Harnessing the intangible: a Greek-Australian experience

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A history of the human experience of any given society cannot be limited to evidence such as paper documents or the objects and physical constructs of daily life. Yet, a major characteristic of countless university social history museums, and indeed their state and national counterparts, appears to be this circumscription. Tangible objects abound, and for the most part, are the major focus of an institution's exhibitions, research, and public interaction. Can intangible elements therefore become a key driving force in assisting a museum's exhibition development? The creation of two touring exhibitions on Greek-Australians at Macquarie University's Australian History Museum has resoundingly answered, "yes". "Generations" and "In Her Own Image: Greek-Australian Women", embraced intangible heritage as their pre-eminent concern. The diverse complexity of Greek-Australian cultural identity, as manifested in a broad array of beliefs and practices, was clearly revealed through a strong interplay of oral histories (supplemented by archival/library research), with historical and contemporary photographs. The sociological and historical were married by selecting interviewees across different generations, and of different periods of migration and settlement. Voices, convictions, experiences and faces provided form to the intangible. Further exhibitions are now planned, where the tangible is hidden and the intangible, seen.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpuscula Musealia
Subtitle of host publicationCzasopismo Muzeologiczne z. (vol) 15, 2006
Place of PublicationKrakow, Poland
PublisherJagiellonian University
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)8323321957
Publication statusPublished - 2006
EventTraditional culture and intangible heritage in university museums - Soeul, Korea
Duration: 2 Oct 20048 Oct 2004


ConferenceTraditional culture and intangible heritage in university museums
CitySoeul, Korea


  • museum studies
  • intangible heritage
  • Greek-Australians
  • university museums
  • exhibitions


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