Deakin University
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On the Land: Our Story Retold

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posted on 2023-02-07, 04:17 authored by Luke KeoghLuke Keogh
On the Land: Our Story Retold


Start date



Research and development time: 3 years. Size: 500sqm. Budget: $80,000. Note: This exhibition was completed while I was employed as Senior Curator at the National Wool Museum 2018-2022, prior to my appointment at Deakin.

Research statement

Background This exhibition provided a new format to explore the environmental histories of wool. The exhibition built new knowledge on an innovative line of inquiry in environmental history. Works such as Main’s, Heartland (2005) and Muir’s The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress (2014) were inspirational. All showed the importance of First Nations’ voices in any Australian environmental history project. They also showed “slow violence” of land development in Australia and also pointed to the possibilities of regenerative practices (Nixon 2011). They also showed that specificity of one location can reveal local stories that expose the stories of the nation. Contribution On the Land: Our Story Retold was a new permanent exhibition at the National Wool Museum in Geelong. It was a modern retelling of the wool story that started with the land of Geelong and Wadawurrung voices. As the name suggests, On the Land is all about the rich and bountiful land that many people are connected to. But there is an underlying tension implicit in the exhibition. How do we reconcile the rich and bountiful social and economic history of the wool industry with the drastic environmental and cultural impact of the industry over the last two centuries? Significance On the Land was the first major exhibition on Australian wool history for twenty-five years. It was created with environmental history, museum collections and art. The exhibition started with First Nations voices and the Wadawurrung land of Geelong and worked its way out to the state and to the nation. On the Land showed that storytelling informed by environmental history coupled with collaboration with community can deliver exhibitions that are relevant and successful. In 2021, this exhibition won the two highest peer reviewed awards in the nation and state (listed below). It also contributed to forthcoming traditional research outputs.

Recognition, awards & prizes

Winner, Level 2, Permanent Exhibition, Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNA), 2021 - see - Winner, AMAGA (VIC) Award for Medium Museum or Gallery, for Exhibition On the Land - further info - Highly Commended, Collaborative Community History Award, Victorian Community History Awards, 2021 - Highly Commended, Historical Interpretation Award, Victorian Community History Awards, 2021,


On the Land: Our Story Retold


National Wool Museum

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