Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

AM’s Kim McKay in conversation

Kim McKay is the first woman Director and CEO of the Australian Museum in its 191-year history.

Marijke Everts & Aleksandra Strzelichowska, Europeana in conversation with Kim McKay from the Australian Museum, Europeana, 22 April 2021

Kim McKay is the first woman Director and CEO of the Australian Museum in its 191-year history. In a special interview for our celebration of Women’s History Month, she discusses highlighting women’s achievements, First Nation communities, and climate change through the Museum’s activities and collections. Watch the interviews!

Every year in March, Europeana celebrates Women’s History with a month-long campaign of editorials, social media games, learning scenarios and partnerships. This year, the Collections Engagement team made a conscious effort to profile a more diverse range of women in our editorials, which you can explore on our Women’s History feature page. We also began a partnership with the Khalili Collections, who have one of the most geographically and culturally diverse collections in the world. They shared a guest editorial on Kimonos and the women behind them and will be sharing more great content in the future.

Women’s History Month has its roots in Australia, the UK and the US. So to end Europeana’s campaign this year, we thought it appropriate to interview Kim McKay, the first woman Director and CEO of the Australian Museum in its 191-year history. The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in Australia and the fifth oldest natural history museum in the world, holding over 21 million scientific specimens and cultural heritage objects.

In our discussion, Kim McKay shares some of her favourite highlights of Europeana’s Women’s History month this year, as well as discussing the extensive and important work the Australian Museum has been carrying out for women, First Nation communities and the environment. Watch the interviews below (full transcripts are available at the end of the post).

Women’s History Month

What were some of Kim McKay’s highlights of Europeana’s Women’s History Month? Which activities struck her as particularly exciting? How has the role of women and First Nations people been written out of history, and how can we educate people about this? Watch the video below to hear the full discussion and answers, and learn more about the Scott Sisters, the first paid women artists in New South Wales!

The Australian Museum’s work on Community

What is the Australian Museum’s approach to being closer to the community? Kim McKay talks about redefining the role of the museum in this context. From the role of the museum as a meeting place to build ties and the importance of working respectfully with First Nation and Pacific community objects with often sacred meaning to the contribution of migrant communities and how to be part of the difficult conversations addressing colonial history, Kim McKay discusses these issues – and more! – in the video above.

The Australian Museum’s work on climate change

Kim McKay is also an environmentalist, and addressing climate change is one of the museum’s five major goals. How can the institution do this, and work to influence public opinion on climate change? And what role have frogs played in raising awareness? Find out in the video above!

You can watch the full video interview with Kim McKay here. Explore the Australian Museum’s website to learn more, and get inspired about how cultural heritage institutions can have a positive impact on climate actions and start to build relationships with local communities. Contact the Australian Museum to see how you can get involved with climate action.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2023
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