Museums enable the drawing of meaning and understanding from the material world. Visitors to the National Museum of Australia encounter objects strategically grouped by curators and designers, beside text carefully written and edited, near images selected for their relevance to the objects on display and processed for maximum visual effect.
But of course, visitors have their own, particular capacities to make sense of things they find in exhibitions or inside museum storage repositories, and objects have their own powers to communicate, to reveal their marks of use, to convey their relevance to historical and contemporary life.
On the People and the Environment program’s website, we’ve launched a new section called ‘collection reflections’. We’re inviting artists and writers with deep interests in the histories and cultures of human interaction with the Australian environment to delve into the Museum’s collections and themselves interpret objects that they find intriguing.
Bethaney Turner, a researcher and lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra, has produced our first ‘collection reflection’. Her writings reflect on objects that record fascinating cultural, political and economic aspects of debates about genetically modifed farming.
Read Bethaney Turner’s short essay ‘Reflections on a new technology’.