australia). Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP110100623 2011-2015

Engaging Objects is a collaborative research project involving the Australian National University, the British Museum and the National Museum of Australia (NMA). In 2015 the British Museum and the National Museum of Australia are staging two linked exhibitions based on objects drawn from the British Museum’s collection of Australian Indigenous material. This will be the first time most of these objects have been displayed in Australia.

The Engaging Objects project is using the making of the exhibition as an opportunity to explore defining issues of history and museology in Australia.

Our specific aims are:

  • To examine and document the exhibition-making process, from the perspectives of Indigenous stakeholders Museum staff and researchers.
  • To provide a critical and cross-cultural perspective on the way museums are working with Indigenous communities
  • To give opportunities for Indigenous artists and scholars to interrogate and work with the British Museum’s collections.

‘Sounds of Liberty’

Paul Pickering and Kate Bowan (musicologist, ANU School of Music).

Australian Research Council Discovery Project

This project studies the of role music in political culture; radical pageantry in nineteenth century politics; modern re-enactment of Chivalry; a prosopography of Scottish political migrants.

Collecting Institutions: Cultural Diversity and the Making of Citizenship in Australia Since the 1970s

Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University), Kylie Message, Ian G. McShane, Simon J. Knell, Arne B Amundsen
Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP120100594, 2012-

This project will develop the first comprehensive history of the engagement of the Australian collecting sector with cultural diversity. It aims to understand the role of the sector in the management and promotion of culturally diverse societies, including the formation of citizens and to identify Australian innovation in this regard.

Assessing Collaborative, Community Based Museum Practice and Changing Cultures of Citizenship at the National Museum of the American Indian 

Kyle Message
Australian Research Council Discovery Project 0984602, 2009-2012

Museums are increasingly expected to contribute to an expanded concept of citizenship that addresses the conditions and concerns of contemporary multicultural postcolonial societies. This project investigates programs developed by the National Museum of the American Indian that aim to create new practices of citizenship for Native Americans. The resulting study will analyse whether collaborative projects increase interventions by minority groups into governmental spaces like museums. It will assess whether the National Museum of the American Indian might provide a model of practice for other national museums attempting to work in partnership with community-based museums to improve the experience and representation of citizenship.

Changing Concepts of Citizenship? Assessing the Political Impact of Cultural Activism and the Tribal Museum and Sovereignty Movement 1968-2008.

Kylie Message
Smithsonian Institution Research Fellowship 2010.

A joint appointment at the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History in Washington DC, from July 1 – October 31, the fellowship also involved in research at regional tribal museums and cultural centres. Planned outcomes: an extensive and nationwide survey of tribal museums, and a resource that outlined the 40 year period extending from the Indian Civil Rights Act 1968 to the 2008 United States Presidential election, and which demonstrated where direct relationships exist between political events, civil rights protests and Native advocacy; the establishment of Native museums and cultural centres; legislation, and the release of federal government policies pertaining to tribal recognition and Native sovereignty; and wider historical events, such as the Vietnam war and the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

Provoking Public Dialogue and Capacity Building Through Culture and the Arts? Four Winds Project Evaluation, 2010-2012.

Kylie Message (Project leader/Primary investigator)
Mary Hutchison and Howard Morphy (secondary investigators).

This grant provides seed funding to conduct research and evaluate outreach programs funded through Australia Council Creative Communities Partnership Initiative grant 2010-12 as it pertains to the community-based activities innovated by the Four Winds Music project, Bermagui, NSW.

Cultural heritage and the mediation of identity, memory and historical narratives 

Laurajane Smith
ARC Future Fellowship, FT0992071, 2010-2014

The aim of this work is to document the way museum exhibitions and heritage sites are used to construct and negotiate social and cultural values and meanings. It is accepted that museum and heritage site audiences are not simply passive receptors of the curator's or interpreter's messages, but how audiences actually engage with exhibitions and heritages and what they do with the messages they take away is neither documented or understood. By charting and comparing the way heritage is used by heritage professionals, community groups and audiences in Australia, USA and England, the project will reveal the cultural and social ‘work' that heritage does in society.

1807 Commemorated: Knowledge Transfer Fellowship

Laurajane Smith (Research fellow / principal investigator)
Geoffrey Cubitt (University of York, co-investigator)
Arts and Humanities Research Council, United Kingdom, Knowledge Transfer initiative, May 2007-August 2009

In this knowledge transfer project, we worked with seven national and regional museums within England to examine and map both curatorial and audience responses to the Bicentenary of Britain’s abolition of the slave trade. See the Project website.

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