Museums are amongst the most democratic of cultural institutions. They tell our national stories, memorialize our triumphs and tragedies, preserve our traditions, encourage a thirst for knowledge about others and knit together different generations and cultures.
The major museums within CAMD work with and celebrate the diverse cultural groups which make up 21st-century Australia. This partnership contributes to building vibrant and cohesive communities.
Indigenous performers at the Australian Museum
Celebrating Indigenous Culture
CAMD museums work closely with Indigenous groups to protect and promote understanding at home and abroad of the rich cultural practices, beliefs and aspirations of Indigenous people in the Australasian region.
The major museums have worked for some time with local Indigenous communities to develop policies for the display and care of Indigenous cultural materials. In some cases, Australian museums incorporate Keeping Places and New Zealand institutions have Maori Marae within their walls.
CAMD museums also work to:
- repatriate human remains and secret/sacred objects from overseas collections;
- promote cultural regeneration of lost skills such as canoe building and fibre work;
- celebrate Indigenous heritage and contemporary culture through major exhibitions;
- promote cultural sensitivity;
- undertake research on Indigenous traditions, language and material culture;
- encourage the employment of Indigenous museum officers; and
- provide consultancies in relation to the management of traditional Indigenous objects by the Government, industry and Indigenous communities.
Our Many Cultures
The histories of Australia and New Zealand are marked by waves of migration. The migrant experience, however, can be one of displacement and isolation. People turn to cultural heritage as a way of feeling at home in new places and also to pass on a sense of tradition and belonging to future generations.
Migrant and refugee groups experience pride, confidence and a greater sense of belonging to the wider community, by presenting their stories in museums through exhibitions and other interactions.
A number of museums have become sites for the celebration and remembrance of the migration experience and new citizenship – like the Western Australian Maritime Museum ‘welcome wall’ where 34,500 migrants names are inscribed or the many precious keepsakes and stories encapsulated in the Immigration Museum, Melbourne or the Migration Museum, Adelaide.
Through the stories of individuals and migrant groups, museums promote interest in and understanding of others and in the process strengthen the national social fabric.
CAMD Directors believe that, in a rapidly globalizing world, it is critical that young people know and understand their own national stories. Museums play a significant role in developing content for classrooms and online which creates a personalised pathway through local, State/Territory/regional and national history.
The dedication of CAMD museums to our national stories can be seen in the wide range of events and activities currently underway as part of the commemoration of WWI.