Tuesday, December 16, 2008

National Museum of Australia could get a breath of fresh air

Out of museum and into history for culture warriors - three Howard-era appointees to the museum's council are out out out: They are John Howard's biographer David Barnett, his former speechwriter Christopher Pearson and former Liberal Party federal president Tony Staley.

Considering the troubles the NMA had in its blossoming years, I can't help but think this is a good thing - especially considering the following: Objections to the museum's displays ranged from serious to high farce. Mr Barnett, in particular, became a vocal critic. In a scathing report he referred to a stolen children exhibit as a "victim episode"and described the museum as full of "claptrap" and "Marxist rubbish".

I shall reserve judgment until I hear anything in the next couple of years, though. Changes like this aren't going to impact on anything immediately - but honestly, having had the new PM apologise to Australia's Indigenous population means that it's fairly likely anyone that's going to be put into the NMA council now will at least be a little more balanced when it comes to representing Australia's best interests - all of Australia's best interests. The job of a National Museum is not an easy one, and the NMA had a particularly rocky start, plagued with political issues. As a now established institution and with a changing management like this, I think they can really step up and provide something fresh and new and all-encompassing (possibly like parts of the Melbourne Museum but on a larger, more up to date scale).

I've never been to the NMA - I wish i'd had the chance now, just for comparison's sake - but I look forward to making the effort to visit whenever I return to Australian shores.