President Report

Museums Australia Education 2017 BGM – President’s Report

Over the last 4 years MAE has been working on a number of strategies designed to increase engagement across the museum education sector including:

  • Expanding its online presence through this website and social media
  • Using Google Hangouts for online professional development – both as a way of overcoming geographical distance, and in order to actively learn and model how to work with the technology
  • Running a pre-conference day alongside the MA national conferences, and
  • Encouraging and supporting states and territories to run their own museum education events and possibly move towards formally constituting themselves as part of Museums Galleries Australia.

This work is, of course, limited to what can be managed by a volunteer committee working in its ‘spare time’.

In terms of online presence, the MAE website has 368 followers and has posted a range of content – however this has tailed off in recent times. MAE’s Twitter account has 275 followers and it has an active Facebook page. While some of these numbers are relatively modest, they represent people who have chosen to follow MAE’s activities, as a direct outcome of the committee’s strategy to enable more people to access information about MAE in response to previous survey feedback.

On 5 October 2016, MAE and Education Network Victoria (ENVi), in partnership with the Technology and Evaluation networks, hosted a one day conference in the lead up to the 2016 Victorian Museums & Galleries Conference. Doing things differently, making a difference was an opportunity for professionals to share their passion with some of the most experienced, innovative and passionate advocates of learning in museums, with the express purpose of exploring how we can really make a difference for our visitors. 85 people attended from across Australia and New Zealand.

The keynote speaker was Adam Rozan. Adam is the Director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, helping lead a century-old institution into the future through innovative programming. An indefatigable advocate for visitors, he is part of a movement to revolutionize the museum visit. He also teaches an innovative course in the Museum Studies program at Harvard University’s Extension School.

The morning sessions were held at State Library Victoria, and the afternoon ones at Arts Centre Melbourne and the National Gallery of Victoria. The program featured colleagues from across Australia, and even one from New Zealand.

Sessions included:

Same, Same But Different! Chaired by Angela Casey, National Museum. Five – minute lightning presentations from across the country to explore education programming that has made a difference. Speakers included:

  • Deb Sulway, Museum of Australian Democracy
  • Amanda Paroz, National Museum of Australia
  • Gemma Davie, Port Arthur Historic Site
  • Adele Walsh, State Library of Victoria

Impact, Technology & Measurement. Chaired by Paul Bowers, Head of Exhibitions at Museums Victoria. Speakers included:

  • Jonny Brownbill, Manager of Online Development at Museum Victoria
  • Carolyn Meehan, Manager of Audience Insights at Museum Victoria
  • Regan Forrest, Manager, Visitor Experience South Australia Museum
  • Dr. Lynda Kelly, Head of Learning at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney
  • David Perkins, Digital Education & Outreach Manager at Museum Victoria

Theory and Practice Sessions (parallel) New Approaches to Learning. Interpreting Differently Object-based Learning. 

New Approaches to Learning

Chaired by Andrew Hiskens, State Library of Victoria and President, MAE, with Karen Vickery, National Portrait Gallery, Alex White, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia), Caitlin Sutton, Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Ben Liu, Zoos Victoria and Karen Walters, New Zealand Maritime Museum.

Interpreting Differently

Chaired by Patrick Watt, Burke Museum and President of International Museum Theatre Alliance, Asia Pacific. With Two Friends Productions and Penelope Bartlau, Barking Spider Visual Theatre.

Object Based Learning

Chaired by Michele Stockley, NGV, Visual Thinking Strategies Taster with Christine Healey, Shrine of Remembrance, Play and Digital at NGV with Daniel Garcia, NGV.

This was followed by a Plenary chaired by Pete Hoban, Sovereign Hill. With bursary recipients Michelle Fracaro, Rebecca Johnson, Annelies Van de Ven and Carla English

Then those not going on to Phillip Island for the 2016 Victorian Museums & Galleries Conference were able to stay on an exhibition viewing of Kylie on Stage led by Margot Anderson, Curator Dance & Opera, Arts Centre Melbourne.

Some Twitter comments:

  • Thanks so much…for your fabulous efforts at pulling together such a great MEET in Melbourne.
  • A #summary of my thoughts – it was #valuable; #inspiring; #thought-provoking; #newconnections &#lovelyreconnections.
  • So many great speakers today sharing their experiences as museum educators Definitely
  • inspired some new #careergoals #MAE16 #museumed


The full feed can be found on Storify: slvlearn and lyndakelly/meet16


Due to pressure of time, MAE did not run any Google Hangouts or other online PD over the year. This is something we need to review.

Following on from the success of the Doing things differently, making a difference one day conference, it had been proposed to run a further MEET Day prior to the Brisbane conference. However, following discussions in February with Lynda Kelly and Jonny Brownbill, we decided not to proceed with this. There were a couple of considerations in coming to this decision, principally:

  • It will not be very long since the last MEET Day on 5 October, which was aligned with the Victorian State Conference (which was quite a big effort!), and
  • The Sunday before the conference is Mothers’ Day, which may discourage some people.

On Wednesday 17 May 2017 at 12.30-1.30pm Museums Australia Education (MAE) will hold its Biennial General Meeting and elections for new committee members at the Museums Galleries Australia National Conference in Brisbane (Plaza Room 9). The BGM will include the election of a new committee. Based on a motion carried at the AGM in Canberra on 17 May 2013, it was agreed that:

  • The committees would be elected for a 2 year period
  • The three categories of committee positions (i.e. core executive, state/territory reps and ordinary) would remain, but that the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer all come from the same state or territory, while the position of Vice-President is filled by the next state or territory which will take on the key roles of President, Secretary and Treasurer (i.e. in two years’ time) to create a smoother transition from committee to committee.
  • State/territory reps and ordinary committee members can serve beyond the two years of a committee term but must be re-elected so that others can join the committee.

The current executive – President (Andrew Hiskens, Vic), Vice-President (Angela Casey, ACT), Treasurer (Peter Hoban, Vic) and Secretary (Christine Healey, Vic) – have served two 2-year terms. It was intended that the executive roles revert to the ACT at this election, however this is not currently possible.

As a consequence, we are:

  • Proposing an amendment to the 2013 motion to allow the executive to be made up of MAE members from different States and Territories, if it is not possible for a single State or Territory to take on the responsibility, and
  • That, should no one else nominate for the executive roles, the current executive will nominate for a further one year term, to allow for transition to happen at an AGM to be held during the National Conference in Melbourne in May 2018.

As things stand, succession planning remains a challenge.

A number of states and territories have been active over the year – particularly the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Thank you to everyone involved, but particularly to Jo Henwood for the programs she organised over 2015/16 in NSW and to Janis Hanley for her work with the Queensland group.

Thanks are also due to the MAE Executive – Peter Hoban (Treasurer), Christine Healey (Secretary and web/social media), Angela Casey (Vice President), Andrew Hiskens (President) – and the rest of the committee.

Andrew Hiskens

President, MAE

20 April 20172017 Jonny Brownbill Twitter

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