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Museums Australia responds to calls for a new body for public art galleries

Museums Australia responds to calls for a new body for public art galleries
February 27, 2015

Facing a split in its ranks following calls for a new representative body for art galleries, Museums Australia has issued a statement highlighting how it works to represent the interests of Australia’s public art galleries.

Museums Australia, the peak body for Australia’s museums and public art galleries, issued the statement in response to a feature on the feature on the Artshub.com.au website.

The feature, Galleries propose split from Museums Australia, reported on art gallery curators and professional saying that existing peak bodies did not address the unique challenges of visual arts presenters and that galleries needed to separate from Museums Australia to ensure the specific needs of the visual arts sector were properly represented.

In response, Museums Australia issued a statement that read “Museums Australia supports moves for a robust discussion with the public galleries sector about how best the interests of that group are served.

“Museums Australia recognises that Australia’s public galleries operate with a very high degree of professionalism, audience engagement and curatorial excellence, and in some key operational aspects differ from the wider museum community.

“When Museums Australia was created the inclusive northern hemisphere sense of the word museum was deliberately chosen, recognising that the cultural collections and exhibiting sector is very diverse ranging from fully professionally staffed art museums to entirely volunteer run local social history museums.

“That diversity is a strength, bringing diversity of view and approach.

“The blurring of the boundaries between different types of museums is increasing, fostered by changing community interests and demographics, and the digital revolution. At the same time funding by governments at all levels to the museums sector is decreasing, and sector concern is increasing that the performing arts and visual artists sectors have an established and generous funding mechanism through the Australia Council, but no such mechanism exists for the museum sector.

“The concerns expressed by the public galleries are a good trigger for strong discussion within Museums Australia about its role and structures.

“Museums Australia will welcome input from all areas of the wider museum community and by inviting critics to the table.

“We welcome a wide range of ideas and approaches.

“Museums Australia invites comments from the sector (and) firmly believes that the sector will be stronger if it speaks with one voice and celebrates the diversity of the museum and gallery sector.

“Equally we recognise that the sector is changing faster now than it ever has, and that Museums Australia must change with it. We welcome the opportunity to work with the public galleries in that process.”

Top Image shows the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.

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