QVMAG looks to the future for International Museum Day

QVMAG: Visual arts curator Ashleigh Whatling, history curator Jon Addison and natural sciences curator David Maynard. Picture: Scott Gelston
QVMAG: Visual arts curator Ashleigh Whatling, history curator Jon Addison and natural sciences curator David Maynard. Picture: Scott Gelston

Friday marks a day of celebration for history buffs, science enthusiasts and art lovers the world over. 

Museums from London to Lima will co-ordinate events to celebrate International Museum Day, including Launceston’s own Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

While QVMAG’s celebration will take place a day late, on Saturday morning, it will still mark the 32nd occasion of the day.

For 2018, the museum will host a discussion titled The Future of Museums: A Conversation, featuring local, national and international speakers.

“It’s not how it was when we were kids, where if you wanted to learn something, you just went to the museum and read the labels,” QVMAG natural sciences curator David Maynard said. 

“These days a lot of museums are online and that’s where we’re going  – we need to have our collections accessible. 

“Digitisation of our collection is an important thing...but we still want and need as people to come in and use the museum as a meeting place for the community and a place to learn.”

Mr Maynard said he had a natural advantage in keeping his collection relevant for children, because “kids love dinosaurs, bugs and animals generally”.

An initiative to keep children engaged at QVMAG has been to use interactive exhibits, so people can touch and feel natural sciences exhibits. 

However, the task is a little bit more difficult for the arts, according to QVMAG visual arts and design curator Ashleigh Whatling.

We don’t want sticky fingers all over our [Robert] Dowlings, but we do want their little eyes on them.

QVMAG visual arts and design curator Ashleigh Whatling

She said it was difficult to keep children engaged in traditional art galleries and highlighted the need for curators to find interactive methods to engage younger audiences.

“We don’t want sticky fingers all over our [Robert] Dowlings, but we do want their little eyes on them,” she said.

“We need to be open to making exhibits and spaces people can use in different ways...and embrace [technology] instead of being stubborn about how people use museums.”

Speaking at the International History Day event is Australian Museum manager of life and geosciences Cameron Slatyer, University of Manchester archaeologist Eleanor Casella and Hobart artist Ilona Schneider.

The free event starts at 11am on Saturday.