Engaging with creator communities: the way forward for museums
Christidis, L, Daniel, V, Monaghan, P, Carrillo-Huffman & Huffman, K 2009, 'Engaging with creator communities: the way forward for museums', International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-6.
The Australian Museum has one of the world’s largest and most significant Melanesian collections with particular strengths in cultural material from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. One of the prime goals of the Australian Museum is to develop new ways of unlocking these collections. The aim is to provide increased access and engagement with the creator communities, in order to rejuvenate the traditional arts of creator communities, while at the same time documenting and preserving the intangible knowledge linked to the cultural material. As part of this initiative the Australian Museum has instigated a program whereby cultural leaders from Pacific Island Communities visit the collections to add their stories and take back relevant information and images. Two examples are described here. The first details visits by Chief Jerry Taki and Ms. Sophie Nemban from the island of Erromango in Vanuatu. The visits focused on the Erromangan men’s and women’s cultural material held at the museum. Several aspects of this long term project including the rejuvenation of traditional bark-cloth as well as the enrichment of intangible heritage information associated with the museum collections are described. The second example relates to the visit by Mr. Lawrence Foana’ota a cultural leader from the Solomon Islands and how this has led to a digital repatriation and community engagement project in the Solomon Islands.