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Collecting diversity: the changing relationships between museums and culturally diverse communities

conference contribution
posted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Karen Schamberger
Much of the focus of scholarship around cultural diversity and museums has taken the advent of multiculturalism in 1973 as a starting point. However, public museums also collected and exhibited items relating to culturally diverse communities from the time they were set up from the 1850s onwards, and my research seeks to produce a pre-history of contact between museums, governments and culturally diverse communities and individuals. By using objects and collections life histories from the time they enter the museum for collection and/ or exhibition purposes, I will analyse the way that these relationships have changed over time. One case study is of the gamelan Digul, parts of which are currently on display in the Australian Journeys gallery at the National Museum of Australia. The gamelan Digul first entered the collection of the National Museum of Victoria in 1946 when the museum accepted the donation of these musical instruments from Indonesians who were being deported after World War II. The gamelan remained in this collection until 1976 when it was deacessioned to Monash University who restored and exhibited it in 1999. The National Museum of Australia borrowed some instruments from the gamelan in 2009. Some of the questions I will explore are: What were the motivations behind the former political prisoners/ Indonesian citizens in donating the gamelan Digul to the National Museum of Victoria and why did the museum accept it? Why was the gamelan Digul deaccessioned to Monash University?  How does the display of these instruments at the NMA represent the historical Indonesian communities in Australia which was deported?



Museums Australia. Conference (2013 : Canberra, A.C.T.)


1 - 6


Museums Australia


Canberra, A.C.T.

Place of publication

Canberra, A.C.T.

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Publication classification

E2 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed

Title of proceedings

2013 : How museums work : people, industry, nation : Proceedings of the Museums Australia 2013 conference

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