The Humanities Department is responsible for the state collections of history, indigenous cultures and technology and society. The collections include over 800,000 objects, 250,000 images and 80,000 documents.
The major activities of the department include the following.
Collection management: ensuring that the collections are appropriately housed, well documented, preserved and accessible. Undertaking strategic projects, such as preventive conservation, risk management, auditing, database management, and future collection store planning.
Research: undertaking research on collections for exhibitions, lectures, online projects and scholarly and popular publications. This often includes extensive collaborations with universities and community organisations, and the supervision of tertiary students.
Access: including loans to other institutions, access for external researchers, community access, and copying for external publications, exhibitions and films.
Acquisitions: Developing the collections, through purchases and donations, guided by 5-year plans that identify strategic areas for growth.
Exhibitions: Developing long-term and temporary exhibitions at the museum’s three venues, and national and international touring exhibitions.
Restoration & heritage interpretation: undertaking projects to conserve and restore objects, including working machines Undertaking conservation and interpretation of heritage buildings, including the Royal Exhibition Building and Spotswood Pumping Station.
Repatriation: facilitating the return of ancestral remains and secret/sacred items to traditional owners, in collaboration with the State and Commonwealth governments.
Collections Online: Facilitating access to the collections and their creative use, by progressively digitising the collection, undertaking research, documenting the collection, and making it accessible online.
Collaboration: Developing projects and strategic partnerships with a wide range of communities and organisations, especially Indigenous communities, culturally diverse communities, regional communities, universities, and government departments and agencies.
Public engagement: working collaboratively with colleagues and partner organisations to develop education programs, walking tour apps, public programs, online content, merchandise and publications.