Manager, Indigenous Collections
Melanie Raberts works with a team of staff to care for and provide access to the collection. This work involves diverse responsibilities from logistics and preservation, to processing and maintaining collection systems and infrastructure, documentation and compliance, and working with stakeholders and clients.
Melanie’s interests and educational background lie in social anthropology, particularly in trying to understand and articulate the dynamics and politics of human interaction, engagement and communication in cross-cultural settings such as the cultural heritage context or health context; followed closely by an interest in Indigenous material culture, gained by working closely with the collection itself and like-minded colleagues.
Melanie commenced her museological career working in a research and curatorial capacity for the Koorie Heritage Trust, contributing to Koorie, which was then a ground-breaking exhibition on Victoria’s Aboriginal cultural heritage and history, for Australia’s bicentenary in 1988.
Since then, working at Museum Victoria through the 90s, Melanie has witnessed the growth of collection management from curatorial assistants to the establishment of collection management as a profession and specialisation deserving recognition.
Over this time Melanie has worked closely with Victorian Indigenous Community in supporting the establishment of Keeping Places in Victoria, contributing to capacity-building training in the area of cultural heritage, and seeking direct Community advice on loans and research requests and other collection management projects, to working with other Indigenous Communities such as the Maori and other Polynesian Communities.
In more recent times since 2000 and the reorganisation and relocation of the entire Indigenous Collections from Swanston Street, Abbotsford and Maribrynong, to Melbourne Museum and Moreland Annexe – a project which took six years to achieve, collection management has transitioned to focus more closely on collection systems, infrastructure, data management, compliance and administration and access.
The focus continues on fundamental baseline work which underpins all collections-related activities: Registration and cataloguing, collection documentation, accountability and compliance for collection security and assessing and managing risks, auditing, the management of hazards within the collection and maintaining collection standards and procedures.
Requests for access to the Indigenous Collection has grown exponentially since 2000, requiring more attention to keep pace with servicing increasingly complex needs.
Melanie and her team are about to dedicate another two years to reorganising and relocating the Indigenous Collection to improved storage systems, part of a Museum-wide project to improve collection storage efficiency.
Highlights: The Indigenous Collection, contributing to the reorganisation and relocation of the Indigenous Collection 1995-2000; my collections team, mentors and colleagues.