An interdisciplinary researcher with a background in cultural geography and museum studies, Dr Nuala Morse is studying community engagement practice in the context of Australian museums as part of an Endeavour Fellowship at ICS.
Through interviews with museum professionals in Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne, Nuala is exploring the different drivers and values that shape community engagement projects, and the approaches museum workers use to support this work.
‘I am interested in the distinctive nature of engagement work, and how museum professionals construct and practise ideas of “community engagement”. This is driven by a concern that this work is not always understood, recognised or supported,’ she explains.
‘This project is both an extension of my PhD and a new piece of research which aims to map out the different trajectories of engagement work in the Australian museum sector.’
Nuala recently completed her doctorate at Durham University in the UK, in collaboration with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (opens in a new window), and is interested to apply her knowledge in the Australian context.
‘My PhD examined the cultures of participation in museums – in particular, how museum professionals across different teams understand, practise and perform ideas of participation, as well as the organisational challenges for embedding participatory practice and democratising museums.’
‘There are many crossovers and influences in practice between the UK and Australian museums, and I am fascinated to follow these. I am also interested to learn about Indigenous engagement contexts and approaches within Australia’s public museums.’
As well as engaging with a range of Australian museum professionals and gaining a deeper insight into Australian culture, Nuala is enjoying being part of the unique ICS research environment as well as exploring Australia for the first time.
‘It has been exciting to connect with other researchers here at ICS, and in particular to work with Associate Professor Emma Waterton,’ she says.
‘And beyond this it has been great for me to live and work abroad for a while and discover Australia.’
The Australian Government Endeavour Fellowship is a prestigious six-month long fellowship awarded to high achieving applicants to conduct post-doctoral research. Nuala is one of two Endeavour Fellows at ICS in 2015.
10 June 2015