Genevieve Grieves in Milarri Garden, Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum.
Source: Museum Victoria
New MV staff member Genevieve Grieves brings her diverse background in Indigenous history, film and television to her role as Lead Curator on the redevelopment of Bunjilaka at Melbourne Museum. Since joining MV's Indigenous Cultures department in November 2009, Genevieve has launched straight into community consultations that will guide the Bunjilaka team as they update this important part of Museum Victoria.
Bunjilaka, the Aboriginal Cultural centre at Melbourne Museum, opened in October 2000. Its exhibitions were created to honour a living culture and record Aboriginal history, and have been visited by over a million people. The redevelopment will create several new long-term exhibitions to incorporate recent events and ensure ongoing relevance.
Genevieve has joined Bunjilaka staff in a series of open forums to consult the Victorian Aboriginal community about what they’d like to see in the new exhibitions. “We’ve had some extraordinary ideas come out of the sessions. People want to see their heroes celebrated, such as William Cooper, Doug Nicholls and William Barak,” said Genevieve. They also want displays to explore the sophistication of Aboriginal cultures. “When the British came here, they were walking into an organised, complex world with its own governance, legal and diplomatic structures. This kind of information is not readily available.” There will be more detailed community consultations this year as the project proceeds.
Genevieve’s family is from the Worimi Nation in mid-north coastal New South Wales. While still a student at the University of Technology in Sydney, she interviewed Darug elders about the Paramatta Native Institution, a school established in 1814 to “civilise, Christianise and educate” Aboriginal children, and her passion for oral history began.
Genevieve moved to Melbourne to work with the Koorie Heritage Trust as an oral historian, travelling around the state collecting stories for the Koorie Oral History project and assisting members of the Stolen Generation to connect with their lost culture and families. Using digital media to create an online archive, she next worked at the ABC to develop the Mission Voices website, before joining SBS as a field producer for the series First Australians. An accomplished filmmaker and media artist, Genevieve has also completed a creative fellowship at the State Library of Victoria and produced a documentary called Lani’s Story.
Through filmmaking, she learnt ways to translate difficult stories to a wider audience. In the case of Indigenous history, she said “It’s not always an easy history to hear. You have to look after the audience, draw them in softly and give them space with tough material.” Genevieve will also draw from her expertise in digital media as the team strives to engage young people from the Koorie community and beyond. “The exhibitions in Bunjilaka will be a celebration of survival and richness and diversity of cultures in this part of the country. I’m excited about how many people walk through here. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to communicate to a really wide audience, and a whole generation of Victorian schoolchildren.”