Fellows explore modern challenges in architecture, land management and garden design

National Museum of Australia addresses issues of national significance

Exploring solutions to the challenges presented by climate change through architecture, garden design and land and water regeneration is just one of the ambitions of three Fellows appointed by the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Underlining the Museum’s role in facilitating key conversations around major issues of national significance, the three Fellows have been appointed to undertake research across their respective fields.

Reflecting the organisation’s commitment to community engagement and collaboration, the Museum has partnered with like-minded foundations and philanthropists to develop the unique fellowship program, as part of its revamped Curatorial Research and Partnerships unit.

The new Senior Fellows will utilise research, exhibitions, collections, events, partnerships and publications to explore their respective areas of focus in innovative ways, and, in doing so, take a fresh look at Australia’s past, present and future through new lenses.

Dr Kirsten Wehner is the inaugural James O Fairfax Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment for 2022–2025. An established curator, artist, producer and writer, Dr Wehner’s passion is collaborating to create inspiring experiences that celebrate and transform people’s relationships with their places.

During her fellowship, Dr Wehner will focus on the theme of regeneration, exploring how diverse communities across Australia are experiencing and responding to environmental challenges. In particular, Dr Wehner will emphasise the cultural histories and values of the continent’s most threatened ecosystems. The impact of climate change will underpin her work.

Dr Wehner is passionate about sustainability and conservation and says the program will explore how Australians’ lives are intertwined with our continent’s.

‘The program invites Australians to hear Country tell us its story, from the deep past to the present. This is also our own story. And in this time of climate change and threatened species, the program asks how we can make new stories about coming together to better care for our living places,’ Dr Wehner said.

Dr Lyndon Anderson is the 2022–25 Swayn Fellow of Australian Design. An expert in design education, research and advocacy, Dr Anderson has extensive experience and networks with professional design industry peak bodies and the Australian university sector.

During his fellowship, Dr Anderson will focus on the theme of Australian design, with a particular emphasis on sustainable manufacturing and construction, and how architects and designers are responding within their practice to assist in creating an environmentally friendly world, in the face of climate change challenges.

Dr Anderson says he hopes to highlight the work of important Australian designers of the past and the present, and help the next generation of designers to find their voice.

‘I’m really looking forward to sharing stories behind icons of Australian design and architecture, and highlighting the work of renowned Australian designers. In the face of contemporary challenges like climate change, the program will explore the positive impacts sustainable architecture and design can have on the world, and the role it will play in creating a better future for generations to come,’ Dr Anderson said.

Dr Luke Keogh is the 2022–24 White Family Senior Fellow in Australian Garden History. A passionate curator and historian, Dr Keogh is an active researcher in the museums and collections fields and has published widely on the role of museums in the Anthropocene.

The new Fellow’s goals include enhancing public understanding and recognition of garden histories by engaging with the Museum’s collections, developing exhibitions, events and programs and facilitating research. Exploring the challenges and opportunities posed by a warming climate to Australian garden design will be one aspect of the program.

Dr Keogh is a passionate curator and garden historian and says he hopes to build recognition of gardens, plant life and sustainable land practices.

‘I’m really looking forward to highlighting the important role conservation and garden history plays in addressing modern issues. Climate change poses both challenges and opportunities for Australian gardens and the program aims to enrich the public’s understanding and appreciation of how museums can play a role in these conversations,’ said Dr Keogh.

National Museum Director, Dr Mathew Trinca, acknowledged the role each Fellow will play in addressing important issues.

‘The Fellows and their programs will focus on some of the contemporary challenges we face as a nation, such as Australian adaptation and resilience to climate change, the ethical use of new technologies and viable consumption’ Dr Trinca said.

‘Their appointments have been made possible through the generous support of the Alastair Swayn Foundation, the James Fairfax Foundation and the White Family. Partnerships like these are integral to achieving the Museum’s vision and I am grateful for their generosity’.

The Fellows will individually research, develop and host exhibitions and public programs throughout the tenure of their fellowships.

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