Hi. Malcolm Traill here, reporting from Albany.
Well, the dust has settled from the MGA2018 Conference and time to reflect on the highlights and talking points of the week.
I felt that the conference remained true to its theme – “Agents of Change” – and that’s something you can’t always say about conferences! Many of the speakers took up the challenge and directly addressed the question. Are we, or should we be, agents of change?
General consensus was, yes, we are doing a good job in challenging times, but there is always room for improvement. Especially notable were papers addressing indigenous issues with presentations by speakers like Gail Mabo, Karen Mundine, Terri Janke and Nathan Sentance.
Their thoughts were backed by Canadian First Nations Curator, Viviane Gosselin and Pacific Islander Barbara Makuati-Afitu, who each emphasised the importance of the ownership and presentation of indigenous stories in our museums and galleries.
One of the clarion calls was for a louder voice from minorities in our administrations and governing bodies. This includes the sick and disabled, indigenous communities, the socio-economically disadvantaged and even young people. We still appear to present to the usual audiences – the educated, the wealthy and the city-dwellers.
And, from ANU 3A Institute Director, Genevieve Bell, a message to recognise why people like us and a novel (!) suggestion – your management does not resemble your clientele! Prof. Bell spoke powerfully about the importance of artificial intelligence and new technologies in our planning.
The Regional, Remote and Community Day, normally a key day for smaller museums like mine, was more focussed on inner-city museums than anything else! Not that the papers weren’t interesting, but the program should have been simply incorporated into the general conference.
However, one of the highlights for me came from there – a talk by Adam Macfie and Rhonda Inkamala on a pioneering photographic exhibition from the Northern Territory in dual language – Western Aranda and English. This was the first of its type to prioritise interpretation in an indigenous language and its impact was powerful.
Nice touches included a special presentation of an electronic music archive (and subsequent use of electronic music warning bells for sessions!), an appealing heritage-listed venue (The Old Meat Market), quality indigenous catering by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, an espresso coffee cart, and a snappy MAPDA/MAGNA presentation ceremony compered by comedian Andrew McClelland.
Overall rating – a healthy 4.5 stars from me. No dud papers and excellent organisation. Roll on Alice Springs, 13-17 May 2019!