2005 Australia-Israel Hawke Lecture
Changing headsets: the impact of museums on social thinking
Ms Viv Szekeres, Migration Museum, Adelaide
Dr Helen Light AM, Jewish Museum of Australia, Melbourne
Wednesday 9 March 2005
Two prominent Directors share their perspectives
Audio transcript of the 2005 Australia-Israel Hawke Lecture (13Mb mp3 file)
In the last 30 years there has been a seismic shift in the way some museums operate and in the programs they present to the public. No longer the bastions of white middle class male privilege where precious or exotic things were housed, most museums now seek to represent a wider constituency and reflect a broader range of social, cultural and political issues. Given the history of the development of museums as institutions, the speed of technological change and contemporary economic priorities, can museums hope to reflect changes that have taken place in society let alone act as agents for change in social thinking? This paper will explore the issues and the challenges facing museums today.
Biography: Viv Szekeres migration from England in 1971. She holds an Honours degree in History, a BA in Education and a diploma in Montessori Teaching from London. She has worked at the Migration Museum for more than twenty years and has been Director since 1987. She is passionate about the role museums play in contemporary society.
The challenge has been taken up by Jewish Museums in general, and by the Jewish Museum of Australia in particular, to become civic spaces of contested ideas and history, as places concerned with and responsible for helping shape identity and fulfilling social responsibilities for the public good.
They have taken an active role in contributing to the continuity of Jewish identity in light of the contemporary debate about Jewish identity in a post Holocaust; predominantly secular liberal democratic western world and with the tragic struggle within the State of Israel.
Biography: Helen Light has worked at the Jewish Museum of Australia since 1983 and has been Director/Curator since 1991. Helen is involved in several professional and governmental bodies and currently President of Museums Australia (Vic Branch ). She is a Churchill Fellow, a recipient of a Centenary of Federation Medal and a Museum Achiever of the Year Award.