Paper Abstracts

Click on the following paper titles to see the abstract for each fantastic paper at the conference! Paper titles are listed alphabetically for ease of navigation.

5 Years’ Experience With eHive  –  What We Have Learned (Ross Bower)

Redland Museum has now been using eHive for five years.  We adopted eHive because our previous MS Access database was fast becoming unworkable.  We needed a system that was fully technically supported, cloud based, very accessible, simple to use, and would publish our collection on the Internet.  And of course, it had to be affordable.

So, did it turn out to be all we hoped and expected? This presentation covers lessons we learned with our implementation of eHive and the benefit we’ve achieve, how we made the transition form our previous system and what we got wrong, the weaknesses of eHive and what we have learned.

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Acknowledging the Silences: Telling Difficult Stories at Old Government House (Dr Katie McConnel)

At the beginning of this tumultuous year, we at Old Government House (OGH) started planning for an overdue revamp of our museum displays, content, and the location of our museum entrance. Professionally and personally, this has led me on an interesting and challenging journey. 

OGH, as the official home of Queensland’s first eleven colonial governors, is an enduring and potent architectural symbol of British colonialism. As the historian and curator of the House for over a decade, I have always endeavoured to tell the stories of everyone who had worked and lived in the building. On reflection, I can now see gaps in that narrative.  

There is no doubt that museum practices have changed radically in the last 20 years, not only through how content is displayed but also in whose stories are presented. There are still areas of silences though, and at the heart of these silences there can often be a reluctance to confront the difficult and frequently violent experiences that colonial history brought upon Indigenous Australians. And how, once confronted, was I to tell these difficult stories in a way that respectfully gave voice to those who had been previously excluded? And how to do it in a way that generated understanding, conversation and debate?

This paper considers these questions and challenges that have, and continue to present themselves in relation to telling the complete story of OGH.

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Communities and the Legacy of an Exhibition (Dr Geraldine Mate)

At first glance, the Anzac Legacy Gallery at Queensland Museum, a 600m2 permanent exhibition that opened in November 2018, seems an unlikely topic for a small museums conference. But the minutiae of exhibition development is the same the world over.

It has been almost 2 years since the Anzac Legacy Gallery opened, and there has been time to reflect on the project and its’ impact, the connections made to Queensland communities, and the opportunities presented by this project to conserve an important element of Queensland’s past.

In this paper Geraldine explores the importance of keeping collections sustainable by building connections between the collection and Queenslanders, and the imperative to continue growing those connections and build on previous work. The immense effort that goes into understanding the stories of each and every object, and tracking down connections between objects and people, yields a legacy of collecting and knowledge that recognises the cultural value of museums in communities.

Conserving and displaying these objects and connecting them with Queenslanders today is only the first (albeit large) step in an ongoing story.

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Democratising Access: The Organic Growth of Q-Album (Julanne Neal)

Q-Album has been launched as a tool for small to medium cultural organisations to present their digitised content.  Q-Album gives these organisations the capacity to develop a web presence with easy to use, mobile first technology that is free, ready to use and does not require technical expertise.

Q-Album originated in early 2017 when Queensland State Archives (QSA) decided to participate in the Testing Within Government (TWiG) programme initiated by Advance Queensland.  The brief for the programme was for government agencies to set out a business problem for the tech sector to solve.

The seed of the business problem QSA pitched was to develop for users across the state an innovative digital approach to explore our heritage collection. In the initial stages the problem was about us, a focus on amplifying our collections that was ultimately inward-looking, but we dug our hand in the bag and threw the seed out there.

Gaia Resources were the tech experts chosen to help us grow our seed into a functional product. Our seed started to germinate and grew into a seedling we called Discovering Queensland.  It was a small and interesting little seedling that still had a long way to go, but it was enough for us to contract with Gaia to continue to support and nurture it.  Over the next 2 years we worked with Gaia to develop and grow our seedling.  At the same time, internal culture changes shifted our vision from an internal, inward-focussed view to an outward facilitative view to support and empower small to medium cultural organisations and democratise their access.  Our seed is now a flower bud – what kind we’re still not sure but we hope it will be spectacular.

This talk will present the lessons learnt in the development of Q-Album, unpicking the potential of collections and organisations in a digital world and empowering them to share content.  The vision for Q-Album is about democratising access to customers, technology, and a wider network of support for small to medium cultural organisations.

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Floating Land: Art in the Environment Without a Trace (Michael Brennan)

Floating Land is Australia’s premier art in the environment event, reflecting Noosa’s national and international reputation as a community and destination that prioritises care for and engagement with the natural environment. It is a biennial event that forms part of Noosa Regional Gallery’s larger artistic program. Floating Land focusses on the presentation of temporary public artworks that engage and collaborate with the natural environment in which they are presented, while leaving no physical trace of their presence after the event.

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From a Visitor’s Perspective: How to Share Ideas and Objects in an Inclusive Manner (Naomi Evans)

Naomi Evans, Curator, Griffith University Art Museum will discuss how collecting organisations can be valuable cultural repositories that are also, for some audiences, experienced as elitist or off-putting. How can we share ideas in ways that acknowledge diverse perspectives? What could we do better as we offer context and insights into subject matter and cultural materials?  Evans’s talk will discuss the role of critical thinking, contemporary curating, and some distinctions between dialogue and debate.

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Heritage Tourism and Ormiston House: Our Approach and Experiences (Brenda Maynard)

In this paper Brenda will discuss the role of heritage tourism for Historic Ormiston House and the practical implications of this sector for this volunteer-run historic house museum. Visitors from what is now called the ‘heritage tourism’ market make up a significant portion of visitor numbers at Ormiston House. Learn how a community heritage site can engage not only local communities, but visitors from further afield while remaining relevant to the different demographics visiting the property.

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Heritage Tourism: Are We Utilising Heritage Tourism to its Full Potential? (Dr Jessica Stroja)

Heritage Tourism is one of the latest buzz words in the tourism sector, yet our heritage sites and museums don’t always ‘fit’ into the standard tourism marketing programs provided by local and state tourism bodies. Recent reports show the Heritage Tourism ‘subcategory’ of the tourism sector has huge potential, but how do we know if we are utilising heritage tourism to its full potential?

In this paper Jessica will discuss how to find your place in the tourism sector without losing sight of our overall aims as museums and heritage sites. Learn how to get the most out of the tourism programs offered to museums and heritage sites, and for a practical session, don’t forget to come to Jessica’s ‘Marketing your Museum’ Workshop on Sunday!

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Looking Ahead– The Changing Face of Conservation for a Heritage House (Robyn Wallace)

The Queensland Women’s Historical Association was formed seventy years ago in 1950. In 1966 the Association purchased Beverley Woods, (now Miegunyah House Museum) as a place to show and store the collection of items given by various members since its inception.  This talk will trace the stages of conservation of both the House and the QWHA collection, looking in particular at the changes in strategy as the Association looks to the future of heritage in a digital world.

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Managing and Working with Heritage Gardens (Chris Brauns)

Gardening is one of the most widely practised cultural activities in Australia. Historic gardens are under-appreciated as types of heritage places. Gardens and grounds require maintenance much more frequently than buildings. They are different because they change with the seasons, grow and die. Maintenance of heritage gardens and grounds should be based on good horticultural practice rather than the current fashion. The maintenance program should be designed to ensure that the place is viable in the future. Gardens and grounds may be important and as settings for heritage buildings. Many historic gardens feature mature trees planted as avenues, border plantings or specimens.

The grounds of Ormiston House have no remnant bushland left as the whole area was used as a growing plant nursery for plants that had potential for use in the timber, food and health areas. The Ormiston House gardens are a repository and breeding area of living plant specimens, which are often extinct in their native habitat. Views and vistas were very important in this Gardenesque style used at Ormiston House. The form and position of the original gardens should be kept as originally planned.  The contribution of private owners (Carmelite Nuns) by opening the grounds of Ormiston House to the public is of positive benefit to the broader community.

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Podcasting: Share Your Museum’s Story (Kirsten Murray)

Podcasting is an incredibly popular medium. Podcasts can educate, inspire, tell stories, inform and entertain. They offer heritage institutions a cost-effective platform to share their unique stories with new and existing audiences. But, how do you podcast?

In 2019, Brisbane’s Living Heritage Network (BLHN) launched a podcast—My favourite item: unravelling Brisbane’s history piece by piece as a way to share our member organisations’ stories about Brisbane’s rich and unique cultural heritage and social history. Learn about the challenges, surprises and benefits of podcasting, the podcasting process and the free tools available to create your own podcast.

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Talking About Historic Houses, Community Museums, and Queensland’s Past (Dr Robert Mason)

Historic homes are some of Queensland’s most popular heritage sites, beloved by visitors, volunteers, and owners alike. They are not unproblematic spaces however, and are often connected with historical events that are uncomfortable and contentious in twenty-first century society. This paper explores some of the key areas that might pose tension, whether through the misrepresentation of the past or the inadvertent omission of stories. It suggests strategies to ensure that our historic homes are welcoming and inclusive spaces, in which visitors and guides alike feel safe to discuss Queensland’s history.

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Walking Together (Pekeri Ruska and Elisabeth Gondwe)

This paper explores the ongoing journey of the North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah to decolonise our systems, protocols and exhibitions.  We share our current project of representing Quandamooka history and stories in the museum.  The Museums biggest challenge is how we go about facilitating First Nation representation, including First Nation ontology and sovereignty, to move beyond a settler colonial national story.  We try and explore the lack of visibility of First Nations history and culture. Our Walking Together program is our way of addressing this lack of inclusion in our museum. 

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Working with Heritage Buildings and the Need for Sustainability (Brian Maxwell)

Each of us view buildings differently. They vary in size, shape, function, design and value. What makes some buildings more significant than others?  Practising a traditional craft creates an opportunity to work on Queensland’s most respected historic buildings including Parliament House, Old Government House, Masonic Lodge, St. John’s Cathedral and Ormiston House. Hear a different perspective on why these places are considered important and worth retaining.

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