Monday, July 05, 2004


The new director of the National Museum of Australia will overhaul two contentious galleries... Since opening in 2001, the museum has been a battleground in Australia's "culture wars". It is tackling charges of political bias by showcasing the arguments: next year the museum will hang panels explaining how curators and historians come up with one representation or another.

Revealing a new strategic plan, to be implemented over the next three years depending on funding, Mr Morton said the museum would take immediate action on some issues, including the story of Captain Cook. The review said Cook was "pejoratively and unfairly" covered in displays insinuating European arrival was "a disaster for the continent".

"It's not our intention to hero-worship a line of dead white males ... but on any estimation, Cook is one of the great world figures of the 18th century," Mr Morton said of the new direction. The Cook displays are in the Horizons gallery, which will be renamed the "Australian journeys" gallery, showcasing explorers, travellers and migration. It will range from convicts and migrants to Australians who have left to make "history all over the world", including Gallipoli, London, Bali and Antarctica.

Another contentious gallery, Nation, will be renamed Creating a Country, "to represent the development of Australia and its economic, social and political conditions". After Mr Barnett's submission that the museum should include waterfront reformer Chris Corrigan and mining giant Hugh Morgan, the review suggested this gallery include stories of national development, communications, transport, science, technology, sport, arts, cities and towns. The museum's response is to include displays ranging from the Anzacs to the Flying Doctor Service, solar-powered satellite phones and mechanical wheat harvesters.

More here

No comments: